It is one of the highlights of my week. Every Tuesday morning, I make my way over to the Palate Coffee Brewery. No matter how crazy life is, the meeting has become engrained into my routine. I look forward to the good coffee. Even more, the conversation I have with Jerry Hunter.
Jerry is an influencer with a servant’s heart. In his early 50’s, he should be concerned about retirement. Why not? He has experienced life. Having five children, two granddaughters and a beautiful wife. However, he has another mission. To see people changed by the power of the Holy Spirit. His method? Meeting with men, both young and old, sharing a few moments of his life.
Upon entering Palate he is often the first smiling face I see. ” Mr. Mingey, how have you been?” A firm hand shake and a warm hug is always part of the greeting. He overflows with affectionate concern. I have asked Jerry on a couple occasions why he meets with men. His response comes gushing out, “I want to share with men their position, place and value in God. When a man genuinely wants to sit down to share his weaknesses, that’s a powerful thing. Only if I had that as a young man, that would have gone a long way.”
You would assume by his deliberate approach that this was modeled for him. That’s not the case. Jerry grew up in church. From Georgia, going to church was cultural. That’s what people did every Sunday. When it came to the practical day to day in his home, there was no clear model of the love of God. As a young man, this left him wanting.
Jerry is on a mission to reverse the trend. He wants to take his brokenness by reaching out to fatherless men. He is what he didn’t have. It is within this testimony that points to the power of God. He is the Father to the fatherless. Although Jerry lacked that model, he demonstrates a higher reality that God is able to transform lives.
In different seasons of life, God has sent different mentors into my path, just like Jerry. If you were to line them up shoulder to shoulder you would think it was the most interesting cast of characters. A fiery used car salesman who would rather share Jesus more than to sell a car (Greg Latino). A kind-hearted gentleman who always had a listening ear (Rev. Richard Amendola). The woman who showed me that creativity and beauty were extensions of God’s nature (Barbara L.). The other woman that taught me to see past my pimply blemishes (Kerrie Latino). Each man and woman offered up a piece of their lives to me. Now I carry a piece of them in my heart. I am the beneficiary of God’s concern regarding my development as a man of faith. It was the mentorship of the people of faith that transformed my life. Without their influences, I never would have had any semblance of order or sanity. I would have been an another statistic of a fatherless generation.
Jesus spent every waking moment modeling what He saw (from His Father). After three years of public ministry, when the will of the Father was about to be complete, He wanted to share one final moment at the table with his friends. In the final hours leading up to his death, Jesus was still pouring into his followers. Washing feet, giving reminders, telling them of what was to come. As Jesus was breaking bread, he looked up and down his cast of characters one final time. His human heart must have been full.
You are reading this today in the busyness of your life. You are ministers, teachers, professionals, fathers, mothers and friends. But are you a mentor? You can be a minister and not a mentor. A teacher, father, mother and friend and still miss the heart of what you do. Are you taking time to invite people into your lives? In other words, if you were to have one final supper would your table be full of those you are pouring into?
It’s time to assemble our cast of characters. Our days are numbered and the hairs on our heads are less numerous. Freely we have received , may the next half our lives be freely given. Invite that cashier to your house for dinner. That young man that doesn’t look you in your eyes, take him to a ball game. “Jerry” it by having a cup of coffee with someone. Let’s do as Jesus did, transform lives through mentorship. The cure for this fatherless generation resides in us. At last, when we sit down to eat our final supper may our table be full.