Mentoring

It was Halloween.  The evening was dark and rainy.  Parents and kids, undaunted by the weather, were out tricking and treating.  As Charlene walked down the sidewalk she felt uneasy.  The atmosphere around her was ghoulish.  She hoped that Quentin was at home and worried that he might not open the door, thinking that she was a trick and theater.  Like her, he wasn’t into Halloween.  Maybe she should have waited until tomorrow to drop by his place but she was anxious to see him.  She wanted to thank him for being such a tremendous help to Martin and to invite him to his graduation.  Besides, she wanted to see him.  Her thoughts drifted back to the first time they met…

It was at a mutual friend’s housewarming party.  He was there with a female companion and she was alone.  She noticed him the moment he walked in and although she was talking to a friend, her gaze kept straying over to where he was.  At one point, when she looked at him, their eyes met and held for several minutes before he turned away because the hostess had joined his companion and him. Curiosity got the better of her and she asked her friend, “Who’s that man over there talking with Wendy?” she asked.

Rose followed her gaze.  “Oh, that’s Quentin Moore.  He’s an English professor over at Cambridge University.  “The woman he’s with is Margaret Evans.  She’s an Art professor at the university.  There is talk that they are more than colleagues.”

Charlene’s gaze shifted to his companion.  She was a petite shapely woman with short curly blonde hair and dressed in a simple but pretty summer dress.  She was comely but Charlene didn’t think she was well-matched for Quentin who towered over her.  Perhaps the attraction was more intellectual than physical.  And they were closer in age.  Quentin looked to be in his early forties and Margaret in her late thirties.  There’s no way, he would be interested in me, Charlene thought. Not when I’m so much younger than him.

Rose was watching her closely.  “You find him attractive, don’t you?” she said.  “Most women do.  Whenever I see him, I wish that my professors looked like him.  He’s sexy in an intellectual sort of way.  Nothing is more stimulating than a man who has brains and brawn.”

“It doesn’t do me any good to admire him.  He’s attached.”

“We don’t know for sure, that they are officially a couple.  It’s just talk.  They could be just friends, for all we know.”

“I hope so–”

“He’s coming over,” Rose interrupted her, making her heart lurch.  “And he’s alone.”

Charlene stood there, her heart pounding.  She turned her head just as he reached them.   This close, he was even more attractive.  She was so nervous and she couldn’t seem to get her breathing to return to normal.  He greeted Rose first and then turned his attention to her.

“Quentin Moore,” he said, holding out his hand.  He had the most amazing green eyes which seemed to be studying her face.

“Charlene Bennett,” she said, taking his hand and feeling his long fingers wrap around hers in a warm handshake.  He looked to be more in his late thirties even with the beard which tended to make men look older.  His thick brown hair was slightly tousled.  As if self-conscious, he released her hand to smooth the unruly tresses into some semblance of order, his eyes still riveted to her face.

“It’s a pleasure to meet you, Charlene,” he said quietly.

They stood there staring at each other, seeming to forget that Rose was there.  She watched them, amused.  “If you two would excuse me, I think I’ll go over there and see what Eric is up to.”  And off she went.

Charlene clasped her hands behind her back so that he wouldn’t see that they were trembling.  “Rose mentioned that you teach English at Cambridge,” she said.  “How long have you been teaching there?”

“About fifteen years.”

“How do you like teaching?”

“I like it very much.  What about you?  What do you do?”

“I work at an early intervention organization that supports children who are experiencing emotional and behavioral difficulties.  We have a yearlong mentoring programme for them.”

“How do you like it?”

“I love it because I love children.”

“Do you need volunteers?”

“We always do.”

He looked interested.  “Tell me more about your mentoring programmes.”

She explained to him how the programmes work.  “Are you interested in becoming a mentor?” she asked, hopefully.  It would give her a chance to see him on a regular basis.

“Yes, I am.” he said.  “I have always wanted to do charitable work but just never got around to doing it.”

She was excited now.  Reaching into her handbag, she took out a business card and handed it to him.  “You can visit our website for more information and then fill out the application form.”

 

He tucked the card into the breast pocket of his jacket and smiled.  “Thank you.”

