Young at Heart Seniors Mentor Youth

Shirley Raterink, 75, has a heart for youth. She joined 70 members of the Fairway Christian Reformed Church’s seniors’ group, Young at Heart (YAH), last summer for a workshop on mentoring youth in faith.

The workshop at the church in Jenison, Mich., was led by Rev. Steven and Deb Koster of Back to God Ministries’ Family Fire outreach.

“How do we make sure the faith of our generation actually makes it to the next generation?” Deb Koster asked the group. “Research shows that it takes five adults with consequential faith to be involved in a young person’s life in order for their faith to become real to them.”

The Kosters challenged the YAH members to get to know the young people who sit around them in church.

“Engage in their world and pray specifically for them by name,” Deb Koster encouraged. “We underestimate how much of an impact we make on others,” she said.

Fairway youth director Brian Davis is enthusiastic about the YAH group’s desire to be intentional as they influence youth. “Students long for the kinds of conversations the seniors offer, to learn from what they’ve been through [and] their daily walk with God.”
Fairway young people and YAH members signed up to be prayer partners for each other.

“It’s good for us to see what they are dealing with,” said Raterink. “Their lives are a whole lot different than when we were that age.”

Since attending the workshop, YAH members have decided to explore the idea of hosting small groups of young people in their homes.

“My dream is that opening their homes to small groups of high school students would lead to relationships where the YAH members could disciple the youth,” said Davis.

The Kosters are excited about the response to the workshop. “This group has an amazing legacy of faith. But the church’s faith is never more than a generation deep. When youth interact with older people whose faith makes an impact, that faith will transfer to the next generation.”

Contact Family Fire if your church is interested in learning more about mentoring youth in your congregation.

About the Author

Nancy Vander Meer is a staff writer with Back to God Ministries International in Grand Rapids, Mich.
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