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A Call for Mentors
Children need other adults. Most parents are honoured and pleased to have you invest in the lives of their children.


I remember the phone call vividly: "Melodie, your mother and my mother are good friends but I'm not sure if you would be interested. Could I take you out for hot chocolate after school next week?"

Thirty years later, I still remember the investment Deb made in my young life.

Deb Kuyers entered my world. I was barely out of elementary school and this beautiful, vivacious high-school senior wanted to spend time with me! That phone call changed the course of my life.

Thirty years later, I still remember the investment Deb made in my young life. I salute my mother for encouraging Deb to call me. Though my godly, stay-at-home mother was a Good News Club® teacher, Sunday school teacher and elder's wife, she recognized that other Christians had an important role in building on the spiritual foundation she and my father had laid.

Deb is one "hero of the faith" in my life. Others are Sunday school teachers, club leaders and ministry leaders.

Don't misunderstand; I believe it is the responsibility of Christian parents to raise their children in a Bible-based, Christ-centered environment. I have had the privilege of leading all three of my children to Christ. Together my husband and I are laying the foundation for their faith. However, I know that where we fall short a club leader, Sunday school teacher or the parent of a friend can provide the additional strength and direction they need. Other godly adults may encourage the development of a natural or spiritual gift we as parents are unable to develop.

Touching the life of a child can occur naturally. Encouraging words are cherished and life altering. They make a child feel valued and eager to excel—a caring, "cool" adult noticed him! Those words may be penned in a secret diary, cherished deeply in a heart, becoming a catalyst for future success.

Intentional investment

Regularly assess how much one-on-one time you spend with each student under your spiritual care. Be intentional in building relationships with them, not only for the purpose of determining where the child is on the spiritual continuum (see Diagram A) but also to identify similar interests. Ask God to show you how to move children along in their journey of faith. There are many excellent resources not only to guide your conversations but also to assist in establishing spiritual disciplines for the student (see "Here's How It's Done").

Plan to protect

Take all precautions for safety and protection for yourself and for the children in your care. We may quickly dismiss thoughts of spending time alone with a child because of the long list of regulations in ministry policies regarding supervision of children.

Benton Street Baptist Church in Kitchener, Ontario has posters on each bulletin board in their education wing that encourage relationship building among leaders and children, accountability and safety. Notice how these positive guidelines promote godly, caring interaction.

• Make a point of showing affection to all children in open places.

• Touch children in safe places.

• If a child needs to be comforted, do it by placing your arm around a shoulder and giving a gentle hug from the side.

• Always respect the integrity of the child. Allow him to back away from your well-intentioned affection if he wishes.

• If the child needs to have a private conversation with you, always stay in view of the group or leave a door open.

• Two-adult rule: Attempt at all times to have two adults who are not in the same family caring for children.

Safety and accountability require more creative planning. With a co-leader, choose two children you want to spend time with. Contact the parents and discuss your plans. Travel with your co-worker to pick up the children and select a public place to meet. By choosing nearby tables or similar activities you can buddy together, complying with the requirements of your organization or church. Even when there are not official requirements it is wise to discuss your plans with the parent of the child prior to inviting a child or youth into a mentoring relationship. It is crucial to celebrate the parent and child relationship, honouring their relationship above your own.

Begin by looking close at hand to find a child who needs another spiritual role model in his life—he could be your niece or nephew, the grandchild you love spending time with or the doorbell ringer from next door. Often the most thankful are single parents who know that another male or female role model will aid in the emotional and spiritual development of their child.

A link in the chain

Most parents are honoured and pleased to have you invest in the lives of their children. Deb Kuyers taught me to do one-on-one evangelism among my school friends, how to be selective in choosing friends, how to take a stand against peer pressure, lead a new-believers Bible study and pray for a godly spouse. Today Deb continues to celebrate with me from afar as God blesses my life and ministry. Thirty years later she assures me she is only a phone call away!

Will you be a link in the life of a child?

Melodie Bissell is the provincial director for Child Evangelism Fellowship Ontario (www.cefontario.org) in Canada. She has ministered to children and children's workers for 25 years. She can be reached at 905-475-9116 ext. 112. Send the children to www.cefsuperkids.com.

Originally published in Evangelizing Today's Child, May/June 2003.


 

 
 
 
 

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