First Corinthians 11:1, NKJV, “Imitate me, just as I also imitate Christ.”
Fourteen years ago (at the start of the Gateway To Glory Ministry and prior to the opening of the first aftercare home) my mentor, Rev. Norene Snow, reminded me of something we had heard at a Prison Fellowship conference in Lansing. Prison Fellowship had done a 30 year study on the effectiveness of mentoring. This study determined that the recidivism rate is reduced from 67% to 11%, a huge decrease, when a mentor is brought into the released person’s life! This underscored the significance of mentoring and showed how important it was to have it implemented into the structure of the Gateway to Glory aftercare houses.
What we had heard, in a nutshell, was that out of all the programs that are available to help inmates upon their release (such as substance abuse, anger management, and general life skills, etc.) nothing works better to reduce recidivism than when a man or woman of God comes alongside a returning citizen. A mentor. The definition of the word mentor is: “a wise and trusted counselor or teacher”. A mentor becomes a friend, Biblical counselor, and an accountability partner.
Although the word “mentor” doesn’t appear in the Bible, Scripture gives us numerous examples of mentoring. The greatest prophet of the Old Testament, Moses, was mentored by his father-in-law, Jethro. Elijah mentored Elisha and Elisha mentored King Jehoash. Eli mentored Samuel. Jesus mentored the disciples. Barnabus mentored Paul and Paul mentored Timothy.
I, personally, have had a mentor since my release from prison 23 years ago. My current mentor, Bob, has been a real asset in my Christian walk. He encourages, teaches, and corrects me. He has been a faithful brother and friend in the faith. I attribute much of my success in ministry to my mentor, Bob.
Most men coming from prison or jail to Gateway’s aftercare, have no father figure. The women who come in to the women’s home, are also coming to us lacking good role models. As part of the program, a mentor is assigned to each man and woman resident. We have seen how these male mentors become like father figures to the male residents. Further, our female mentors do their best to embody the Scripture that says, “these older women must train the younger women…”
We are very proud of our mentors at Gateway to Glory who come alongside our residents and say: “Imitate me, as I also imitate Christ.”
All glory and praise to the One who ransomed us,
Chaplain Steve Malek