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Our History

How to describe the history of an organization that helps people 'navigate the seas of life'? What might be some words that come to mind? Friendship, care, mentoring, love for God, love for others, 'heart for the person', passion for the Scriptures. These are a few words that describe the ethos of The Navigators.

In 1933 a Navy sailor (Les Spencer) was dissatisfied with his life. So he turned to a Christian lumberyard worker (Dawson Trotman) and asked for help in sorting out his faith and life. Dawson began to meet with Les one-on-one to mentor him, and before long the change in Les's life was apparent to other sailors on the ship. Dawson encouraged Les to share with the sailors what he was learning about faith and life. He did - and by the end of World War II there were men on over 1,000 ships who had been impacted by this way of personally helping others grow in their Christian faith. What a beginning!

The person he went to for help was Dawson Trotman. Trotman was a Christian full of contagious zeal, drive and creativity. Dawson worked in a lumber yard 40 hours a week, and spent another 40 hours a week teaching Sunday school classes, evangelizing and exhorting every Christian he met to single-mindedly obey God.

In 1935 Dawson founded The Navigators and focused time and energy on helping people through one-on-one discipling and mentoring. Within a few years there were Navigators around the globe - helping people individually. Billy Graham's crusades were reaching hundreds of thousands, yet the question Billy asked was: "How can we help people continue growing in their Christian faith over a lifetime?" He turned to Dawson and asked him for help. The Navigators then developed the follow up materials that Billy Graham uses in his crusades.

Dawson lost his life while helping save another, holding them up in the water, while boating at Schroon Lake, New York. The caption under his photo in the July 2, 1956 issue of Time magazine was: "always holding someone up". A tremendous "epitaph'! He continued to model helping others to the very end.

The Navigator movement has continued to grow throughout the world. Currently there are over 5,000 staff internationally, representing over 60 nationalities, serving in 104 countries and speaking 152 languages.

In the early 1960s the Navigator ministry came to Canada - on the east coast in Toronto and on the west coast in Vancouver. There are now over 100 Canadian staff serving within our country and abroad. Our ministries include cross-cultural; campus (17 campuses) and in several community settings, along with 9 overseas locations.

Navigators walk with people through life, helping point the way to a loving relationship with Christ. Then they help them learn how to pass it along and help others - spiritual generations living like Christ among all people.