Dawson and Lila Trotman’s Hospitality
After several temporary accommodations in the Los Angeles area, Dawson and Lila Trotman rented a house in Whittier, California. Daws noted, “I truly thank God for the little home that he has given Buddie and I in Whittier, for a place to serve him. The home is open to all—nothing hinders meeting oft to pray” (February 16, 1933).
In June 1933, they moved to Lomita to be closer to the harbor and the sailors. Then, at the end of August, they settled in a one-room cabin in a motor court. They also rented a garage behind a Texaco station two-miles away in which Daws could meet sailors in the evenings for Bible study. Lila brought suppers that she had prepared at the motor court.
In November 1933, they relocated to a home in San Pedro, which Daws considered the first Navigator Home.
As they moved from place to place, the Trotmans usually had several ministries going on in their home at the same time: servicemen, young couples when the fleet was away from base, a Thursday night group, and a headquarters for high school clubs. Clearly, a large home offered much versatility for ministry. The Trotmans gave their home to the Lord as completely as they were giving themselves. In fact, Daws and Lila were the quintessential example of Isaiah 60:11, which says, “Your gates will always stand open, they will never be shut, day or night . . .”
Despite the demands related to hosting a very busy home, Daws was decidedly upbeat about the positive impact on his family. “I believe (my children) are all richer for having been in a home where the saints have come. My own father, the biggest thing for bringing my own father to Christ was seeing the transformed lives of big, rugged, two-fisted men.”
In early 1943, Daws included the following in the explanation of the name “Navigators” that he set out in an affidavit in early 1943:
The plan of the work is to furnish a place ashore, preferably the dwelling place of a civilian and his wife, which shall be a place to be considered ‘home’ to the fellows, where they can go for Christian fellowship, times of relaxation and recreation, and Bible study. The climax of every get-together is an hour around the Word of God in which, without bringing in denominational differences, etc., there can be a clear, clean-cut, open discussion-study of this marvelous Book which points men to Christ as the way of salvation and directs them on the road after they have become Christians.
The first Navigator’s home was opened under (my) leadership, as director, in San Pedro, later moved to Long Beach and then to Los Angeles. Homes are now open in Honolulu, San Diego, San Francisco, Seattle, Norfolk, Washington D.C. Navigators (also) meet in homes that are opened to them in New York and along the New England Coast . . .
Although we have referred to the homes that are ashore, we might say that the greatest work is not done ashore but rather aboard ship, and especially during the war days is this true . . .
Although Nav Homes were well established by the end of World War II, their leaders usually had employment and could not spend individual time with every needy person. Bob Foster, in 1958, recalled the example of one Nav leader who had seventeen men living with him in 1946. Although the men were engaged in intensive Bible study and memory work, this did not produce many faithful men who were real disciples. There were too many people in whom to invest.
The guest books for the Nav Home in Honolulu eventually contained twenty-five thousand signatures!
Excerpt from “The Navigator Home” by Donald McGilchrist