For stories about people who have made, or are making, a difference.

Mentoring through the shadow

Each breath was a gift as Donna’s husband lay in the Cardiac Care Unit of the hospital, connected by tubes and wires to machines that beeped and churned. It had been less that 24 hours since the ambulance rushed Max to the ER while Donna and I raced home from Seattle.

As we stood with their family around Max’s hospital bed, the heart specialist and two nurses entered the darkened room and described the severity of Max’s massive heart attack. After a short pause, the doctor then told us that, given his condition, there was nothing more they could do. It was shattering news, yet there was peace and calm in the room as Max gave his response to the resuscitation question and the family affirmed his wishes.

“Doctor, what exactly are you saying?” asked Donna, when she followed him into the hallway, needing to confirm what she thought she’d heard the first time.

“I am so sorry,” he said as he placed his hand on her shoulder. “But there is nothing we can do. It’s only time.”

Reaching her hand to his arm, Donna then assured him. “No, Doctor. Don’t be sorry. You see, we’re Christians. Since Max’s by-passes thirty years ago, we’ve never known how long we might have here together. But we do know where Max is going.”

The doctor gently smiled and replied, “Oh, I see. You’re believers.”

While I was taken by the doctor’s gentle and compassionate manner, it was what I witnessed over the next few days that really impacted me.

Following the doctor’s pronouncement, calls were made to family and friends who arrived to give comfort and support. But it was difficult to limit friend’s visits to only five minutes at a time. People came to be an encouragement and left being encouraged by a man who, forever the mentoring pastor, was more concerned about them than what was happening to him. Oxygen masks, IV drips, monitoring machines, and a weak voice didn’t take away from Max’s natural inclination to minister to each person who entered his room. Even in the midst of his “valley of the shadow” as described in Psalm 23, he gave visitors hope and assurance.

At Max’s request, the church elders also came. But, instead of being the givers, they also became the receivers as they stood in a circle around the bed. One by one, Max affirmed each of them in their leadership role and charged the whole group with challenging words of wisdom. Though they had come to minister to their fellow Elder, they too came away inspired and encouraged.

That was two weeks ago. Today, Max is home, though quite limited with only 25% of his heart functioning. But, as his eldest son says, “God has given him some more time on this earth to minister to others. Because that is what my dad does, he touches other people on this earth all the time.”

For now, Donna says, “We’re taking it one day at a time.”

How about you? Are you walking through a shadow time in your life or know someone who is? Rest assured, there is no need to be fearful in the valley of the shadow. Hope is alive. Read Psalm 23.

.

Mentoring Crosses Cultural Boundaries

Lydia grew up the eldest of three children in a very poor village located in Southeast Asia. She had an extremely difficult childhood because she was from a disenfranchised minority group in Asia and had a drunken father who beat her mother constantly. She also had to walk a long distance to school each day and, as the eldest child in this culture, she was responsible for her brother and sister. While other kids went off to play, Lydia had to wash clothes, go to market, and help her mother, often with her baby brother on her back.

When she was in grade 7, Lydia’s house burned to the ground, in the early hours of the morning. After this happened she was always shunned by her peers because of the bad karma that they believed caused the fire. She became the lowest status in her village, always looked down on, and despised because, according to karmic law, she must have been a bad person in a previous life.

Lydia was destined for a life of misery and desperation. At age 16 most of the girls in the village would be getting married and having children of their own. But Lydia did not want the sort of desperate cycle of life she saw around her. She wanted to be educated and not be married, especially in her teens. So when Lydia was 16 years old her uncle Paul, who was the first Christian among their Shatikha people, had compassion on her and saw her desire to do more with her life. He convinced Lydia’s mother to let her go to the next city to live with his family and get a chance at better education.

After one year, Lydia became a Christian which alienated her even further from her family and people. However, she continued on in her education goals and eventually went to a Bible translation evaluation workshop with missionary, Doug Inglis. There, she tested extremely high on her ability in language.

After being ostracized from her people, Lydia moved to Thailand to learn English, to study more, and to learn about translation and literacy work with Wycliffe Bible Translators. She lived with Doug and Connie’s family for 18 months and liked to call them mom and dad. In turn, they called her Yei, which means ‘eldest daughter’ in her language.

Lydia was very adept at learning English and doing translation and language work. She joined the Shatikha Bible Translation team and began a series of workshops to be able to assist in translating the Bible into her Shatikha language. She was also involved in making an English-Shatikha dictionary. Lydia has now returned to her home country and is continuing her university education, studying more English, and teaching English to others.

The most amazing part of this story is that recently the chief monk of Lydia’s people group asked her to come back to her own village and teach English to the monks. These are the same monks who, in previous years, completely ostracized her and drove her out of the village. Her own people have seen so much growth and happiness in Lydia that they now want her to come share her life with them again. She has become the most famous Shatikha woman among her people. This is an amazing door that God is opening up for Lydia.

Because Lydia loves God so much she has a real heart to help young Shatikha girls who are in the same predicament as she was so many years ago – poor, uneducated, and without hope in village life. She has decided to start out by helping two Shatikha girls leave the village where there is inadequate schools and go to a nearby city to start their own education and personal growth process. Lydia is so excited to finally be able to help others, based on the harsh experiences of her own life.

One day, as Doug was talking with Lydia about her future, she told him that she wanted to give herself into the lives of other people, especially younger girls and boys from her own disadvantaged people group. He told Lydia that the English word for what she desired to do with her life was mentoring. He then told her that his mother, Donna Inglis, and her friend, Ann Griffiths, had an entire ministry devoted to mentoring and a newly written book titled, A Mentor’s Fingerprint, to help people mentor others.

