A Mentor’s Life-Changing Impact
Have you ever wondered what kind of influence a God-given mentor could have upon your life? Have you wondered how you might serve as a mentor for a young disciple or emerging leader? Let the story help give you a clearer picture.
A few weeks ago I drove down the road with a couple of other disciple-makers. One asked, “How did you first become involved in disciple-making movements among unreached peoples?” My mind flipped through memory after memory. Events leading up to my early introduction to this adventurous lifestyle. One rose to the top. I said, “It was the day George Patterson came to my home and invited me to join one of his teams.”
My two passengers turned to me in awe. “You know George Patterson!” Feeling humbled, yet grateful, I began the story of my mentor.
That First Conversation With George
Our first encounter was over the phone. It seemed surprising enough that Dr. Patterson was available to talk with me. Then he actually accepted my request for help. I was leading a YWAM missionary training course. We wanted to send teams to unreached people groups where there were no churches. No one that I knew back in the mid-80s had experience in pioneer church planting. A friend urged me to call and ask George Patterson to come train us. I decided, “It couldn’t hurt to ask.”
His friendly, eager “yes” filled me with hope. Now we had the guy who would help us! My confidence in him was high because I read his writings in my favorite Missions textbook. The book is PERSPECTIVES On The World Christian Movement. His article, The Spontaneous Multiplication of Churches, stirred my imagination. I could almost picture my friends and me doing these things among an unreached people group! Now we were about to hear about it straight from George Patterson himself.
Simple, Practical, Down-to-Earth
During those three days with George, we received simple, practical, down-to-earth, Jesus-style training. We were used to teachers giving lectures. But this was anything but lecture. He told us stories. With some, we’d laugh along with him (and he laughed freely…often). Others—like when one of his first disciples got hacked to death by a machete—made us cry. The stories were mixed in with live-action skits. He’d grab various ones of us, put us into position, and we’d act out a skit containing some vital lesson. Afterward, he’d sit and ask us questions about what we saw.
Energized by our days together, I was happy to talk with George at home with my wife and our three little children. Standing near the door, I told him how much I loved the training. “I feel like even I could do this!”
“Well, you can’t,” George replied. Before I slumped too low, he continued.
“You can’t really learn these skills from three days of training. You need someone to show you how to do it. Kevin, if you and your family come work with me, I will teach you as much as I can for as long as you can stay.”
Laura and I thought and prayed. When I ran the idea by our local YWAM Director, his enthusiasm further encouraged me. Yes, we accepted George’s invitation.
George MODELED Disciple-Making
Fast forward a few months: George and I sat together in his car outside the house of a family we were about to visit. He explained that he had been with them on another day for an evangelistic Bible study. They were open to the Gospel and wanted to learn more about Jesus.
To prepare me, George said, “As a YWAMer, you have done lots of evangelism, I am sure. But please don’t say much this time. Just listen and observe. Afterward, you and I will talk about what you’ve learned.”
That struck me as unexpected, but I was there to learn. The family welcomed us in. Within minutes, their warm hospitality made me feel at home. Sipping on a glass of cold water on this warm day, I was ready to listen and observe.
What I Saw Him Do
The time seemed to go by fast. After receiving the invitation to return next week, we headed back to the car. As we drove away, George asked me what I saw. I told him I noticed we focused on one Bible story. We started by looking at a simple drawing from the story. Each person described what they saw in the drawing. Next, one of them read the story out loud for us. Then came a time of simple questions answered by the family members. George encouraged them as they answered, one by one. They talked about who they might re-tell the story to. We ended with a very short prayer.
Easy To Imitate
George told me the reasons behind what he did. He always kept his approach simple and easy to pass on to others. With his assistance, they would soon be able to follow his example. Pointing to II Timothy 2:2, George helped me understand why we do things in ways others can easily imitate. “And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable people who will also be qualified to teach others.”
Next time we visited some new believers at their home. Once again, I was instructed to listen and observe. The Bible story this time was from Luke 18:9-14. “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector….” When the story ended, each person talked about what they learn about prayer.
Just Obey Jesus
“Prayer is one of the Seven Basic Commands of Jesus.” George explained. He went on to say to these new believers, “Jesus said this, ‘If you love Me, keep my commands’.” I soon learned one of George’s strongest convictions: followers of Jesus, lovingly obey His commands.
As we drove away I told him what I saw firsthand. It is vital to teach new disciples to obey Jesus. Help them learn and do what Jesus commanded.
George ASSISTED As I Became A Disciple Maker
Before long I learned the basic skills of sharing the Good News and discipling the new believers. What I first saw modeled for me, George now helped me do along with him. After plenty of practice, it was time for me to join a church planting team. Dan and I were soon teamed up. Dan was also being mentored by George. Day after day we went out into the community and talked to people. Our goal was to find “Persons of Peace” who would welcome us in so we could talk about Jesus. This is what Jesus told His disciples to do in Luke 10:5-7.
In time, we found a couple who opened their home and hearts. Mr. and Mrs. G welcomed us in and we began the disciples-making process. Don’t miss this part of the story. The story is entitled, It’s Not Us…It’s Mr. G!
Weekly With Mr. & Mrs. G — Weekly With George
We met with this couple weekly in their home. We also met each week with George at his office. We looked forward to his assistance during our mentoring sessions with George. We sure needed his input. We did not know what we were doing. It was one thing to make disciples. But more quickly than we expected, it was time to begin equipping Mr. G to lead an emerging house church!
Could we do this? “With his help, maybe.” That’s what Dan and I thought anyway.
You’ve seen how my mentor was a MODEL for me. You’ve seen ways that he would ASSIST me. In Part 2 of the story, I’ll tell you about how he would WATCH me and then LAUNCH me fully into the work. You’ll become convinced of his life-changing impact.