By David Dawson
Baptist and Reflector
But on an even deeper level, Seaton’s appreciation for mentoring developed long before he joined the “IAM4Kids” staff. It actually happened when he was on the other side of the table.
Seaton, who joined “IAM4Kids” in 2006, said he was the picture of an angry teenager in his high school years. He was anti-church, anti-religion, anti-anything that had a spiritual tone.
That is, until a man named Billy Lord began meeting with Seaton.
Billy would take Seaton to eat at Mrs. Winters each week — and while Seaton wasn’t initially interested in what Billy had to say, he was interested in the free lunch.
Eventually, after several months of those meetings, Seaton’s attitude, and his life, began to change.
“He just started pouring into me, that’s the best way to put it,” said Seaton. “I remember that I tried everything I could to scare him off. Over and over again, I used the most colorful language that I could to show him that I wasn’t interested in anything he had to say. But he never took the bait. And he never gave up on me. He kept taking time to meet with me, every week.”
It didn’t happen overnight, but Billy eventually proved himself to Seaton, and showed him that his only desire was to see Seaton get his life turned around.
In time, Billy Lord — who is now the minister of worship at Eagles’ Landing Baptist Church in Georgia — became more than a mentor to Seaton. He became a father figure and a friend. And he seemed to always know which of those roles to play and when to play it. Billy helped introduce Seaton to Jesus, and his life was forever changed.
Now, as an adult, Seaton is doing the same for others.
He became involved in student ministry in Lawrence County in 2006, and, the following year, the Lawrence County school system asked Seaton if he would develop a county-wide mentoring program.
Over the past dozen years, the ministry has had a tremendous impact, and has matched hundreds of troubled and at-risk students with mentors who provide faith-based leadership and friendship.
“Providing fathers to the fatherless, that’s what we are all about,” said Seaton.
Through Seaton’s work, the program has brought in over $3 million dollars of grant money to the school system, and Seaton was hired to oversee a $2.3 million mental health grant.
Seaton is hoping IAM4Kids will continue to grow in the years ahead, and said he is always open to speaking with church and school leaders about utilizing the program.
Theresa Beck is the president of IAM4Kids, which she founded in 1996. The ministry started with Beck hosting weekly picnics with a group of at-risk youth, and from there, the ministry took off.
In 2006, Beck began praying that the Lord would bring just the right person to help the ministry — and that’s where Seaton came in. Having been greatly impacted by a mentor himself, Seaton embraced the role.
In the past three years alone, Seaton has spoken to more than 5,000 students, faculty and staff in open assemblies. He has also won awards and earned high praise from school and city leaders for his commitment to helping children and teenagers.
Seaton said the IAM4Kids program is vital to so many children who come from homes where there has been a deterioration of the family unit, and notes that IAM4Kids was “was born out of a desire to find workable solutions to the growing crisis.”
Seaton was in a similar situation as a youth when he first began meeting with Billy Lord and eventually accepted Christ.
Seaton then turned his life around, eventually joining the Marines before attending, and graduating from Liberty University. He then attended Luther Rice Bible College, where he received his degree in Bible. After finishing school, he served as a youth pastor, children’s pastor and interim pastor.
Over the past 10 years, he has become well known in Lawrence County for his efforts with the mentoring program. His involvement with the ministry has opened some incredible doors for Seaton, including attending a mentoring conference with former First Lady Laura Bush and members of the Justice Department.
Seaton notes that his tireless efforts with the ministry are fueled by the memories of his own teenage years.
“I don’t know where I would be today if someone hadn’t taken the time to invest in me,” he said.