Doug happened to have a copy of the book with him and signed it for Lydia, on behalf of Ann and her Canadian grandmother, Donna. Lydia smiled and tears came to her eyes. They were tears that ran back over all the difficult years in her life; years of struggle against society, and culture, and “karma”. Years that formed the foundation of her future ministry of mentoring others caught in their own struggles.

Lydia wants to introduce her two girls to the most important man in her life, Jesus, and told Doug that she did not desire a big fancy ministry but just wanted to give herself to serving other people. These two girls really look up to Lydia and trust her. She is their mentor.

Thank you to Doug Inglis for sharing this story with us. The names (other than Doug, Connie, Donna, & Ann) are changed for sensitivity. Doug and Connie Inglis have been doing Bible Translation and Literacy work in Asia with Wycliffe Bible Translators since 1991. They are currently project advisors for the Shatikha People Group.

.

Little eyes. Big influence.

A couple of Sundays ago, my husband and I were standing and singing in church with other people who lined the pews. In front of us stood a young couple with two small boys.

As we came to the chorus of one of the songs, the dad raised his left hand upward in worship, as he held his youngest son (about 2 years of age) in his other arm. To his right, his wife stood with their oldest boy (about 3 years old) in her arms.

When the little 3-year-old saw his dad raise his hand, he paused then raised his own little arm and kept it there as he continued watching his dad whose arm also stayed raised. The little boy didn’t sing. He simply kept his eyes on his dad and did exactly what he saw him doing while we all sang:

Our God is greater, our God is stronger, God you are higher than any other.
Our God is Healer, Awesome in Power, Our God! Our God!

I was so taken by this wonderful real-life illustration of how we influence our children. Of how we mentor them through our actions. I don’t even know if the dad realized his young son was watching and copying him. Words were not exchanged between them, yet the dad was modeling worship. He was teaching by his actions. He was mentoring his young son.

How are you mentoring others through your actions? No matter how old your children are, what do they (or others) see when they watch you?

.

Keith’s Fingerprint

Siblings leave fingerprints that stay with us forever. But sometimes we don’t realize it until they’re gone.

Four days ago my brother passed away after a four-month, painful battle with cancer. He was only 50 years old and left behind his wife, four children (the youngest is 12) and many family and friends who loved him. Even though many of us thought he worked too hard, he did manage to find time to go rv’ing, camping, fishing, hunting, or snowmobiling with friends and family.

As Keith lay in the hospital, one of his greatest regrets was that he wouldn’t be able to take his two young daughters on a special vacation he and his wife had planned for them this summer. He had made many plans for his home and his family this year, but will never be able to follow through with them.

As I read through the many, many emails, cards, and Facebook messages I’ve received, I can’t help but wonder how many of us knew how much of a fingerprint Keith was leaving on our lives. And I wonder what I need to do or say today, rather than wait for the “perfect” time that may not come.

Who in your family do you need to get in touch with? Or who do you need to thank for the mark they are leaving on your life? Tell us about it, if you like.

.

Our friend, Eileen Neufeld

This first post of our web site is dedicated to our friend, Eileen Neufeld, who unexpectedly passed away on March 26th, after having a masive stroke at work.

Full of life and energy, and only 56 years old, there was no indication that Eileen’s life with us would end so abruptly. The night before her stroke, a group of us were together to celebrate the new release of Donna’s and my book, A Mentor’s Fingerprint. Eileen was her usual witty self – cracking jokes, laughing, affirming us and our book, and taking pictures. She was one of our greatest supporters as we wrote the book and launched Fingerprint Ministries.

At the party, Eileen announced that she was going home to read the book and, if she had to, she would stay up all night to finish it. She was so excited to finally hold a copy in her hands. That was the last time we spoke with Eileen. Her husband later told us that she did finish the book that night and her daughter found it the next day on her night table.

Eileen, Donna, and I have laughed together, and prayed together. We’ve been on a mission’s trip together, worked on projects together, served on the Women’s Leadership Team at our church together, and shared with our husbands in the same small group at church.

Our friend loved photography and had an eye for beauty, which she creatively captured with her camera. She had a wonderful sense of humor, quick wit, and was the master of any kitchen she stepped into. Whether she cooked for a camp or for a banquet, or organized food for thousands (yes – I said thousands) or for a couple hundred, she did it with grace and calm. To her, hospitality was an art and a gift to be given away. For all that she did for others, Eileen was first and foremost a dedicated wife, attentive mom of four daughters, and a doting grandma to eight children.

I’m telling you this story because Eileen is a great example of someone who left her fingerprint on the lives of her family and her friends. You couldn’t be with her without hearing about her children and grandchildren, yet she always had time to send a card or get together with her friends. Yes, she had struggles and frustrations and felt defeat and anger and fear – just like the rest of us. But she believed that God in heaven walked with her all the time and that He loved her unconditionally.

She also believed that her life legacy was to serve and that how she lived and served, no matter what she was going through at the time, would somehow make a difference. She believed that God would take what she did today and make it count for eternity. She was very aware that she was leaving a fingerprint on the lives of her daughters, her sons-in-law, her grandchildren, her friends, and anyone else who crossed her path.

Eileen may have stopped being mentored when she took that curve in the road and passed into the presence of God but her mentoring legacy will live on and on…

What kind of legacy fingerprint are you leaving?

.