No Island {On the Value of Mentorship}

by Laura on January 9, 2012

I originally wrote this article following the three month opportunity we got to host and mentor a team of college-aged students on a trip to SE Asia in the Fall of 2010. As we begin to re-launch this ministry this summer, I’ve been thinking lately about the immense value of a life done in community, in relationship.


I’ve heard advice before that says we need to have these three types of people in our lives

An older mentor who’s gone before,

A good friend, that walks beside,

And a younger person to help along the way.

Obviously, these three do not in any way define all worthwhile relationships, but I do think there is some value in this advice.

Because life is hard, and we are made to live in Community– no matter what our Western independence tells us.

And the journey is riddled with pitfalls– regardless of what the commercials sell us.

And we all need help and need to help— forget about our arrogance or selfishness.

Being mentored by someone further along.

Walking with a Friend.

Mentoring someone else.

These are goals I am trying to pursue in my relationships with people, because trust me, life on an island is crap.

Really, it’s crap.


And it’s been one full week now since the team of 7 young adults in our mentorship program have left.  They walked Asian soil for three months and made it home just in time for American Turkey.  We’ve been looking at the pictures of their trip these past few nights, and I have been reminded of the value of the mentorship relationship. There is such a power in the lessons learned in the daily grit–for both younger and the {only a little bit} older.

And I am reminded that all it takes in the beginning is for a person to just show up— despite the cost, irregardless of the schedules, no matter the fear.

And then Community is built with shared mutual experiences

Riding ostrichesor shoveling gravel or facing poverty, together.

It takes the investment of time and a willingness to travel the journey as a team,

messy packs and all.

And it happens in normal places— around cluttered kitchen tables or noisy city streets or on the middle row of a van with no air-conditioning.

And it grows most when different hands, hold up and serve and help,

a mutual Good.

And in the midst of it, maybe the process feels too hard or too inconvenient.  Perhaps you doubt the lasting value of the whole thing, but you push through.

You all push through, because, well,

because life on an island is just no good.

And life in Community is just so. much. better.

Caitlin, Sarah, Ben, Courtney, Sarah, Kelli, and Natalie, thank you for showing up here. You’ll always have a spot at our table.  Always.

You can view a photo-video of their three months in SE Asia by clicking HERE.

– written December 2010


If you, or anyone you know, might be interested in joining us here in SE Asia for a service and learning opportunity, would you mind forwarding our website,, to them? We are now taking applications for the college-aged 8-week summer trip, the colleged-aged 12-week trip during the fall of 2012, as well as scheduling church, small group, and family trips for this upcoming year. We’re putting together a pretty sweet schedule full of opportunities to learn about Asian culture and religion, to provide education about AIDS and human trafficking in remote villages, to teach English in forgotten places, and to help provide clean water and agricultural help to farming communities, to name a few. Consider yourselves allllll invited.


Which relationship is hardest for you to pursue and maintain right now — mentoring, being mentored yourself, or living in peer community?

  • kendal

    Awesome post! Just entertained my teacher friends with your pictures. I love you!

  • Sharon

    This was a great post.
    Sadly our time in the Philippines was mostly spent on an ‘island’. We were given very BAD advice to stay away from ‘that missions school’ over there… How heart wrenching it was to find in the last three months there that if we had gotten involved with that community… our lives would have been so different. There would have been people to mentor me through the awesomely devastating culture shock. There would have been English speaking kids for my children to develop strong friendships with, who dealt with the same things (they could have mentored each other along, walking side by side). Yes if we had to do it again… we would do it much differently. HOWEVER, God had blessed us in tremendous ways. I look back and see God’s grace and how his hand delivered us through it all.
    I am glad to finally have an older mentor though she is half a world away, we at least get to skype.
    To my daughter and children, they are the younger I help along the way.
    Sadly those I walked beside have abandoned me because of a decision that a woman CAN be modest in pants. So I wait patiently for God to bring another equal along beside me… for now I need that older one to mentor me through this new life of walking in HIS grace and not man’s double standards and legalism.

    • Laura

      Wow Sharon. There’s a lot here. Regret, hope. Past, present, and the future. Hurt and relationship. Thanks for sharing so much of your story here. Thanks for pointing us UP, anyway.

      And I agree that women can most definitely be modest in pants.

      And legalism just sucks, in my humble opinion.

      Keep walking forward, friend.

