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    Professor-Mentors Make a Difference

    How a group of Christian teachers is impacting students beyond the walls of the classroom.

    Diane Vescovi

    Mentor, friend, counselor—any of these names may describe professors who foster their students' growth into whole persons. Teachers at Christian colleges know the importance of modeling faith in all areas of life. The way they live out their commitment to Christ shows in their care and compassion, and in their desire to nurture spiritual growth in their students as adulthood unfolds.

    Should these professors ever think faith is private, so that they limit teaching to the classroom, then they, their students, and our world would be incalculably poorer. Thankfully, these professors model themselves after the pattern of Christ; by guiding and serving, they help develop each student's unique identity.

    The following profiles give evidence of a grand theme: A sense of mission guides how Christian educators fulfill their duties, made possible by the love of God in Christ. We are grateful for the schools that helped develop this article by providing stories from professors, deans, and students. Their testimonies are shared here in edited versions.

    Fostering Transparency by Example

    By being transparent to students, these educators allow students to open up and see themselves as learners and leaders.

    Bev Wiens, Ph.D., chair of psychology department, William Jessup University, Rocklin, California.

    Bev Wiens believes a program that challenges participants to personal wholeness demands that faculty commit to interacting with students outside class time. To strengthen that commitment, Wiens models transparency by discussing her weaknesses and strengths, and her confusions and certainties about God's relationship with humanity. Her honesty creates a safe atmosphere for students to examine themselves in light of what they are learning. Wiens finds that simply conversing with students as they apply their learning produces great fruit.

    Time with them means affirming their worth. And there is no doubt that some of her meetings have been divine appointments—callings from God to work he wants to do in students' lives. He simply asks Wiens to be present as the Holy Spirit guides a student into greater wholeness in Christ.

    Monte Cox, Ph.D., associate dean of the College of Bible and Religion, Harding University, Searcy, Arkansas.

    Monte Cox and his family served as missionaries in Kenya from 1982 to 1992, when Cox came to Harding. "I left a receptive mission field and productive ministry in Africa for what proved to be another receptive field and productive ministry [at Harding]." Cox has constant interaction with students. "My job is a ministry in so many ways," he says. "Most importantly, I model Christ's likeness in the way I teach … I try to be very honest and transparent with students." For 15 years, Cox and his wife have hosted mentoring groups in their home for students who are campus leaders. "We want to mentor leaders who are mentors to others," says Cox. "We are doing this intentionally with a ripple effect in mind."

    Dottie Myatt, professor of education, assistant dean for teacher education, College of Education and Human Studies, Union University, Jackson, Tennessee.

    In Klemata, a Union University women's ministry named for the Greek word for branches, female students participate in Bible studies led by a young woman in her junior or senior year. Klemata started with Dottie Myatt pairing each Bible study leader with an older woman, based on Paul's model in Titus 2:3–5. As a mentor herself, Myatt says, "I would set aside time once a week and they would come to my office." Myatt would ask the leader what she was learning and how God was working in her life. "It was so encouraging to see these wonderful women and the maturity they had," Myatt says. "It is such a ministry, giving them the support spiritually and relationally they need during college."

    Engaging the World with Confidence

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