A New President for the Worldwide Partnership
Mutua Mahiaini was the keynote speaker at our Navigator National Conference last year. Those who attended came away impressed by his challenge to pay the cost of discipleship. We did not know at that time that we were hearing from the next International President of The Navigators!
Mutua was born and raised in Kenya. His father was a pastor. When Mutua was 10 years old, he answered the call to make Jesus his Lord. He says about that day: “It was very clear to me that I had entered into a relationship that gave me rights that I did not enjoy before…Something happened inside me. It was an assurance of being loved by God, and that I belonged.”
The following is an interview with Mutua by Worldwide, a newsletter of the International Office of The Navigators:
Worldwide: How do you think your international work, as well as your Kenyan upbringing, have affected your understanding of God?
Mutua: I have, especially since we moved to the Ivory Coast as missionaries (in 1994), reflected a great deal on what we should share about Christ—regardless of our socio-economic status, regardless of our race and our culture. What is the bottom line that we should share? . . . There is the story of John the Baptist, when the Jews of Jerusalem sent priests and Levites to ask him, “Who are you?” John replied by telling them who he was not. So they asked him if he was Elijah or the Prophet. Their questions show that they could only understand people in terms of a name; they needed to put people in categories. There was no category that John could give them. So he told them that he was the voice of one crying out in the wilderness (see John 1:19-26). This shows us that we all have to make a choice: Are we going to have a name, or be a voice?. . . The message in that passage is, for me, that I will never really have a voice that has spiritual authority, I will never be a voice, unless I give up my quest to have a name among men.
Worldwide: Isn’t it true, however, that your Kenyan culture is a major part of your identity, your name?
Mutua: My “Kenyanness” is a blessing that helps me to be able to identify with many people. I grew up with people whose lives were very, very basic. Many times on dark nights people would ask my dad to drive pregnant women to the hospital. Sometimes a woman would have the baby in my father’s car. And sometimes the car would get stuck in the mud on the way to the hospital. I grew up seeing that people’s lives are pretty fragile. This has helped me to understand people. But, going back to the idea of having a name or a voice, we who are in Christ know that we have a name given to us by God and that it trumps any name or any identity that the world can offer. That is really the identity with which we should go to people who are in the “wilderness.” I don’t go to people as a Kenyan. I go to them in the identity that God has given me. Doing this allows us to have a voice that has God’s authority. Without that, we speak and it is hollow. There is no spiritual power behind it.
Worldwide: Is there a passage of scripture that has meant a lot to you in your life?
Mutua: Yes, one of them is Isaiah 30:23-24. It says, He will also send you rain for the seed you sow in the ground, and the food that comes from the land will be rich and plentiful. In that day your cattle will graze in the broad meadows. The oxen and donkeys that work the soil will eat fodder and mash, spread out with fork and shovel. This to me is about God’s promises. He promises to send rain. So by faith we sow the seed in expectation that God will send the rain. . . . This is about the blessing of God in our lives and the extension of our impact. . . . There have been so many times in ministry when I was investing in people and I thought, “Is that the best you can do?” There are accusing voices that can discourage us. But many times God says, “Just sow the seed. I will do the watering.” . . . God is at work, so we are not to be preoccupied with the constant measurement of our impact.
Worldwide: In what ways can we encourage one another to continue growing in our relationships with Jesus, throughout our lives?
Mutua: Part of the answer has to do with the message that we bring to people. The basics are so crucial: We have to be reading the Bible and to be praying. But these things in themselves are not what we preach. Our core message is not “have a quiet time.” And yet we cannot do without a quiet time. So we can’t confuse the means of growing in Christ with the center of our message. In 1 Corinthians 2:2, Paul says, For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. That idea of us presenting Jesus as the Alpha and the Omega is such a compelling thing—to communicate Him according to His fullness. . . . We know that the god of this age has blinded many people. So it’s not like every time we talk about Christ people are going to respond. But it would be disappointing if we conveyed Christ in a way that makes Him less than He is. This is why we each must know Jesus so deeply, so that we can minister out of the overflow of who He is to us and what we know of Him. There is something about a deep walk with God that is so compelling that people want to come to Him.