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“I Care” Sponsor Manual
Christian Help for the Homeless, One on One

Bible Church Homeless Coalition: 989-738-8772
Port Austin Bible Campus: PO Box 474, Port Austin, Michigan 48467
989-738-7700 www.portaustin.net/pabc

Caring, The Christian's First Priority

It has been often said: “People do not care how much you know until they know how much you care.” We as Christians want to first care for our fellow human being, who are made in the image of God. Caring does not mean either agreeing with or condemning their lifestyle choices, but it means hoping and working toward all that God would want for them—however little or much we may be able to do.

The words "I care" Sponsor has been chosen to summarize the name of those who would like to help their brothers and sisters in difficult times. There are numerous areas in which an "I care" Sponsor might be able to help—from simple to a major life investment. We encourage you to get involved at a level that matches your time, skills and financial resources.

Whatever you choose to do, we ask that you work closely with the PABC staff. Helping a struggling person is often not a matter of doing what he or she might ask you to do. Sometimes, the reason that they are without a family, job or home is because they have mismanaged their resources in the past. Giving them more resources will not help—especially on a long-term basis. The goal of ministry to struggling people is to give them resources in a way that will encourage or require them to make good decisions with those resources.

“I Care” sponsors can help in any of the following areas:

  1. Friendship
  2. Prayer and Bible study
  3. Utility expense
  4. Transportation
  5. Financial Planning
  6. Other Specific Assistance
  7. Christian Mentoring — Complete Life Skills

Friendship

Friendship is something everyone wants and needs. We need to listen to others as well as talk. We need to share our struggles and our triumphs. We need to work together and have fun together. All of these things can be done among people with widely differing backgrounds provided that the people involved care for each other. They can develop mutual respect for each other and encourage each other in their life goals.

An “I Care” Sponsor can simply set up a time to talk, with a PABC guest— however many days are available. These meetings can be carried out in a PABC guest's room, if appropriate or one of the other PABC meeting rooms may be used. Only men should meet in the men's dorm, and meetings of two people of the opposite sex should always be carried out in one of the meeting rooms.

“I Care” Sponsors should read PABC's two rules documents so that they are familiar with what is expected of the PABC Guest. They should not get involved with providing financial assistance or transportation without at least letting the PABC staff know. They need to realize that some guests will be full of reasons why they need something or other without that they do not want the PABC staff to know about.

Prayer and Bible study

Christians who are comfortable praying with others should use that gift. The Bible contains numerous promises to those who ask in faith and according to God's Word. The “I Care” Sponsor should also encourage the others to pray themselves—a skill that will be helpful for the rest of their lives.

Simply reading a chapter of the Bible together and discussing it can be a wonderful source of inspiration. The Gospels, the Epistles, Psalms, Proverbs or the book of Genesis make excellent study materials. On the other hand, if someone is comfortable with a Bible-based devotional book or video series, that is also an excellent way to study. The key is to find material that is understandable and helpful to all involved. Do not try to force your beliefs on anyone else or give material rewards based upon someone's apparent progress. A desire for God can only come from each person's heart.

Utility expense

An “I Care” Sponsor who may not have a lot of time, but has some financial resources available can pick out a friend and help pay their utility expenses— or some other necessary expense. PABC guests are expected to pay up to $200 per month to our utility suppliers if they can. Some can and do. Some cannot: They are in the process of receiving disability income and if they do get a job, it can stop the process. Others have child support, court fines or other mandatory payments. Some can only pay a part of the $200.

If an “I Care” Sponsor steps in and helps make utility payments for a PABC guest, they do not feel like a burden to us, and PABC is able to continue to function. Between half and 2/3 of PABC's annual funds are spent on utilities. If more guests were able to pay or have someone pay upon their behalf, PABC would be in a much better economic situation.

Transportation

PABC Guests have a continual need to go to jobs, medical appointments, government appointments and court appointments. PABC tries to provide these rides, but it is our second largest expense. Anyone who could be responsible for one guests transportation needs would be a great help.

“I Care” Sponsors do need to be know about every place that they take a Guest and the purpose of the trip. Unfortunately, we have occasionally had guests make up reasons why they needed to go places that turned out to be drug purchases, alcohol purchases, thefts or prostitution.

