The following is an article I wrote for my church magazine:
If you’ve ever found yourself greeted on your way to service, picking up a child from cKids, or approaching the First Time Guest Tent chances are that you have received a welcoming smile from Lauren Gombach or Paula Brown. Most weeks this mother and daughter duo serves Covenant in some capacity and they do so with hearts of joy. Their passion to serve the church comes from a story of God pursuing their family and bringing them closer together in the process.
During 2014, Lauren spent many months in and out of the hospital. She had become ill and the doctors were struggling to come up with a diagnosis. Without answers for the pain she was fighting everyday Lauren began to struggle emotionally. She wrestled with anxiety and she slipped into a depression. When Lauren was sixteen her friend reached out to her. That friend had been attending Covenant Church for a short time, and recognized that Lauren was struggling and that God might be the answer she was searching for.
Prior to her invitation to Covenant Lauren had no background in the church. It wasn’t something she felt was relevant to her life and her mother did not make it a priority in her upbringing. In her desperation, however, she took her friend up on the invitation and decided to give church a shot. At this point Lauren had a lot of questions for God. What was wrong with her? Why did God let this happen? She walked through the doors of Covenant for the first time carrying the weight of her illness, the worry of the unknown, and the pain of rejection. But when she encountered God he said, “This isn’t who I’ve called you to be. I’ve called you to a life of joy.” Lauren stopped focusing on the things in her life she couldn’t control. She let the anxiety go and gave God the reigns over her situation.
After the first service she attended Lauren immediately began to text her mother, Paula. She told her mother about the impact the service had on her and insisted that her mother join her the next week. Paula was a single mother who was struggling in her relationship with her daughter. They argued often, and it wasn’t until Paula visited the church that she began to see a difference in her relationship with Lauren. A few months after Paula’s first visit both women accepted Christ and were baptized. They began to see a shift in their relationship and parenting became easier as Paula sought Christ. “Being a single parent and raising children is hard. But now I draw my strength from praying and talking with God on a daily basis.” Paula would later share her faith with her mother who lives two hours away and she would accept Christ as well.
Over the next year, Lauren would find encouragement for her faith in volunteering, finding mentors, cStudents Ministry, and reading Scripture. She’s learned that we can’t base our faith on our feelings, but rather on the Word of God. The doctors were never able to give Lauren a reason for why she was so sick in 2014, but she believes that it was to lead her family to a relationship with Christ and she gives him the glory for that time in her life saying,“I needed the illness to realize God could bring me through anything.”
Accepting Christ can have an impact on families. From Lauren’s initial experience, to later months when she would see her 68 year old grandmother baptized, God was working out his plan through the obedience of one family. God bridged the broken relationship between mother and daughter with his Son. And he used their story and influence to impact Lauren’s grandmother. God is at work in the families who attend Covenant Church. He is changing lives and restoring all people to himself.
The Ameri Brit Mom