29 Oct More Than a Mentor
Written by Clark Blakeman
When Reverend Fabian of St. Luke’s Church of Uganda accepted the challenge to become the first mentor in the Stand With Students: Higher Education Program, he didn’t realize the rewards would be so… mutual. He can’t help but chuckle as he talks about his relationship with Sekwat. After knowing Sekwat for years as a church member, the mentoring process fostered a much deeper connection. He says, “What was meant to be a benefit and support to my mentee has seriously helped me so much. I want every youth in our church to join this program!”
Describing their weekly meetings, he says, “We talk and become closer friends. The Bible readings are discussed. I check his tasks — has he completed each one? I give some advice, and he shows me computer tricks!”
Sekwat says, “The mentoring process organized my brain. Before, I would read my Bible just anyhow. Now, I have the habit of reading at least one chapter a day, moving through the New Testament in an organized way.” With a huge smile, he adds, “This program is not just for me. Anyone should take it. They will never regret it.”
In the initial development of the Higher Education Program, Cathy and I had some tough questions to address: When the kids do make it to a higher ed setting, how can we ensure they have the life skills to thrive? What are the best ways to guide them in developing Christ-like character? How can we build the dignity of achievement into the process and let them truly earn their scholarships? Through many conversations and much prayer, we came to believe that a focused, intensive mentoring process would address all these questions well.
Here’s how the Higher Education Program begins: Qualified students are identified based on academic performance, grade level (they must be in their final year of secondary school), and the demonstration of good character in home life. Once accepted, the new student chooses a trained mentor. The two of them meet weekly, working their way through a manual with 23 segments. The tasks in each segment include daily Bible reading and prayer, scripture memorization, a specific Bible study topic, typing and internet use, 2-4 hours of community service, and writing assignments.
It is a rigorous undertaking! The mentor offers not only accountability for the tasks, but encouragement, prayer support, and advice along the way. At the end, the mentee is honored with a certificate and a celebration. Once the segments are completed and the final exams for secondary school have been passed, it is official: a new scholar is headed to an institute of higher learning!
Following in Reverend Fabian and Sekwat’s footsteps, four other young people have engaged in this demanding phase of the program. The first mentor pair provides an encouraging example to follow. After concluding the 23 segments, they were free to greatly reduce the amount of time they spent together. But Reverend Fabian says, “Even though we have finished the mentoring segments, we will continue to meet. It is just too good for us.”
We hoped that this aspect of the Higher Education Program would help ensure the success of our students at college. We are thrilled to see that it is already offering both the students and the mentors a great deal more.
To learn more, visit the Lahash Stand With Students page.