Financial Planning

Those “I Care” Sponsors who are good with numbers and accounting can help Guests develop a budget and stick to it. They need to be comfortable asking the Guest about their resources and then helping them make a plan to pay their expenses. This information must be kept confidential—especially from other guests. The “I Care” Sponsor then needs to follow up and see if the Guest is buying the things they planned and getting receipts for them. This can be an easy job with some people and a difficult one with others.

Combining Financial Planning and Transportation is a good way to make sure that a Guest is doing the things that they should be doing—but this can turn into full-scale mentoring. See the mentoring section below.

Other Specific Assistance

M any guests need help with government, court, medical or other kinds of paperwork. “I Care” Sponsors who are skilled in these areas are always in demand. Some Guests genuinely have trouble reading and answering forms—others are mostly discouraged and need encouragement. Some paperwork jobs are genuinely difficult Finding a fit between skills and needs is the key.

Christian Mentoring — Complete Life Skills

Mentoring is an important Christian concept for all mature believers to understand. It is the process of one person helping another to become a better person. This article is written with future Port Austin Bible Campus mentors in mind, but is useful to anyone hoping to help the character and abilities of others: parents, teachers, bosses and anyone engaged in Christian ministry.

  • Mentoring is not simply telling another what they are doing wrong—that is condemning.
  • Mentoring is not doing things for somebody else—that is enabling their deficiencies.
  • Mentoring is not creating circumstances that force people to “do the right thing”—that is controlling.
  • Mentoring is showing another person the value of what is right, and helping them to want and achieve those right values and actions on their own.

Mentoring Summarized in Galatians 6:1

Eight fundamental principles of mentoring are summarized in one verse in the Bible:

Brothers and sisters, if a person is discovered in some sin, you who are spiritual restore such a person in a spirit of gentleness. Pay close attention to yourselves, so that you are not tempted too. (Galatians 6:1, NET).

  1. “brothers and sisters” — This verse is to believers—spiritual brothers and sisters in Christ. A person should be a Christian before trying to mentor another.
  2. “person” — Any person can be mentored. They do not necessarily need to be a Christian.
  3. “discovered” — The mentor has to have discovered the difficulties of another person. One cannot mentor someone whom one does not know or help with an issue that either person refuses to admit exists.
  4. “some sin” — The Bible shows us what is good and bad. The mentor has to know what sin is (James 4:17; 1 John 3:4). We can help people overcome sin (1 John 5:4-5; Revelation 2:7,11,17,26; 3:5,12,21). Trying to help a person continue in a sin will never result in success.
  5. “you who are spiritual” — A mentor must be Christian who is full of the Holy Spirit. A new Christian is often better waiting before becoming a mentor.
  6. “restore such a person” — We are to become like Christ The Greek word for "restore" here is the same one Jesus used when he said: “A student is not above his teacher, but everyone who is fully trained will be like his teacher” (Luke 6:40).
  7. “spirit of gentleness” — Mentors must be gentle when they help others—they should be known by their love for others.
  8. “pay close attention to yourselves so that you are not tempted, too”A Christian mentor usually knows their student's difficulties—other’s faults are usually easy to see. When mentors are close to people who are sinning, they can become involved in the same sins. It is easy to become depressed from their student's sufferings and inability to overcome. They can become angry at those who have victimized their students and be tempted to bypass the justice system and sin against them. If a Christian finds themselves drawn into sin through mentorship, they need to seek God for deliverance or stop their mentoring until it is resolved.

These eight principles explain the “Who?” and “How?” of mentoring. But what do mentors do.

The "Iron Rule"

Many years ago, my cousin, a man often involved in Christian service, asked me if I knew the "Iron Rule". I knew the "golden rule" was: “Love your neighbor as yourself” (Leviticus 19:18). But what has the iron rule?

Never do for others what they can do for themselves.

