HMVI wasn’t sure I would see them again this side of heaven. I really wanted to. These two couples loomed like giants in my life. They were four key mentors who shaped my life decisively. I owed them big time. But they were retired. One couple lived in the US. The other in England.

Then word came that they would be travelling to this part of the world. And I would get the chance to see all four of them in the next few months. I would get another chance to tell them how much I love them. How much I owed them.

For the record they are:

Roger and Janice, Capps Denis and June, Lane

Roger and Janice entered my life when I was 16. Denis and June when I was 21. I am now 47. So much has happened. I have made many mistakes in my life. I would have made many more without their nurturing. And I would have missed God’s call for my life.

What did they give me? Many things. They include:

*Acceptance *Encouragement *Wisdom *A biblical world view *Discernment *Love

And that’s just for starters.

In many ways the most precious gift they gave me was time. Indeed, without time, they would not have been able to give me the other stuff.

I would call upon them at all hours of the day. And talk for hours. When you are young and intense, the world revolves around you. And your crisis of the month. And they were always there.

At my present phase of life I am much more aware of the limitations of one’s time and energy. Not once did they make me feel I was an intrusion. Or that I had out stayed my welcome. Their love was a safe haven, a safe incubator for my life to grow. Only as I grew older did I began to realise the price tag of the developmental womb they provided.

Which may be why I now so strongly believe that lives are transformed through relationships. I have tasted first hand the power of such transforming relationships.

This is nothing new. Jesus had his disciples. And so did Paul. They knew that lives were transformed through relationships.

Yet how many key leaders today are investing time in developing emerging leaders? The emerging leaders that are so crucial in leading the church into the new millennium? In an age obsessed with speed, efficiency, and technique, too few, I fear. Many top leaders are too busy doing stuff. They have little time for developing people. It is so much easier to put people through a programme.

This is scary. If we want to see the world touched by Christ, we have to nurture people for Christ. And people cannot grow into their full potential through any “one size fits all” programme. People grow when there are people willing to give them the time and attention they need to discover their individual callings.

Roger, Janice, Denis, and June, understood this principle, long before mentoring became a buzz word in the corporate world and in the church.

Thank you, Roger, Janice, Denis and June. And the others whom God used to shape my life. I owe you all a debt I cannot repay. I can only pay it forward.