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Christian Mentorship at Iglesia Evangelica De La Fe in San Miguelito, Panama

Reformed Eve is a daughter of God, which makes her royalty - no matter what the world throws at her. She straightens her crown quite often.

What is Christian Mentorship?

What is Christian Mentorship? Mentoring, as a Christian, means that one decides to take the responsibility of being a good influence in another's life. To be a mentor means that one wants to become an imperative role in individuals' personal lives. The beautiful aspect of mentoring is that it is not just the mentee that is helped; the mentor is positively impacted as well. It helps understand that "as iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another."[1] (Proverbs 27:17) Christian mentorship is essential because it allows individuals of various groups to become accountable for letting their faith be more than words - it allows them to create that faith into an action word. Many individuals have a deep desire to get closer to Christ, but they lack a guide. They want to be part of a healthy community, but they do not connect to those networks. Mentoring serves as a bridge, creating a safe place that is Jesus-centered from a more secular existence. Mentoring with a secular emphasis is entirely different from Christian mentorship, as it is more focused on skills, numbers, statistics, and meeting professional goals. The focus is singular - on business goals. Mentoring with a Christian mindset is helping others become more like Jesus. Mentors help mentees find areas in their life where they may need assistance. They help create blueprints for life changes or bible studies. They help suggest literature that is uplifting to the mentee. They celebrate milestones and address areas where behavior is more secular and ungodly. If there are thoughts regarding wanting to give up on life or family completely, a mentor can help guide that area. A mentor is like an ambassador on Earth, representing Heaven and its glorious gifts, love, and hope. A mentor needs to represent Jesus and show/share the fruits of the spirit, which are "love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Against such things, there is no law. (Galatians 5:22, NIV)[2]

I interviewed Dorisbel S. and her husband, Manuel A. They both mentor in San Miguelito, Panama, at the church named Iglesia Evangelica de la Fe. They are a couple, and they both serve in the church within ministry positions. Dorisbel is a youth group leader in Panama, while Manuel is responsible for the Men's Ministry in the church.

They both have positions that significantly impact the church and, in turn, on the community. Manuel's role involves leading and navigating the ministry centered around the men in the church, their families, their church life, relationships, careers, and private lives. As a leader, Manuel is excellent at this position, as he has shown qualities that a men's ministry leader should have. A men's ministry leader should be someone that others can trust in, having reached a spiritual maturity through negative experiences in one's lifespan. They must be willing to learn, with a humble attitude, and with the ability to be a leader. He has a passion for working with men of all ages, especially with younger people. In Panama, there are severe problems concerning crimes, abandoned children, and gang-related activity. Manuel can reach through to many of these young people's hearts by showing them another side of Christianity with empathy, sympathy, and complete understanding without judgment. He met those he mentored at the church, and he initiated contact with the men at this church. Sometimes, they were referring to him by others that he helped in the past. Manuel meets at the Iglesia Evangelica de la Fe, and at other times, at his house. He has been known to host a barbeque or cookout with the men's group, followed by a men's Bible study. Manuel's time is spent comforting men in the group when they have personal issues and making sure that others are held accountable for their actions. If there are infidelity issues or other relational problems, Manuel is willing to meet with the individual or their families. It is difficult for him when people ask him for help but rejects his advice. It is hard for him to see young people choose street life over church life. It is also very much a challenge to help men break the cycle of emotional abuse or infidelity, as it is widely accepted as almost 'normal' in Panamanian culture. A significant aspect of Manuel's ministry within the men's group is that he can help others and act as a shepherd of sorts. He loves to assign leadership positions to men in the group to push towards their true calling and usage of their spiritual gifts.

Dorisbel, as mentioned before, is a youth group leader. This is a courageous position to have, as young people are always shifting personalities depending on their circumstances, hormones, or home lives. The youth can become behavior issues that are hard to modify as a non-parent, so many people shy away from the youth leader position. Dorisbel meets the child at the church that Manuel attends, the Iglesia Evangelica de la Fe. She initiated the mentoring relationship, as she noticed that the youth did not seem to have any activities planned, but many yearned to become friends with each other. She decided to start organizing events where the children can come together in the name of Christ. She mentioned that it was difficult at first, as the youth can sometimes become a bit rebellious or emotional in ways that could be considered distracting from teaching God's Word. Dorisbel had to become creative and learn that different age groups require different needs regarding how to cull distractions and make learning about the Bible a fun event. The most challenging part of her ministry is seeing parents of children not making much of an effort. In Panama, there is a herd/village raising children, but sometimes, this takes away the parent's innate responsibility to care for their child. The child ends up on the streets and staying at random homes. Having a church family is essential for these children, as they may feel lost spiritually, emotionally, and physically. They need a type of church 'mother' that can lead them in the direction of Christ and away from the bad influences that the streets can offer. It is significant for her to help a child graduate school or make significant milestones as they grow closer to Christ.

In both the ministry positions of Manuel and Dorisbel, these individuals must follow Jesus. They both must be a mentor, and a friend, to those they are assisting. Being a friend and a mentor involves relating to the youth and the men appropriately that they can understand. They must both speak the language of that group and even the Spanish of Panama. Panamanian Spanish is very heavily Caribbean-based, and therefore, carries a powerful accent with a tendency to drop letters off from the entire word. Both feel that it is essential to speak in the Panamanian style to appeal to the audience they are trying to reach. They must relate to the men and youth much like Jesus associated with the disciples. Like Jesus, much time needs to be spent on both groups, and each group requires that the group leader shows them levels of personal care.

