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Trotman founded The Navigators in 1933 and through this worldwide Christian organization supported various Christian ideals: maintaining the basic disciplines of the Christ-centered Spirit-filled life, abiding in the Word of God, the importance of personal follow-up, one-on-one discipleship training, scripture memorization, and principles for multiplying Christian disciples, laborers, and equippers around the world. He lost his own life on June 18, 1956 while rescuing a girl, Allene Beck, from drowning during water-skiing in Schroon Lake, New York.
Dr. Billy Graham said: "I think Daws has personally touched more lives than anybody I have ever known." His work and writings were instrumental in the creation of the Campus Outreach ministry, which focuses on discipleship as a method of building up the community of Christians on college campuses.
Trotman married Lila Mae Clayton on 3 July 1932. Lila, who was born on 12 December 1913 in Buffalo Valley, Tennessee, died on 27 October 2004 at the age of 90. The couple had four children.
Trotman worked with many other evangelicals of his day, including Henrietta Mears, Jim Rayburn, Charles E. Fuller, and Dick Hillis. Lorne Sanny (born 22 November 1920, Granville, Ohio; died 28 March 2005, Colorado Springs, Colorado ) succeeded him as president of The Navigators after Lila was its short-term interim president.
- Do what others can not and will not do.
- The greatest amount of wasted time is the time not getting started.
Downing, James (2008). Living Legacy: Reflections on Dawson Trotman and Lorne Sanny (Paperback). NavPress. ISBN 0972902384.
Robertson, Jr., Lee Roy (2002). Developing a Heart for Mission: Five Missionary Heroes (Paperback). NavMedia. ISBN 978-9810474256.
Skinner, Betty Lee (1974). Daws: The Story of Dawson Trotman, Founder of the Navigators (Paperback). Zondervan. ISBN 0-310-32801-2.
- Time Magazine bio
- Born to Reproduce
- The Need of the Hour (which is that tools may be cute, but the influence of the man of God to spread the knowledge of God is vital)
- The Wheel illustration (for the CHRIST-ian life in action, Dawson Trotman's original version)
- The Hand illustration (for getting a HAND-le on the Word of God), now also known as the "WORD-hand" illustration
- The "Prayer-Hand" illustration (five key ingredients of Prayer)
- The Big Dipper illustration (the seven distinctive elements of The Navigators as an organization)
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