      • Sharon

        Yes it does.
        Especially when you are told that you can no longer be ‘their’ missionary because you allow your daughter to wear below the knee shorts to play soccer (but technically pants not culottes) BUT it is okay for a missionary’s daughter in England to wear skin tight britches to ride horses… and those missionaries happen to be your best friends… people listed on your will to receive your kids… yes, a very deep hurt. (both missionaries sent out of the same church, both held to DIFFERENT standards) We chose to live in fear of God and not man. I’m no longer bitter. Just stating facts here.
        God has been so gracious and faithful through all ‘man’ has put us through. As Serena Woods put it so well the other day in one of her posts, I am thankful for “their abandonment and failure” of me, because of “the cherished seat I now have in this arena of Grace”. I have a much deeper understanding of His grace. For that I am so grateful and thankful.

        • Laura

          Wow, Sharon. Isn’t it amazing how SILLY we Christians can be? People are starving and dying all over the world, and we are obsessing about the length of our shorts! That just seems so crazy, doesn’t it?

          Having said that, I love that you are in a place of receiving grace and giving grace. That is beautiful fruit from a hard circumstance. Definitely beautiful fruit.

  • Kelli

    I miss you so much Laura. Thank you for sharing such a beautiful post.

    • Laura

      Oh, I miss you guys, too! It’s amazing how when you are in the midst of relationship, sometimes you don’t realize the value of it until it’s gone for a season. You are an amazingly beautiful girl, my friend, and I am thankful to have walked this patch of jungle with you! love, Laura

  • evan stookey

    THank you matt parker for being a guide to me. You’re a father and a brother to me and nothing but positive, good, solid influence my friend. You have invested in me and i dont know how to thank you or repay you enough. I am just grateful. and your investment has been meaningful and i won’t forget. The world needs great men like you. you are a legend in my book of life.

    • Laura

      Evan, dude, you are the awesome one.

      And I agree wholeheartedly that my husband is one beyond-amazing man. I, too, am constantly being challenged by his leadership and passionate heart for God and others. And I know, too, that YOU have a special spot in his heart, as well.

      AND, I agree that oftentimes there are seasons where the community is easy and fruitful and seasons where it is dry and pretty barren. And it’s in the desert-times, when we are forced to become more thankful for the fruitful times. Absolutely a good observation.

  • evan stookey

    Life for me is definitely a battle against the island in this culture where I live. And a battle where often times i lose and i try and try to build community.

    But hard times like these put into perspective the good times and give me a richer thanksgiving for it. I don’t take for granted the times of rich investment and community in my life.

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  • Abby

    Oh friend! So sorry I’ve been away from here…thank you. just, thank you. for reminding me why we do what we do the essential components of life-on-life that is so very specifically why I believe He’s calling our family to LIVE overseas…make another country our home:} and for getting me so excited about some of my favorite things in store when we SOON move:} hugs friend!

    • Laura

      so exciting! when are ya’ll leaving??!! how’s it going?!?

  • Laura

    I think for me right now, BEING MENTORED continues to be a challenge. I have a hard time asking people to help and have a hard time pursuing the older, more mature woman to pour into me . . . and honestly, have a hard time making the time for it, too.

  • Beth Clark


    I loved this post and the comments! I’m a firm believer in the beauty that comes from living in community.
    To your friend, Sharon. I just wanted to tell you that I’ve been walking a lot of adversity right now. We moved to Bangkok and within a month I was approached and judged due to my clothing. I’ve seen the destructive “missionary way’ and it’s not good. Just want to encourage you to press on. Keep walking out that forgiveness and cling to the ONE that sent you, equipped you and prepares you! We’re all going to battle this in different ways. When we say YES we open the door to much affliction. Just cling to the only truth that comes with a lifetime guarantee! I’m sorry for all you’ve walked out, but as I see in my own circumstances, when we’re pushed down we have a true dependence on Christ to give us the strength to stand back up. AND, when we do stand up we’ve been given extra back support! Our balance is more sturdy and our muscles (spiritually speaking) are a bit more able to handle the next blow! Keep walking it out and release those who, sadly, missed it.
    Laura-as always I love following your journey as I think living on the same side of the world we’re walking such similar paths! Thankful for that!

    Sending prayers and blessings your way!

    • Laura

      Beth, Love connecting with you via webworld and I loved the encouragement in this comment. I can already see the fruit from a hard path in these words . . .

      Thanks for connecting back . . . love that about blog-world, right?!

  • Teri @ StumblingAroundInTheLight

    Laura, this is so excellent!
    Autumn definitely has a passion for missions – for defending the oppressed, rescuing the victimized, bringing hope to the hopeless. Not sure where it will end up…but for some reason, I can imagine her there. ‘Not yet…not yet…’ =)

    • Laura

      oh, man, i would love that . . . maybe next year? or ?? No doubt it is a radically changing experience . . . love you guys . . .

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