This Saturday morning and the next five like it I’ll be trying something new in the area of mentoring women. Three other “older women” and I will be loving on and encouraging and teaching and pouring our lives into seven or eight younger women through the Apples of Gold program. I thought you might like to hear about this new adventure so I’m going to tell you a little about it today and I’ll share more when we’ve got a few Saturday mornings under our belt.
Apples of Gold is a women’s mentoring curriculum written by Betty Huizenga. You can find out more about her and the program by clicking on the link at the bottom of this post. But first I’d like to share with you how I came across this program and why we’re giving it a try.
About five years ago I spoke at Scotts Hill Baptist Church in Wilmington, North Carolina, during the Christmas season. While there, I stayed with a sweet couple who lovingly opened their large and gracious home to me and my traveling companion. The woman shared with us that she enjoyed being able to use her home to share Christ’s love with others. Besides opening her home to guest speakers such as myself, she offered her home to be used in a mentoring program called Apples of Gold. I have rarely encountered anyone so enthusiastic about expending her time and energy as well as volunteering her home for the purpose of pouring into younger women. This was a special woman and I knew then that the program she hosted in her home was undoubtedly an involved but fruitful ministry to young women.
But when I returned home to my church in Sierra Vista I just couldn’t envision any of the women in my congregation being willing to invest so much of themselves in the younger generation. In fact, I felt a little put out. I resented the fact that other churches could have such a life-changing program, but we couldn’t…because surely no one would step up to the plate.
Shame on me for thinking so poorly of my own church. And shame on me for not dreaming bigger.
Well this past August as we were retooling our women’s ministry, Apples of Gold returned to my attention. While I had assumed we would plan the usual women’s events – teas and dessert nights and brunches and such – God seemed to change our direction completely. Mentoring kept surfacing as a more pressing need and a more desirable approach. So, besides our ongoing weekly Bible studies, we now strategically focus on providing women with mentoring opportunities. We provide one-on-one or one-on-two mentoring set-ups for those who want them…and many do. Right now we have about half a dozen older women mentoring about ten younger women. We also provide mentoring through our MOPS program.
And then a young army wife piped up at the meeting and mentioned that she’d participated in an Apples of Gold program in Georgia and it had been amazing. At first I dismissed her suggestion. I had told myself that we couldn’t ever pull this program off. But others perked up and said, “Why not?” Well because it takes a small army of very dedicated and highly motivated older women to pull it off, that’s why!
To make a long story not quite so long, the tide completely turned for me when one of our lovely and most gracious older women pulled me aside and said, “Kay, I’m not one hundred percent sold yet, but I think God might be leading me to do this Apples of Gold thing. I’m praying about it and reading through the book. I’ll let you know.”
It didn’t take Ann long to come back around and enthusiastically tell me she was all in. And before I could count the costs and name them one by one, two other women had jumped in…just as enthusiastically. God had put together a small group of women, including myself, who are passionate about reaching out to younger women, embracing them where they are and pouring the love of Christ into their hearts.
This ministry demands no small sacrifice. Ann is opening her home to us all every Saturday morning from 9 to 12 for six straight weeks. We’ll be cooking a full meal each week and teaching a Bible study lesson, too. And then we’ll be sitting around the table with these precious young gals and breaking bread together, sharing from our hearts and our experience, keeping it real and opening up to the possibilities of ongoing relationships. The costs could be high and sticky and ongoing. But I have a feeling the rewards are going to keep us well in the black!
I don’t know that this Apples of Gold program is for everyone. It really does require a high level of commitment and stamina. One of the ladies, Barbara, is acting as our hostess each week. Another, Joy, is joining Ann to do the shopping and meal preparation. There are notebooks to be assembled, recipes to be printed, nametags to be crafted, lessons to be prepared and tables to be set. But I’m grateful that God has raised up these lovely women for such a time as this so that we can pour into the young women He has also assembled. We found out last Sunday afternoon at our introductory tea that they are varied and interesting and lively. And we four old women are so excited we’re about to burst!
You can find out more about Apples of Gold by clicking on the logo below. The book can be ordered on Amazon, too. I’ll let you know how this new adventure goes in a few weeks. Say a prayer for us, if you will.
If you have questions for me about this new venture, let me know in the comment section. Meanwhile, what are some ways you are investing in the next generation? You know, every woman is an “older woman” to someone. And what are some of the ways your church or women’s ministry is helping the generations connect for meaningful mentoring and relationships? I’d love it if you’d share in the comment section.