Have you ever wondered what it would be like to meet one of your students in person? René Kooistra, one of our board members at Crossroads, had the opportunity to meet one of his students in Alberta.
“It was great to put a face to a name,” René told us, “but it also made the work more tangible and real. I realized that I was meeting someone that God has impacted at a very deep level, in a very personal way. It grounded the relationship and made it a little bit deeper.”
Peter, René’s student, had recently transitioned from an institution to a halfway house. This made visiting each other easier.
René has been a mentor for two years, and has been surprised by what he’s learned along the way. “You get to re-learn Bible basics that you’ve assumed to be second nature for so many years. You see it through fresh eyes, with a slightly different understanding. Those old truths have a way of becoming new again.”
Thanks to students like Peter, René said that he’s seeing his relationship with Jesus in a new and different way. “We’re all broken people,” he said. “Incarcerated people think that there’s an ‘us’ and ‘them.’ And church people think there’s an ‘us’ and ‘them’ as well. But there’s no us and them. It’s just us.”
In many ways, the relationship between mentor and student is symbiotic. As much as the mentor gives, the mentor gets in return also. Our tagline says that “lives, prisons, and churches are restored through the Gospel,” and it’s absolutely true.
If you’re considering becoming a mentor, it’s never too late to get started. We asked René what he would say to people who are feeling a tug on their hearts to become a mentor. “You’ll be surprised,” he said. “God has a way of enriching you, through someone else’s brokenness, that you will not believe. It leads to a higher level of gratitude for your own life, and a better understanding of God’s grace. If it weren’t for His grace, our own circumstances might have been so different. There’s always more to learn about Jesus and His impact on your life.”