Most mentors will tell you that the lives their protégé lives is very different from the way they were brought up. A protégé’s grandparents or great grandparents may be raising them, one or both of their parents may incarcerated, and they may have multiple siblings from multiple parents. The list of differences goes on and on. Although it’s easy to see these and think that there’s little hope of ever relating, it is important to remember this truth:
“That every person in the world – regardless of where they live, how much or how little money that they have, or the color of their skin – is made in the image of God. Therefore, every person has inherent worth and dignity and should be treated in such a way” –Champions of Hope Mentor Handbook
Regardless of how different your life may be compared to your protégé, remember that Christ has commanded us to go out and to make disciples of all people and nations. Even though it may just be a 20 or 30 minute drive from your home, South Dallas need Jesus just as bad as anywhere else in this world. Don’t let different upbringings and lifestyles discourage you, but rather jump into their world, see what they go through, and embrace a community that is in need of the Gospel. Here are a few ideas on getting know your protégé’s world a little better:
–Hang out in their neighborhood – Although it’s fun to leave South Dallas and visit Klyde Warren and White Rock Lake, try checking out the Exline and Larry Johnson Recreation Centers, Opportunity Park, or the Juanita Craft Center. Let your protégé see that you want to be involved right where they’re at, and not just what you’re comfortable with.
–Hangout at their home – Mentoring doesn’t always have to be out and about somewhere. Sometimes sitting on the porch, baking cookies, playing video games, or playing a card game in living room can allow your protégé to be more comfortable, and may lead to better conversations.
–Invite the family out – Our hope is for mentors to not only know their protégé, but their family as well. Ladies, if your protégé’s mom is free maybe you can invite her for the next hangout. Guys, if you’re married, bring your wife to meet your protégé’s mom or guardian. If your protégé’s dad, grandpa, or uncle is involved, see what he enjoys doing and include him in your plans.
–Be present – There is not much more you can do as a mentor to be involved in the life of your protégé than to be present. Keep note of what the family is going through, both good and bad, and follow up with them. When there’s a birthday, make an extra phone call and let them know you remembered. If there’s a death in the family, remind them that you’re right there with them, praying and seeking the Lord through it. When you meet a relative, try to remember something about them. Once the family knows that you are someone who they can depend on, and truly care about them, the better your relationship can be.
Being intentional and overcoming the awkwardness of learning new things is the only way that you will be able to see past the contrasts of your life, and your protégé’s life. There is nothing more impactful for engaging their family and community than just being there with a heart to serve. Just as Christ entered our world and lived with us, so are we to do with our protégé and their family.
-Nathan Elizondo, Relationship Coordinator