Let Me Be A River – A Mentor’s Story
A unique God moment started me on my journey as a mentor with Thoughts About God. It was one of those busy weeks when I didn’t want any more meetings or even coffee appointments. My only desire was to stay home, put my feet up and rest. Then I read the email my husband had written to his friend suggesting the four of us get together for a coffee – meaning me and his friend’s wife who I had never met. There was a prompt email response – “yes, how about on Saturday”. While I thought I didn’t need another coffee God had a different plan which I realized as I met this gracious lady who gave leadership to Thoughts About God. In response to her questions I shared my story of having traveled to many countries on mission trips, the joy I experienced in ministry and how God had directed me to train as a clinical counselor after some years as a school teacher. We talked about the joys of parenting our now grown children and I shared about our four married sons scattered in different parts of the world. Then in her gentle way she asked if I would consider being a mentor for Thoughts About God. As I prayed about this in the following days I sensed God calling me to this new ministry.
It’s been over a year since that Saturday morning coffee and since I started the mentoring. Over that period of time I have responded to some 600 mentoring emails. Recently God impressed on my heart the thought of how he wants me to be a river of living water to those whose lives I touch from day to day. Somehow the picture of the river seemed so descriptive of my experience as a mentor for Thoughts About God. Jesus describes it so beautifully in John 7:38 when he stood up at a feast and said to all those present, “If any one thirsts, let him come to me and drink. He who believes in me, as the scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart shall flow rivers of living water’.” My desire as a mentor is to be such a river of living water.
As I thought about being a river I had to think of what that meant. The river is refreshing to those along the way, which speaks to me of being an encouragement. I think of people who speak in their emails out of deep pain and write, ”I’m so grateful for the wonderful encouragement”, “you are the first person with whom I have shared my story of pain” or “when I get your mail, and I read it, then it’s like a sudden motion of relaxation & calmness overcomes me. Then I just want to face the world & tackle it with both hands”. I need to trust God that he will give me the words that will be an encouragement to people in their situations of need.
Even more important, the river is life-giving. How my heart has been thrilled when people email and say they have prayed to receive Christ into their lives. New life – eternal life. People I will see in heaven some day because Thoughts About God was a river of living water for them. I appreciate so much that each article on this website gives people an opportunity to pray a prayer of response which helps them to take that first step in a relationship with God.
The river is powerful and has an impact on it’s surroundings. It’s the words of Jesus that offer living water and that’s what makes it powerful. It reminds me of the email I received from a person who in his despair had a plan to end his life. God gave me words to reach out to him and he told me how he decided not to follow through on his suicide plan. The river was powerful in his life at that moment. I also see this power as people experience hope in their despair.
I notice too the river goes on and on and reaches far away shores. My mentoring emails are sent to people around the world. My words reach out to people in far away places. When I started the mentoring ministry I kept a journal of the places and names of people where my emails went. So many went to Africa, India, Philippines, Egypt, Iran, Jamaica to name just some of them. It is thrilling to think that I can visit these places in my spirit by email and touch the lives of people there with the living water.
As the river rumbles through the countryside It passes so many different scenarios. Sometimes it passes through cities, at other times little villages, then the lonely rural areas and even the desert places. That’s much the same as my river of living water. Some share with me that they are professional people and they live in the city. Others appear to live in smaller places. Then there are some emails that make me wonder whether the sender even has a computer in their home and that maybe they have to go to an internet shop to send and receive the emails.
I notice too that the river flows into the low spots along the way. My heart aches for the people who share their stories of pain. They have reached such despairing moments in their lives. I read about the women struggling with unfaithful husbands, marriages breaking up, people facing extreme poverty and some despairing of life itself. What a blessing to offer living water to those struggling in their situations of hopelessness. It is here in the low spots that I need the Lord to fill my heart with the compassion he displayed when he walked this earth.
The river is also a source of nourishment with all its fish and even vegetation. How true of the river that I seek to be for people. As I have shared with people the scriptures or practical suggestions from my counselling experiences I have watched them grow in their marriages, their relationships, their personal life and especially in their relationship to God. In the process I too have been nourished as I grow in my dependence on God, am challenged to search the scriptures for answers as well as finding books that give me the resources that I need. This keeps the water in my river fresh and life-giving so as to give the needed nourishment to those who come to drink.
As I reflect on how the river twists and turns, in places rolls over the rocks creating great turmoil and roaring water falls, it seems like a picture of my journey as a mentor. It has been a time of learning new life lessons that the Lord wanted to teach me. I have learned that when I feel inadequate I can look to the Lord for wisdom and I sense him giving me the insights I need. It is exciting to think how I am called to work in team with his Holy Spirit as he takes my words across the air waves to quench the thirst of needy people in, “all the world.” Then there are the days when I feel overwhelmed by the task because the questions are so complicated, my time is so limited and there seem to be more requests than I can handle. It is then that the Lord gently reminds me, “I am directing this ministry. I have called you and I will send to you those that I want you to help. Just take it one step at a time and lean on me to help you.”
Throughout this time I have experienced the Lord meeting my needs as a mentor in so many ways. Yes, he gives wisdom and insight on a daily basis for which I am so grateful. But he has also, time and again, directed me to scripture passages and books that could help me at the right time. My heart was touched when I realized that God knew the plan he had for me and had already placed a tool into my hand. Just months before I started the mentoring assignment our son gave me a new laptop as a Christmas gift while visiting him in Switzerland. This encouraged me and confirmed for me that God had already prepared the way for me to be involved in this new email ministry.
My prayer as a mentor for Thoughts About God is: “Lord let me be that river of living water in the lives of people around the world”.
by Elfrieda Nikkel – September, 2012
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