As a Christian, God wants you to have the privilege of coming alongside him to witness the birth of a new creation: He is inviting you to become a mentor of new believers.
When you say “yes” to this invitation, you will experience the joy of watching someone take her first breaths of God’s sweet grace. You will also have the privilege of helping her discover Christian community, learn to be filled with the Holy Spirit, and grow to confidently share her faith with her friends.
If all this sounds exciting but way over your head, then take heart, God is the Master craftsman at work and he will work through you. In fact, when you choose to mentor a new believer, you are engaging in a practice that stretches back to the dawn of the church.
One of the most inspirational mentors is Ananias. You can read his story in Acts 9:10-25. Ananias is famous for mentoring Paul (called Saul in the passage), who went on to write a large chunk of the New Testament and eventually influenced the development of early Christianity more than anybody else not named “Jesus.” But back when they first met, Saul was a notorious persecutor of Christians who had just had a blinding encounter with Jesus on the road to Damascus. Ananias had a vision that he must approach Saul. So, albeit reluctantly, he obeyed.
Here are five signs you’re on track with how Ananias mentored Saul:
1. You Reach Out
Ananias goes to find Saul and takes the initiative in the relationship. By inviting a new believer to meet regularly, you can help her see that God is looking out for her. Remember that God is already at work in her life, but he often likes to do his work through people. Reaching out to her also helps her see the way the Christian community works. It helps her understand that she doesn’t have to figure it all out on her own.
Pray that God would give you his heart and his eyes for her. Ask God to help you love and care for her the way he would if he were in your place.
Praying for her and challenging her to pray for specific things will unleash the power of the Holy Spirit into her life to help her see God at work in her life on a daily basis, hear God more clearly, and grow in intimacy with him.
Expect to see the Holy Spirit transforming her right in front of your eyes as you lead her in Bible study, prayer, and putting God’s wisdom into practice.
3. You Encourage Baptism
Encouraging a new believer to get baptized is often overlooked, but is biblical and helpful for her spiritual life. Baptism helps her recognize that her life has changed in the same way that a wedding ceremony signifies a radical change of life. When you encourage a new believer to get baptized you are helping her deepen her understanding and experience of what it means to follow Jesus. He did, after all, command us to “go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit” (Matt. 28:19, emphasis mine).
4. You Create Connections to Christian Community
There is no way you can provide for all of a new Christian’s needs on your own. The good news is that you don’t even have to try, because God wants to use other people in the Christian community to bless a new believer as well.
A new believer often only knows a few Christians, if any, so this is a critical place where she will need your help. Connecting her to a community of believers helps her understand that giving her life to God now means she is part of a family. Here are a few great tips for helping her join a Christian community:
Make sure you are the one inviting her to community socials and events.
Make it your mission that everyone in the fellowship knows her by name!
5. You Provide for Practical Needs
Ananias takes Saul in and gives him food, providing not only for Saul’s spiritual needs, but also for his practical needs. Be ready to serve a new believer in practical ways that tangibly demonstrate the presence and love of God. For example:
Give her a ride to the grocery store.
Make sure she has a ride to church next Sunday.
Make sure she has someone to walk with to the next fellowship meeting.
Help her with one of her classes.
Read and Reflect on Acts 9:10-25
To help you think through becoming a mentor for new believers, read Ananias’ story in Acts 9:10-25 (below) for yourself. Afterward, use the questions provided to guide your reflection.
“In Damascus there was a disciple named Ananias. The Lord called to him in a vision, ‘Ananias!’
‘Yes, Lord,’ he answered.
The Lord told him, ‘Go to the house of Judas on Straight Street and ask for a man from Tarsus named Saul, for he is praying. In a vision he has seen a man named Ananias come and place his hands on him to restore his sight.’
‘Lord,’ Ananias answered, ‘I have heard many reports about this man and all the harm he has done to your people in Jerusalem. And he has come here with authority from the chief priests to arrest all who call on your name.’
But the Lord said to Ananias, 'Go! This man is my chosen instrument to proclaim my name to the Gentiles and their kings and to the people of Israel. I will show him how much he must suffer for my name.’
Then Ananias went to the house and entered it. Placing his hands on Saul, he said, ‘Brother Saul, the Lord—Jesus, who appeared to you on the road as you were coming here—has sent me so that you may see again and be filled with the Holy Spirit.’ Immediately, something like scales fell from Saul’s eyes, and he could see again. He got up and was baptized, and after taking some food, he regained his strength.
Saul spent several days with the disciples in Damascus. At once he began to preach in the synagogues that Jesus is the Son of God. All those who heard him were astonished and asked, ‘Isn’t he the man who raised havoc in Jerusalem among those who call on this name? And hasn’t he come here to take them as prisoners to the chief priests?’ Yet Saul grew more and more powerful and baffled the Jews living in Damascus by proving that Jesus is the Messiah.
After many days had gone by, there was a conspiracy among the Jews to kill him, but Saul learned of their plan. Day and night they kept close watch on the city gates in order to kill him. But his followers took him by night and lowered him in a basket through an opening in the wall.”
Think Through These Questions:
For Ananias to obey God and reach out to Saul, Ananias has to take some risks. What are some risks that come up for you, as you consider being used by God to mentor a new believer?
Imagine what it might have been like to be in Saul’s place during this story. Your entire paradigm of life has just been annihilated. You find out that the very purpose of your life has been in direct opposition to God and you realize you have been fighting against God himself. You’re vulnerable, confused, afraid, and baffled about what to do next. All you can do, literally, is pray and ask the God you have been fighting against for help and mercy. How might it have felt to open the door and find Ananias, and to find out that he already knows what has happened to you, and has been sent personally by God to come to your aid and knows what to do next? What emotions might you feel at this moment?
God did not need Ananias to give Saul’s sight back, or to fill him with the Holy Spirit. So why do you think God uses Ananias?
Based on Ananias’ example, how would you finish this sentence: A mentor for new believers is someone who ____________________________________.
Is there a new believer for whom you could become a friend and mentor? If so, take a few minutes to think and pray about how to approach him or her. If no one immediately comes to mind, pray that an opportunity would present itself to you soon.
What a privilege that we are able to help new believers begin living in the fullness of God’s blessings. May God use you, like Ananias, to become a mentor who helps others grow in their faith and walk in the purposes God has for their lives.
Have comments or questions about how to mentor a new believer in your life? Let us know with a comment below.