This SUNDAY, JULY 16, our former XPLOR Resident LAUREN FRATO brings a message entitled FINDING GOD IN THE WILDERNESS, drawing from Isaiah 40:27 – 31 and Psalm 121. Lauren has just completed her second year in the NBA XPLOR program. Her first year was here with us at Union Avenue, and her second year in the program was spent in residency in Tucson, Arizona, where she served the Marana Community Food Bank as her community engagement site.

Some may think that NBA XPLOR is merely a 10-month "internship" or "bridge year" before entering graduate school or seminary, but it's much more than that. For Lauren, XPLOR was the opportunity to explore the vast wilderness of opportunities that exist today for a young woman seeking to serve. 

It is true that our Residents live together in simple, Christian community for 10 months, but the relationships they build with each other, with local congregations, and with God help them to establish some of the deepest roots of their faith journey. For some, including Lauren, their time spent in XPLOR is a life-altering, faith-changing experience. They are "falling in love" with God and the church and each other in ways they cannot fully comprehend right now, but as the years pass, they will return again and again to these relationships that will continue to nurture their hearts and souls. They will seek out each other in times of great celebration and times of deep crisis. Their lives are deeply changed, and we, as a host congregation, play a small role in making that happen.

Lauren wanted to return to Union Avenue Christian Church to share with us about the great distance she has traveled since arriving at Union Avenue in August 2015. Please join us this Sunday at 10:45 a.m. as we welcome Lauren home to Union Avenue Christian Church!