I was at my church and community harvest party and it seems like all the moms were serving and the dads were walking the kids around to have fun. I must admit at first it felt good to see that many dads with their kids. Everyone enjoyed the music, dads were showing off at the ring the bell with the sledgehammer game, and the kids were eating their fair share of candy.
I was about a mile from my house when I saw a boy who looked to be 10 years-old shooting hoops in the street. I watched from a distance as he retrieved the ball, again and again, oblivious to the stranger who was now only one house-length away. In the next instant, a white Toyota pulled into the driveway and the boy, leaving the ball in the street, darts up the driveway and is at the driver’s side door before the car had completely stopped.
Last Saturday Taya and I hosted our third annual dinner for her family. We spent a few hours at my house preparing food, and then served a total of 8 guests in my church basement. Each year she chooses a theme, and this year, she wanted to do everything “old-fashioned”. So we found some old looking jackets and hats and pearl necklaces to wear.
A mom was waiting in our lobby for her 14-year-old son, Josh, who was in the next room getting his first piano lesson. This is a fatherless boy who has longed to learn to play the piano. He has been trying to teach himself for years. His mom finally was able to get him a keyboard. He has been matched to one of our mentors for the past year. Mom said, ‘He was a very angry boy.
Peter was interviewing *Donna, an eleven-year-old girl, to determine her interests before matching her with a Christian mentor. The gangly pre-adolescent child sat with wide eyes when told of the fun things she could do with her own adult friend. “What I really like to do is play kickball.” Meanwhile, I was in the kitchen speaking with Donna's mom.
We were standing in the lobby of a church where I had just spoken. A young man walked up to me to say thank you. He was surrounded by a group of kids he had packed in a van and brought to church. “Why do you thank me?”
On one recent, especially beautiful day, Linda was hoping to hike with Jaclyn (an orphan living in a group home). But to be totally truthful, she did not expect to be able to leave the building. Linda was having a bad day already and dreaded the idea of being holed up in that dark room, again, playing yet another game of Yahtzee where the sound of dice echoes endlessly around the cinderblock walls. She wondered why she had even planned anything as she waited for Jaclyn to appear down that long, cold hallway.
In his sermon the pastor said, “If you are going to be salt, you must be in direct contact with those God has called you to minister too.” At that moment, I realized I could not think of a ministry where that is more appropriate than Long Island Youth Mentoring’s one-to-one methodology.
I asked *Adam, a twelve year old, if his mentor had shown him something new about God. Without any hesitation he said, “*Troy radiates Jesus and I hope that I will shine like him someday.” Now I knew Adam liked to talk and that words are his friends, but to hear this poetic answer from him still brought me to tears right there in the middle of Applebees.
I asked a question of each of them, “Do you think of God any differently because of your match?” Faith*, the mentor, readily answered that she has found that God has a sense of humor through her match. She finds spending time with Denise* a great joy. Denise took a little more time to ponder the question as she removed all the unwanted items from her banana split, including the bananas! She finally answered…“I can hear God now.”