Gio is a freshman at Lincoln Northeast who has grown up in City Impact’s faith programs. He and his mentor, Tim, have been together for five years.
“Gio is such an amazing and special kid. I can’t tell you how much I value our relationship. He’s in the middle of a battlefield every day, faced with hard choices. I see him growing in character all the time,” says Tim.
The pair met through Tim’s mentor relationship with Gio’s cousin, Javier. One afternoon, on the way home from a group snowboarding adventure, Gio told Tim he wanted a mentor. When Tim asked him what kind of mentor he wanted, Gio described Tim in detail! Shortly after that, the two were matched as a mentor pair.
Gio has been through a lot in his young life. A complicated family history led to Gio living with his grandparents by the time he was 12 months old. As a young boy, he needed relationships he could trust in order to heal. Gio found a stable foundation in his relationship with Tim.
“Tim is such a good listener. We’ll get food, play catch, and talk about life. He really understands me. I know he sees potential in me to become a better man, to bring other people to Jesus,” says Gio.
“Kids know that you’re invested in them when you get to know their friends. I get to know them. I’m honest with them. It’s actually a key part of great mentoring relationships,” says Tim.
The pair have built a relationship of trust and mutual respect. They’ve spent countless hours playing sports, constructing Rube Goldberg machines, hanging out with friends, studying scripture, and talking about Jesus.
“One of the highlights of our relationship was Gio’s baptism two years ago. I wasn’t planning to do it myself, but I asked my pastor if I could help. When I got up there, he smiled and said I should be the one to baptize Gio,” says Tim, tearfully.
“I love how Gio authentically builds his relationships with friends. He embraces guys who don’t know God yet, and he shows them love. Just like Jesus did. Recently, Gio has grown into one of the most amazing leaders I’ve seen,” says Tim.
When the COVID-19 pandemic hit in early March, school track meets and football practices shut down. But Gio was not deterred. He started posting training videos online for his friends. Then he began gathering a few friends every day to practice skills and drills together daily.
“I’ll drive by and check on them. I leave them Gatorades on the picnic table. They’re out there every single day running drills, working hard. These are guys who come from tough circumstances, who struggle to make good choices. Gio’s leading them, showing them the love of Christ. The way he is demonstrating character blows me away!” says Tim.
“When Gio said he wanted to start a devotional time after every workout. I had to pick my jaw up off the floor! I suggested that they read through Proverbs and pray together,” says Tim.
“The group is growing. Gio has more friends getting involved. A few who were initially antagonistic toward faith are truly seeing God’s love and their hearts are changing. Gio embraces his friends in their sin, but their behavior rarely influences him. He’s even starting to recognize himself as a leader,” says Tim.
Gio’s group has also started a weekly bible study with Tim, meeting via Zoom. The guys share their struggles, encourage each other, and hold one another accountable.
“Some of my friends are having a hard time during quarantine. Things aren’t safe at home. But I know I can be here for them and show them how to lean on their faith. I see their faith growing. They’re praying more, and leaning on God,” says Gio.
“Gio has such a gentle spirit. He cares so much about others, especially younger kids. He’s definitely going to be a mentor when he gets older. He has a heart of gold,” says Tim.
Tim recognized Gio’s potential from the beginning. He worked hard to develop an authentic relationship with Gio, empowering him to maximize his strengths.
“Having Tim has made a big difference in my life! My life would be crazy without him,” says Gio.
Gio’s display of leadership through relationship exemplifies community in action. We are so proud of Gio and Tim for their grit and vulnerability! We can’t wait to see what God does through Gio in the next few years.