Gentle Christian Mentoring
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27. Gentle Christian Mentoring

Praying Mentors

Child at DeskWe all have Christian mentors in our lives, whether we realize it or not. Caring for the weak, young, disabled, and for one another, bonds the members of the Household Body together. Gentle Christian mentoring happens when we offer our resources in Christ and they become the other person's resources. Others are praying for our well being all the time though we don't know it. Saint Barnabas mentored a new convert to the faith, Saint Paul. Saint Paul mentored a young Timothy and so on. As a child in the early fifties, I remember two elderly spinsters, Miss Church, and Miss Butt, visiting our poor home every week and collecting insurance money from my mum and dad. My family paid pennies every week to ensure that they could bury us properly. That particular poor community expected this. Miss Church and Miss Butt became Christian mentors to my brother, my sister and I, and brought us into a schoolhouse Sunday school, thus planting the seeds of our later commitments to Christ. I do not doubt at all that they regularly prayed for us right up to the ends of their lives. All three of us continue in the Christian faith even to this day. Another of my mentors as a teenager was a boy scout leader named George Hoffman. George prompted me to take part in church and scout activities, though my family was barely able to afford it. On one occasion, George even gave me a pair of hiking socks because he cared. Hiking socks still remind me of the gentle mentoring of what I now consider a great Christian man of God. George Hoffman later became the Executive Director of Tearfund in Britain. I thank him for caring in Jesus' name. Rest in Peace, George and also Miss Church and Miss Butt!✞

Total Christian Commitment

Pig and ChickenTotal Christian commitment to our Lord and supporting each other are essential qualities of members of the Body of Christ. There is a funny story about a hen and a pig strolling down the road one day when a truck roars past bearing the sign, "HAM AND EGGS." "See," clucks the chicken to the pig, "you and I are partners." "Yes," snorted the hog, "but for you, it's a day's work, for me, it's a total commitment." Christian commitment also needs to be total. Christians mature as they support each other on their spiritual journeys and give themselves in total Christian commitment to one another.✞

Husbands and Wives

Two Fish in Love!Committed husbands and wives are also encouraged to be gentle Christian mentors to one another in spending time together, holding hands, and just talking. Mentoring in a Christian marriage means committing to the other person for Christian marriage involves nothing short of total commitment. Saint Paul urges in Ephesians 5.33 "However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband." But the apex of the mentoring process is the commitment of a Christian to Jesus Christ. The "Bride of Christ" or the "bride," or the "Lamb's wife" are terms used in the Gospels, Revelation, the Epistles plus other related verses in the Old Testament to emphasize gentle Christian mentoring. Sometimes, the "Bride" is implied by calling "Jesus the Bridegroom." For over 2000 years, the "Church" has been the "bride betrothed to Christ." Our love for Jesus is a reflection, albeit imperfectly, of Christ's love for his bride, the church.

Physically Challenged

Hearing AidThe role of the physically challenged in the Mystical Body of Christ is vitally essential and especially concerning their need for access to church buildings. In the Household Body, as in the human body, the physically challenged are supported by the rest of the body. In a human body, if one kidney shuts down, the second steps in and enlarges to work for both. I can attest to this, for I have had only one functional kidney for at least twenty years! Similarly, when an ear goes deaf, the head automatically twists so that the eye can lip-read the words spoken. The body does not excommunicate the ear because of its deafness, it stimulates it as a valuable member, but simultaneously turns to another part for help. Abbot Charles-Michel de l'Épée (1712-1789) was called "the Father of the Deaf" who, after encountering two deaf sisters in Paris who communicated using a sign language, decided to dedicate himself to the education and salvation of the deaf. He began a system of "signed French" so that hearing-impaired people could legally defend themselves in court. Two years after his death in 1789, the National Assembly of France recognized him as a "Benefactor of Humanity." Thus signing for the deaf, which is used today around the World, began. The deaf, the frail, the disabled, and the elderly as well as children and babies, are due greater honor and are vital to the Mystical Body of Christ.

