CATHERINE MUMBA and SHIKANDA KAWANGA, Lusaka
IN A world where morals are depreciating, and bad seems to triumph over good, it is becoming difficult for adolescents to be morally upright and live godly lives.
But what could be the best way to help young people make the right decisions and become responsible citizens?
Pastor Gladys Paswani, 42, believes Christian mentorship is the answer.
She is the visionary and president of Set Apart International, a movement that grooms future leaders through mentorship.
Pastor Paswani defines mentorship as the art of influencing an individual’s life by someone who is way ahead of them in a particular engagement.
“I believe that the mentor should have a growth (age) advantage (over their mentee) in life. If I am 42, and am mentoring someone who is 20 years old, I will teach them what I know and they will not have to make the mistakes I made because I am going to point out the risks to them. If they listen, they can avoid the path that made me fail,” she says.
Pastor Paswani says mentorship can help people to align to things that matter most in their lives.
“There are many options open to young people. But whether you make a choice or not, you are still going to be exposed to a corrupt way of thinking because of the loud noise on the internet and other sources. But mentorship will keep a person aligned to God’s original intention for mankind,” she says.
Through the Set Apart International platform, Pastor Paswani conducts free mentorship classes in Lusaka, Kabwe, Kitwe and Ndola with the aim of raising a generation with a transformed mindset, which could ultimately benefit everyone around them.
She discovered her passion for young people years back after she got married to Bishop Noah Paswani of Anointed Life Ministries International.
“I noticed that in my work as a pastor’s wife, instead of being around women, I was so drawn to young people in the church.
“That made me struggle to fit in as a pastor’s wife and made me feel inadequate because I felt I needed to be around women. And during that time, we were still in Zimbabwe,” she says.
It was sometime in 2015 while in her home country Zimbabwe that Pastor Paswani held a one-day conference with a group of young girls under the theme ‘set apart’.
“It was about the girls separating themselves from the world and living lives that were pleasing to the Lord.
“After that, it was as if something within me was triggered and I started feeling this burden for young people,” she says.
After migrating to Zambia, Pastor Paswani met a young woman who was working in a bookshop in Lusaka who was to propel her on the path of mentoring adolescents.
“We developed a relationship that led us to spending time away from her office and we began to talk about her life and things that were going on around her,” Pastor Paswani recalls.
One day, the pastor’s new found friend asked if she could bring her friend who was in a troubled situation for counselling.
“I agreed to meet her friend and surprisingly, that is how it all begun. It turned out to be a situation where a friend invites another friend, although we continued meeting in coffee shops,” she says.
During the counselling sessions, some of Pastor Paswani’s clients would break down under the glare of the public and obviously, these were embarrassing moments.
It was towards the end of 2011 that Lusaka Hotel offered her a room for counselling, noticing that the group of mentees was growing.
Pastor Paswani says this marked the beginning of rapid growth for her mentorship programme.
“So one day, I walked into the room and I found 15 girls and that is when I knew that there was an assignment which was bigger than I thought. I asked God, and I just heard him say, ‘fix their minds’,” she says.
After that, the meetings were attended by not less than 20 girls, and inspired by this, Pastor Paswani named the mentorship programme, Set Apart International. So the year 2012 marked the birth of her ministry.
Since then, Set Apart International has been operating in Kitwe, Kabwe and Ndola, whereas mentorship classes are set to start in Livingstone.
The mentorship classes which are held once every month are attended by about 300 people in Lusaka and about 50 to 80 mentees in other towns.
Mentorship classes for men have also been launched.
Pastor Paswani also hosts camp meetings in May for males and females.
“Our biggest event is our annual conference which takes place in October. It started in 2012 with the aim of bringing many people together to expose them to the potential that they carry and help them realise their worth,” she says.
The 2012 conference only attracted about 500 people.
“But the attendance last year went up to over 5000 people and they were not able to fit in the (room at) Government Complex.
“So for our next conference this October, we intend to use the stadium so that we can accommodate as many people as people possible. We trust in God to provide us with resources for the event,” she says.
Pastor Paswani says the increasing number of people attending her conferences signifies the passion by adolescents to align themselves to godly principles and God’s purpose for their lives.
She believes it’s possible for this generation to achieve positive change if mindsets are transformed by the word of God.
“The core responsibility is mentorship, out of mentorship now my belief is that any person who is mentored becomes an agent of change wherever they are. As they begin to behave and speak differently, they too are changing the mindsets of the people round them,” she says.
Pastor Paswani says Set Apart International also focuses on grooming leaders so that its mentees are equipped to become change agents.
“We usually have people aged between 18 and those in their early 30s. But my desire is to have a set apart president, leaders, mothers and grandmothers in future,” she says
Besides mentorship sessions, Set Apart International is also into charity works such as feeding vulnerable people and paying school fees for children in need.
Pastor Paswani looks forward to spreading her tentacles to all provinces of Zambia, across Africa and beyond the continent’s borders.
She is a mother of six and winner of the 2017 Woman of the Year award in the mentorship category.
Pastor Paswani, born on May 27, 1976 in Gweru, Zimbabwe, holds a Pitmans Diploma in Office Procedures, a Degree in Theology and Christian Leadership, an Advanced Diploma in Project Management and Operations and a Diploma in Travel and Tours.
CATHERINE MUMBA and SHIKANDA KAWANGA, Lusaka