Life With Mentors

2 comments Written on July 7th, 2015     
Filed under: Testimonies and Stories
Evelmyn Ivens was born in Mexico and moved to the United States during her teenage years. She graduated from North Park Theological Seminary in 2013 with a MA in Theological Studies and works at the Christian Community Development Association (CCDA) in Chicago. Evelmyn has lived in Los Angeles, CA, Washington, DC, and Chicago, IL, enjoys traveling and learning about other cultures. She’s passionate about issues of immigration, hunger, poverty, and human trafficking.

Evelmyn photoThe other day I was leaving home to meet a friend for dinner and on my way out the door, one of my roommates asked whom was I meeting? I said “a friend, who is really more like a mentor.” My roommate said, “Oh I wish I had a mentor!” I stopped for a moment and thought, how cool it was to have someone like this friend, someone that I look up, and ask for advise, but who encourages me, and pushes me in a good way, to continue writing, and dream together about continuing my education. This friend has become more like a mentor. In my first post on this blog I shared about two of my friends who inspired me about pursuing seminary education and about following God’s call into my life. But then there’s been other women who along the way have impacted my life and who continue to be of support.

In 2009 I had the amazing opportunity of doing an internship at Bread for the World. Bread is a Christian advocacy organization that focuses on issues of hunger and poverty. It was there that I became friends with a woman who since then has influenced my life so much, and whom I love dearly, Sister Margaret Mary Kimmins, a Franciscan nun from New York City. Before getting to know Sister Margaret Mary the image I had about nuns was completely different, I always thought all nuns wore habits and lived secluded in convents. But what a surprise! Sister M as my friend Dulce calls her, does not wear a habit nor lives in a convent. She actually loves city life. It was through her that I learned about Catholic Social Teaching because she not only talked about it, but she lives it. A woman who lives her faith and loves people, she was everyone’s favorite person at Bread. She’s so much fun and I loved working with her, there was never a dull moment. It was because of her that I stopped drinking bottled water, for example, and learned to be more conscious about the use of water, which is a very strong Franciscan value. I also learned about her justice work, and even had the chance to participate in an immigration rally with her.

During my year at Bread, we would talk about theology of course, and exchange views on Christianity, from both of our traditions, Evangelical and Catholic, and because of my Catholic upbringing, and my experiences with congregations of other denominations, she would say that I was ecumenical myself. She shared about her experiences in the convent, her family and growing up in New York City, her life in ministry, and so many other stories. I even got to visit New York City with her, and there was no one better than her to show me her beloved the city. Sister M was always encouraging me to finish my degree and she even wrote a list of all the classes I needed to take once I would be back in Chicago, so that I could finish quickly and return to D.C. as soon as possible. Almost at the end of my time there, my family was going through are very hard situation, and she became my pastor during that difficult time. Even though she is my friend I see her more like a mentor. I believe that the difference between mentors and friends is that mentors have more of an authority-like figure but use that authority in a loving way; mentors push you, and are honest about your life decisions, but also encourage you. After I moved back to Chicago, she would check on me, and after hanging up the phone, I would always have a smile on my face. Sister M now works at a different place and travels all the time, last year when I got to see her, she was just returning from the Amazon in Brazil, and was on her way to New York. She continues to be an inspiration to my life, and someone who I really look up to; I always say that I want to be just like her when I grow up!

For women in ministry it is so valuable to have mentors, especially women mentors. I’ve been fortunate to have mentors like Sister M, my friend Liz, and more recently my friend Armida, and a number of other women who have journeyed along with me, some longer than others, but I am forever grateful because they have supported me and pushed me to be a better woman in ministry, and to be a better theologian. In The Next Evangelicalism, Dr. Soong-Chan Rah talks about the importance of mentors, in the book he encourages white pastors to look for mentors of color, so that they get to experience life in a different way and learn how to walk along side with others. What a better way to live out our faith than by sharing life and experiencing life with others.

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2 comments “Life With Mentors”

Thanks Evelmyn – You are so right. As I have gotten older I am so thankful for the mentors in my life. Treasure them, because as you become older they will disappear from your life. All of the young pastors I mentor, both female and male, I encourage them to find these relationships which have been invaluable in my journey. Thanks for reminding us to thank God for these people who have been placed in our lives. What a gift they all are and have been. Catherine

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Beautiful article! Honored to be among your friends/mentors. Continue to be so proud of you and encouraged by who you are, can’t wait to see all God keeps doing in you!

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