Mentoring is more than a program but…

We’ve recently received requests from various groups asking for advice about formal mentoring programs. This has prompted us to look at how we might be able to support those of you who manage a formal program or would like to start one.

While the premise of our book, A Mentor’s Fingerprint, is that we all mentor everyday – whether we realize it or not, we also recognize that mentoring can take place within a program. And that mentoring programs play a major role in many churches, businesses, and community organizations. It’s widespread.

One article I received in my email in-box recently stressed that “Teacher Mentoring…is a critical topic in education today and a favored strategy in U.S. Policy initiatives focused on teacher induction.” However, it also states that “enthusiasm for mentoring has not been matched by clarity about the purposes of mentoring.”

Another article titled The Need for Mentoring in Today’s Church: An Appeal To The Older Generations lends credibility to what we’re hearing a lot – that there is substantial desire, among the under-35 crowd, to be mentored by someone older and more experienced.

A third article focuses on helping skilled Canadian immigrants integrate into the labor market and stated that “Mentoring is a deliberate and sustained strategy to create and facilitate new networks for recent skilled immigrants in their fields of expertise.”

While we believe that mentoring is a lifestyle and that we all mentor everyday and are mentored everyday, we also recognize the need for formal mentoring – whether it is undertaken by individuals to meet their personal needs and objectives or takes place within a program that benefits a specific group of people. Therefore, we are looking at what materials and information we could provide on our website to help you organize and manage a formal program. But we would like your input.

Here is a quick survey of multiple-choice questions. Your responses will help us further determine the extent of the need for mentoring program tools and materials, and help us know what resources to offer on our website to help you in planning and managing a formal mentoring program.

Click here to take short survey. Thank you in advance for your participation.


What are you thankful for?

Happy Thanksgiving weekend to our Canadian friends and family. Here’s a short video to remind us of all the things we have to be thankful for. It was created by Ann’s son-in-law, Sherman.

If you want to forward the video to a friend, send them the url to this site because the url in the video doesn’t work.

We also invite you to click on “Leave a Reply” at the end of this post to tell us what you’re thankful for.


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.


Perfect Storm. Perfect Calm.

Imagine hearing the following statements –

“My sister stopped breathing and they’re suspecting a clot in her lung.”

“My 13-year-old granddaughter dislocated her knee.”

“My 40-year-old friend had a stroke and is in the hospital.”

“My son called to say he’s moving. His marriage is over and one of the hardest things is telling his young daughter.”

And there’s more…

If one person had just one of these events happen within a given week, we’d think it was a lot for them to deal with. The truth is that all four events happened to the same person within four days.

Maybe you’ve started a week expecting to relax – minimal demands, sunshine, and quiet. The perfect time to catch up and get a few things cleared away. And then – BOOM – the perfect time becomes the perfect storm.

According to Wikipedia, the term “perfect storm” describes “a hypothetical hurricane that happens to hit a region’s most vulnerable area, resulting in the worst possible damage…”

Have you ever felt like you’ve been hit by a “perfect” storm? How do you deal with unexpected events in your life? How do you manage drama overload?

The Bible (ref: Matthew 8:23-27) tells us that Jesus got into a boat with His disciples, and fell asleep. A storm hit and His disciples panicked. When they woke Jesus up He said, “Why are you so afraid, O you of little faith?” He then commanded the wind and waves and they became calm. God’s Son was right there with them but they were afraid.

Just as the disciples let fear overtake them, we sometimes let fear overtake us. And God asks us the same questions, “Why are you afraid? Where is your faith?

When we put our faith in an all-powerful, all-knowing God – even in the middle of life’s storms – we experience an unexplainable calm. Not a false calm – but a genuine, God-filled calm. What difference would it make if, in the middle of the storms of life, we acknowledged the presence of God, focused on Him rather than the storm around us, and put our faith in Him? Is it always easy? No. Is it possible? Absolutely.

What storm are you facing? What fear is holding you? If you’ve experienced a peaceful, God-filled calm in the middle of a storm why not share it here, to encourage someone else.


I wonder…

I’m working on my laptop at my favorite coffee shop, House of James, and I look up to see a young boy (about 10 years old) walk up to a good looking college guy who’s working on his laptop. They seem to know each other. The young student stops what he’s doing and looks up to focus only on the boy.

As they talk I can’t help but hear their conversation (they’re at the next table). It’s not just “Hi. How are you?” They’re talking about real-life stuff. And I wonder if the young guy dressed in jeans and a bright red t-shirt with “Iginla 12” on his back realizes how much of an impact he’s probably having on the boy. Or if this is a conversation that the boy will reflect on as significant when he gets older.

It doesn’t matter how old we are, we all mentor everyday. Even a short chat in a coffee shop can make a difference in a person’s life.

When someone interrupts your work, do you see it as an inconvenient interruption. Or do you, like this college student, take a break from your work to focus on the person who might need to simply know that you care?