Roelof Sietsma is a pastor in Brazil – in total more than ten years. Covid 19 brought a period of isolation: pastoral work was restricted to the telephone or digitally. That’s when he found out about the need for mentors. Roelof says, ‘It was a great encouragement that I could share the Gospel online.’

‘I love being a mentor. The students that I get are hungry for the truth. I can be a missionary again! In the church where I work are many people who have known the Gospel for a long time. I am mostly helping them to grow deeper and that is of course an important and beautiful ministry. But with the online courses I am in contact with people who do not know anything about the Gospel yet. They come with primary questions such as, ‘If God knew that Eve would sin, why did He put the tree in the Garden of Eden?‘ I love that. You don’t get those kinds of questions from regular church members.’

Adjustments

‘Most of my students come from Angola or Mozambique. Their belief is more centered on miracles, on special experiences. It is fantastic to be able to show them that faith is more than just our feelings. It’s great to see that the students appreciate it when you show truths from the Bible. That makes me thankful, as well.’

Letting Go

‘It is a challenge for me to find a good balance between holding on to a student and keeping an appropriate distance. I once had a student who started calling me ‘Papa’ and I had difficulty with that. When the student is finished with their course, I have to let him go. As an online mentor, you can not offer a person all that they need. So I regularly ask, ‘Can you talk with someone who you know?’ Also at the end of the course we ask if they would like to take another course.’

Hungry to learn

‘One time I had a student from Mozambique, a young man named Pascoal. He was eager to learn and asked a lot of questions. Yet he had a hard time doing the course because he had limited access to the internet. At a certain point he sent me videos of himself and a friend showing him going into the market to evangelizing. They spread the message with song and dance! This guy is poor, he has lost his parents during the war, lives with a pastor who also owns nothing. In themeantime, Pascoal has become a mentor himself! He shares the treasure that he has found. To God be the Glory!’

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