Navigators look beyond their own walls

| Stan Waning

The UT has masses of clubs, associations and societies. This column throws the spotlight on some of them. This time it’s the Navigators Student Association Enschede, which combines student culture with the Christian faith. ‘Knowing Christ and introducing Him to others.’

Photo by: RIKKERT HARINK

The Navigators club room is tucked away in a corner of the third floor of the Bastille. To begin with, the room, which offers a view over the fields of the Drienerlo football association, makes no reference to the subject of Christianity. However, as president Rutger van den Berg (21) and secretary Hanneke Goud (22) take a seat, an enormous Bible appears on the table. The two explain that the Bible plays an important role in the association.

Bible study

‘On Tuesdays, we hold roundtable meetings which take place in our five association houses. We eat together and talk in small groups, prior to Bible study,’ explains Van den Berg. Goud then clarifies the term ‘Bible study’. ‘First, you talk about how things are going. What are you looking forward to? And how is your relationship with God? Then we study the Bible. One of the members prepares a topic; these can vary hugely. Sometimes, someone then adds a more practical interpretation which can, in turn, lead to a discussion. At other times, a person might study the Bible more closely and the session focuses on gaining greater knowledge. The aim is always to understand the Bible in the context of your own life.’

After Bible study, some people always stay for a drink. We are interested in each other's lives and share any issues we may have.

The Navigators hold the roundtable on alternate Tuesdays. On the other Tuesdays they hold an association evening at the De Generaal clubhouse in Enschede city centre. Members eat and listen to a speaker. Goud: ‘That could be anybody. Sometimes it is a priest but we also regularly invite people to come and talk about a specific topic.’

The most important thing for Navigators is to combine these two important evenings in the month with student life. According to Van den Berg, the depth of belief is always central. ‘But we also like to have a drink together. After Bible study, some people always stay for a drink. We are interested in each other's lives and share any issues we may have.’

Alcohol

According to Goud, the aim of Navigators to combine the Christian faith with a lively student culture can sometimes generate friction. ‘Members sometimes have differing viewpoints on the use of alcohol, but what is important is that we always get together. Nobody is obliged to do anything. If a member is not interested in drinks or parties, that’s fine. We accept one another for who we are,’ says Van den Berg, a Mechanical Engineering student.

Within the frameworks, people have differing views on many topics but our open atmosphere facilitates fantastic discussions. There is space to do this and we actively encourage it.

It’s not only Tuesdays that are important for members. On Sundays, the students gather regularly to attend church. This is often in Enschede, according to Goud who is a Creative Technology student. ‘Our members come from all corners of the Netherlands. We don’t all come from the Bible Belt.’

Discipleship

Navigators is an international movement that has a rich history and was founded in America. The Enschede branch has been part of the movement since 2008. The association had existed for many years before that, but under another name: Agapè. Van den Berg: ‘For us, it's all about learning from others. Providing direction and sharing experiences within our faith. We call this discipleship. We are all students in the same phase of our lives but we want to learn from others' perspectives. To look outside our own walls. This is reflected in our motto: ‘Knowing Christ and introducing Him to others.’

Goud loves the fact that the members of Navigators represent many different denominations. ‘From reformed to evangelical, and the dozens of churches in between. Within these frameworks, people have differing views on many topics but our open atmosphere facilitates fantastic discussions. There is space to do this and we actively encourage it.’

The pair struggle to decide whether Navigators differs from other Christian student associations on the campus. ‘The roundtable is perhaps more important to us,’ says Van den Berg. ‘They sometimes say that Alpha is a Christian social association and that we are a social Christian association but the differences are negligible.’

Ultimately, the management is delighted that the secularisation of society has not yet translated into member numbers. Goud: ‘We have more new members than in the past few years put together. It always fluctuates, between the Christian associations themselves, but we are happy with our 100 members. We have no fewer than 35 committees. This clearly illustrates the commitment within our association.’