Loyal, funny, dedicated, sweet, inspiring, cheerful.
These are the words various people here on the Oval use when describing Lauren. Lauren has been a part of the YWAM Harpenden community for over 2 years. Beginning by doing a discipleship training school here, Lauren had no idea that God was going to call her back to the Oval to join the YWAM Harpenden staff team. Several years later, Lauren is headed back to her home country, the United States, where she will be studying to get her degree in counselling. Leaving England, but not leaving behind her love for God or heart for missions, Lauren and I sat down to drink coffee and talk about life, missions, God, and her calling. No big deal, right?
In talking to Lauren about missions, and what missions means to her, I was struck by the wisdom she shared. As a person who is similar in age to myself, I wanted to hear her thoughts about living missions, as a lifestyle. I wanted to know, what did that mean to her, how did she wrestle with that concept? Turns out, Lauren hit it spot on. Joy seeped out of her, as she spoke frankly about the God she was journeying with, and how her relationship with him impacted…well, everything.
When I asked Lauren if her opinion of missions and living a missional life had changed from the beginning of her time here, she replied with a series of questions that highlighted how her perspective has developed over the years. We talked about how often, in an effort to make missions and evangelism central in our lives, we can feel pressured to make our work or job a fruitful mission ﬁeld. Lauren challenged that idea with a question.
“What do you want to do with God?” she posed to me, rhetorically. “You don’t have to justify that.”
True. Very true. I grinned.
And she went on.
“It’s less about missions as an organisation, and more about dreaming with Jesus. That will look different for everyone. Be obedient, and don’t do something just because you think it would the “right” thing to do.”
Lauren was bold in how she shared her genuine opinions. I could hear the stories in her words, the days and weeks she had walked with Jesus, and asked these same questions. She continued on, and shared how she makes decisions; not focusing on the “why”, or the reason she should go one way over the other, but instead asking, “Is God saying he is with me on this”?
Lauren described how she see’s her relationship with God as a partnership; she makes decisions in partnership with him. When I asked Lauren what she would miss about the Oval, she laughed and asked if I set our interview up as a trick to get her crying. With a smile, she described the community of people she had grown into as “a family who gets how weird this life is”.
Transitions are never easy. Where deep, honest, life-giving relationships have grown, leaving can feel almost, impossible. On a sunny Wednesday afternoon, I sat sipping coffee with Lauren, and listened to hear what her heart was saying. I experienced the joy in her words, as she described how she is now dancing through her own life transition. I couldn’t help but see the trust overﬂowing in her. No matter where she is, what she is doing, who she is working with, who she is loving and being loved by.. that trust and abandon to Jesus will keep her full of life.
Standing at the end, she said to me, almost nonchalantly… “Yeah you know, I just kind of wing it.” With a wink and a smile, Lauren walks with Jesus. Listening to Lauren, I was reminded again of that truth. Big questions don’t always have easy answers, but they are never something to be afraid of. Boldly, Lauren goes; listening for God’s voice gently reminding her, “I am with you”.
Mikayla, Arts & Media Staff Member
Photos by Lauren