They talked for a while longer and then, Margaret joined them.  She looked first at him and then at Charlene.  Quentin introduced them.  They shook hands and were cordial to each other but the older woman’s eyes belied the pleasantness in her voice.  Charlene was sure that she detected jealousy in them.  Had she been watching them all this time and felt threatened?  Was that why she was standing here at his side as if they were joined at the hip?

“Quentin, there’s a fellow I’d like you to meet,” Margaret told him.  “Would you excuse us?” she said to Charlene.

Quentin gave Charlene an apologetic smile.  It was clear that he didn’t want to go but out of courtesy, he excused himself and followed Margaret across the room to where a short bespectacled man stood.

They didn’t get a chance to speak to each other for the rest of the night.  On her way home, she thought about him and hoped that she would see him again.  She did when he went to the centre for his training to be a mentor.  He was matched with Carson.  Carson was acting out at school because life at home was turbulent.  His biological father died when he was two and his mother remarried a year and a half later.  His step-father was abusive and controlling.  And he drank.  Carson would hang out with his friends or at the playground instead of going straight home after school.  And when he eventually went home, his step-father would beat him.  More than once Carson tried to run away from home but he would always go back because he didn’t want to be living on the streets. His step-father got arrested and Carson was glad.  However, he still continued to act up and his mother was very concerned that he would get into serious trouble.

Quentin was the perfect match for him because of their similar interests.  He discovered that Carson was very good at art and took him to museums and art shows.  When Carson found it hard to express his feelings, Carson encouraged him draw.  Initially, the pictures were dark, angry but in time they changed.  Charlene met with Quentin once a month to discuss how the mentoring and learned from Carson’s school and mother that his behavior had improved.  He was a different person.

A year had passed and the mentoring was over.  She reached Quentin’s cottage and she stopped outside to call him on her cell to let him know that she was there.  Just as she rang off, the door opened and he stood in the doorway.  She walked up to him.  “Sorry to be dropping by on such short notice,” she said.  “I had to see you.”

He smiled.  “It’s good to see you,” he said.  “Come in.”  He stepped aside to allow her to go in.

She stepped into a very pleasant and warm room.  “I came to invite you to Carson’s graduation ceremony on Monday.”  She handed him the invitation.

“I will definitely be there,” he promised, taking it.

“Quentin, words alone cannot express how grateful I am to you for the remarkable work you have done with Carson.  He is such a happy, confident child now.  Thank you.”

He placed the invitation down on the table nearby and stared at her, his expression serious.  “Is gratitude all you feel toward me?” he asked quietly.

She swallowed hard.  “No.”

He moved closer.  “What else do you feel?”

Tossing her handbag on the floor, she went up to him and put her arms around his neck.  “Does this answer your question?” she asked before reaching up and kissing him.

His arms went around her waist and held her tightly against him as he kissed her back.  They stood there kissing for a while and then he raised his head to gaze down at her.  “It took us a whole year to get to this point,” he murmured.  “Do you suppose it will take another year before we start dating?”

She smiled and said, “Not if I could help it,” before pulling his head down to kiss him.

 

Sources:  Reach Out; Chance UK

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World Mental Health Day

“The deepest pain I ever felt was denying my own feelings to make everyone else comfortable.”

Today is World Mental Health Day and the theme for this year is Mental health in the workplace.

It is so important for those who are living with mental illness work in environments that are supportive and conducive to their well being and productivity.  We spent more time with our co-workers during the week than we do with our families so it helps when employers and managers put initiatives in place that would promote mental health.  A negative working environment can lead to physical and mental health problems, drive people to abuse substances, alcohol, skip work or perform their jobs poorly.

A friend of mine was working in a negative environment which may have contributed to her relapse.  The last time I saw her, it was obvious that she was not taking her medication.  She suffered from bipolar disorder.  She had personal issues as well which could have also been a contributing factor.  Another woman who used to work in the same department also suffered from mental illness.

You can look at people and not know that they have mental illness until something happens and they have a breakdown.  We can’t tell who is living with depression, anxiety disorders or other mental issues.  There is still a stigma attached to mental health and those suffering with it may not feel comfortable disclosing their struggles.  The platform for them to do so may not be there.  This is why World Health Day is observed on October 10 every year to raise awareness and mobilize efforts in support of better mental health.

What can you do to support mental health in your workplace?  The Mental Health Foundation offers helpful tips for those who have mental illness and for those who work with them.

