Nineveh Ministries mentors help teens at risk find hope
Chuck Cutrer, a longtime Nineveh Ministries mentor, admits that he felt apprehensive the first time he met with teens at risk who chose to participate with Nineveh at the Williamson County Academy—an alternative education program for teens previously engaged in delinquent acts. He pictured dangerous gang members. That misconception soon faded.
“It was scary at first, until I met the kids and realized they were just normal kids with a not-so-normal past,” Chuck explains. “They aren’t dangerous or gangster kids, just misdirected.”
Chuck discovered that many of the teens lacked parental leadership because of incarcerated parents or parents caught up in substance abuse. In many situations, absent fathers left teens without male role models. That’s a fact Chuck hopes to see changed as he encourages more men to get involved in mentoring.
“It’s really simple,” Chuck advises. “Just get to know them and let them get to know you in the hope that they open up and share. They have a tough road, and we need to show them that others care.”
At Nineveh Ministries—a Christian-based organization serving Williamson, Travis, and Tarrant counties and the Gainesville State School—adults who have completed background checks and training are partnered with teens to accompany them on a path of self-growth.
Teens get to know themselves through a three-step process, including testing via the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator personality assessment and Strong Interest Inventory Test, a career aptitude guide. A spiritual gifts test is also available upon request. Nineveh hosts multiple job training opportunities, which draw on the skills of professionals from the community, and encourages social gatherings to promote positive community relations.
In Williamson County, Nineveh director Lorie Goggins witnesses the impact of Nineveh’s life applications at work. With the help of mentors, teens discover a brighter future. “At the last cook-out, I glanced over at a table with three teens,” Lorie reflects. “Each of them represented a different gang. Anywhere else they would have been fighting each other, but at this safe place, they are able to sit down, eat dinner, and laugh.”
The freedom to feel safe remains a challenge for many teens who grew up in at-risk environments, and it takes dedication for mentors to build trust. Chuck got a chance to lay a foundation of trust when he recently went above the call of his mentorship to help two brothers.
As he began mentoring the boys, he struggled to connect. On the younger child’s birthday, he took the brothers shopping and chaperoned while the older child tried to convince the younger to spend his birthday money. The little brother had $90 to spend, yet as he considered various toys, he shook his head in despair.
He confessed to Chuck that he really wanted his dog, which he believed to be at a Georgetown shelter. Though Chuck knew an effort to find the dog might prove futile, he also knew the boy needed help. The child had one parent in jail and another battling an addiction. Chuck seized the opportunity to show his devotion. He drove the boys to several shelters and found the dog, just minutes before it became adoptable to the public.
“I often see the kids disappointed by circumstances and people,” Chuck explains. “I was determined not to do that. If I hadn’t been there, his dog would have been given up for adoption.”
Chuck’s dedication is a common trait of Nineveh Ministries’ mentors, who carry out the ministry’s mission—to form bonds with teens and help them to gain a positive vision of their future—as they walk alongside teens on a challenging path.
Nineveh Ministries hopes to raise enough funds to build a central meeting facility. The annual fundraiser, slated this year for October 28th, is hosted by Celebration Church. Events include a silent auction, a meal, and an opportunity for teens to share their testimony. To get involved, visit www.ninevehministries.com.