Tommy and Mr Parsons - Nine years together and still going strong!as reported by David Parsons - Regional Representative, North Carolina
What Tommy has to say about his Mentor:
“One thing I can be honest about is that I have had many great influences in my life. The top influence in my life since I was in second grade was Mr. Parsons. You guys don't even know how much work this mentor has put in not only for me but for many kids growing up with a spiritual struggle. He has gone through all boundaries to bring up my generation and I am glad to have the honor to be around such a powerful mentor! I've been thinking about just all the stuff we have done and I have participated in over the years. I have participated in various events since 2003 and we have come a long way!!! Thanks a lot for all your encouragement Mr. Parsons and I can't wait to see where GOD brings our leaders that you have helped build into MEN.”
What Mr. Parsons has to say about his Mentee:
I have been mentoring Tommy since he was in the 2nd grade. He is now an 11th grader and is the commander of the ARMY ROTC color guard at his High School!
Through all the years that I have known him, Tommy has been a kid that was passed back and forth between his parents; going to live with mom then later with dad - back and forth between parents, and in and out of court as a result of their bad choices. Often there was another man at mom’s place and there would be various women at dad’s house as well. But amid all those years of turmoil, as Tommy navigated the dysfunction of his home-life, he remained faithful to our mentoring relationship.
Tommy and I made sure we got together even when there were times he was hard to find (his parents moved around a lot), schedules were hard to coordinate and distances made travel difficult. Tommy has been sponsored to attend Christian camp and other special events with me for 6 years. It has been a joy to watch Tommy grow into a fine young man and a faithful Christian.
Over the past two years he has been on the local Pregnancy Care Center’s drama team called "Worth the Wait.” It is amazing to me that after all he has seen and done his value system is still seeking to raise the banner of celibacy to himself and other teens. The drama team goes to local public schools, and middle school chapels to share with the students. Tommy is also an on site Junior Youth Mentor to other students at our Boys Club for Christ (BCX) at a local urban church.
I was with Tommy . . .
· When he caught his first fish.
· When he came up to me on Monday at Word of Life Camp and said, “I failed the swimming test but I will try again tomorrow.” The next day he said, “Mr. Parsons I passed the swimming test!”
· When he went tubing for the first time.
· When he went camping for the first time.
I plan to be there when he graduates and goes on to other adventures that God has for him. He has truly emerged as a junior leader and hopes to work at a Christian Camp this Summer.
John and Harold - the results of a successful mentoring relationshipas reported by Larry Raab of Long Island Youth Mentoring
Here is a first person account from Harold, a mentor who has been matched for 9 years to John, a young man who is now 18 years old.
As you know, John tends to be a bit random at times. But then, there are those times when he not only shocks me with his clarity of thought, but that the Lord uses him to encourage me!
We were driving home from our activity yesterday talking about nothing specific when he began to rail about the issues in his home, again, saying, “My family this…!” and “My family that…!” and “All the trouble that we’ve had…!” and “Why are they always focusing on the negative?” etc. I let him rant for a few minutes until he calmed down and said quietly, “I want to rise above that. I don’t want to stay in that and I don’t want to be continually dragged back into it.”
I saw an opening, so I asked him, “What can you do at this point to make your own future brighter?” He asked what I meant so I re-phrased it, “What is one thing that you can do right now that would help improve things, so that you will not be stuck in the same situation you are looking to get out of?” He said, “Well, I guess I can do what’s right, for myself and for the people around me.” I acknowledged that was a good answer and followed up with, “What is one single thing that you can set your mind to do so that you can rise above this?” His countenance picked up as he said, “You know, that’s a really good question and I know what you’re saying. I can get a job. I can try to get a place to live. I can try not to be so negative about my life circumstances.” And then the Lord gave me my first Christmas present of 2012.
(We’ve been matched for over 9 years now, mind you!) John looked me in the eyes and in rapid-fire succession said, “Do you know something? If I am 100% truthful, I wouldn’t even be where I am now if it wasn’t for you. I don’t know where I would be if you weren’t there. So many times I said to myself when everything is happening at home, ‘if it wasn’t for my mentor, I could never get through this.’ And then as I think some more, I think, ya know what? I couldn’t get through any of this- I would not have been able to deal with these things that I’ve dealt with all of these years, since I was a little boy, if my mentor wasn’t there The only reason I am still hanging on, is because of you. If I’m 100% honest with you, the only reason I am still hanging on is because of you.” I was so near tears, I could barely reply.