1. Talk about your feelings

2. Keep active

3. Eat well

4. Drink sensibly

5. Keep in touch

6. Ask for help

7. Take a break

8. Do something you’re good at

9. Accept who you are

10. Care for others

 

You can support a colleague by:

  • Asking the person how they are doing.  Be warm and sincere.
  • Setting a time and place that is most comfortable for the person.
  • Active listening.  Give your undivided attention.
  • Managing your own feelings.  You want the person to feel that they can talk to you about anything without fear of judgment.

If your co-worker says that he or she is having suicidal thoughts or you suspect that they are thinking of committing suicide, it is very important that you encourage the person to get help.

You can keep in touch with co-worker who has been away from work by calling or sending cards.  When they return, you could help them to get back into their work routine.  For the co-worker who you see on a day to day basis, you can check up on them informally and find out how they are doing.  You can offer to help them as a mentor or coach or friendly support on an ongoing basis.  You could ask them if there is any way you can support them as they manage their condition such as spotting signs that they may have missed which indicate that they are becoming unwell.

My sister suffers from bipolar disorder.  I will never forget the time when she was having a breakdown and she just clung to me.  I held onto her.  It was heartbreaking. Mental illness affects not only those who have it but those around them.  We have to be there to offer them our love, support and whatever they may need.  We have to be sensitive to what they are going through.

 “We feel alone because due to the illness we have lost loved ones, families, friends, jobs, and it has created broken hearts & shattered dreams. We feel extremely unwanted for something we didn’t ask for and trying so hard to cope with. Believe us, if we could snap our fingers and make it disappear, it would be a wish come true. But that only happens in fairy tales.”

“Those who suffer from mental illness are stronger than you think. We must fight to go work, care for our families, be there for our friends, and act ‘normal’ while battling unimaginable pain.”

“Ignore those who say just get over it. Healing is a process.”

“The only thing more exhausting than having a mental illness is pretending like you don’t.”

“You keep a lot to yourself because it’s difficult to find people who understand.”

“This disease comes with a package: shame. When any other part of your body gets sick, you get sympathy.”

“The strongest people are not those who show strength in front of the world but those who fight and win battles that others do not know anything about.”

Quotes on Mental Health Stigma by Healthy Place

 

confident black career woman

Sources:  World Mental Health Organization; Mental Health Foundation; Healthy Place;

Giving

It was one of the highlights in her life.

To organize a donation drive and then

make arrangements for the delivery

of the clothes and other items she

received from the church members

and to see the faces of the staff

when she dropped them off.

 

It was an opportunity to teach

her daughter Kayla about

caring for those who

were less fortunate.  Kayla’s

face lit up every time they

got out the boxes and went

through the toys and clothes

that they were going to give

to the women and children

in the homeless shelter.  Kayla

was more than willing to give

away her toys and books.  “It

will make them and Jesus happy,”

she explained.

 

Once Kayla went with her to the

shelter and on their way home

she asked, “Mommy, why do

people live in shelters?”

 

“Sometimes things are so bad

at home that they have to leave

and find somewhere else–a place

where they feel safe.  The shelter

protects them from harm.”

 

“I’m happy that things are good

at home, Mommy.  I am happy that

I have somewhere to live.  I wouldn’t

want to live in a shelter.”

 

She smiled.  “Yes, Kayla.  We have

so much to thank God for because

He has blessed us so now we are

blessing others.  Those who

are living in the shelters are

thankful too.  They have shelter,

food, clothes and other things

they need.  And when we help

them, it is as if we are helping

Jesus.  It is always good to help

people.  When we help them

by donating what we have,

there is a feeling that we are

doing the right thing and we

are making God proud.  God

is always proud of you when

you help people.”

 

“When I grow up, I want to

help as many children and

their mommies as I can.”

 

She smiled.  Lord, bless

her little heart for wanting

to be a blessing to others.

And thank You for showing

her that it is more blessed

to give than to receive.

 

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The Widow

Woman, widow, mother,

poor, invisible, substandard.

Unloved, neglected, shamed.

Blamed for her husband’s

death.  Alienated by his

family.  Believed to be cursed.

 

Life for a widow

in her society is tough,

unsympathetic and

unbearable.  Suicide

seemed to be the only

relief and release from

the pain but God had

other plans.  He sent

three female missionaries

to her village.

 

They spoke to her about

a Savior who loved her.

