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Allison Althoff
Allison Althoff
Natalie Lederhouse
Natalie Lederhouse

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July 3, 2012

God and Goonies

Jesus called us to love the world—and he meant it.

goonies.jpg
My friend and coworker Cory has spent the last four years mentoring three boys. These boys are “at-risk” students, whose single mom works hard for her and her boys just to get by. Like many other young men across the United States, they were born into many of the challenges they face daily.

Around the office we hear Cory talk a lot about “his boys”: how much he cares and worries about them, the struggles they face, the activities they do. We pray for them in weekly team meetings and hear funny stories about them in the hallways. Mentoring has always been a matter-of-fact detail about Cory.

Last Monday, Cory asked a few people from work if we wanted to meet the boys and go with them to see a movie. I’d been hearing about these kids for years, so I jumped at the chance, expecting a fun evening of small talk with a couple teens I’d normally never get to spend time with.

But after shaking the boys’ hands and studying their faces, something changed. Their interactions with Cory, our friends, and me, made me pause—I was impressed. Slowly, I watched their personalities emerge.

Although a lot of the kids in their neighborhood are falling into gangs and drug use, these boys are taking a different path. And on Monday night they’d chosen to spend their time watching an ’80s cult classic—Goonies—with a bunch of semi-nerdy adults. After the movie we headed to McDonald’s. Over milk shakes, I watched the boys argue over who wins more often when they play Cory in basketball. I watched them light up as they told me about summer camp, and the practical jokes they play on each other. They even shared a little about their developing faith in God.

What occurred to me as I sat there, is that these boys trust Cory. He’s spent four years becoming a constant, stable presence in their lives, and he's earned their respect.

For example, not many eighth grade boys will put their new phones away right when they’re asked—but these boys did. Not many 16-year-olds will take the time to ask some random adult about the rest of her night, or how long her drive home is. But these kids were on their best behavior, because they knew they were meeting the friends of their mentor. It wasn’t that they were putting on an act. It was that they actually cared.

By the time I said goodbye and drove away, each one of those young men had found a permanent place in my heart.

I spent the drive home feeling overwhelmed by the impact my friend is having on these three brothers—a much greater impact than he’ll ever really understand. Their lives are forever changed because he took the time to invest in them. Because Cory said yes to an opportunity that would stretch not only the boys but also himself, God has blessed Cory’s act of obedience. God is using him in a tangible way, showing the world the love of Christ.

I steered my car with tears in my eyes, awe-filled from witnessing the work of God.

In Psalm 27:13, the psalmist writes, “I am still confident of this: I will see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living.” This verse declares hope—it isn’t simply heaven, but also this dark, lonely earth that God will use to demonstrate his love for us. Monday night was a resounding reminder of this truth. God is still at work, and he’s using his children to love the world.

God invites us to join him in building into the lives of others, and reminds us that it is he who does the real work. He is the one who changes hearts and brings joy to the darkness. We are simply the messengers. Sometimes it’s through a mentoring program. Sometimes it’s through being a small group leader. And sometimes it’s as simple as being the one person who refuses to give up on a friend who keeps making the wrong decisions.

The goodness of the Lord is in the land of the living, and we’re called to take action—to be a part of it. We are all fallen people, but Christ through us is all God needs to reach the lost and love those in need.

Related Tags: discipling, love, mentoring, mission

Comments

Mentors are always needed! God bless those who serve in this capacity, they do more good than they'll ever know!

My husband and I run a foster home for 6 boys. I understand the challenges these young men face everyday, I hope that what we do will have an everlasting impact on their lives as we continue our ministry that God has entrusted us with these boys...!

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