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Navigator Growth During WWII

Jack Armstrong c copy
Jack Armstrong

Excerpt from “A History of Our Calling”

During World War II, the Navigator work spread to one thousand ships and bases and camps. Our strongest work was in Honolulu. Keeping up with the growth became harder and harder for Dawson Trotman, the founder of The Navigators. He even dreamed of using a plane as his mobile office!

The set of Daws’s heart and the disciplined atmosphere of military personnel came together nicely. As on active service, there were systems and targets and inspections to keep one another on track spiritually. There were written communications, personal visits, and mutual challenge.

Nav homes were well established (the first being in San Pedro in 1933), but their leaders had employment and could not spend individual time with every needy person. Bob Foster, in 1958, recalled the example of one Nav leader who had seventeen men living with him in 1946. They engaged in intensive Bible Study and memory work, yet this did not produce many faithful men who were real disciples. There were too many people in whom to invest.

In 1945, Daws visited the work in Honolulu. It troubled him. He saw that all the key men were leading Bible classes: Nobody was zeroing in on personal training. He realized that we were reproducing Bible classes, not individuals in depth. The guest books for the Nav home in Honolulu eventually contained 25,000 signatures!

There was a problem: We usually lost momentum after the second or third generation, because the group became a substitute for individuals. Thus, many did not become mature believers. So, Daws returned to Los Angeles and began to preach on producing reproducers.

By Donald McGilchrist

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