She listened.  This God

was unlike any of her

Her gods didn’t seem to

care about her.  She had

prayed to them, sacrificed

to them but there was no

answer.  Her cries seem to

fall on deaf ears and they

didn’t try to stop her when

she thought of ending her

life but this God did.  He

sent help.  He sent these

three women to tell her

about Him.  He was the

God who is the defender

of widows.  He said, “And

let your widows trust in Me.”

 

Yes, she trusted this kind and

loving God who didn’t see

her as substandard but

precious in His sight.  He

loved her with an ever-

lasting love and promised

never to leave her or forsake

her.  Her heart filled with

love for this God and His

Son who gave His life for

her.

 

She heard the story of

Jesus had pity on the

mother whose son died.

She was a widow and had

no one to care for her now.

Jesus raised her son back

to life and the tears of sorrow

turned to tears of joy.  She

knew that this same Jesus

would have compassion on

her and care for her.

 

Now, thanks to donations

pouring into the ministry

which had sent the missionaries

to her village, she is now able to

take care of her children with

a sewing machine.  She didn’t have

to depend on relatives who didn’t

want to help her.  She depended on

the God who had saved and

transformed her life.

 

Indian widow

 

 

Source:  Gospel for Asia

 

Changed

Create in me a clean heart, O God,
And renew a steadfast spirit within me.

This was the prayer that changed Lisa’s life.

Before she prayed it one night in her room,

she was a selfish person.  She went about

her busy life, not having time for anyone.

She went to church, yes, but she never

expressed any interest in being involved

in any of the ministries.  She didn’t attend

the afternoon programs or prayer meetings.

She never joined the youth group who

visited the senior homes.  She left church

soon after the service ended.

 

She didn’t visit her family often and

when she did, she found them all very tiresome.

She preferred to be on her own.  She spent

most of her time reading a book, watching TV

or browsing shops in the mall.  Her relationships

didn’t last.  All of her exes got tired of giving and

not getting much back.

 

She managed to convince herself that she was

satisfied with how her life was.  No obligations, no

commitments and no constraints.  She was free to

come and go as she pleased.  In her estimation, she

was doing just fine.

 

But God had other plans for her.  One evening she

watched a story of an older woman named Edith

who was always kind to everyone.  She had to go to

hospital for tests.  It turned out that she was terminally

ill.  Instead of sinking into depression and being angry

at God, she accepted her fate.  She spent the time she

had in the hospital telling everyone who would listen

about Jesus.  She helped a young girl who was pregnant

and unwed.  She didn’t judge her but spoke kindly to her.

She gave her the name and address of a women’s shelter

where she could go and stay until she was able to find a job

and raise her baby.  Edith didn’t think about herself.  She

was always reaching out to those around her, talking to

them, encouraging them and sharing her faith with them.

 

By the time Edith died, many of the people whose lives

she touched accepted Jesus.  Before the movie ended,

Lisa was sobbing uncontrollably.  This woman’s unselfish

character and love for others made her feel ashamed.  She

knew that if she had been in Edith’s shoes, she would have

been lashing out and asking God why.  Not once did this

gentle woman do that.  She was always saying, “That she

was looking forward to going to sleep and then waking up

when the trumpet sounded and her Jesus came to take her

home.

 

Lisa got down on her knees and poured her heart out to

God, begging Him to forgive her and the words of the

Psalm came to her.  God answered her prayer.   Now,

she was a driver for a senior centre.   She took clients for

their appointments, treatment programs, shopping, banking

and other daily chores.  The hours were flexible.  She

loved what she was doing.

 

Like Edith, she shared her faith every opportunity she had.

She attended prayer meetings and participated in church

programs and events.  Her time was better spent now and she

felt a joy and peace she had never experienced before.  Her family

noticed the changes in her and were impressed.

 

And on a more personal note, she was in a new relationship.

He was a volunteer at the senior centre.  So far, so good.  Only

time would tell.  For now, she was happy serving the Lord who

had opened her eyes to her true spiritual condition and had

brought her to the place He had prepared for her.   He had given

her a completely different outlook and a new purpose for her life.

 

Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven – Matthew 5:16

 

assisted-living-care3-720

 

Sources:  Bible Gateway;  Lumacare

 

Asha’s Story

Imagine you are a child and your daily routine is to get up early every morning to go and pick through trash with your mother.  You and your family are “untouchables” in your society which means you are treated as outcasts, undesirables.   You don’t have many options when it comes to jobs so in order to survive, you have to pick through garbage to find plastic bottles to sell. This was Asha’s reality.

