Nine year old, Jeffery* looked up to his father, an avid motorcycle rider and motocross enthusiast. They had their moments of tension along the way, as all fathers and sons do, but the common ground of the motorcycle riding and repair routine kept them engaged with one another. Jeffery loved the things his dad was willing to do for them, including dressing up in full Santa Clause garb to deliver their presents on Christmas morning. Then, one day, things went sideways. Jeffery’s dad had a bad accident while riding and was killed on the spot.
At his father’s funeral, uncles and other family members had promised to be there for him and to take him out to do the kinds of things his father used to do. Though well intentioned, none of these promises were fulfilled and Jeffery was left without the support of a male role model. The combination of loss and lack of follow through from his relatives led him to a place of anger and hurt. This anger was played out through outbursts of rage, theft, and suicide attempts. By the time he got matched to Rudy*, three years had passed, he was getting kicked out of his school, had lost all but one of his friends, and was desperate for a way to get away from it all.
At the close of their first year together, I asked Jeffery what he appreciated about being matched with Rudy*. He told me, “I was told that my uncles would be there for me after dad died, but it never happened. Rudy makes time for me every week and that just means a lot.”
A year later, I asked Jeffery the same question. This time he told me, “Rudy is a father figure to me. I’ve never told him that, but it’s true. Not in the sense that he has any disciplinary role in my life, but in the sense that he takes me out to spend time with me the way my dad did. And that just means a lot” Jeffery went on to share that he hopes to start riding motocross tracks with his cousin this summer and that it would mean a lot to have Rudy there to watch him ride.
This is the simple beauty of mentoring done in Jesus’ name: One hurting child is met by one caring adult and God’s love is experienced week by week.
*Names changed to protect privacy.