Christian missionaries have always found a foothold in communities by providing for physical needs. Whether it’s medical training opening doors to inaccessible tribes in central Asia or English classes paving a path into post-Christian European communities, believers keep an eye on the needs of the local community—for the glory of God and as an opportunity to share His gospel.
However, while the need for food, clean water, and education has not wavered, other needs have risen. How can people have a good marriage, or—better yet—how can they repair a broken one? What is the best way to navigate anxiety and depression? For Stewart Severino (MACL, 2022), his role at the Navigators is all about meeting people in their needs—digitally.
Stewart served for a quarter century in marketing, technology, and change management before joining the Navigators. While he enjoyed his time in the business sector, Stewart soon felt the Lord calling him to use his gifts for a different purpose.
Before Stewart came to faith, his life mirrored business—the focus was fact and profit. However, a thought lingered behind every business call and promotional campaign: “What is truth?” When his girlfriend (now wife) began taking him to church, Stewart longed for a coherent answer to this question. Then, the senior pastor at their church, Larry York, began taking him out for breakfast, and after a few months, Stewart—despite his reluctance—came to faith and began hungering for God’s word.
Stewart’s discipleship continued with an associate pastor at the church (and DTS-Houston adjunct professor), Dr. Calvin Pearson (ThM, 1981). After answering Stewart’s one-hundredth difficult question, Dr. Pearson finally asked if he had considered seminary. By now, Stewart had a family and was starting a new business. Additionally, the world was recovering from a global pandemic. Despite these complications, the Lord provided a way, and Stewart enrolled in DTS.
Stewart hadn’t planned to enter ministry after graduation but wanted to discern the truth when he heard sermons and pass down a solid faith to his growing family. When the opportunity at the Navigators opened, he sensed the Lord calling him from the marketing world to the ministry one.
The change required some adjustments—ministries tend to run slower than businesses, but employees are far more empathetic and gracious. Meetings begin with prayer, and when Stewart walks around headquarters, he sees small groups of employees on their break reading their Bibles. While it required adjustments, the change was like stepping outdoors and inhaling the morning mist—fresh, clean, and rejuvenating.
His roles in the marketplace helped expose the needs of those online. With the Navigators, he helps meet those needs as an inroad to discipleship. The goal is to widen the doors to discipleship, allowing people easier access to the truth and beauty of the gospel. People are already online—are there Christians there to meet them?