We then continued to talk about his family and in doing so he said, “My mom. I love my mom. You KNOW I love my mom! But when she didn’t do what she was supposed to do, you picked up the slack. Where she COULDN”T do what she was supposed to do, you picked up for me. In some ways, you raised me more than she did. Where my Mom’s fallen down, you picked me up. (He’s never met his father by the way) Where my Mom hasn’t been able to do it, you’ve filled in the gaps. Sometimes I think you raised me more than my mom did. You set me straight so many times. Like these questions you ask me. They’re good questions and they make me think, and I don’t always think.”
As so often happens when we’re together, when John has blurted out what’s on his mind, the conversation is over. Still very emotional, I thanked him for his kind words and I told him that I praise God because it has been my honor and privilege to be his friend and mentor. He smiled that great big smile of his and got out of the car to reenter the very home we’d just spent most of our ride talking about. I prayed for him as I drove away and remembered yet once again, “This is why I am a mentor.” Thank you Jesus!
Learn more about Long Island Youth Mentoring
More Mentoring Stories
Jeremiah and the Lawas reported by Jeff, his mentor
Growing up is never easy, but the degree of difficulty grows exponentially when your father is incarcerated. For Jeremiah, mentoring offered a new path that veered him far from his father's footsteps. In fact, it may lead him to a completely different side of the law.
Jeremiah and I were known for our lunch discussions. Jeremiah liked nothing better than to talk about life over a good plate of buffalo wings. Sometimes the conversation was about music, movies, or girls, but on this day the conversation was very different. Jeremiah looked me in the eye and asked, “Did you always know you would be directing a mentoring program for children of inmates?”
I told Jeremiah, that no, I had not always known this. I went on to explain that as I look back over my life that where I am today makes total sense. All the experiences and training I have had to this point made me ready for this task. He leaned back; I could tell he was trying to go somewhere deeper. “Can I ask you another question?” he said. He leaned back and asked, “How do I know God’s will for my life?”
I proceeding to tell God my understanding of grasping and following God’s will. Jeremiah had always said he was a Christian but had not really been living it out day-to-day. Jeremiah went on to explain that he was really enjoying being on the Speech and Debate team at school. He thought he might like to pursue a law degree and his teachers were advising him in that direction.
Over the next few weeks Jeremiah focused on applying to colleges and applying for a job to raise the money he needed to buy a car. I was able to coach him on job interviews and what to look for in buying a car. Within a few weeks he secured a good job and began saving money for a car. Within a just a few months he was ready to buy his first car! He and I went car shopping together. By the end of the weekend he had purchased a reasonably priced car that served his need to get to work and today he is using to get to and from college.
That’s right, Jeremiah got accepted and is attending a Christian College about 5 hours from home and has begun his pursuit of a degree in law. He came home for Thanksgiving break and over lunch he told me that going to college was the greatest thing he has done in this life. Just recently we met for lunch after the close of the spring term and he told me he made the dean’s list!
I believe that Jeremiah is pursuing God’s will for his life and will continue to do so. I am humbled that I was there when he asked the question “How do I know God’s will for my life?” I would hate to think what would have happened if he had asked that same question of someone who did not have a relationship with God. God is good and has been and continues to be good to Jeremiah and his family.
Alfie's New Lifeas reported by Jack, his mentor
Alfie is wise beyond his years. This 16 year old has experienced much more in his life than most of us will in our entire lifetime. He is a “surface expert” on many different subjects and is well read in his areas of interest; which there are many. Unfortunately he has a chip on his shoulder and does have anger issues. But he knows that he does and is exhibiting better self-control in these areas.
Unless we spend time together, Alfie’s preference of communication is like most teenagers; via texting. We do this many times during the day, approximately every other day during the week. Over the past couple weeks since my return from 4 weeks of traveling, Alfie and I have been discussing “faith, religion and God” through text messaging. I told him that if he wanted to have a deeper conversation about this subject, I would be excited to do so. Alfie told me that I might think he was crazy and I assured him I would not. His extended family has called him names in the past when he presented his views on religion so he was reluctant to bring it up again with me. But I encouraged him to share his thoughts on it, and promised him no condemnation whatsoever. So yesterday this subject came up again while having coffee together.