There are several differences in leading both men’s groups and youth groups, however. Dorisbel must engage the youth to make sure they are led to the feet of Christ. Men's ministry has a lot to do with men that know of Christ but need help managing their lives with Christ as the center. A men's leader must help these men learn how to manage resources that most children do not have access to. Dorisbel, as a youth group leader, must help create a healthy relationship with the youth and help their walk with Christ be meaningful, enriching. Men's ministry involves trying to get the men to volunteer for men's activities and training them.

Ultimately, leading the youth and leading a group of men (of all ages) requires a different skill set. It is essential that they do both, separately, as trying to do this together can become a disaster, as both groups require special care of entirely different natures. I learned that these skills are essential, regardless of which group one is mentoring prayer, vision, and disciple.

Prayer is not mentioned often, and it is usually 'ghosted' as the invisible 'one' before the 'x' in an algebraic expression: it is implied. But is that fair? It is not, as prayer is the most powerful tool that a Christian has within their grasp. And with the Holy Spirit, it is an unbeatable team that is exceptionally effective in long-living ministry. Many people are quick to dismiss the power of prayer or even make the mistake of underestimating its long-range effects completely. The British Journal of Nursing mentioned the importance of prayer: "It is concluded that, although the evidence on the healing power of spirituality is inconclusive, there are indications that it has potential for the health and wellbeing of both patients and nurses." [3]Even though this text specifies a health care setting, it can translate to the mentor/mentee relationship.

Having a vision for ministry is important because it provides a bird's eye view of the effect that one wants to have on the individuals and the community. "Where there is no vision, the people perish." [4](Proverbs 29:18) Communicating the plans of the vision are important. One can consider this much like creating a business plan for creating a new business of owning a food truck. To have a food truck business, blueprints of the entire plan must be drawn up, from the source of clean water to the expected gross profit and loss of that business. Creating a clear vision and sharing it with the group one is mentoring is essential because then the single goal becomes everyone's unified goal. And when one person becomes 'lost,' there is that group with a similar goal ready to help the disoriented sheep return with the herd. It is postulated that "coaching interactions that emphasize a leader's vision (future aspirations and core identity) evoke a psychophysiological state characterized by positive emotions, cognitive openness, and optimal neurobiological functioning for difficult goal pursuit. [5]

Jesus commanded that individuals are to "go and make disciples." [6](Matthew 28:19). This means that as leaders in ministry and as mentors, we are always to strive to reach people who either do not know Christ or have shunned Him and Christianity due to past events. Faith is meant to be shared; it is not meant for just us to keep secrets within. Jesus promised to be with us, even until the very end. But we are to tell others of the good news. As mentors, especially Christian mentors, the sharing of excellent information is paramount, as it fulfills this: "The things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you." [7](Philippians 4:9) To be a disciple, a mentor must want to emulate Jesus in every way. Discipleship involves keeping the souls, body, and mind disciplined with Christ as the example.

I feel that this process of interviews with the mentor, and mentor-centered research, will help me lead others in a pleasing way to God. I genuinely want to be a spiritual counselor someday, and on the spiritual gift assessment, my strengths were mercy-showing and shepherding. Being a spiritual counselor can be a mentor to those who desire closeness with Jesus. To mentor, I must understand others, sympathize with them, speak their love language, and understand the strangeness that comes with situations that the mentee may share with me, which may be uncomfortable for others to know about or hear. I plan to comfort others in a way that blends Jesus and psychological science, with Jesus always being in the center of my mentoring. I feel like I am drawn to being a mentor for women, as I was, in many aspects, the 'woman at the well,' and can completely understand what many women go through. Mentoring will be ultimately, wonderfully different with this new and refined knowledge I have acquired through this exercise.

References

Narayanasamy, Aru, and Mani Narayanasamy. “The Healing Power of Prayer and Its Implications for Nursing.” British Journal of Nursing 17, no. 6 (March 2008): 394–98. https://doi.org/10.12968/bjon.2008.17.6.28907.

Passarelli, Angela M. “Vision-Based Coaching: Optimizing Resources for Leader Development.” Frontiers in Psychology 6 (April 15, 2015). https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2015.00412.

Tyndale. Holy Bible : Inspire Bible Nlt. Tyndale House Publishers, 2016.


[1] Tyndale, Holy Bible : Inspire Bible Nlt. (Tyndale House Publishers, 2016).

[2] Tyndale, Holy Bible : Inspire Bible Nlt. (Tyndale House Publishers, 2016).

[3] Aru Narayanasamy and Mani Narayanasamy, “The Healing Power of Prayer and Its Implications for Nursing,” British Journal of Nursing 17, no. 6 (March 2008): 394–98, https://doi.org/10.12968/bjon.2008.17.6.28907.

[4] Tyndale, Holy Bible : Inspire Bible Nlt. (Tyndale House Publishers, 2016).

[5] Angela M. Passarelli, “Vision-Based Coaching: Optimizing Resources for Leader Development,” Frontiers in Psychology 6 (April 15, 2015), https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2015.00412.

[6] Tyndale, Holy Bible : Inspire Bible Nlt. (Tyndale House Publishers, 2016).

[7] Tyndale, Holy Bible : Inspire Bible Nlt. (Tyndale House Publishers, 2016).

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2021 Reformed Eve

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