While this rule is not specifically in the Bible, the principle is repeated over and over. In the first three chapters of Genesis, we see that God made the first two people, and commissioned them to have children to create the rest of the human race. He planted a garden, and told them to take care of it. He made animals that would reproduce themselves, but had the people name them. He told people to gather food for themselves. When the people made clothes of fig leaves (could be itchy), God made clothes for them of animal skins—but let us do that ever since. With only a few exceptions, such as the miraculous conception of Jesus, some miraculous multiplying of food and clothes that lasted 40 years in the desert, God has left these basic tasks to mankind, ever since the original creation.

Even so, people occasionally find themselves unable to take care of our own needs—sometimes due to their own mistakes, sometimes due to the sins of others. It is godly to want to help with immediate needs when we can:

But whoever has this world's goods, and sees his brother in need, and shuts up his heart from him, how does the love of God abide in him? My little children, let us not love in word or in tongue, but in deed and in truth (1 John 1:17-18).

But if one finds out that a person is becoming needy due to difficulties they cause for themselves, then other scriptures teach us what to do:

For even when we were with you, we commanded you this: If anyone will not work, neither shall he eat (2 Thessalonians 3:10).

A hot-tempered man must pay the penalty; if you rescue him, you will have to do it again (Proverbs 19:19).

Jesus miraculously fed 5000 people when they had spent so much time listening to Him that they had gotten very hungry (John 6:5-14). However, when the people wanted to immediately make Jesus a free-food-providing king, He refused (John 6:15-35). Jesus could have made unlimited food, but He would not do what the people could do for themselves. Neither should we. Just because a mentor has things that a student is asking for does not mean the mentor should always give them.

Know Those Whom You Serve

For a mentor to follow the Iron Rule, he or she must get to know the people whom they intend to serve. What are their strengths? What are their weaknesses? What are they able to do? What can they learn to do?

When getting to know a person, one cannot be judgmental. Even a diligent Christian of many years cannot regard themselves as better than those whom they mentor, “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). Remember, Jesus told a group of respected religious and government leaders that “corrupt tax collectors and prostitutes will get into the Kingdom of God before you do” (Matthew 21:23,31, NLT).

Simply because someone has struggled with sins that we have not, or because their sins are more obvious to others (1 Timothy 5:24) does not mean they are somehow worse than we are. Listen, learn, understand, empathize, but do not disdain another person for whom Christ died (1 Corinthians 8:11). Everyone has hopes and dreams for the future. Everyone wants to receive good things in life, even if they do not know how to achieve them. Here are some of the things you will want to know.

  • What family do they have? For younger people, this will be about siblings, parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles. Older people will talk about spouses, boyfriends, girlfriends, exes, siblings, children and grandchildren. Good family relationships give people motivation to do good things.
  • Do they have any friends now? If so, where? How often do they communicate? People with no current friendships will present a special challenge. Their reasons for living are often very materialistic. This does not lead to happiness (Ecclesiastes 5:10; Matthew 6:19-20).
  • What is their attitude toward truthfulness? It is difficult to find out by asking, because both the honest person and the liar usually answer “yes”. You will find the answer to that question in the process of asking other questions—and then taking the time, when you hear something suspicious, to follow it up with a lot more detailed questions and often external investigation.
    For example, a man once told me that he had three degrees in a technical field. I asked him which schools. He thought a second and named some prominent Michigan schools. I asked him some simple questions from my experience and he had trouble with the answers. An Internet list of the schools’ graduates did not contain his name. When he was later confronted, he said, in apparent sincerity, that he “had enrolled in three courses—aren’t those the same as degrees?" Of course, anyone who goes to college knows the difference between a degree and a course.
    When people lie so much that they are never embarrassed by being discovered, but simply cover it up with more lies—it is very difficult to mentor them in anything. They will continually tell their mentor what they think he or she wants to hear. The mentor must reward and encourage truthfulness before much else can be accomplished. The mentor must communicate that he/she would rather hear true “horror stories” than sweet things that turn out to be partly or completely false.
  • What is their work or school experience? What kinds of jobs or classes do they like and dislike? What would they like to do and accomplish with the rest of their lives? King Solomon said that people should gain satisfaction from their work (Ecclesiastes 5:18). If a person has not had successful paid work experience, ask about volunteer work, hobbies or even games they have played. How do they enjoy using their mental and physical abilities? Helping a person make the switch from hating work or not succeeding at work to enjoying successful work is one of the biggest benefits that one can help another achieve.
  • What do they enjoy in life? Recreation and entertainment have a place, and are easy for most people to talk about. Sure, some past-times are harmful and expensive—replacing them is something the mentor can work on later. But it is good to know where a person stands.
  • What are their hopes and dreams for the future? Do they have a plan, or do they do what those around them do or what they suggest to them? Thinking about the future is always helpful to those who are struggling now.
  • How is their control of their own lives? Do they keep their possessions in order? Are they able to use their time efficiently and keep commitments? Are they largely in control of their emotions? Are they struggling with substance abuse?
  • What is their relationship to God? Do they pray and/or read the Bible regularly? Do they see God as an effective force in their lives? Do they attend a church or Bible study? What is their understanding of God's purpose for their lives.