Alfie believes in God, the Bible and how God instructs us to love one another. He has some knowledge on other religions: Buddhism, Hinduism, Mormons, etc. As we discussed Jesus, His Word, how it applies to our life, and that the Bible is not a “menu” for what we want, think or believe, Alfie became more engaged and wanted to know more. We discussed how we could come to faith in Christ. He came to understand that through Jesus' sacrifice we could have new life with Him on earth and someday join God in heaven. Alfie grew more curious as I explained to him how he could have Jesus in his heart and have a deeper relationship with Jesus. Together we prayed as Alfie committed his life to Christ.
John Maheras reported by Peter Vanacore, Executive Director
I witnessed the beginning of a miracle when I matched John with his new mentor, Andrew. A twelve-year-old boy's life is often filled with thoughts of sports, school and friends. John's smile and charm made you think of such a boy, but his life was not so simple. Growing up without a dad is difficult. Kids without caring fathers have higher rates of failing in school and getting into trouble with the law. John's dad was in and out of his life in a way that made him angry toward everyone around him. The sweet smile could turn into rage without any apparent provocation, leaving his mother struggling to find hope.
Seventeen years later I attended John’s wedding on Long Island. His mother hugged me and proclaimed, “This all started when you brought Andrew into our lives.” Andrew stood as a groomsman in the wedding, an honor he earned by mentoring John from a troubled young boy into a loving and hard working man. There were many times over those years when Andrew could have moved on with his life, but true friendship has a way of enduring through the vicissitudes of life. When their pastor proclaimed John and Jill “husband and wife,” everyone knew that Andrew’s faithful commitment made this vow possible. Mr. and Mrs. Maher are now a faithful Christian couple raising their young daughter to follow the Lord. John’s mom, who once thanked me for “giving me back my son,” has also found faith in Christ.
Andrew invested much time and energy as a mentor. Part of his life legacy will be a family that was changed for eternity because he followed the call to become a mentor.
Dylan and Norman, matched by Godas reported by Donnovan Karber, National Field Director
Norman was 71 and Dylan was 12 when they were first matched. Norman and Dylan have been matched for over 5 1/2 years. Dylan was a high-risk kid because of his family situation. Dylan's dad was out of the picture and his mom struggled with serious depression. We actually had another boy in mind for Norman because we did not know if he could handle a boy like Dylan. Norman said he felt like God was leading him to mentor Dylan and so that is how it all started.
Norman and Dylan hit it off from the very beginning. They really enjoyed hanging out with each other. Norman was a retired farmer, so he introduced Dylan to the farm and he loved it. Norman also got Dylan involved in the Upward Basketball program at his church. About a year into their match Norman had to have heart surgery. Norman and Dylan had already developed a close relationship by this time. This was a major surgery and there was a chance that he may not recover well. This challenging time grew their bond even stronger. Norman did recover well and has been going strong ever since.
Their match has not been a smooth ride. There have been many bumps in the road along the way. Dylan has always struggled in school. He has some learning disabilities and so he would often get overwhelmed with schoolwork and end up getting into trouble. Norman had many visits with schoolteachers, counselors, and principles. Dylan got locked up in Juvenile Detention for extended times 3 or 4 different times during their match. Norman would always make it a point to go and visit Dylan each week at the facilities. When I thing of Norman and the challenges he had with Dylan, I think of the quote, "When life gives you lemons, make lemonade". God has used Norman to make good out of bad situations. As Norman visited Dylan so many times at these Juvenile Detention facilities he got to know many of the other kids that were there as well. He felt God calling him to reach out to them. A year ago, Norman was ordained by his church and he is now a chaplain at a Juvenile Detention Facility.
This has been an amazing match to watch. Norman has helped Dylan in his spiritual walk. Dylan prayed for the meal at the 2009 State of Kansas Mentoring Conference. Dylan also helped start a Bible Study at one of the Juvenile Detention Facilities. Norman got Dylan a summer job on a farm where he drove a tractor and worked with cattle. Norman helped Dylan get his driver's license and complete his GED.
