When we ask the women in the ministry to read, we also ask them to take notes about what they have read, we discuss, we journal, we pray, we memorize Scripture, we open our Bibles, we fellowship, we laugh and cry, we journey through life together. Together this ministry builds personal relationships with the Lord and a safe community of female relationships.
One woman in her first year of our mentoring program said, "I gained great encouragement and support in the midst of personal crisis as a result of being part of this mentoring group. How wonderful to be allowed to be open and honest in a confidential setting and to know that the true issues of the heart were bathed in prayer by others. We placed many issues at the foot of the cross and watched God graciously respond. What a blessing!"
One of our mentors told us, "While reading my devotional, I realized how exciting it was to read the verse that was also one of the verses I memorized for mentoring. This does not seem like such a great discovery until I reflect on how difficult it is to memorize as I am older, especially since I was not exposed to the Bible in my younger years. Suddenly, I realized how God is bringing me closer in my walk with him which is what we are all striving for. I always felt in God's eyes, he made me a follower and now I am a leader. He is challenging me in every way through mentoring. I trust you, Jesus, and thank you."
Leading and Ministering in Context
It is of paramount importance that all leaders lead in context. What I mean is, we must know our people and the environment in which we lead. If I were leading in a church of illiterate people, I would certainly take a different approach to mentoring. In my current situation, however, the environment is educated, middle- to upper-middle-class laypeople. The lack of ability is not a problem; the lack of priority is.
Which leads me to a bigger question, How are you going to lead? I am not a person who is motivated to lead out of my fears. In other words, I am not going to take an alternate route from the direction I believe God is leading me simply because I fear others may not like it, will talk about me, drop out of the ministry, and so on. Before launching the ministry, we evaluated our church's culture and the context in which we minister. We decided there are plenty of free devotionals and light reading available on the Internet and in Christian bookstores, which the people in our congregation have access to. I would submit that most Bible-believing and Bible-teaching churches like ours offer regular Bible studies, so that base is also covered. On the other hand, if women simply want to fellowship, they can go to a group that exists for that purpose.