Take a Scotsman with a broad twang, even after almost 20 years of living in New Zealand, give him solid practical skills and a heart for helping people, and you’ve got Scotty.
His email address is ‘almost-a-kiwi’, but there’s nothing ‘almost’ about this dapper gentleman. He’s fully there; fully present with the families he has walked alongside as a mentor for at least the past eight years. Scotty can’t quite remember when he first became involved in the Family Mentoring Programme run from Hornby Community Ministries. He was sitting in McDonalds one day when he spotted an ad in the paper and thought, ‘I’ll have a go at that’, and signed on.
The programme’s facilitator at the time, Vivien Hollis, was a woman of great strength and faith who had faced personal tragedy and yet kept going. Vivien inspired in Scotty the value of service and the possibility of making a difference in people’s lives.
The programme’s facilitator assigns a suitable mentor to a family with specific needs and together they work out ways in which support and encouragement can be offered. Mutually agreed goals and regular reviews keep everyone—the family concerned, the mentor and the programme’s facilitator (currently Liz Adams) on track. For Scotty, there have been challenges along the way. Getting to know new families and their complex issues has been daunting. Scotty has found there is often little improvement for months on end, and then all of a sudden goals start to be met.
He has delighted in seeing children from his first assigned family turn into sensible teenagers and knows they have a bright future ahead of them. He walked alongside a non-coping young mother and her unruly children for a few years, but now the mum has employment and the children are all making good progress. It wasn’t an overnight turnaround, but rather a long walk together in the same agreed direction.
Scotty grew up on a farm in Scotland. ‘I was hopeless at farm work like fencing,’ he says, ‘but I loved the animals. And really, they’re not too different from people.’
As a youngster, Scotty admired a local minister who was a close friend of his father’s. ‘He was a real do-it-yourself kind of person,’ says Scotty, ‘very good with young people.’ This man’s practical expression of work and faith mixed together made a deep impression on Scotty as a young man.
Scotty visited New Zealand for nine months in 1980, then came back to stay in 1996.
Earlier this year, he went on a missions trip to Myanmar where he saw a microfinance scheme in action, visited a Child Development Unit, a hospital and two orphanages. He befriended a local family and visited them every day. These experiences confirmed to Scotty that people are much more important than stuff.
An active member of the Dunsandel Trinity Church, Scotty loves the practical teachings of the book of Proverbs in the Bible and the ‘sleeves-rolled-up’ expression of faith of The Salvation Army. The staff at Hornby Community Ministries and the families Scotty has mentored over the years are grateful to have him on the team.
By Scotty Stewart (abridged from War Cry, 5 October 2013, p9)