Essay / On This Day

Happy Birthday, Dawson Trotman

Dawson Trotman (born March 25, 1906, died 1956) was the founder of the Navigators, a Christian ministry that is famous for Scripture memorization and one-on-one discipleship. Both of those emphases seem to have flowed directly from the personal charisma of Daws, as his friends called him and as his biography is entitled.

Converted as a young adult, Trotman studied at the Bible Institute of Los Angeles in 1929. He and his wife Lila started to minister to Navy men in Long Beach, and before long the basic shape of the Navigators developed out of that personal work he was doing. By all accounts, the ministry was so simple: home Bible studies, committing strategic Bible verses to memory, praying, and teaching Christians how to witness to unbelievers around them. But Trotman was a high-energy, high-capacity person, and he had a knack for showing other men how to do what he did, which included showing still other men, and so on and so on. In the words of Trotman’s most famous pamphlet, a Christian is “born to reproduce.”

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