One thing that we try to instill into our kiddos is the love of reading. To say that reading is important would be a huge understatement. In order to get our kiddos to read a book, Forerunner has created a program so eloquently called “Read a chapter book more than 70 pages long and we’ll bring you whatever you want for lunch.” I know. It really flows off the tongue.
One of our 5th grade Forerunners finished this book called Elkadorfia in late December and has been so pumped about his accomplishment. What was his reward lunch? You guessed it, Taco Bell’s famous Supreme Nachos. He could have anything he wanted and he decided to Make a Run for the Border, Taco Bell style. I love this kid.
One thing that I love to do when getting some one-on-one time with our Forerunners is to ask a ton of questions. They love it. Of course, one of the main benefits is for me to get to know him, but it also gives me a heads up into what he really thinks of our program. How is your mentor? Is he showing up? What do you like about him? How is our staff doing? You get the point.
While I was bombarding our Forerunner with questions and getting mostly one word answers, my dude threw me a curveball. He said “You know, my mentor really isn’t just like my friend.” I sat there, trying not to panic. I probably started to sweat, and I might have even choked on my Double Decker taco. I replied as calmly as I could “Oh yeah? Why do you say that? Has he not been treating you right?”
He started laughing and said “No Coach. My mentor isn’t just like a friend. He is like my dad. He’s always there for me and my friends are always asking me if that’s my dad. I tell them no, but I say that he is like my dad.”
I almost started to cry. Our mentor has been doing an incredible job. Of course He has been friendly with his Forerunner and they have a lot of fun together, but obviously our kiddo puts the connection that he has with his mentor in a different category than just "friendship". Let me try to break this down.
I believe the heart of every boy yearns for a positive male to encourage him, love him and accept him no matter what. I don’t care who you are, all kids desire that. It is innate. For most kids, that is their father. But what if you don’t have a father around? What do you do then?
That’s where we come in. We don’t try to “be” this kid’s father; we simply try to step in the gap and provide support through relationships. We do this by showing up. This young man’s mentor comes to eat lunch with him almost every week. He shows up on the weekends and invites his Forerunner to be a part of his family activities. When he takes his daughter to Chuck E. Cheese, his Forerunner comes along. Heck, our Forerunner and his mentor’s 5 year old daughter have come to love each other. It really is a beautiful thing.
Our young men have a lot of friends. they don't need anymore of those. But what they do need is an older man filled with the heart of Jesus to show them how to navigate through life.
So when he says that his mentor is like his dad, he simply means he is providing him encouragement, love, and acceptance no matter what. Our Forerunner knows in his heart that his mentor values him. That he likes to be with him. That he is a part of his family.
Come to think of it. That sounds a lot like someone else I know. There was a guy named Jesus who lived and encouraged, loved, and accepted people just as they were 2,000 years ago. I hear that he loves you as you are, not as you should be. I hear that he loves to put the lonely in families and stand up for the oppressed. In fact, he loves it so much he gave his life for it.
So when our Forerunner says “My mentor is not just my friend”, he’s right. He is so much more than that. He is loving. He is accepting. He is encouraging. He is inviting you to be a part of a family. He is there for you. He is being just like Jesus.