Arm in Arm: Spirit-led mentorship


As the University’s first lady and Women of Faith advisory board chair, Lisa Williams spends a lot of time with students, especially young women. In conversations over the past two years, she has noticed many are looking for guidance, direction and someone to walk with them through one of the most pivotal seasons of their lives, but they don’t know how to find mentors. 

As the advisory board began to establish pillars on which the Women of Faith initiative would be built, Williams prayed for God’s provision of resources to support these young women. On a presidential tour stop in Nashville, Tennessee, she sat with Topper Long at lunch and shared with him her ideas and the needs she was seeking to address. Long and his wife, Carole, have two daughters and have invested in young women in many ways, including establishing the Lois and Eunice Scholarship for female Harding students. While attending a women’s event in Nashville, Long had met author and speaker Marette Jorgenson. Their conversation led to a deep friendship and a book-writing partnership, and Long knew Jorgenson had the heart and experience to help. 

These Christian servants were amazed — though not surprised — by the Holy Spirit’s leading through the entire process. From Searcy to Nashville, Tennessee, to a small town in Minnesota, they have opened their homes to each other, shared their life stories and committed to partnering to bless others, especially Harding students. 

After Long’s encouragement to connect, Jorgenson contacted Williams to hear about her ideas. She then volunteered to write a curriculum for mentoring groups on campus. The devotional’s title, “Arm in Arm,” conjures the image of people walking with linked arms. This is both a strong and an intimate connection. It’s a posture that requires intentional relationship, which Jorgenson sees as the foundation of mentoring. 

“... Listening is the first step in mentoring,” she said. “If we don’t get close enough to listen, we’re not going to get close enough to love.” 

This semester Williams and Jill Davis, spiritual formation liaison for the Women of Faith initiative, are organizing presentations in women’s breakout chapel sessions based on Jorgenson’s devotional. They are also piloting a mentorship program where women in Harding’s community — faculty, staff and friends — will lead small groups of female students through the study. For eight weeks, they will share their lives and their faith, focusing on recognizing one’s identity in Jesus Christ, with the hope that some students will be ready to lead groups of their own at the end of the experience. 

“My hope for this program is for Harding women to learn and grow in wisdom and stature in preparation for the lives ahead that they will live,” Williams said. “Older women who have a variety of experiences can pass on wisdom to the next generation. Our graduates can carry this forward with them and have a way to respond to the things they will experience in their lives because of what they’ve learned from a woman who’s already lived many more years.” 



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