The Importance of Mentoring (Baby-Steps Part 2)

The Importance of Mentoring (Baby-Steps Part 2)

The Importance of Mentoring (Baby-Steps Part 2)

Part 2 of an article from OSWM – a report from behind the walls of a West Coast prison.

Many Watchmen recognize the lateness of the hour and, with passion and a sense of urgency, do well in sharing their faith. Praise the Lord! What many do not consider, however, is the critical need to follow up sharing the Gospel with mentoring help to live out the Gospel. Encouragement, spiritual support, and mentoring must follow, even the best Gospel presentation.

The parable of the sower (or soils) is one of the few teaching stories presented in all four Gospels. The parable references how the enemy seeks to “steal, kill, and destroy” (John 10:10), and particularly how Satan tries to thwart those who desire to grow spiritually and produce fruit. The parable from Matthew 13 establishes the four points of the story.

  • Birds seek to eat the seed before it takes root (V.4)
  • Stony soil inhibits the ability for seedlings to take deep root (V.5)
  • The sun scorches seeds that are vulnerable and exposed (V.6)
  • Thorns seek to choke the life out of the seedlings (V.7)

New believers need fellow Christians to walk alongside them and help guard against Satan’s attacks which are sure to come. Recently, I witnessed the importance of this two-step evangelism process: sharing & witnessing, and mentoring & helping—all while serving behind the walls of a state prison.

The story provides a glimpse into the life of a new believer. His name is Mr. S. Mr. S is referenced as Man #1 in the first part of this story, titled Baby Steps (click HERE to read it).

The day was hot. There is no air conditioning in the stuffy, rather humid cell block. Sweaty clothes and small towels are strewn across the corridor – evidence of recent in-cell workouts. A loud beeping over the intercom system signals that an announcement is coming. A few moments later, a female sergeant shouts, “Showers!” Five doors open, and 15 men exit their rooms to walk the narrow cement corridor toward the shower room.

After Mr. S has walked about 30 feet, a man dashes out of his cell and jumps in front of Mr. S – pushing him in the process. Respect is very important in the prison world, and according to the unwritten prison code, the man had aggressively disrespected Mr. S.

I held my breath for a moment, not knowing what was about to happen. Mr. S, surprised by the man who jumped in front of him, initially responded with a simple “whoa man” – a gentle response coming from him.

Crisis averted, I thought, but the angry man took offense of Mr. S’s comment and flew into a rage, including shouting and aggressive posturing. I knew Mr. S could level the wild man before him but prayed he wouldn’t.

Mr. S cast a quick glance my way, took a deep breath, and said, “Hey man, it’s all good. Go on in front of me.” I smiled at Mr. S’s newfound remarkable restraint, but before I uttered a word of commendation, the wild man flew into a rage again, getting very close to Mr. S’s face. Mr. S looked back at me. He had a Can I pound this guy? look in his eyes. I gave a quick, subtle shake of my head. My eyes met his. You know what to do.

Mr. S took another deep breath, then thrust out his hand and said, “I apologize man. No worries, no problem. Go on in front of us.” The wild man backed down, inch by inch, then ever so slowly reached out to shake Mr. S’s hand. I stepped aside, and he moved forward – no more problem.

News of the confrontation spread quickly through the Tiers. Many know Mr. S and his reputation and asked him why he didn’t simply beat the man to put him in his place. Each time he would laugh and say, “I’m trying to be a better man…and Old School here wouldn’t let me.” Lest anyone wonder, Mr. S could pulverize Old School in short order if he wanted to. Still, a little encouragement and nudge can greatly affect keeping new believers on the right track.

A few takeaways from the encounter:

  • New believers will certainly face spiritual attacks in the early days of their walk with the Lord.
  • Often, Satan will tempt new believers in an area related to their negative past or an area they are working to develop.
  • Many times, when a newer believer gives in to temptation in the very area they recently pledged to the Lord to grow in, the result is a devastated spirit. In such cases, the enemy is quick to whisper, “You failed. You fell. You are unworthy to get up and try again.” Do not allow new believers to listen to the enemy. Share the story of how Peter promised Jesus he would not deny Him, but then did so 3 times just hours later. Yet Jesus forgave him, and restored him, and used Peter to accomplish great things for God. Warn new believers that attacks will come. Encourage those who fall to seek forgiveness, get up, and try again.
  • Walking and sharing life with new believers blesses both the mentor and the student. The mentor can observe spiritual growth opportunities and find joy and purpose in helping others establish a strong foundation of faith. The student is blessed in that they are encouraged, guided, and helped to make wise choices. This positions them to avoid future failures and sorrow, and please God.

I realize it is not always easy to witness, and that those who do witness are sharing in a great work. That is commendable. However, that great work is often just part one of a two-step process.

Believers should prayerfully consider ways to both witness and mentor. Ask God for ways to follow up, help, spiritually support, encourage, and mentor those who make salvation decisions. It is not always possible, but when possible, view the opportunity as a divine appointment and opportunity to bless and be blessed.

 

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