In many colleges, a student is usually just another number in a large classroom setting and is lost amongst the vast majority. Here at New Hope Christian College, you are known and prayed for by name and assigned to a Life Group that provides mentoring and spiritual formation in a small group setting. The icing on the cake is that each Life Group here is led by a New Hope staff member. As a Life Group leader and mentor for over twenty years, I have developed the reputation of a “velvet brick.” The first time I heard someone state this to me, I wasn’t sure if it was a compliment or not. Through the years, I have seen this term in reality as I have fallen in love with mentoring. The truth of my difficult childhood and teenage years without a Christian faith was enough motivation to say I want better for young women today.
My heart is most tender to mentor the most challenging and toughest lives because I testify to God’s redeeming love. I firmly believe that “…in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28). I have seen a first-year student’s fear, anxiety, and challenges. From questioning their decision to attend college, struggling with friendships, and discovering the rigors of academics, the list can be quite long. It is easy to lose steam mid-semester and want to quit, but Life Groups provide a safe space to process correctly and affirm that you are not alone.
In addition to meeting as a Life Group, I value one-on-one mentoring when we take it to the next level. We talk about our childhood upbringing, strengths, personality, and love languages; we process family dynamics and what it means to grow in a faith of our own. It gives me the open door to love them like my own children, share God’s forgiveness and grace, and speak truth with love, similarly like a velvet brick. These moments are precious to me because of the vulnerability built; we laugh, cry, and have aha moments of self-discovery. When a young person discovers for themself God’s truth, it is freeing and empowering.
One of the greatest compliments is seeing a graduate become staff at New Hope and continue the tradition of leading the next generation in a Life Group of their own. I love this quote from Dr. Wayne Cordeiro, “You can teach what you know, but you ultimately reproduce who you are.”