Get to Know Dustyn and Hannah McLaren

Dustyn and Hannah are from our South East Queensland Labouring Community. Dustyn joined our Staff last year. We interviewed him for our Compass Newsletter Autumn 2023 issue.

How did you come into relationship with Jesus?

At the ripe age of five in October of 1987 I remember contemplating a sermon that I had just heard. If I could aim to do anything with my life – to cure cancer, to bring about world peace, to be the richest person and have everything – none of that would mean anything in eternity if it wasn’t done for God. If God wasn’t Lord of my life and I wasn’t aiming to live for him, none of it would amount to anything after I died. When I’m with the Lord in eternity, I wanted to look back on what we had done together.

Having grown up in a Christian household, I knew and believed God created the world, that the Bible was true, that Jesus was God in flesh who had come to die for those who would believe in Him and that He rose from the dead and is alive today. But this was the moment of decision, I knew I had to give my life to Him. So I did, I prayed to God, I confessed Jesus as Lord and submitted my life to his leading. I remember running out to the kitchen to tell mum that I had become a Christian, I had accepted Jesus as my Lord and Saviour. She, and later Dad, were so happy for me.

That may seem like a lot for a five-year-old to grasp and I for sure didn’t have a deep understanding of what all these things meant, but God had opened my eyes and the basics had made sense. About six years later at school, we read ‘Through Gates of Splendor”, about the life and death of Jim Elliot, missionary to the Auca Indians of South America. This book had a profound impact on my desire to give my all for God and to one day become a missionary too. I wanted to “give what I cannot keep to gain what I cannot lose.”

In what ways have Navigator communities shaped your journey?

When I was in high school I met Ram Marrero. He had come from New York to little ole Gympie to Make Disciples in accordance with his life verse – Colossians 1:27b-28: ‘Christ in you, the hope of glory: Whom we preach, warning every man, and teaching every man in all wisdom; that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus’ (KJV). At this point I was preparing to go with Operation Mobilization (OM) on the library ship, the ‘Logos’. God challenged me while on a short term training trip to change course. I was witnessing to a man in Melbourne, who seemed to have an interest in renewing his beliefs in Jesus that he had walked away from for many years. When I suggested we could connect him with a local church he was dismayed, “What? You won’t be helping me out?” I said to him, “I’ve come down from Queensland and am heading back there tomorrow. But we have people here who’d love to connect.” He replied, “Well, they aren’t the ones out here talking to me!”

God used this experience to challenge me to be active in sharing with people locally. And then to be ready to share the journey with them as they learn to walk with the Lord. On sharing this idea with Ram, he told me this is what he invested his life doing; in fact, what the Navigators were committed to do. And that he could disciple me to reproduce disciple-makers. I was keen to get involved and we soon had a group of us meeting together (as well as 1-to-1) learning how to pass on what God has already taught us.

That next year, around 2000, Ram sent me to meet with Navigators in Canberra. As a young fella from a small country city, Canberra seemed massive, organised and amazing. I was blessed to meet Mike and Fran and their family when I arrived, and Mike introduced me to many of the areas of ministry that were happening there. ANU and Canberra University ministries were exciting to see, and a group of students (many who were not saved) were meeting at their house to explore the Gospel of John and were asking questions about Jesus. Another Navigator staff showed me the ministry at ADFA and Duntroon. It was inspiring to see what God was doing in the area and how discipleship was helping people to grow in Jesus, and then share the gospel, and then disciple new Christians to do the same. This was something I was keen to be part of.

How has Jesus been leading you?

Dustyn and Hannah joined staff in 2022

In 2004, Hannah and I married and moved to Toowoomba where we began doing discipleship while we studied at the University of Southern Queensland. Ram had taught me the importance of having a key man to work with no matter what else God is calling you to do – as Paul had Timothy, where is your Timothy and who is your Paul? As it was, God did give me a Tim to train and a Dave as well, and many others over the years. After a time at uni, I began working at Bunnings where God blessed me with opportunities to share with many as we worked side by side. After fifteen years at Bunnings, I thank God for those with whom I was able to share the gospel, the Christians I was able to encourage, and those who encouraged me.

Hannah broke her neck at the end of 2020 in a sporting accident. (She is recovering well, and that’s a whole separate story of God’s amazing mercy, provision and comfort). After six weeks of caring for her and our three daughters, I felt the Lord’s call on my life – that he was ‘closing the door’ on my chapter at Bunnings. It wasn’t until a year later, though, after having time off for covid that I knew he was calling me to full-time ministry.

I had noticed the time I was spending discipling the men God had placed in my life was increasing. There was also opportunity to work with others as well as a need to develop the community of disciples/disciple-makers that God had put around Stu and Vee [McLeod] and Hannah and me. So with much prayer and time in the Word, I pulled back to casual at Bunnings to focus on discipleship. As I was sharing this with Stu, he asked if I had considered going on staff with Navigators. I replied with: “It’s always been at the back of my mind,” and “I’d definitely consider and pray about it.” At the next Navigators rally in Brisbane, Ram asked if I was looking to go on staff with Navigators, and I asked if Stu had set him up to ask me. He said Stu hadn’t and that he had seen it being a good fit for me for a while. As God had it, Scott Brown was there and was able to explain the processes to me about getting on board.

In joining Navigators Staff, I considered the Will of God illustration – I was submitted to God’s Lordship; I was in the Word and in prayer about this direction; wise godly counsel (including my wife and the leadership at church) affirmed the idea, and circumstances led by God pointed this way; and finally the peace of God was with me along the process.

What is your role with Navigators?

Now, I work alongside Stu in the Gympie City Ministry, and Rob Boulton and I are setting up foundations for uni ministry on the Sunshine Coast near Mooloolaba. There are several guys I have been working with in Gympie for a while now and some I’ve started with recently; some from church, some from the community and others from Bunnings. It’s been great to see them grow as they spend time with Jesus, and we often share and challenge one another. Some of them were already working with others, a couple of them are emerging into reproducing, and some are still growing in the early stages of their walk with Jesus. We had a BBQ and swim afternoon at the beginning of February to build a sense of community among those who are involved in Discipleship in Gympie and we are looking forward to our first state Navigator Rally to be held in Gympie in April with a guest speaker coming to encourage, challenge and share with us. Until now, the Queensland rallies have been in Brisbane each month.

It’s exciting to be beginning on campus after the months of prayer in preparation for 2023. I am in talks with a first-year student (a Christian from Gympie) about joining me on campus so that I have someone to ‘take with me’ as we look for the Lord’s leading in who to talk with and how to be involved in people’s lives there.

I continue to have opportunity to talk to the team from Bunnings and have had the chance to share with others at the Rural Fire Brigade that I’m involved in. Five hours in a truck together lends itself to talking about all sorts of things. Recently, I joined a local gym and have been talking to ‘George’ there about who he thinks Jesus is.

Earlier this year, I had the opportunity to spend two and a half hours over coffee sharing the gospel with one of our local Council Members who had recently had a heart attack. I was able to share the Bridge illustration with him, and we had some great conversation about who Jesus claimed to be and how our good works aren’t going to save us. He struggles to believe in a supernatural world but I was able to ‘put a stone in his shoe’ (things to ponder) with some discussion about things he had experienced that he couldn’t explain.

Please pray for Dustyn, Hannah, their three children and their ministry on the Sunshine Coast, Queensland. If you would like to partner with the McLarens or find out more about them, please visit:






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