Kathi was one of those women who exude confidence. Perhaps it was the way she carried herself. With poise. Elegance. Grace. I wanted to be like her.

We first met while I was still in university. Her face stood out among the crowd at church. She was friendly and approachable. 

Have you ever noticed those people with a certain presence that just draws you in? 

My short interactions with Kathi at church, before and after services, left me wanting more. More of her smile, her story, and her perspective of the world. Who was this woman? 

I saw someone I admired and I leaned into opportunities to get to know her more.

Fundraising for a mission trip gave me my first opportunity to visit Kathi one-on-one. While we didn’t connect in person often, we would occasionally meet in her home or at a coffee shop. When we talked about life, ministry, and unfulfilled desires, Kathi listened and met my concerns and questions with care. 

When someone is able to share from their own experience (even someone 40+ years older), it creates a sacred and vulnerable space. Time stood still when I met with Kathi. 

Learning from arm’s length

A few years later, after I graduated, I got the news that Kathi had been diagnosed with colon cancer. 

After treatment and a brief remission, her cancer returned. This time it was palliative. 

They didn’t know how long she had, but that didn’t really phase her. She pressed into God’s Word. She prayed with sincerity. She encouraged the women around her. 

It was clear that, even in the midst of her suffering, God was there. I didn’t directly see the way Kathi ministered to nurses, doctors, and friends from her hospital bed, but even just hearing about her faith and hope in Christ made me reconsider the way I daily live and engage with the people around me.  

It was only a few months later that Kathi passed away. She was an example of finishing well. In the weeks leading up to her death, she invited me to join her in her home to study the Bible with a group of women from church. In group settings, I was able to see how she ministered and cared for others, living out her life in community. 

Kathi mentored me most in how she modelled a life committed to following Jesus and seeking to love and minister to others around her. 

How I mentor now

From watching her life, I learned that mentorship doesn’t have to be complicated or confusing. It simply can look like paying attention to the people around you. To be willing to share your life openly with them, and to desire to grow close to God together. 

Through small interactions over many years, God used Kathi to instill in me a deeper faith in him. 

Now as I start to mentor younger women myself, I hope to be someone whose life and faith is worth learning from. People will hopefully:

  • see me as a friendly face
  • let me take them out for coffee
  • observe my character
  • interact with me in a group

However we interact, I long to love the people in front of me just like Kathi did.

Read more: I’ve learned that humility, trust, and love are needed in mentorship

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About the Author

Erin Ford

Erin Ford works on staff with P2C-Students. She lives in Guelph with her family. On weekends you can find her walking her dog, caring for her home, and working in the garden.

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