Her world was tough, bleak.  She spent her days trudging through streets and alleyways strewn with garbage, hungry because she left home without having any breakfast.  The stench of the heaps of trash and filth assailed her nostrils as she searched for plastic items that could be sold.  She sorted, graded and sold whatever she could find.

When it was time for Asha to go to school she dreaded it because she feared the rejection of her teachers and classmates.  None of the children wanted to sit next to her or play with her.  She alone with no friends.  Asha knew why the others didn’t want to be around her.  It was because she picked trash for a living.  She had no choice.  She was trapped in the cycle of poverty and the door to better future was barred to her.  Asha wanted to learn but she was afraid to go to school.

For I know the plans that I have for you, says the Lord, plans for peace and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope – Jeremiah 29:11

When Asha’s father heard about a Gospel for Asia supported Bridge of Hope center, he encouraged her to go.  He knew that Bridge of Hope offered help to people in need, especially to those whom society considered to be the lowest of people and he knew that the Bridge of Hope Center would care for her and provide her with the things he couldn’t.

Asha showed up at the Bridge of Hope carrying a plastic bag full of school books, dressed in tattered and smelly clothes, her face dirty and unwashed.  Unlike the reception she normally received at school, Asha was welcomed by the staff.  They loved and cared for her.  They took the time to help her to keep neat and clean.  She was given a backpack to replace her makeshift book bag and then school supplies and other useful gifts.

Within a year, Asha’s life was completely transformed.  She was fast learner and developed strongly in her studies.  She no longer went hungry as every school day she enjoyed a meal at the center.   Thanks to the staff, Asha has learned how to keep herself clean and she participates in all the activities at the center.  Her Dad couldn’t be happier,  “My daughter is getting her daily needs met through the Bridge of Hope center.  Now she is having good food, and she is healthy now.  We are very happy to see her growth.  She feared to go to school, but now she is never absent from school.”

Asha no longer has to pick up trash or feel alone and rejected by teachers and other students.  Instead she thrives under the love and attention she receives at the Bridge of Hope center and is excelling at school.  The door that society had barred her from because of her background, God cleared through Bridge of Hope.   Hope for a better future was now in her grasp.   No more trading plastic bottles.  No more rummaging through garbage to maintain the family because her father was paralyzed and couldn’t provide for them.

Asha1

You can help other children like Asha to have a better life, a bright future by supporting the Bridge of Hope centre.  Bridge of Hope is reaching out to the hopeless and rejected “through education, daily meals,  character-building activities, lessons on good hygiene, and by setting positive examples of love and good morals.  There is a bridge for these children that gives them a chance to rise above the cycle of hopelessness they have always known.”

Help to give hope.  Sponsor a child today.

Asha2

“The beautiful thing about learning is that no one can take it away from you.”
– B.B. King

 

Sources:  Gospel for Asia; The Borgen Project

Serving

For as long as she could

remember she loved

inviting strangers

to her home for a meal.

She lived by these words,

“Do not forget to entertain

Strangers, for by so doing

some have unwittingly entertained

Angels.”

 

As she served them, she shared

her faith.  She wanted them

to know that there was a

God in heaven who loved

them.

 

Many of them were

touched by her hospitality.

They were lonely or going

through a tough time and

this woman was welcoming

them into her home, feeding

them and talking to them.

Not all of them were interested

in hearing about God or religion

but they were grateful to her

for her kindness.

 

She wasn’t discouraged by their

lack of Interest in spiritual matters,

but she knew that she had

shown them the love of

Christ by the way she treated them.

Sometimes sharing the Gospel

came not from words but from

actions.  Still, it was a thrill for her

when they accepted Christ.

 

Initially, her family and friends

were concerned that she was

inviting strangers into her home

but she assured them that God

led the people to her.

She thanks Him every day for calling

her into the Hospitality ministry.

 

“I love to feed and talk to people,”

she said, “and that is why God chose

me for this work.  I am so blessed.”

She has been doing this for years.

and will continue to do so until

she is called to another ministry.

 

woman-inviting-into-her-home-640x419

Source:  Hebrews 13:2