Senior Lauren Hunter hustles out of her two-hour small group session. She sighs and fakes enthusiasm as her overly-peppy small group leader pulls her aside.
Hunter’s leader asks her what she plans to do after high school. Hunter responds with confidence — medicine. This has been her plan for years. But her leader has a different idea. She suggests that Hunter pursues ministry.
Dead-set on working in the medical field for many years, Hunter didn’t feel she needed suggestions. Especially from someone she had met two days before.
Hunter, still hungry and tired, tries to be polite as she shakes off the idea.
But, in Asheville, North Carolina, at a youth conference called Montreat, the idea became more practical by the day. Through long treks up Montreat’s mountains and extensive conversations on the youth group’s porch, Hunter realized her love for the field of medical missionary work. Medical missionary work is the act of providing medical help to impoverished areas while incorporating faith-based views. Now she is planning to visit Cusco, Peru in January. Hunter feels grateful for the Montreat words that have shaped her life.
At first, Hunter assumed that pursuing ministry meant working in the church and delivering sermons. Hunter was still set on her dream of working in the medical field, so the idea blindsided the 17-year-old and made her rethink her ideal career.
Hunter took this idea to her youth leader, Zach Walker, for his opinion.
“When Lauren told me her small group leader had a suggestion about her life I expected it to be a little far fetched,” Walker said. “But she was spot-on, medical missionary work is an amazing fit for Lauren’s gifts, talents and strengths.”
Hunter also talked to her friends on the trip.
“I encouraged her to pursue ministry,” Hunter’s friend, senior Stephanie Wilcox, said. “I do think she has a lot of potential.”
“I have a huge passion for helping people and for medicine,” Hunter said. “So combining the two would be my dream come true.”
Since returning from Montreat, Hunter has been hungrily researching medical missionary programs. With the help from a family friend, Hunter found a group called MedLife that works with high school and college students to introduce medical missionary work. The group travels to multiple global locations throughout the year including Peru, Ecuador, Tanzania and India.
After scouring the MedLife website, Hunter decided on a trip Cusco, Peru in January. The trip is quite inexpensive compared to most of its kind, but Hunter has forked over much of her free time to finance herself. Giving up her Saturday nights and having to rethink her spring break plans are only a few of the sacrifices Hunter is making to achieve her dream.
Hunter knows the trip will be even more rewarding knowing that she paid for it herself. She also knows that the incredible experiences soon to come will far outweigh the hard work she is putting in now.
“Very few people have both the diligence to stick to their passions but the flexibility to know when their gifts might takes shapes they don’t expect,” Walker said, “Lauren is one of them.”