Everyone needs a mentor. It’s something we constantly strive for here at Friends of the City. From the beginning, I’ve prayed about mentoring programs, checked out mentoring curriculums, and tried to figure out the best mentoring platform for children, youth and adults living in poverty. As a ministry that focuses on holistic education, the cry of my heart is that education is about more than a report card and that the teacher/student relationship should go beyond the “classroom.” But I have to confess, it feels overwhelming. I haven’t quite got it figured out yet and every answer and resource I find only leads me to more questions about how to best weave transforming mentorship into the very DNA of everything we do here.
Over the past several months, I’ve been observing a young girl that I’ve known now for over 3 years. Nok (not her real name) began as an awkward student in one of the inner city slums I work at. She was physically clumsy, academically slow, and socially marginalized even amongst her peers in her very own community - not to mention how she must have been treated at school with middle-class students her own age. Of all the students I had, she was the one I was most concerned about. What will her future hold if Nok never learns to thrive at something, at anything? Will she drop out of school? Will she turn to drugs? How will she make a living? Will she turn to prostitution? I gave a lot of special attention to Nok, and a lot of extra prayer.
Fast forward three years later. Nok is now ten years old. She is the first to clean up the classroom when asked. She is the most compassionate when she sees another child hurt. And as the students memorize a new Bible verse every session of English or LEGOs, Nok is the only one of the older students to intentionally slow down and help the little ones memorize the verse as well. Nok has become a mentor! Don’t get me wrong, Nok still has a lot of challenges in her life, but she’s grown into a more confident young lady and is a very encouraging voice to others within our classroom.
This takes me back to the questions about mentoring that I’ve been reflecting on for the past few years. I never found a mentoring curriculum. I still haven’t been able to officially launch my dream mentoring program. But something has happened as I’ve simply taken one young girl under my wing - it rubbed off on her. Apparently mentoring is something that is more caught than taught, a good lesson for me as I still find myself pondering all those questions about programs and curriculums.
Pray with me for the children and youth in the slums of Bangkok. Pray for more Thai Christians to answer the call to walk alongside of those who frequently walk alone. And pray for a mentoring movement in Thailand as those, like Nok, grow up and mentor the next generation of young ones to become compassionate, confident lovers of Jesus.