Mentors and Mentees in Indianapolis learning about God's love togetherin NCM Magazine, Winter 2012
Imagine waking up one morning at the age of 13 and remembering that the nightmare you had was not a dream. It's your reality. Your name is Marcela. You have two sisters, 9-year-old Rosa and 10-year-old Isabel, and your parents are gone. Your grandma takes care of you now, and as much as you love her and know she is doing your best, you miss your parents. You miss your mom's hugs and the way your dad's voice sounded over the phone. more
Clarise and Sarah - exploring a new world togetheras reported by Donnovan Karber, National Field Director
Sarah and Clarise were matched on March 31, 2004. Sarah and her husband Aaron were recently married and fairly new to the Wichita area. Clarise, her mom and her sister had recently moved here from Texas. Clarise was 12 years old when they were matched. Sarah and Clarise, with Aaron joining them on a regular basis, did lots of different activities together, tried new foods and became good friends those first couple of years they were matched. Sarah, a very intentional person, really wanted to share her faith with Clarise and looked for creative ways to do so. Her earlier efforts were unsuccessful, as Clarise had no interest in spiritual things. However, Sarah decided to be patient and continue to build their friendship first. Her investment paid off when about 2 years ago, Clarise began to ask a lot of questions about Jesus and what it meant to have a relationship with Him. Shortly after Clarise made a decision to follow God and became active in Sarah's church and youth group. A year later, she was baptized.
Sarah, in her desire to become more effective as a mentor, traveled with the Youth Horizons staff at her own expense to the CAYM conference in October 2008. Since beginning to mentor, she has been very intentional about her role, consistent in her pursuit of Clarise and sacrificial in giving her life and time to an at-risk child. She and her husband now have two children of their own, and Clarise recently told a reporter who interviewed the match that watching Sarah interact with her husband and with her children has had a significant impact on her life and view of relationships.
Clarise is graduating from high school this month and plans to attend Kansas State University this fall. Sarah and Aaron have taken her to visit K-State, helped her fill out scholarship and financial aid information and taught her about living on her own. They have truly done everything they can to help her be successful.
Sarah and Aaron have already talked about being matched again once Clarise heads off to college, though this time it will likely be Aaron who will mentor. There's no doubt, though, that the whole family will be involved.
Hal and Ben - learning to trustas reported by Peter Vanacore, Execute Director
Hal had the perfect setup to be matched with Ben. He would close his office early once a week so he could pick up Ben as he returned home from his high school where he was just beginning his freshman year. Their mentor coach arranged the match meeting where Ben and Hal signed a pact to meet weekly for a minimum of a year. Ben's mom and the coach signed, as "witnesses" and it seemed that this was the beginning of a solid friendship.
Hal arrived on time to meet Ben the next Tuesday afternoon. The young man was nowhere to be found. Instead of getting in his car and leaving, Hal sat on his fender and waited. Forty-five minutes later, Ben popped around the corner and into Hal's car. The afternoon went well, and they committed to meet again at the agreed time the following week. Seven days later Ben is missing in action again when Hall arrives. It takes another three quarters of an hour wait before he arrives. This time Hal makes a more specific plea for Ben to show up on time, to which the protege gave a positive response. Hal reported the problem to his coach during a supervision call who in turn contacted Ben to determine how the relationship was going from his perspective. Ben said that he liked Hal and was looking forward to their year together. She encouraged Hal to keep meeting. The third time was not a charm. It took nearly an hour for the young man to arrive. Hal asked if there was a problem with the time, to which Ben said that the arrangements were fine. The next week and each week afterwards Ben showed up on time.
At their year-end evaluation meeting, Ben explained his behavior at the start of their now solid friendship. He asked Hal, "Do you know where I was each week while you were waiting for me?" Hal had no idea. "I was hiding behind the bushes around the corner waiting for you to leave. When you stayed so long, I gave in and met with you. After a few weeks, I figured you weren't going to give up." Over the year Hal learned that Ben's dad would sporadically come into his life and make promises about getting together regularly so they could go to ball games. The promises were broken each time from which Ben seemed to learn that men were not trustworthy. When Hal made the promise to meet weekly, Ben couldn't take the step of faith to trust him. It was only Hal's patience and persistence that broke through Ben's emotional wall.