the history of
In 1933, Dawson Trotman, founder of The Navigators, began teaching sailor Les Spencer the principles of Christian growth. They spent many hours together in Bible study, Scripture memorization and prayer. A shipmate of Spencer’s soon asked him about the secret of his changed life. Spencer brought the new man to Trotman and said, "Teach him what you taught me!" Trotman’s answer–"You teach him!"–was the beginning of The Navigators.
Spencer did teach the second sailor, and the two in turn reached others. Soon, 125 men on board the USS West Virginia were growing in Christ and actively sharing their faith. By the end of World War II, men on a thousand ships and military bases had surrendered their lives to Christ and were learning the principles of Christian discipleship as a result of The Navigators’ ministry.
After the war, the ministry of The Navigators expanded to college campuses (the first at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln in 1958) and numerous communities throughout the U.S. In 1948, the first overseas Navigator missionary was sent to China. Others soon followed to Europe, Asia, Australia, the Middle East, Africa, and Latin America.
Today, tens of thousands of individuals worldwide are being reached for Christ as the work of The Navigators grows. Internationally, more than 4,000 Navigator staff of 64 nationalities serve in more than 100 countries around the world. A heart for individuals continues to motivate us to teach on a one-to-one basis: Our ultimate goal is to equip people to fulfill 2 Timothy 2:2—to teach what they have learned to others.
Find out more about our global or national ministries at navigators.org