youth-mentoring-300x242In 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.

Jeff and Tommy were en route to ride go karts when 15-year old Tommy, fiddling with the Royal Pine air freshener hanging from the mirror, nonchalantly told his mentor, Jeff, that his family would probably be moving to Tennessee soon.

Normally, if a child tells you their family is moving, you would assume all the children are as well. But, because Tommy’s family is broken and scattered about, as so many of the families we work with are, it is “normal” to ask, “Are you going with them?” which Jeff did. Tommy began answering in the affirmative when he stiffened and stopped pulling on the air freshener. It had struck him in mid-sentence that if he did move, he would no longer see Jeff. Upon that realization, he became very animated explaining that he would have to remain on Long Island because if he moved, “I’d have no friends – they’d all be gone! Actually”, he went on, “I have no friends anyway, except you, because they’re not really my friends now. Then I’d have no one to talk to! What would I do if I had no one to talk too?!” Then, he matter-of-factly settled the dilemma in his own mind offering, “I’ll have to stay here with you. I‘ll just visit my family in Tennessee when I get older.” He again focused on the air freshener, as the pine scent grew ever stronger.

In a few short sentences Tommy proved the pastor’s statement, “If you are going to be salt, you must be in direct contact with those God has called you to minister too.” Through getting together weekly with Jeff; spending time talking and just allowing life to happen, Tommy has learned to trust, to value relationship and, unfortunately in this case, to depend upon his mentor more than his own family. Yes, that is sad, but praise God Tommy does have at least that one caring person who is there for him through thick and thin. Tommy has come to depend on Jeff and their weekly time together. †

*Names changed