Every Friday, Baptist Women in Ministry introduces a fabulous minister, and today we are especially pleased to introduce you to Lauren Brewer Bass.

Lauren, tell us about your ministry journey. 

I am currently a co-director of a spiritual retreat center in Denver, Colorado, but that will change this fall. My husband, David, and I are preparing to serve as Cooperative Baptist Fellowship field personnel in Phnom Penh, Cambodia.

Cambodia is experiencing a dynamic church planting movement, and we will be relocating to there to come alongside the Cambodia Baptist Union, supporting the hundreds of new pastors they work with. After immersing ourselves in the Khmer language and culture, we will begin developing strategies to support these pastors through leadership and theological training programs and economic development initiatives.

Tell us a bit about this new book?  And tell us about the writing process?

Five Hundred MilesMy book is titled Five Hundred Miles: Reflections on Calling and Pilgrimage. The book uses stories and metaphors from a five-hundred-mile-long pilgrimage I walked across Spain a few years back to give voice to many of the things I wished I had heard as I struggled to understand my calling. It’s part memoir, part guidebook, and part adventure story.

I’ve joked that writing the book was a longer and at times harder journey than the five-hundred-mile-long hike that inspired the book. Writing and shaping your words is a lot of work, and sharing your story in general is a vulnerable process. The journey of my calling has not always been easy or tidy, and it can be tempting to try to gloss over some of the messier portions. I realized, though, that I was writing the book precisely because my journey was messy–and because everyone’s journey is messy. I wanted others who might be struggling in their journeys to understand that they aren’t outliers in this process of understanding and following a calling.

Who or what has inspired you along the way as you pursued your calling?   

My community has really inspired me as I have pursued my calling. From Sunday School and Girls in Action teachers to my community of friends, family and mentors–my community has affirmed my gifts, struggled alongside me and prayed for me season after season.

Even as I wrote my book, I frequently thought about the community that was inspiring me and also inspiring the book itself. I created a PDF with a collage of photos that I kept on my computer desktop. The photos were of women who inspired me to follow my calling, and they were the women I had in mind as I wrote the book. They ranged from my youth leaders and seminary classmates to my five-year-old niece to the septuagenarian volunteers that I came to love at the downtown church where I formerly worked. They were mentors and friends. When I doubted my ability, my calling or that I had anything to say–I turned to them.

What is the best ministry advice you have ever received?

Some of the best ministry advice I have ever received is from one of my favorite researchers and writers, Brene Brown. She says that gratitude is the gateway to joy. In Five Hundred Miles, I write a lot about how a discipline of gratitude has reshaped me. This advice–to lean into gratitude–might not seem like “ministry advice,” but I have found that ministry is hard and often draining work. Remembering to focus on gratitude helps me avoid becoming overwhelmed with both petty complaints and serious injustices that don’t seem to budge. The advice seems simple, but it has changed my perspective in ministry again and again.

To learn more about Lauren’s new adventures as she prepares for the move to Cambodia, visit the website and blog she and David have created.