Today we’d like to introduce you to Craig Parker.
Thanks for sharing your story with us Craig. So, let’s start at the beginning and we can move on from there.
I have been on staff with the Navigators, a non-denominational Christian ministry for 37 years, having lived/served in Virginia (4 years), Germany (7 years), New Hampshire (17 years at Dartmouth College) and in Boston for the past 7.
Along the way, I helped to start a non-profit in Kenya called the Lwala Community Alliance, and have done work among the Roma (Gyspy) population in Croatia, and have mobilized Dartmouth students and graduates to engage in community development in Honduras. I also help to lead a Bible study at the Suffolk County Jail.
The way I got to where I am today, is that in 1975 I decided I want to serve a spiritual mentor to others – I have seen my life multiply through intentional, transformational friendships that have spread around the world.
Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
Not smooth at all.
Struggles: loss of a child from cancer; my wife’s battle with breast cancer; having to raise financial support by faith for 37 years; working with an organization that has had its staffing ups and downs; launching a non-profit in Kenya against all odds; working in Croatia among a people who have experienced serious persecution and racism; seeing men in the Suffolk County jail facing nearly impossible obstacles as they face re-entry; student ministries at Dartmouth and BU that have ebbed and flowed; questioning my own faith as a Christian
The Navigators – what should we know? What do you guys do best? What sets you apart from the competition?
The Navigators is an international non-denominational Christian ministry with staff in 57 nations. Since 1933, the Navigators have been known for helping people to grow spiritually through Biblical, intentional, transformational relationships.
One way of describing it is life-to-life discipleship. The Navigators have ministries on college campuses, military bases, workplaces, churches, inner cities, local communities and in hard to reach places. (The oldest active Navigator staff recently passed away at age 104.
He also happened to be one of the oldest Navy Pearl Harbor Survivors – his story was recently featured on Megyn Kelly https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p_zJ_Z5gkmk and after his passing – https://www.facebook.com/MegynTODAY/videos/347698772303044/?q=megyn%20kelly%20jim%20downing
What I do is that I love and serve students (or prisoners, or friends in the workplace) and I encourage them to grow in their faith in God through Bible study, prayer and interacting over life issues together.
I also help to organize retreats, conferences, spring break trips to the inner city, international trips to Croatia, and I invite staff and volunteers to join me in this great work.
What I/we are most proud of is when we help a young man or woman become a mature leader who in turn can help others grow in a similar way.
What defines us as a ministry, and maybe sets up apart from other churches and Christian organizations, is our emphasis on personal discipleship or mentoring. We dare to gauge our success in ones and twos, rather than on large numbers to fill a room or building.
One other aspect of what I do and am proud of is that I have helped to launch socially entrepreneurial initiatives in Kenya and Croatia.
In Lwala, Kenya through the Lwala Community Alliance (www.lwalacommunityalliance.org) of which I am a founding board member and former chair, we have grown from an idea and a small group of friends trying to help our friends Fred and Milton Ochieng, to become the largest healthcare provider in the area with 180 Kenyan employees, 1000 HIV patients, clean water for 6000 children in 13 primary schools and a scalable model being emulated by many others.
Fred and Milton’s story was featured in the film “Honoring a Father’s Dream” https://www.amazon.com/Honoring-Fathers-Dream-Sons-Lwala/dp/B005DD2SOK (Btw, Fred and his wife Aimee – whose wedding I performed last May will be staying in our home for 7 weeks this summer – Aimee also has an amazing story – her family escaped the Rwandan genocide from 1994)
In Croatia, we love and serve among Roma families, and have gained the attention of many because of the goodwill we are creating as we seek to bring social equity to a deeply disenfranchised people group.
What moment in your career do you look back most fondly on?
Probably that 3 of my 4 children have entered the same line of work – in Boston (through High Rock Church), China and the Czech Republic
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