Ashton’s Story

When we talk about walking with God in this new stage of life, we’re talking about not looking back on one’s life and saying “university was the time when I grew the most in my walk with the Lord.” Rather, university is a starting point, it’s where one often begins to take their faith seriously. One’s faith should progressively grow regardless of the life stage they are in. And praise God that for a guy like Ashton, this is the case.

Ashton is an engineer in our Christchurch 20s group who has been in the workforce for a couple of years now. For Ashton, making the transition from university to the workforce was similar to the transition of leaving home and attending university, both instances required an increased level of responsibility and a shift in reliance. “I went from relying on my parents, to relying on clubs and friend groups, to now being supported by Navs20s.” 

Prior to university Ashton says, “I was fully reliant on my parents to lead me spiritually. When I attended university, I had to make my faith my own. There was less responsibility on them and more responsibility on me. The reliance and support on my parents shifted to reliance on the clubs I was in and support from my friendship groups. In leaving university, I could meet most of my needs on my own and take full responsibility for my life, but that support aspect was still needed, and Navs20s has provided that.”

Ashton met the Navigators as a student at the University of Canterbury and was involved in the Navigators student ministry. He is a product of the Navigators Noblemen program, a men’s development program focused on teaching young men to faithfully walk with God amidst an ever-changing culture. Now he is faithfully committed to being a lifelong labourer in the harvest for the kingdom of God with his fellow brothers and sisters in Navs20s. Ashton’s harvest is his workplace. Through his experiences interacting with his co-workers, God has shown him more and more what it looks like to be a faithful labourer.

“In uni there’s a lot of pressure to manage your own time, but you still have a lot of availability. With the set schedule of work, you have less availability and time to meet with non-Christians, which is why work is such a good place to form relationships, connect with people, and be on mission. I’ve realized that it’s not by any of my works that I bring people to God. I’ve tried. It’s up to God to change their hearts and up to them to make that choice. All I can do is share with them how God has loved me and cares for me, how he’s been with me in my hardships. Listening to my co-workers and their stories and hardships and being there for them is something that I have found shows them that I genuinely care for them and aren’t just trying to convert them. It’s more about living it out and walking alongside people and loving them.”

Ashton shared that the Christchurch 20s group has been an amazing encouragement in his walk with God. The opportunity to hear others’ views on Bible passages and hear practical ways to live out his faith is something that reinforces his belief and walk with the Lord. The significance of doing life together in this stage of life isn’t lost on Ashton.

“It’s really comforting to come to a warm house, have a meal together, and live out that family aspect. It gives me a solid practical way to understand the hope we have. These things have strengthened my walk with God and amplified my love for him.”

Part of doing life with other Christians is having someone to disciple and mentor you in the faith. When Ashton was in university, he met with Prakash, the current Navigators student director at the University of Auckland. Prakash still meets with Ashton once a month over Zoom.

Ashton says meeting with Prakash provides “accountability and I learn to rightfully put my heart in God’s hands amidst all the things in my life. Having someone in my life who is like a spiritual father figure, someone more mature in their walk to lead me and guide me is something I’m grateful for.”

It’s this kind of labouring, this kind of vision, this kind of life, that we seek to foster in Navigators 20s so that the Gospel may be advanced on the campus, in the workplace, and across all of Aotearoa.

– Eric Baugh