Lauren McGowan

“Hi, I’m Jenna – what’s your name?” A friendly smile and an extended hand encouraged my somewhat hesitant response, “Oh! Um, I’m Lauren. Good to meet you.”

Little did I know what a tremendous impact this chance meeting two years ago would have on the rest of my life. Jenna, a missionary with Saint Paul’s Outreach and fellow student at the University of Minnesota, made a genuine effort to befriend me. With her encouragement I started attending SPO events and became part of this vibrant Catholic community.

Living in the dorms at the U, it was challenging to live a good life, let alone a holy one. After a few intense conversations with Jenna, I was convinced to give SPO Household a try. I was ready to say “yes” to God’s call to live a life radically different from most of my friends and classmates.

My first year in Household was a difficult one, mainly because I went into it with unrealistic expectations. By December I was pretty sure that I wouldn’t be returning for a second year of Household, but over Christmas Break God showed me a few of the many ways Household had changed me for the better. My prayer life was deeper and more consistent, and I had made leaps and bounds in loving and serving others - even when it didn’t come easily. So, despite my initial hesitation, I once again said “yes” to God’s invitation to do something radical for Him, returning to Household and deciding to serve as SPO Student Missionary.

This last year in SPO has been an incredible experience. My prayer life has come alive even more, and I’m helping to build a community at the U that is having an eternal impact in the lives of my fellow students. Serving as a Student Missionary has completely changed my outlook on life, teaching me that every class, every Metro Transit bus ride, and every study break at a local coffee shop is an opportunity to share Christ’s love and help others to see the joy of being fully alive in Him.

The most important lesson I’ve learned is that being a missionary isn’t confined to the walls of a Church or even my Household, but extends to every aspect of life – even the business world. At the end of August I will start my job as an auditor at PricewaterhouseCoopers and enter the world of public accounting! Though I won’t be an official SPO Missionary any more, I know that this new job is just my next way to say “yes” to God’s call to live radically for Him.

Strange as it may seem for an accountant to call her life radical, I know it is true because living for the Lord is anything but ordinary. It is hard to imagine what work life will entail, but I know that He has called me to a radical life in Him and I am excited to share that life with my co-workers at PricewaterhouseCoopers. The training I have received from SPO during my time at the U has truly equipped me for this next mission field, and I can’t wait to get started!

Lauren McGowan served on SPO-Minnesota Missionary Corps at the University of Minnesota.