Neil and Jennifer Lawrence, who have served as Church of God missionaries since 1991, recently shared how God confirmed their call to missions.
Just before our Bachelor’s graduation at Florida State University in May 1987, we began attending an off-campus Bible study led by Tom and Lydia Grassano. We learned about the Church of God and began attending the Branch Street Church of God in Tallahassee where they were worship and youth pastors. Tom and Lydia discipled us and encouraged us to be involved in the youth and worship ministry. I (Neil) was already baptized in the Holy Spirit and was feeling the call to full-time ministry. Jennifer was reluctant to consider full-time ministry until after she received the baptism of the Holy Spirit.
We both felt we would rather minister overseas than pastor or minister inside the United States. We even communicated with several different tent-making missionary organizations considering job opportunities abroad. Then, Jennifer had a very powerful dream.
In the dream, she was at the post office and received a package. She knew that in the package was everything she would need for her journey. She reached deep into the velvet-lined package and pulled out sandals. Instantly, they were on her feet, and she was dressed in a white robe. Next, she reached in and pulled out an apple. She felt thankful realizing that the Lord had provided food for her. After that, she pulled out three huge plum-like fruits that could barely fit in her hand (later understanding this to represent fruitfulness). Next, she pulled out a gold ring with a crystal sculpture of a building with a slanted roof. She placed it on her right ring finger which to her meant lifelong commitment. She thought that was all the package contained, but then she was prompted to reach in the package one more time. She pulled out an index-size card that had these words on it: “Learn in the West to go to the East.”
Suddenly, she felt urgent to follow the direction of the card and began asking people at the post office if they had ever seen the building on her ring which she felt compelled to go to in order to learn in the west, so she could go to the east. As the dream ended no one knew where the building was located. After this dream, Jennifer told me: “If you ever want to go to Bible school, it’s ok with me.”
Incidentally, about a year after I started seminary, Jennifer came from another direction to pick me up at the school and saw the slanted roof of the Pentecostal Theological Seminary and realized it was the building on her ring.
I graduated with a M.Div. from PTS in 1991; we were appointed COG missionaries the same month and have been Missionary Educator/Evangelists in Kenya since 1993.
Neil’s primary ministry is to teach at Discipleship College, a 17-acre campus located in Eldoret, Kenya. He enjoys spending quality time with the students and helping them form a theological/ministry world-view.
In addition to teaching, the Lawrences are involved in evangelism and worship. They started to lead worship in English and Swahili and developed a ministry team called Eagle’s Wings Gospel Team in 1999. This ministry works with a local Church of God congregation. Students and graduates of Discipleship College are involved in traveling all over Kenya holding morning seminars, afternoon crusades, and evening Christian films. These crusades have been held in market places, town centers, road-side centers, slums, and villages — anywhere where the people are.