Christian group starts mentor program
By Denise Baran-Unland For The Herald-News September 12, 2012 1:46PM
Updated: October 14, 2012 12:55PM
JOLIET — Four boys and three girls needing positive Christian role models in their lives will soon have that need fulfilled, courtesy of a new outreach ministry of the Christian Youth Center.
In August, CYC launched a faith-based, church-driven mentoring program called “All For One Mentoring.” By partnering with churches in the Chicago area, CYC will train those churches toward instituting safe, effective mentoring services through their existing ministries.
Currently, 24 churches and 65 church leaders have expressed interest in the program.
“This is not an agency-based program, but a church-based program because one agency can’t do it alone,” said Brian Allen, CYC executive director. “An agency-based program can maybe only reach about 25 kids and their families. If we partner with 100 churches and each church can help 20 kids, it’s mind-numbing the impact this ministry can have.”
Different ways to mentor
Mentoring can happen in one of three ways. One-to-one mentoring pairs one Christian adult in a church with one teen from a single-parent home. The adult will become that teen’s guide in a healthy, Christ-centered relationship that will, hopefully and ultimately, lead the teen to a relationship with Jesus.
The “godfriending” program encourages adults to adopt surrogate parenting roles with the teens in their churches. Monthly, each godfriend will pray for the teens, meet face to face and send an encouraging text or phone call. The third means, which CYC has not yet established, will provide group support for teens with addictions.
CYC decided to initiate “All For One Mentoring” to connect adults with strong faith to youths in single-parent families. Nearly half of all the children born today in the United States are born into homes with only one parent, Allen said. Many times, it’s the father that is absent from the home.
“This leaves many kids, especially boys, especially vulnerable to poverty and crime,” Allen said. “Many of these kids are unchurched. We want to reach them.”
Children who receive positive mentoring, Allen said, are 46 percent less likely to use illegal drugs, 27 percent less likely to use alcohol and 52 less likely to skip school. They are also more likely to form healthy relationships.
At the same time, statistics show many young adults no longer attend church by age 25 unless they had strong Christian parents or other adults leading and discipling them, Allen added.
“We want churches to know CYC is willing to work with them so they can reach the kids in their communities,” Allen said.
For more information on CYC programs, including its faith-based mentoring program, sports programs and Thursday teen nights call 815-723-6837 or visit www.afomentoring.com.