by Jill Forbes and Chanler Moore
While providing meals to teenage boys at the Seacoast Church North Charleston Campus ten years ago, Pastor Sam Lesky and soon-to-be founding e3 Director, Amie Heath, decided that a mentoring program could really be a great way to make a lasting impact on local kids. But after researching organizations, they discovered one didn’t exist. That’s when the e3 Mentoring Program was born.
This ministry pairs 3rd–12th graders with individuals willing to show the love of Christ by investing their time and providing opportunities to students. When the program began, no one could have conceived just how effective it would be. The outcomes have been greater than anything they could have “asked or imagined.”
Enter Bailey Bass. When Bailey, a young woman in her 20s, heard about the e3 Mentoring Program, she decided to get involved as a mentor. She spoke with Shineika Townsend, the current e3 Director, who then paired her up with Adrienne, a middle schooler who attends the North Charleston Campus.
Despite the 40 percent graduation rate at North Charleston High School, the e3 graduation rate is 100 percent and the first college graduates are beginning to emerge.
The goal was to simply do life together twice a month. It wouldn’t require a lot, just a friend and some wise words once in a while. But the relationship between Bailey and Adrienne began to grow and their conversations began to deepen.
Adrienne committed her life to Jesus and she wanted to get baptized. Immediately! The very next day, June 18, 2019, Pastor Jeff Leinberger and the e3 staff met Bailey, Adrienne, and her grandmother on Sullivan’s Island, where they baptized Adrienne.
Adrienne’s grandmother, Sarah, knew e3 was just what Adrienne needed, but in witnessing the baptism and hearing the powerful decision her granddaughter just made, Sarah decided to give her life to Jesus, too! Pastor Jeff and the team then baptized Grandma!
It Takes a Village
It has been said that it takes a village to raise children and Sarah is grateful to have Bailey in their corner. “Bailey spends time with her, as well as a few other people from the church,” Sarah said. Bailey’s small group donated money for Adrienne to go to Custom Summer Camp. “That was a big thing!”
Bailey is one of 85 mentors making a difference for students. Despite the 40 percent graduation rate at North Charleston High School, the e3 graduation rate is 100 percent and the first college graduates are beginning to emerge.
Becoming a mentor is rewarding, but it can also have its challenges. “Many of these kids come with a lot of hurt, but not all the time,” Shineika said. “Some of our kids have a mom that just needs support, and some of our students come from two-parent homes and their parents see the value and importance of the community pouring into their child. These mentors are sometimes the only consistent person in their life,” she said.
Mentors can attend two informational-training meetings before deciding if this ministry is right for them. Once a mentor has committed to the program, the e3 team prayerfully pairs the right mentor with the right student. “We want them to start off on the right foot and make the match as best as possible. We want them to bond and for the relationship to succeed,” Shineika said.
Bailey and Adrienne’s relationship has had eternal effects for them, but also for others, with Adrienne’s faith impacting her grandmother and changing the trajectory of their family. And Bailey serving as not only mentor but also an example to her boyfriend, Evan, who recently signed up to become a mentor as well.
Sometimes we can see clearly the footprint left by someone in our lives who believed we had so much more to offer the world. Mentors step in when someone else steps out. They show us that God’s love is real when life tries to convince us otherwise. THAT is e3.
If you are interested in becoming an e3 mentor, please join the e3 team for an informational training meeting on February 3 from 6:30-8:00 PM. Contact email@example.com for more information.