Next to God saving me, the thing in my life that has had the biggest impact on me is mentoring and discipleship. God has sent people into my life who have singled me out and spent time pouring into my life. Because of this, I am learning how to love my wife, believe in my kids and most importantly, walk with God. Recently, a friend told Carol and me that because we have spent time discipling her over the years, she now has a greater capacity to love those around her and it has changed her life for the better.
Over the last 15 months I have had a lot of time to think and pray. Over and over again God has brought mentoring and discipleship ministry to my heart and mind. Mentoring and discipleship have always been a part of what we do. Now I am feeling that God wants these to be a bigger part of our ministry along with traveling and speaking. As I mentioned in our last newsletter, we have already started this past few months, spending more time purposefully reaching out in this way. With this in mind I would like to share with you a couple of ongoing discipleship stories that are very special to us.
In this picture, surrounding our daughter Mareah, is Sandy on the left and Leslie on the right. Sandy and Leslie are investing in our children’s lives. Our relationship with both of these women started when Carol and I began investing in their lives.
Carol and I met Leslie when she was in middle school. She was in the youth group that Carol and I were helping to lead before we got married. We singled her out and began to disciple her. When she got a little older, she began to travel with us during summer tours and Carol and I invested time into her spiritual growth. As the years have gone by we have seen Leslie mature into a godly woman who loves Jesus with all of her heart. We have spent countless days over the last 21 years in mentoring and discipleship with Leslie. Now we watch her investing in the spiritual lives of students in the Chicago area, both in high school and middle school. Today she is having a major impact in these kids’ lives as well as our own kids and we love that. We have poured into her life and now we watch as she pours into others.
Greg and Sandy
I met Greg and Sandy years before they were married while they were high school students. I was their “spiritual life week” speaker several years in a row at the Christian school they attended. I remember asking Greg if he would pray for me before I went up to speak on a youth retreat, and there started our friendship. I married Greg and Sandy in 2005 and Carol and I did their pre-marital counseling. Today our children greatly look up to Greg and Sandy and they are now mentors in our children’s lives. Josh said to me a few years ago, “I want to be like Mr. Greg when I grow up.” Over the years, we have watched Greg and Sandy minister to poverty stricken inner city children as well as live over seas with orphans and children who have lost everything. Their love for the “least of these” is amazing and we are so proud of them.
(I know many of you are people of prayer. Greg and Sandy are currently spending less time in ministry due to some serious health issues. Please lift them up to God with us.)
These relationships started off as a result of our outreach to teenagers. They have matured into life-long friendships because of mentoring and discipleship. Greg, Sandy and Leslie all come from loving homes and yet, each one of their parents have thanked us for investing in their children’s lives. We see this as a crucial need for our own children (discipleship outside of our home) and we know the impact that discipleship has had in our own personal lives.
Carol and I are realizing more every day that there are many young people in our lives who have expressed an interest in being discipled and mentored. However, because of my traveling schedule in the past, we have not had the time to pour into these individuals and couples. We want mentoring and discipleship to be a bigger part of our ministry. One thing that Greg, Sandy and Leslie have in common is that they all have been in youth ministry. We certainly are not planning to be exclusive to people in ministry; however, we do want to spend some of our time with leaders in youth ministry. We believe that if we can have a positive impact on them, it will carry down to the teenagers they minister to. Somehow, for me, it always comes back to teenagers.
We believe this is a direction God is taking us, along with continuing to speak nationally to youth and at marriage conferences. Once I get back on the road, we would like to cut back on the traveling schedule to set aside some weekends for mentoring and discipleship.
Please pray for us as we pursue this area of ministry that we believe God has been laying on our hearts. We are so grateful for all of your love and support.