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Early International Youth Ministries

As the Navigator movement spread throughout the US in the 1940s and 1950s, God also opened doors for our international youth ministries. By the late 1950s, we find several examples of energetic international Navigator high school ministries. Okinawa and Kenya are prominent.

We teamed with Orient Crusades to minister in twenty-three of the public schools on Okinawa during 1959, presenting the Gospel to as many as 20,000 of the 22,000 students. In addition to 805 students recording decisions for Christ, four hundred enrolled through the mail in the Bible study course.

Okinawa representative, Bob Newkirk, commented that, “God opened the door into all the high schools when no one else was permitted to have such meetings.” At one school, the principal commented to the students, “Most religions are good only for funerals, but what these men have spoken about today is good for life.”

Half a world away, we were ministering to those who had been active in the Mau Mau insurrection against the British colonialists in Africa. The Shankles’ garage in the Nairobi suburb of Westlands had been turned into the Bible Study correspondence office, staffed by our first three Kikuyu team workers: Rehoboam Mwiiri, Bartholomew Gitau and Timothy Kamau.

Increasingly, the ministry included preaching in the detention camps, reaching out to those who had been active in the in the Mau Mau uprising. Several Navigator leaders worked to capitalize on the popular Navigator correspondence courses. They recruited Evans Muhu and Cyrus Thuo. These two young Kenyans were to have a considerable impact among the teenagers whose parents were in detention.

For example, on their first night at the Wamumu Boys Reform School, two hundred boys listened to a Navigator preach the gospel and twenty-five decided for Christ. Follow-up classes were held immediately. It was the custom of the two Kenyans to bicycle to nearby villages to present Christ to the students in other government schools.

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