Tabor program mentors women

ORIGINALLY WRITTEN LAURA CAMPBELL
“The things which you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses-entrust these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.” -II Timothy 2:2

Most versions of II Timothy 2:2 only urge men of the church to pass on to younger generations what they have learned on their journey of faith.

But Karly Winter, campus ministries coordinator at Tabor College, firmly believes that the idea expressed in this verse applies just as much to women, and she’s based Tabor’s new mentoring program this fall on that conviction.

“It’s the II Timothy 2:2 principle,” Winter said.

“We’re invested in, and then we go and invest in other people’s lives-just pass on the stuff that God’s already given to us.”

Winter credits Tabor senior Ashley McKillip for coming to her with the idea of a program that would pair up female students with local Christian women in one-on-one mentoring relationships.

“She was wanting to plug into something at Tabor, and it’s kind of been on my heart to do mentoring here at Tabor, too,” Winter said. “So we just kind of collaborated.”

Winter’s desire to start such a program at Tabor comes from knowing firsthand the benefits of being mentored as a student.

“I was involved in a mentoring relationship in college for two-and-a-half years where we met weekly,” she said. “She really increased my love for memorizing Scripture.”

And now, following a screening process that involved a summer training session for mentors-to-be and a questionnaire for each student to assess her emotional and spiritual needs,Winter has matched nearly 25 Tabor students with women from area churches and Tabor faculty and staff.

Within each mentoring relationship, Winter said the guidelines are flexible for how often women meet and what they do together.

“It’s up to each individual woman’s schedule, so mostly (they meet) weekly or biweekly,” she said. “They read the Bible together, share their lives together, memorize Scripture and pray together.”

Many pairs also study books together on a variety of topics.

“It depends on the issues the woman student is going through,” Winter said. “They might tailor their book to a certain issue, like self-esteem or singleness.”

That’s just what Mary Kay Humber of Parkview Mennonite Brethren Church is doing with Tabor senior Shanna Roberts, one of two women she’s mentoring in the program this semester.

Humber’s relationship with Roberts actually began more than a year ago, when the two met during Roberts’ training to be a resident assistant at Tabor.

Roberts said she intentionally pursued Humber after that.

“I just thought that it would be very helpful to have somebody to talk to about things that I was going through that I knew another woman had already gone through,” Roberts said.

Humber said she was glad Roberts asked to start a friendship.

“She just kind of sought me out and said, ‘Hey, can you spend a little time with me?’ and I said, ‘Sure!'”

And while Humber’s relationship with her other student is fairly laidback-“we just kind of occasionally catch up with each other and evaluate circumstances in life and how we’re handling them”-she and Roberts have grown close enough in a year’s time to talk frankly about tough issues during their regular weekly meetings.

“As we’ve both gotten more comfortable with each other, it’s been a lot more open just to share about really specific things that I’m dealing with,” Roberts said.

Roberts said she would encourage other young women to involve themselves in a mentoring relationship, especially if they are living far enough away from home that they need an adult to stand in when their parents can’t be there.

“I can really see God working though her, in teaching me things and just being there,” she said. “She’s just been a really big physical part of God’s love that it’s kind of hard to see some times.”

Humber, who has a 13-year-old daughter and is also a Tabor student herself earning a teaching certificate, knows how vital it is for youth to have adults around to give them positive, personal attention.

“Kids need to know that there’s people other than their parents who give a hoot about what’s going on in their lives,” she said.

“The younger generation needs to know that the older generation does care and wants to learn what their world is like.”

Humber said that any woman can talk about how she’s handled various situations-and admitting one’s blunders can be as beneficial as boasting of successes.

“I think as older women, we have a lot to offer, simply because we’ve lived through stuff-not because we may have done it well or not well, but just because we’ve been there, done that,” she said.

“Even women who think they have nothing to offer can offer a lot by simply being an available adult.”

But Humber said she has also learned from Roberts’ perspective on issues both of them may be dealing with at the same time.

“We’ll be in the same situations or circumstances, and it looks different when you’re 40 versus when you’re 20,” she said with a laugh.

“It kind of keeps me abreast of what’s going on in the world-what issues college kids are dealing with and what struggles look like to them.”

And just being around a young adult striving to live passionately for Christ is exciting, Humber said.

“I enjoy the privilege of speaking into their lives, but I also get a lot out of their energy and passion for life,” she said. “It’s energizing to me to spend time with them.”

Winter, too, is energized to keep growing the program so others can share in the mentoring experience.

“For this semester we’ve got everyone matched up, but I’m still looking to increase my mentor list,” she said. “Then we’ll open it up again in the spring.”

Winter also has been building a list of men in the community who would like to mentor a male Tabor student next semester, she said.

She encouraged any Christian men or women in the area who have interest in the program to contact her at Tabor.

Humber added that even adults who feel ill equipped for the task will find they have much to give:

“Whenever you think you don’t have something to offer, God surprises you.”

For more information or to sign up to be a mentor, contact Karly Winter at 947-3766, ext. 1035.

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