The power of mentoring

Here is a letter I wrote to someone I’ve hardly thought about in over 10 years, but God brought him back to mind recently when I was giving Natasha (a young graduate from the Harbor) a testimony of God’s work in my life and marriage. I’ve had to track him down, and I still haven’t gotten confirmation that he has even received it.

John, 
I’m hoping you will remember me from CCTC [Christian Counseling Training Center] in Richmond. You were a counselor in training when I was taking Biblical Problem Solving, and you got assigned to me. You came up spontaneously in a testimony I was giving to a young person I mentor recently, and I decided the Lord would have me track you down and tell you about it. 
You see, personal discipleship has become a cornerstone of my ministry now. I went through two and a half years at CCTC myself and continued to use the principles I learned there in my own private counseling practice before leaving Richmond. Now that I have moved my family to Russia as missionaries, I have even taught BPS myself, but what is more important is that I have come to see that what was so transformational about that class for me was the personal mentoring that came with it. 
Now I work with a number of leaders, pastors, counselors, and (most dear to my heart) orphan graduates, and my whole ministry focus is on those aspects of our faith walk that require the personal input of another, ideally in a learning community: counseling, coaching, and spiritual formation. So one of these orphans who has been coming to me for mentoring and to one of my groups for over a year was asking me the other day about some of my history, including about my marriage. 
I related how difficult my marriage had been early on, and how BPS had been so helpful for me to learn how to see my own culpability in the problems we faced. But I then began sharing how the key ingredient had been my “grader” who had been so invested in me. I told her how he obviously could tell what a crisis I was in, and so he generously would pick me up from time to time in his pickup and I would sit in his mobile office while he would take me around nowhere in particular and let me pour out my heart. He patiently listened and gently pointed me back again and again to the lessons I was learning in class and in the revelations God was giving me through my “self-confrontation” homework. I don’t remember any powerful new wisdom that came out of those times. What I remember was that he cared enough to invest in me. 
All of a sudden it hit me that this was exactly what I am now doing with so many lives, and that you had modeled it to me so long ago, planting a seed, not only of my own marital transformation, but of my future calling, and I started to cry right there in front of this young person (which I’m not known for). It was an overwhelming sense of God’s goodness to me and sovereign hand in my life, and it gave me a tremendous feeling of thanks and praise to Him. 
So how could I not share that with you? In fact, when I told my wife about it, it turns out she had never heard about you either. She knew that that class had been a turning point in my life, but she didn’t know about the secret weapon that God sent with the class. Thank you, brother, for your obedience to the Lord at that time. He used it more than you know. I trust that you have sown many more great seeds since then. I’d love to hear more about them. 
Your brother in Christ, 
 Lyle

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