Encourage Them Where They Need It

It the process of getting to know others, it often becomes clear to them what they need to do. If not, they can be gently encouraged to focus on areas that need attention. Every person is different and there is no one formula for success for all. A mentor's job is to find where someone needs help and encouragement, and they to provide it. Praying for Godly wisdom is vital.

Some people need to finish their high school education; others need to get their first job. Some need to get over deep hurts from their past. Others need to deal with massive present problems. Some need peace in their later years. They need to know that somebody else, and ultimately God still appreciates and loves them. In His wisdom, God has left some who cannot care for themselves, but need others to help. A wise mentor will connect able people who need purpose with those who genuinely need to be served.

Some need goals clearly laid out in front of them so that they can pursue them. Others are scared away by big goals. The astute mentor may say: “come and do this with me”without explaining the goal—and their students may find that they were able to accomplish things that they previously thought impossible.

The mentor will often encounter people who have trouble doing specific things: getting up at a certain time, filling out required forms, eating well, maintaining their vehicle, keeping their possessions neat, etc. There are dozens of others. The mentor can show them examples of people who do these things well, show them the benefits end encourage them to do it. Some will figure it out quickly; others may take longer and need to try several approaches.

Everyone needs to be encouraged to look to God and His Word. Some do not believe in God or His love—but after being exposed to a Christian mentor, they should know something about that. Others are angry at God for what has happened in their past. Their hope can be renewed. Others believe they have a great relationship with God and all their difficulties are someone else's fault. They are often the most difficult to help.

It is easy for a mentor to think, “If I can just lead them to Christ, my purpose will be accomplished.” Indeed, leading a person truthfully to Christ is a most valuable achievement. A mentor must also be careful that a person is really repenting and seeking God with his/her whole heart. It is hurtful for someone to profess Christ simply so others will think better of them or give them more. Even with genuine conversions, much of the New Testament is a story of mature believes mentoring new believers. The whole purpose of the church is edification of one another (Romans 15:1-2; 1 Corinthians 14:12,26). Mentoring is not finished at conversion!

Trouble? Make Changes or Get Help!

What should a mentor do when the process is not going well? All mentors must recognize that we all have limitations. We need to examine ourselves before God and see if there is something that we can do differently. It is generally a mistake to continue to try a method that has not worked. When one fails, prayerfully consider another.

One thing a Mentor should teach is the humility to get help when one has trouble. This is true whether the trouble occurs in the mentoring or somewhere else in the mentor's life. The mentor should not try to put up a good image and make it look like there is no trouble, but he or she should set the example of how to get help. A Mentor might say to his student: “We have talked about how to keep important papers in order and we are still having trouble finding them when they are needed. I've brought Bob, my accountant friend, to help us. He earns a lot of money by keeping papers in order.”

Ultimately, we must realize that the power of God and individual desire are the only things that make lasting changes in lives. If a mentoring relationship is not producing good after some months, it is usually better to end it and let God work in a different way. We can be happy to be one good Christian witness in the life of another—who knows when they will actually accept the love of God. It is the life of the Christian to walk as Christ walked (1 John 2:6):

We who are strong ought to bear with the failings of the weak and not to please ourselves. Each of us should please his neighbor for his good, to build him up. For even Christ did not please himself but, as it is written: “The insults of those who insult you [God] have fallen on me.” (Romans 15:1-3).