Mine is not the only Generation

Posted on by Angel Maldonado

Written by, Josh Ramos

 

I am a mentor because mine is not the only generation. I’d love to be able to say that every young person has all that they need to develop the proper skills to navigate challenges in life that they’ll face but that’s just not the case. I can’t even say that every adult these days has that. Some young people don’t have the basic need of a present/involved father, and some fathers who are present and involved could use some help in doing their job. The point I’m trying to make is that true mentorship is such a vital support needed in our society if we want it to thrive.

 

Sadly, one place our young people who are struggling end up at is jail. I coordinate career technical education courses for young adults in the Rikers Island detention center in NYC. There, I make it a habit to constantly remind the young men and women that although they’re in a tough place right now, they still have a future. They even may very well be future leaders in our communities. Yes, you heard me right! Where will our next generation leaders come from? Why not here? Why do we look outside our own communities for leaders? I understand at times it may be a dismal sight when we look at what some of our young people are up to. I could easily conclude that since these young adults are in jail, they don’t have much of a future, but how can I come to that conclusion when I know that they do!

 

Mentors have an opportunity to step in and communicate to the mentee and tell them “you have a future,” and “I believe in you.” The young person may not always receive that but in time, they can. At one of our Rikers Island course graduations, after receiving his certificate for completing a Digital Literacy course, a young adult said, “I thought society forgot about me.” How powerful are these words? That young man represents countless other marginalized youth that society would find easier to isolate than to invest in. As a former NYC Department of Correction’s Commissioner put it, “And these young people are not throw away citizens for the city of New York. We can help them.”[1] Let’s be honest, we all have parts of us we know are broken. Yet, we long to be valued, loved and accepted. Why can’t our young people have this chance?

 

The first words Simon ever heard from Jesus were, “You are Simon the son of John. You shall be called Cephas” (which means Peter).[2] The name Peter means stone or rock. If we look at Peter’s life, we see an impulsive and unstable man, far from a solid rock. Yet, Jesus saw beyond that. He spoke of hope and of a future to Peter. Society might have seen the brokenness, but Jesus saw what he was going to make him. Society might have put him down but Jesus affirmed the possibilities, not of Simon but of Peter – the new man in Christ. True mentors follow this powerful pattern. They speak of hope and of a future and provide discipleship. They know the Gospel can transform a life the way Peter’s was transformed by Jesus. Their value doesn’t come after their transformation but before it. That’s what makes the Gospel the most effective mentoring tool – it loves you even when you are unlovable, it listens, when no one wants to listen, and it accepts even if the whole world doesn’t accept you.  

 

I am a Mentor because mine is not the only Generation.

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