Don Lewis: Board Chairman, Treasurer, Mentor – Pathways Danbury Youth Ministries
Length of Time associated with Pathways Danbury: 19 years; he was one of Pathways Danbury’s very first mentors and has personally mentored five boys
On How he Became a Mentor: My kids were in high school in Danbury. I got involved in the school and it became evident that many of these kids needed guidance, but I couldn’t get involved to that level at my daughters’ school. One day, Jane (Don’s wife) came home from church and said “they’re starting a mentoring program for boys in the city.” Because Bill Beattie was involved, I knew that meant there would be a spiritual component, so I said, “Hmmm, what am I going to do with THAT?” When I talked to Joel (Eidsness, then pastor of Walnut Hill Community Church), he said to me, ‘There’s a mentor training tomorrow; be there.’ I thought maybe I’d be a helper in some way … the next thing I know, I was told, ‘congratulations, you’re a mentor.’ Here I am, 19 years and five students later.”
On mentoring: A great thing about mentoring is that everyone benefits from it. Everybody thinks that when you mentor a young guy, he’s the person that changes. If you’re mentoring correctly, you both change. You’re mentoring them, saying that it’s important to stay close to the Lord, and follow the Lord. It’s kinda hard to NOT change yourself when you’re doing the same thing. And you HAVE TO do the same thing. But the single greatest thing is that God would choose me to mentor someone.
On being with the kids he’s mentored: I just love having fun with them and doing new things with them. You can be goofy, serious, prayerful and REAL with them! It’s about showing up, being present, and being willing to have a real relationship. God can really use you to transform their lives through the mentor/mentee relationship. It’s not about you steering their lives in any direction.
On the difference between steering someone’s life and transforming it: When you “steer” something, you’re simply forcing it to go one way. But, through a relationship, – one where you allow God to work and speak through you to touch this kid’s heart – you can guide these kids in such a way that it transforms their lives, because you introduce them to God through the relationship.
On What He’s Learned about Himself: “I never look inward; I might scare myself! But, seriously, as you walk your walk, and as you look around, you realize that you DO have a strong faith in God. You realize that none of this (walking through life’s challenges) happens without a faith in God. None of this happens without putting Him first. I’ve learned – especially in the last few years serving as treasurer at my church – that, when you put Him first, and when you really LISTEN to what He’s saying, things will work out. He’ll work it out. As humans, we try to fix everything in every situation. I’ve learned to tailor my expectations to what God provides. And then trust Him.
On volunteering, especially if you’re not sure where or how: Well, first, you have to pray about it, obviously, and really listen to see why God is tugging on your heart. If you’re on the fence, He’s moved you there for a reason! So now you have to listen about which way to go. There is a place for everyone to be a part of God’s transformative work. You can always find a way to make a difference in someone’s life.
On the value of Jericho Partnership: Jericho is in a position to show the love of Christ to so many people on many levels – from health services to youth to the homeless to adolescents to pregnancy care to adoption service. They basically have the ability to touch and help people in need through their lifespan.