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Black History Month: How being mentored has helped me

While at church one Sunday in 2010, the person who would later become my mentor asked me whether I would like to go to a vocations conference in London. At that time, I had no idea that I was being called to be trained for ordained ministry. I went to the conference and found myself among many United Kingdom/Global Majority Heritage clergy and others in the Church of England. It was such a lovely feeling to be part of this group where I felt that I belonged. That was about twelve years ago.

My experience at the vocations conference was eye-opening because I worshipped in a church that was not racially diverse and found it challenging to find my place at times. However, the congregation helped my husband, my young son and me to settle in the church. I believe that we would not have survived living in the UK if it were not for the church family who warmly welcomed and embraced us. Also, with the support of my vicar, I was encouraged to participate in Bible study groups, including carrying the cross at the beginning of worship and other aspects of lay ministry. Over the years, I have participated in more ‘up-front’ activities including leading prayers and Bible readings. Coming from a Christian background, with my father who is a minister, I began to feel quite at home in the church.

My mentor was happy to walk with me but suggested that I access her through the Church of England National Mentoring Scheme in which she participated. She walked alongside me all through Covid-19, including when my father became very ill in India from Covid. I went to India to be with my family, fearing that this would be the last time I saw him. People may remember the news of how badly the people of India suffered during the pandemic, with the huge shortage of hospital beds, and very little oxygen. As my father was over 65 years old, he was not admitted for treatment or given any oxygen to alleviate his symptoms. I come from a science background and was working in the National Health Service at the height of Covid so was aware of the possible outcome.

But although we were hundreds of miles apart, in England and in India, my mentor walked with me throughout the whole exploratory process, and also now at theological college. We continue to meet online at times, to pray and to reflect on our faith journey in our different contexts. Prayer, meditation on the scriptural text questioning the passage and reflecting on my life experiences have helped me to better process the challenges I face. It has created in me a sense of transformation from the inside out and given me some insight into the bigger picture of Christ’s mission.

I would recommend mentoring to anyone who may need help to grow and develop in ministry and in any aspect of their lives because, by the grace of God, it has empowered me to achieve much more of my God-given potential than I may have done otherwise.

- Linnet Frederick Prasad, Ordinand. 

Over Black History Month we’ve been sharing stories from people in our parishes and highlighting resources you may want to make use of.

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