Meet Lauren from Las Vegas!
This summer, I had the opportunity to sit down for an interview with Lauren Patton.
She’s 22 years old, loves a creamy cup of coffee, and brings new volume to the term “Laugh Out Loud.” Behind her long, blonde hair and favorite plastic shades, Lauren loves Jesus.
Today I want to bring you a look into her life as a less-than-typical missionary to Las Vegas, Nevada—a city I love and a place Lauren has decided to devote her time, passion, and energy.
Ally: You’ve traveled to the Philippines. You’ve lived in India, and you’ve even spent time in Canada. Why did you choose your hometown Las Vegas, Nevada, as the place for you to be a missionary-in-the-making?
Lauren: “Funny story actually. I was in Youth With A Mission (YWAM)’s Discipleship Training School and I actually was in India, and I felt like the LORD told me in October 2010 that I was supposed to go back home to Las Vegas by January.
“I said, ‘You know, that sounds all fun and good. But I want to go to the nations, and I want to go all over the place. I don’t want to go back to Vegas.’
“I finished up the last two months in India. I prayed about it again, and I was like: ‘Okay, LORD, where do you want me to go?’ And He said: ‘I want you to go to Vegas.’
“So I came back home to Vegas, and I was like: ‘LORD, I don’t know what to do.’ And He was like, ‘I want you to join the YWAM base in Vegas.’ And I was like, ‘There’s no YWAM base in Vegas. I’ve lived in Vegas my whole life. That’s a bunch of balogne.’ And He was like, ‘Oh really. Go Google it.’
“So I Google YWAM. And, of course, YWAM Vegas is the first thing that pops up. I was like, ‘Okay. You are LORD. I am not. You have spoken. I have not. I’m going to YWAM Vegas!’ I’ve been at that base for fifteen months now.”
Now you’re working at the YWAM Las Vegas base on F Street and Washington. What does a day in the life of Lauren look like?
“Well, it depends on which season I’m in. I work with a program called Mission Adventures, where I recruit these youth groups and we have these kids come, anywhere from ages 9 to 28. We teach them how to share their faith and how to show God’s love wherever they go.
Lauren (second from right) isn’t afraid to have fun! Here her outreach team joins stormtroopers on the Strip!
“So if I’m in a season where the kids are in town, then my day is jam-packed from 7:30 in the morning ‘til 11:00 at night. I’m either cooking a meal or I’m teaching a lesson, doing small groups, washing dishes, organizing outreaches, like holding a giant sign on Fremont Street that says, ‘Come get free prayer.’
“We also do a thing where a couple of my friends and I will go down in front of the Bally’s casino on the Strip and basically play worship songs right there with everybody else. It’s really fun.
“Then for promotions for Mission Adventures, I’m usually sitting at my desk praying and asking the LORD for new ideas on how to promote. It’s either making cool videos, or it’s calling churches and trying to promote that way.”
Now you’ve also done some work through The Pier in Vegas as well, right?
“Yeah, it’s a community resource center. Basically what we do is we feed low-income families. We give them boxes of food per number in the household. We get 700 pounds of food from Three Square Food Bank on Mondays. Then I’ll organize it with the local church on Monday afternoon. Then on that Tuesday, people with appointments will come and we give out food.”
From office work to working with kids, how do you keep up your energy level and what motivates you to do this?
“I’m a people person! If I’m around people, I can get a lot of energy. So that’s easy! But if I’m in the office for promotions, it’s a struggle. Some days, you just really got to fight and push through.
“When you tell yourself, ‘Why am I doing this?’ you’ve just got to remember: ‘If I don’t work now, if I don’t try to get teams now, then nobody’s going to come next summer. Nobody’s getting transformed for Jesus. Nobody’s changing lives. Nothing is happening.’
“Then I usually go on Pandora and find some really upbeat music.”
You’ve inspired kids and adults alike with your life story. You say you’ve transformed from someone who had no hope to someone with purpose, passion, and a lot of joy. Who or what helped you in difficult times?
“My motto is: ‘Who I am hates who I’ve been. But I’m called to love those like I once was.’
“When I say ‘I hate who I was,’ it’s because who I was, was suicidal. Who I was had no purpose. Who I was had no joy. I was a metaphorical walking zombie, if you know what I mean. I had nothing to live for. I was just going through the motions of day-to-day life.
Lauren is also an artist. She created this cool picture to recognize Jesus has rescued her. (Yes, that is manga Jesus.)
“But God is good. He totally saved me that night I tried to take my life. He wouldn’t let me die. He is the reason I am alive.
“People supported me in that tough time in my life. People I didn’t even know that well were reaching out to me, in my church or at school.
“I mean, you can’t beat suicide in a day. You can’t beat it in a night. You can’t beat it in a month. For some of us, it takes years. But you just have to know: There is life. There is purpose. There is a reason why you’re going through what you’re going through.
“I know something the LORD has really been speaking to me about a lot of crap in my past is: It’s not God’s will for this to happen. But He has a plan for what has happened.
“While I hate who I used to be, I cannot hate those who are like the old me. I have to love on them. I want to reach out to them.”
It’s encouraging to hear how you want to reach out to help others. Can just anybody be missions-minded?
“A lot of people have this mentality of ‘Oh, I have to go to third-world countries: to serve in Africa, to serve in the jungles of the Amazon, to serve in rural places. Well, as I learned in the Philippines, you can live in Beverly Hills and be a missionary. You can be in Tent City and be a missionary. You can be in Reno and be a missionary. You can be in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and be a missionary.
Anybody can change the world. Lauren (far left) and her friends can. So can you!
“To be a missionary just means that you accept the mission that God has given you personally and that you go and you share the Gospel.
“You’re going out to your neighbors and saying, ‘Hey, we’re a couple of kids. Can we serve you?’ We don’t need to always speak the name of Jesus. We could just be nice.
“Anybody can be a missionary. You just go out and do what the LORD calls you to do. The LORD’s going to equip you to go wherever you need to go. That’s all there is to it.”
What’s next for you?
“I’m going to Dallas, Texas, for seminary school. Then it’s right back to Las Vegas to start the LOVE Revolution and transform Sin City to Saint City!”
Words: Ally Siwajian and Lauren Patton © 2013
Photo credit: Sarah Nilame and Lauren Patton © 2012