Serving as a Mobile Alongsider

Things grow well in the Florida sunshine! So do people—spiritually!

When my wife, Kim, and I visited Floridian friends and fellow Navigators Vern and Deby Hunt recently, we enjoyed a variety of fruit we just don't get in Colorado. What a joy as well to see up close and personal their fruitful lives and ministry there!

Before telling you more about our visit, let me tell you how we first met Vern and Deby. It was right here in Colorado. I was leading a men's Bible study at our church, with some 75 men showing up bright and early at 6:30 Tuesday mornings to see what God had in store for them. 

Among the men, I noticed a number of seasoned saints (with the wisdom that comes with gray hair) as well as a good number of young bucks. The Lord opened my eyes to the potential and vision for mentor relationships to emerge.

The plan God gave was to call out some of the most faithful seasoned saints for special training through a key resource, Down to Earth Discipling, written by my friend and fellow Navigator Scott Morton. 

Vern was part of the pilot quad (group of four) that met at Panera Bread Thursdays, also bright and early at 6:30 in the morning. Vern, Elmer, Bill, and I had vibrant conversations week after week, and it was Vern who especially flourished like a Florida fruit tree!

Through this process, Kim and I got to know Deby as well. They are a loving couple, a dynamic duo in life and ministry! In fact, retirement to Florida only provided more time for ministry . . . and before long they became part of our Navigators Church Ministries team in the Southeast Region. 

It's been perhaps a dozen years since God first led me to Vern. In those years, Kim and I have had an opportunity to walk alongside Vern and/or Deby through several Navigator resources: Growing Strong in God's Family (Book 1 of The 2:7 Series), The Ways of the Alongsider, along with some coaching resources. These have become central resources in their fruitful ministries in Florida churches.

Al Engler, director of The Navigators Neighbors work, calls this kind of support serving as a "mobile alongsider." I like that! In a piece titled "Mobilize Ministry," Al talks about the many ways he is able to encourage and equip lifelong laborers from a distance. They even follow an ALONGSIDER acrostic:

Assess progress in the gospel
Live as an example
Oversee local leaders
Narrate stories from other places
Go to them
Strengthen them
Intercede for them
Do ministry with them
Encourage them
Resource them

Now back to our recent visit with Vern and Deby. A few days before we arrived, Vern asked if I would lead the Tuesday evening small group at their church through Chapter 5 of Down to Earth Discipling, "Discipling from the Heart." Again, what a joy to take these eager Christ-followers through this key chapter of the same resource that started it all! 

Perhaps this blog has encouraged you to consider close friendships that have emerged from your ministry efforts through the years. Al puts it this way: "Most if not all of us have friendships where God has especially knit our hearts together. These may have begun as discipling relationships or perhaps serving together in ministry, but they have become something more.

"By God’s grace, these friendships are not weakened by geographical distance or the passage of time. What name(s) did the Holy Spirit bring to mind as you read the last sentence?"

That's a wonderful question to consider—and here is another one to conclude with: How might you be a mobile alongsider to the individual(s) you just thought of? They needed your support "back in the day," and maybe need it more than you know today—perhaps a note, perhaps a personal visit. How is the Lord leading you? 

If you would like to learn more about Dean's ministry with The Navigators, or if you would like to connect with him, please click here.