Throughout college, I have learned about discipleship through my church and Christian classes, but I had never seen it first hand. Before watching discipleship happen through BESIDE, I did not know how hard it was. Discipleship does not just happen; the women who mentor our BESIDE friends are intentional with every move they make. When answering the call to disciple someone, you must be in for the long haul and that’s what our mentors have been doing.
Many of our BESIDE mentors have been discipling the same woman for 3-5 years. Progress is slow and fast at some points, and sometimes there are 2 steps forward and 1 step back. Watching these women mentor their BESIDE friend has taught me the importance of patience. Through this, I have reflected on my behavior as a new believer and how my church leaders and parents were patient with me as I grew into a more mature believer. I have seen how much I have grown through the years as a Christian and what I know now that I did not know 8 years ago. Our mentors are patient with our BESIDE friends because they remember what it was like when they were new believers. I asked some of our mentors what kind of progress they have seen over the years of mentoring. Often times in the moment, this progress feels slow and maybe even non-existent. Though when reflecting on the months or years of discipleship, they always rejoice and thank God because they see how their BESIDE friend has grown and matured as a woman, child of God, and, for some, a mother, even if it is little by little.
BESIDE is sometimes a financial stress for the mentors because they give of their own money so these women can get on their feet and take care of themselves and their families. BESIDE is time consuming, but it is a joy. Our mentors have counted the cost of following Jesus and entering into a discipleship relationship, and they accept that cost with great joy. Their hearts are often broken for their BESIDE friend, because they want to see them glorifying the Lord and finding joy in Him.
Our mentors are all women who love the lost and oppressed and have a strong desire to help them grow in knowledge of Jesus Christ. The BESIDE program has taught me patience and the importance of discipleship. It has taught me how lives are changed when Christians obey the call to make disciples and teach the younger believers. If more Christians lived a life of obedience and a heart for the exploited, then far more people would know that true joy is found in God rather than the fleeting happiness of the sinful world. The BESIDE mentors have poured into my life so much even in just watching them at work in ministry.