As I was studying and reflecting on Immanuel Baptist Church and the surrounding community of Finch and Don Mills, I became aware of the need for youth to be mentored. I am passionate about mentoring, and having experienced the significance of it personally, I felt and noticed the longing of youth to have someone who would truly care, love, encourage, invest and pour into them.

As part of my masters degree and my work at Immanuel as the Youth Pastor, I intentionally designed a mentoring ministry called J.O.Y, which stands for Journey with Our Youth. Our mentoring ministry is intentional in that those involved are actively engaged and committed to living life together, growing in our walks with God, growing in our leadership abilities, and creating a community. This is done with our launch retreat in September, our monthly training, our monthly mentoring times, and whatever projects and events that the youth plan and lead. Our desire is for our youth and mentors to grow spiritually, in leadership, and to provide them opportunities to do this.  

From the beginning, I felt that this ministry wasn’t not mine or the church’s but that it belonged to the youth. This strong belief lead to involving the youth in the whole process, making it their own. They had a voice in shaping the ministry. Who better to get involved in creating a ministry for youth, than the youth? I would say that the ministry has been very impactful because of the youth who gave feedback, and who voiced their needs and concerns.

Here are two quotes from two of the youth who are part of the J.O.Y mentoring ministry when asked about their experience with mentoring:

“Mentoring has been a great experience in my life. Every month I meet up with my mentor to discuss what has happened in the past month, how God has affected me in my life, and go through the Bible, discussing God’s message. My favourite part of mentoring is when we talk about Bible verses and learn about God. Learning that He loves you, that He has a plan for you. He’s all powerful and righteous. Being worried and anxious about things is a big thing for me. But due to mentoring sessions, I learned that God loves me for who I am, no matter what I do, or how well I do things. I learned to stop, or minimize, worrying thanks to Him. Therefore, mentoring has been a great and beneficial experience in my life, without it I would not have grown this significantly in my walk with God.” —Ryan Marsh

“To me, the most significant part of mentoring is the one-on-one aspect. It is something I didn’t know I needed and it was more meaningful than I expected. It has definitely been a positive experience so far. I have experienced God through my Bible and He guides me through everyday struggles.” —Joseph Xie

Thankfully from the beginning I had the support from Jonathan Mills and Curt Erb, our pastors, who encouraged, advised, and challenged me to take this idea and make it reality. The whole church was also very supportive of this endeavour. In particular, I had the support of my youth leaders who were willing to be mentors, and from the youth who became part of the ministry. Thankfully, the process of starting and implementing this mentoring ministry has been a joy and I wouldn’t have been able to start it without the support from all involved.  

It has been a joy to see our youth and leaders grow in their walks with God, in their leadership, and so much more. It has been a privilege to see some of the youth become more actively involved at Immanuel and in the community. I have been deeply impacted and encourage by the youth as they take on more leadership opportunities, such as planning and leading events, helping out with Sunday school and other ministries, as well as independently leading a Sunday school lesson. I have also been encouraged by the mentors who have taken time and invested in our youth. One leader is mentoring despite being in Norway! Our church community, the youth, the mentors, and I have been blessed and impacted by mentoring in profound ways. I am grateful to God for what He has done in the lives of those involved in J.O.Y and I’m looking forward to see what else He has planned for us.

I hope this encourages you to reflect and consider how you can get involved in mentoring and how mentoring can impact you, your community, your youth, and your church.

By Hannah Fairbanks (Youth Pastor at Immanuel Baptist Church, Toronto)