The Road to Mentoring: Anyone Can Change a Life

  • by Rebecca Kelsall

Carly Edwards had a whirlwind of a week – just like every week since she first clutched her college degree.

She’s been juggling roles as a young professional in a successful executive firm, an ambitious grad student and a Christian woman hungry to grow in her faith.

Bethany Hart’s days move at the pace of a bullet  train, too.

Bethany’s class schedule as a premedical biology major only gets a portion of her time. She’s also a student athlete and a campus ministry leader.

But on Saturday night, the two whirlwind women “collide” in a much calmer place. Bethany steps into Carly’s apartment, and the two pray and eat and talk and breathe again.

Carly shares with Bethany what the Lord’s been teaching her. Bethany tells Carly where her busied heart’s been. Then, the two conclude in prayer and hop over to the couch to watch a movie.

Carly laughs at the suggestion that the two are very similar. “I’d never thought that before,” she chuckles.

But they are great friends.

“So much [of Bethany’s life] is so results-focused – exams, games,” Carly says. “When Bethany comes over for one of our girls nights, I find joy in building her up in faith so that she has a greater perspective [of] the work the Lord is doing in her life.”

Carly began her road to mentoring when she was inspired to lead others nearer to Christ through Athletes in Action®. After she graduated in 2014, she saw no reason that should change. She knows that anyone can change a life.

A Freshman Filled Up

At the end of her freshman year, Carly boarded a bus to AIA’s Ultimate Training Camp. She’d heard about the Christian getaway and decided a retreat would be good for her.

“I went in blind,” Carly remembers. “It was actually funny.”

Shortly after she boarded the bus, a few burly football players followed, talking about the camp the year before.

“They said ‘Man, I don’t know if my body will hold up,’” Carly recalls.

AIA’s Ultimate Training Camp is designed to push Christian athletes to the end of their physical strength and teach them that their sole foundation should be God.

Being in that environment gave the Holy Spirit room to stir in her, and Carly went back to her own university determined to see Jesus glorified there.  And He was.

Carly and another friend who’d gone to the camp started Bible studies, discipled others and spoke with AIA staff members who helped them, and the movement is thriving today.

Befriending Bethany

Carly, unlike most of her classmates, reported to her new job immediately after graduation. Knowing little about the city, she dove into what she did know: She sought out AIA and desired to make Jesus known.

When they met, Bethany was eager to grow in her faith, and they began having coffee on Bethany’s campus. Carly told Bethany she wanted to be a resource for her, and a few weeks later, Bethany texted her for help.

“It’s when I thought, Okay, I’m making a difference,” Carly says.

Bethany was struggling to own her faith amidst her athletic community, learning how to lead and find that line between being a friend and a servant of the kingdom. Carly had this dilemma often and was able to talk it through with Bethany. This was almost two years ago, and Carly has had the privilege of watching Bethany grow.

Bethany now disciples other young women, leads Bible studies and went to Ecuador last summer on a mission trip. Carly says she’s seen God transform Bethany.

“College is a tough environment,” Carly says, because of pressures to succeed as well as fit in. “Inviting Bethany over to my apartment gives an alternative social outlet for [Bethany and her friends].” At Carly’s place, Bethany can truly be herself.

Carly is reminded to be strong in who she is through Bethany’s friendship as well.

“Every time we get together, I’m encouraged,” she says.

Not Just Carly

Carly wants people to know she is not a special case. Mentors can have a significant influence on young believers, and any believer can be a mentor. And Carly entreats others there is always a need for them.

Are you interested in making a difference in a younger Christian’s life? Here is Carly’s advice:

  1. Don’t be afraid. “Just jump in!” Carly says. She encourages you to take the initiative to find where mentors are needed – a local Cru movement, another ministry, your church’s young adults group—and offer what you have to give. “The first step is raising your hand.”
  2. No need to be perfect. “Everyone can make an impact,” Carly says. “You don’t have to have a crazy story. If you’re plugged into your faith, you can serve younger [or] newer believers.”
  3. Give what you have. Carly wanted to play a more active role in AIA, but because of her demanding job, the hours wouldn’t work for her to coach. But she still wanted to offer what she could. “Maybe people are concerned with commitment,” Carly says. “But just give God what you can, and see what fruit comes from it.”

“Walk by faith,” Carly says. “That pretty much sums it up.”