SPOTLIGHT: Free to Be Flexible

For Gene and Marilyn Smith, Navigators Encore is now the ideal place to pursue their callings from God. The Smiths loved their 43 years serving with the Military Mission, serving in Colorado Springs, the Philippines, Guam, and their longtime present home in San Diego. Yet they also sensed God tug at their hearts to have a broader ministry and more freedom from organizational responsibilities. As they began to pursue other avenues of service that matched their gifting, they found that Encore filled the bill. 
One of Gene’s continued callings is to coach Navigator staff in fundraising. His gifting as well as training under Scott Morton have enabled him to come alongside staff who are struggling with raising support.

At one point, for example, Gene was asked to help three Navigators staff whose individual deficits exceeded $20,000. With him as their funding coach, all were in the black within two years, which brings Gene personal joy and satisfaction. “I was totally blessed to partner with them in their journeys of faith and hard work,” he says.
As for Marilyn, among her callings is a passion to come alongside hurting women. During their sabbatical in 2008, she experienced healing prayer, which she says “turned me upside down.” God used it to heal devastating experiences from her past. Now, as she tells her story, He brings women to her who need that kind of help.
Marilyn facilitates healing prayer with staff wives, pastors’ wives, and other women—in person and through SKYPE—all over the country and around the world. “I love what God allows me to do,” she says.
She adds that as women listen to God through prayer, they are open to let Him work, speak truth, and bring healing. The transformation that takes place significantly affects life and ministry.
While Gene is grateful for the opportunity to help staff with funding, his first love is his ongoing opportunity to see Christ shared with thousands of Marine recruits experiencing grueling training at boot camp. Through connections with chaplains at Edson Range, he built and leads a ministry team from nine different churches. These Navigator men serve as prayer partners at weekly chapel services and also teach six different “spiritual fitness” classes. They reach an average of 600 to 1,000 recruits weekly. Through 20 years in this ministry, Gene has seen countless recruits come to Christ through these classes and chapel services.
Finally, together Gene and Marilyn enjoy “mobile alongsiding” as they connect with donors and friends from their past ministries. They often spend a week in an area visiting five to six people. “We love on them, listen to them, and learn from them,” Gene says. They seek to encourage these friends and to learn how to better pray for them.
Being a part of Encore enables and empowers Gene and Marilyn to serve in these various ways and then some! “We love the leadership, the accountability, and the goals we can set,” says Gene.
Gene’s Three Keys to Fundraising
As he did while serving with the Military Mission, Gene continues to offer encouragement, resources, and accountability regarding funding to all staff. Here are the three keys to fundraising he unpacks with fellow staff:

  • Faith. He encourages people to trust God, not works, to provide. “Faithful is He who called you, and He also will bring it to pass” (1 Thessalonians 5:24 NASB).
  • Releasing Expectations. “Your funding will most likely not come from where you expect,” he says. People you’re sure will give, may not; others who seem like dim prospects will. He fondly recalls a young airman who surprised them by giving $150 a month—a very large sum back in the ‘80s.
  • Hard Work. Gene advocates making fundraising ten to twenty percent of your schedule. That includes prayer letters, emails, phone calls, and personal visits.

“I would be more than happy to be a resource for anyone who needs help with funding,” he says. Staff may contact him at As a senior staff, he has a passion to help staff nearing retirement be more aware of benefits that could aid their financial situation.

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