Albert den Oudsten lives in Peru, where he and his wife care for vulnerable teenagers and young people without parental care and guide them to an independent life. He is also an online evangelist: he coaches Bible students and reaches people through the Spanish-language Facebook page. “You can do this work when it suits you.”

What do you like about being a mentor, Albert?

‘I learn a lot. There are always a few students who ask questions that set me thinking. It’s wonderful to see students seriously engaging with the topics raised in the course. Recently, I had one who said, ‘Through this course, I have become active in my church again.’  It’s already great if people take the course, whether they come with their own questions or problems or not. It’s really convenient that you can do this work from your own home, at a time that suits your own schedule.’ 

A highlight?

‘If people indicate that they have interest in going to a church, our team really tries to find one. We have a WhatsApp mentor group and someone regularly lets the rest of us know that they are searching for a church for a student. At first, I thought it wasn’t really necessary to keep sharing that, but it’s actually very encouraging. And we pray for that.’ 

Every contact is precious

‘I’m always on the lookout for an opening to ask if someone wants to join a church. This question is always asked at the end of the course anyway, but you never know if someone will actually finish the course. Every contact with a student is precious: an opportunity that needs to be used.’ 

Biggest challenge?

‘Sometimes I have to remind myself to take the time for the students, and to sit down for that. Sometimes you get difficult pastoral questions, for example about divorce or sexual feelings. You give an answer, but don’t always get much of a reaction. I often ask if they have someone they know who they can talk to about their worries – a pastor, for example, or other people in the church. It’s nice that we are getting a larger network from different countries, so that it is easier to recommend people who can help.’ 

A theme every week

‘Right now, I am busier with the Facebook page than with being a mentor. On Facebook, we can see how many people see the messages and like them. We receive messages with all sorts of questions. Every week, I consider, ‘ Where should I put the focus this week?’  For instance, one week it will be encouraging texts, another week, prayers in the Bible; so we have themes every week. I like it that with just a couple of mouse clicks, you can reach so many people!’

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