Accessible Buildings

Elevator EntranceThe physically challenged are the reason that all our Church buildings must have elevators and hearing impaired equipment. Otherwise, our actions declare, "we don't care for the physically or mentally challenged persons or those with other disabilities!" Otherwise, Christians dishonor the Body of Christ. In many places, the local school, the library, and the supermarket are all be accessible, but not God's house! The sign outside may read, "All Welcome" but unknowingly, a congregation's inaccessible building gives the subtle message to the community, "the physically challenged are not welcome here!" I believe our churches have to do much better!✞

Weaker Children Role

Child in Party HatThe role of weaker children in the Body of Christ is crucial as the weak, and the challenged are indispensable parts and hold passports to the Kingdom of God. The role of children in the Household Body has a particular significance. Saint Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 12.22-23a, "On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, and the parts that we think are less honorable we treat with special honor." Children and those who were mentally challenged or otherwise disabled have a special place in the Body of Christ. The Law regards children and babies as their parents' property, and in society often treated as small versions of adults. Sometimes, they are even considered as an inconvenient or a nuisance and an expense in our modern society. In the Christian Body, however, infants and babes are to be honored and loved. The Apostles tried to discourage mothers from bringing their babies, and little children to Jesus, but he insisted on blessing them. His assertion in Matthew 19.14 rocked his listeners on their heels and challenges his hearers even today, "Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these!" Little children, babies, and the disabled are guaranteed a place in the Kingdom of God! Children are such an amazing and wonderful blessing!

Kingdom Passport

BabyJesus emphatically teaches here, by word and action, that the roles of children, babies, and challenged adults are crucial as they hold passports to the Kingdom of God. They do not have to qualify like adults but already possess full membership. Only when young people reach the age of discretion, do they need to accept or deny the Christian faith to be ensured passports into the Kingdom of God. Before that time, children are automatically a part of God's Kingdom. Children are individuals rather than small versions of adults as far as God is concerned and deserve special and honorable treatment.

Simple Childlike Faith

Orphanage Certificate RomeThe simple childlike faith required of God by Christians is not childish but humble and sincere for all children belong to God's kingdom. The Early Church in Rome acted on their Christianity by going out to rescue and care for unwanted and abandoned newborn babies. Often female babies, in particular, were unwanted in Roman cities and left outside on the doorstep for wild dogs to carry off! Christians responded to this dreadful, gruesome practice by creating orphanages to care for these precious ones. In recent times, Mother Teresa (1910-1997 AD) would go out onto the streets of Calcutta with her sisters and bring back to the convent the sick and dying. They would then nurse them until either they recovered or died. She was praised for her opposition to abortion and made people feel loved no matter what their circumstances. Like infants, mentally challenged persons in her care may never develop the ability to make choices for themselves. They may remain in childlike faith within God's Kingdom until their lives' end.

Uncomplicated Christian Affection

Children PlayingSome Down syndrome children though delayed in their mental development, have an abundance of love. Down syndrome (DS), also called "Trisomy 21," is a condition in which a person is born with an extra chromosome. With Down syndrome, the extra chromosome causes delays in the way a child develops, mentally and physically. Over the years, I have personally had several Down Syndrome teenagers in my congregations. They would frequently throw their arms around you when you arrive and do not want to let go. Such uncluttered, uncomplicated affection and simple faith are appropriate for all those in God's kingdom. Jesus calls his full-grown disciples to this kind of childlike faith.✞

Homer's Odyssey

To practice gentle Christian mentoring with someone, especially a younger colleague, is to advise or train them. A mentor may also be a guide, confidant, counselor, consultant, or even a therapist. A mentor is a more experienced or more knowledgeable person who helps and guides a less experienced and less learned person. It is relationship-based. The word "mentor" is probably inspired by the character of "Mentor" in "Homer's Odyssey," which is a two-part ancient Greek epic poem attributed to the poet Homer. Homer said, "A sympathetic friend can be quite as dear as a brother." The actual mentor in the story is probably an older man who guides a young Telemachus in his time of difficulty.

Jesus Our Clone Model

The masterful mentor Jesus is our model for the gentle Christian mentoring of other Christians in the Mystical Body of Christ. In the Gospels, Jesus is pictured as the masterful mentor as he moves amongst people almost without them knowing it. Rather than cloning disciples, he encourages them to think for themselves. Without realizing it, they invariably embrace his ethical codes and examples. Jesus, the mentor, gives us an example in his own life of what we should be like, not just what we should do or say! An example is found in Jesus' mentorship by the Father. The Apostle John writes in John 5.19-20, "Jesus gave them this answer: 'Very truly I tell you, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does. For the Father loves the Son and shows him all he does. Yes, and he will show him even greater works than these so that you will be amazed.'"

Like the Rest

Dog AsleepA University professor is confronted one day by a motley-looking hound that had strolled into his lecture hall barking aggressively at the rostrum. After vainly trying to shout over the racket, the professor gives up, and turning to the dog exclaims, "If you're going to stay, you'll have to behave yourself and act like the rest of the students." To the class's great delight, the dog curled up on the floor and was soon peacefully asleep!

"Gentle Christian Mentoring"
by Ron Meacock © 2019

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