I’m Lauren, but I think you gathered that from the nifty web address right. It’s a compliment that you are here, wanting to know who I am, so let’s be up front. I’m something of a complex, diverse woman who is passionate about God and story. I love stories, biblical stories, historical stories and the stories of women. I believe in the profound truth of telling our stories and revealing our fragility and humanity within our stories. If I could choose a title for my story telling, it would be “herstorian,” I write and tell women’s stories. Inside, I am a justice seeker wanting to protect, nurture and create safe spaces where justice and healing take place. I believe that is part of my spiritual DNA to be someone who advocates for justice in order to create awareness and drive change. I studied to be a psychologist and worked for years being a non-profit counsellor. Through that experience I learned the value of understanding complexity in story, life is not always what we see. In seeking justice, I have written, researched and walked with survivors and individuals effected by human trafficking, women abuse, gendercide, female ritual servitude and more. And yes, I am a scholar, academic. There’s something that makes me come alive when I am researching and studying topics close to my heart, especially about biblical women. On those nights where I’m deeply engaged in understanding their lives and the present meaning for our own, I go to bed truly sated and spirit filled. I’m also a person who believes in living in accordance with my values, I have them invisibly written on the fingers of my hands and I try live in tune with who I am at my core. At the centre of my being is a heart beat that sings out Yeshua the Messiah. Yes, I am a believer in the Christ, and His truth and I base my life on His precepts, that’s my heart, my conviction and no I’m not a bible basher, I’m just in love. I’m a networker at heart, enjoying collaboration and engagement with like – minded individuals, so welcome, I hope you will be encouraged as you wander through my writings.
Storyteller. Visionary. Woman. Justice Passionate. Creative. Wife. Child of Yahweh. Daughter. Sister. Gender Equality Activist. Writer. Researcher. Ordained Minister. Speaker. Friend. Compassionate.
Academically minded fellow peeps ask me about my qualifications, so here they are! I have a B.A degree in English and Psychology. A diploma in Criminology, an honours in Biblical Counselling Therapy and a master’s degree in Divinity in the area of Biblical counselling, with specialisation in women abuse. I am a qualified trauma counsellor, HIV/AIDS counsellor, facilitator, coach and mentor and I’m proud to be a professional member of PENSA.
How do you define storyteller?
When I close my eyes, and picture a storyteller, I am immediately transformed out in to the African landscape. A circle of men and women gather around the blazing fire and the storyteller completes the circle, up on her feet. She tells the stories of generations passed, the ones entrusted to her to hand down. She tells the stories that encourage, that teach, that rhyme and that are complex in its riddles and songs.
In many different cultures and tribes, the storyteller is essential to the survival of the community. Many different cultural and religious groups rely on oral storytelling to stay unified and connected to the past. For me personally, I love telling stories that are factual, historical fiction, poems that reflect truth or true life stories that teach us about ourselves and those around me.
To be a storyteller for me, means that I am telling the stories that can change mindsets and set us free, and keep us connected to the hidden stories of the past that carry deep meaning for our present wanderings.
What Fuels You?
Can you tell us about your journey to become an ordained minister?
I never saw myself as a minister. When I met my husband, he was studying to be a pastor and was already knee deep in the work of pastoring at a community church. He always knew that was his calling, I just wanted to be a psychologist and a researcher, helping the community and aiding healing. The year before we were married however, we started up a ministry together, I wrote and did community work and he preached. I was happy to be in the background of the ministry, until God called me forward, which was a shock! Then, I knew I had to be ordained and take a more active role as a speaker and teacher, in the ministry. I was ordained in 2014 and am so thankful I was. Our ministry has a big outreach heart and we have been blessed to travel and minister. I have also been blessed to have more opportunities to help communities through my role as a religious leader.
As a South African woman, what is the African Woman’s Challenge?
I think there are so many! As a writer, I write a lot about the oppression of women, about the very real issues of female genital mutilation, child brides, lack of literacy for girls in Africa and also the domestic violence that effects so many communities. By making people aware of these issues, I hope that it will inspire others to react and be proactive! There is power in a pen, it creates and can impact change.
Why is your biggest passion Gendercide in China?
When I first heard about gendercide it was in 2013. I was struck by the reality that, close to 40 million baby girls had been routinely aborted in China just because they were girls. I remember pushing my chair back, closing my laptop and feeling overwhelmed and anxious. The information was too much, the statistics unfathomable. A few days later, I timidly exposed myself to gendercide again, but this time with a different mindset. God broke my heart for these beautiful girls and for the women of Asia. God called me to speak about gendercide, and in 2014 we hosted a conference about Gendercide in China, right here in South Africa. From then on, I have written about gendercide and joined with an organisation who advocates for the lives of women in China. This is Father’s Heart in me and is a big passion!