With new scary COVID variants, struggling economies, and communities ravaged by natural disasters, war, and disease, we’re living in a world that needs to hear the hope of Jesus. People are scared, people are struggling, people are depressed and hurting. In the face of such brokenness, it’s easy to feel helpless. After all, what can one person do?
It turns out, one person can do a lot. If you are a Christian, secure in the knowledge that whatever trials you go through in this life, you have a relationship with God and a gift of salvation, you have an amazing opportunity to share that same hope with others who need to hear it. Online mentoring is one easy way of doing that.
Whether a person is an atheist, a pastor, a churchgoing Christian, or anything in between, everyone is on a spiritual journey. But it’s not a journey we were meant to do alone. God made us to live in community with Him and with other Christians. And because He made us that way, it’s in community that we grow in our faith.
Online mentoring gives you an easy, safe, and anonymous way to help hurting people and share the Gospel as the Holy Spirit leads. “People have issues with health, family, and especially relationships,” says Sheldon Kotyk, Director of Digital Strategies for Power to Change. “They are looking for people to listen to their hurts and respond in love and eventually prayer.”
A prostitute finds new life
Since she was a child, Priscilla had wanted to be a missionary. She had long been active in her church and in volunteering with Gideons International, but it was when she started mentoring online that she really began to see God using her to do amazing things. “Becoming a mentor has just taken it to the next level, where you are a little bit more into people’s lives and focusing on their needs and helping them to grow,” Priscilla says. “That’s very satisfying.”
Of all the people Priscilla has mentored over the last sixteen years, one that stands out is a 14-year-old mother who was engaged in prostitution and struggled with drug addiction. Priscilla knew the girl needed Jesus in her life, but she wasn’t ready for that yet. Over time, Priscilla journeyed with her as the girl shared about her struggles and asked a lot of questions about God. Then one day, in a moment of desperation while in a back alley, the girl prayed to receive Christ, asked that her sins be forgiven, and that God help her lead a better life.
A few years later, the girl reached out again to thank Priscilla for being the first person to share Jesus with her and said the she now wants to become an online mentor. She wants to help people the way Priscilla helped her.
What is the Mentor Ministry?
Priscilla is one of many mentors who volunteer with The Mentor Ministry, a platform from Power to Change that connects people to a Christian mentor to care for them, come alongside them, and walk with them in their spiritual journey, ultimate pointing them toward Jesus and guiding them along a relationship with God.
Those who are hurting, seeking help, needing advice, or wanting answers to questions reach out on one of Power to Change’s websites and use a web form to send an email to the Mentor Ministry. A mentor is then assigned to that mentee. As the mentor responds to the message, they come alongside the mentee and give them the support they need on their spiritual journey. The communications are all done anonymously over email to protect the safety of both the mentor and the mentee.
In a recent episode of Indigitous PULSE, we explored The Mentor Ministry to find out what it’s like from the mentor’s perspective.
“It’s more asking questions than telling or giving advice,” says Kelley Myles, Director of Mentor Recruiting and Development for Power to Change. “It’s seeking to understand and care for the person and relate what they are facing to matters of the Gospel.”
No experience necessary
One thing that often prevents people from taking part in missions, even just to share their faith with a friend, is that they don’t know how. Most people don’t like to do something they haven’t done before. And sharing your faith can feel uncomfortable when you’re put on the spot. But no experience is necessary for being an online mentor with The Mentor Ministry. They have a robust training curriculum that prepares you for the task.
The online training takes you through the basics of mentoring, how to respond to different kinds of messages, and provides a resource center with a lot of article links and templates that you can use in your responses. Get a message about assurance of salvation? The resource center has a template that you can use to guide your response. Is the person suffering from depression? There’s a template that can guide you through that. Most of the topics you’ll get have been handled before by other mentors so you can learn from what has worked in the past.
As a mentor, you’re also given a coach who can answer questions, give advice, and help you through the mentoring process when it gets confusing, tricky, or discouraging. “We give you evangelism training wheels,” Sheldon says.
“The training that was available to be a mentor was so good,” says Christe Dodds, who began mentoring online during the COVID-19 lockdown last year. “Plus I think that format of email takes a ton of the pressure off.”
Because the conversations are asynchronous, you don’t have to worry about being put on the spot. Get an email and don’t know how to respond? You can take some time to pray about it, to do research, or even reach out to your coach about how to respond.
“My coach has been awesome,” Christe says. “There were a few situations where I was really unsure of what to say. She was fantastic to either confirm what I was thinking or offer me something different.”
Making a difference
When most of the world locked down due to the COVID-19 pandemic, a lot of people struggled with the isolation. One woman who was overcome with loneliness reached out to one of the P2C websites and got a response from Christe.
“She was desperately lonely,” Christe says. “I know she’s a believer, but she was really struggling with her purpose and her value. You know, there was nothing that I said from the Word that was necessarily new to her, but it was just being able to be there, checking in on her. The Lord would bring her to mind all the time. That was really sweet for me to have that opportunity to love her.”
Being a mentor grows your faith
Being an online mentor isn’t a one-way relationship. It’s not about knowing all the answers or telling someone what to do. It’s a true relationship where you journey together. As such a relationship, the impact is felt not just on the mentee but on the mentor as well.
“I consistently hear from our mentors, ‘my experience online in evangelism and mentoring has helped me share my faith offline,’” Kelley says. “People get an opportunity to grow in their confidence in their experience sharing their faith online.”
According to many online mentors, the experience of mentoring has helped them to grow in their biblical knowledge, improved their understanding of the Gospel, has strengthened their faith, and has encouraged them to pray more often.
“It’s always felt life-giving and very fulfilling,” Christe says. “I think the Lord has used it to grow me, to grow my trust in Him, to grow my reliance on the Spirit.”
Qualifications to mentor online
One of the great things about mentoring with The Mentor Ministry is that it’s something virtually all Christians are able to do. You don’t need to be a biblical scholar. You don’t need an outgoing personality. All of the training can be done in a single day.
“If you are a Christian and you can write an email, then you can mentor with us,” Kelley says. “We’re looking for people who are growing in their walk with God, have a heart for others, and want to show empathy with others with the issues they’re facing.”
Once Christe heard about the opportunity to mentor others, she couldn’t imagine not taking advantage. “We were created to give ourselves away, and The Mentor Ministry is about the easiest way to give yourself away that I can think of.”
As a mentor, you’re able to choose how many messages per day, or per week, you would like to handle. You can also set your days off, including vacations, when no messages will come in. It’s ministry that you can do from home at a time that suits you.
“I can reply in my pajamas at 11:00 at night if I want to,” Christe says. “It’s so tailored around my schedule that, if I could be so bold, there’s no excuse for not doing it.”