I have stopped counting the number of young followers of Jesus in the Latino church who yearn for mentors.
The largeness of the number is excessive to continuously bear. Yet, hope today continues to shed light on a corner of the faith I personally attempt to bodily, intellectually, and vocally profess. Hope today is alive partly because I was gifted with a mentor. Pastor Byron Pellecer, “El Pastor” as we refer to him with endearment in our congregation, became a mentor to me as part of the Ministry Inquiry Program summer internship I held with Iglesia Discipular Anabaptista (IDA).
Pastor Byron was hospitable from this internship’s beginning to its closure. He affirmatively expressed, “I will offer you the little I can give. It will be up to you what you do with it.” I explored pastoral care, theological teaching, and preaching, through a fascinating path which became intimate, challenging, and fruitful.
El Pastor radically welcomed all of me: the important parts, gifts I attempt to vest, and flaws I attempt to hide in the closet. Dwelling in such safe space, he then challenged me to extend who I am.
My relations to time were one instance of our fruitful engagement. El Pastor empathized with my fluid engagement of time, always serving me cafecito—delicious black coffee—at the start of our meetings in spite of my significant tardiness.
Once both having inhabited such space of basic trust, he then would call me, patiently yet boldly, to learn new cultural ways of becoming—in this case, to become skilled in the ways of linear, marked conceptions of time. He would prophetically say, “You need to learn the system, if you ever want to transform the system.”
In a number of enriching forms, mentorship became an intimate, practical reality. I am inspired to share more in mentorship from both sides of the spectrum: as a mentee and, in God’s favor, also a mentor.
As my friend, El Pastor, consistently attempted to inculcate in me: “By grace we receive, and thus, by grace we also give.”
A student at Eastern Mennonite University, Jossimar Diaz-Castro is a part of IDA and participated in the Ministry Inquiry Program during the summer of 2012.