This past weekend I had the opportunity to emcee and speak at the Archdiocese of Dubuque Adult Conference. The theme was “Jesus Alive: Witness to Faith”
It was the first time I’ve been asked to both emcee and speak about my faith to a large group. More than 500 people from around Eastern Iowa attended. All of them from various backgrounds, ages and idea of what it means to be a witness. I wasn’t the only one speaking at the conference. Before I spoke, Archbishop Jerome Hanus gave a witness talk. I’ve never heard a bishop or priest speak so openly about his story. His ultimate message: sometimes God calls us to do things we don’t want to. But he knows what’s best and we must trust him. I also had the honor of sharing the microphone with Rich Curran.
His message was powerful and his stories made an impact on the adults who took the time to attend. We also had the pleasure of hearing music from Jacob and Matthew Band. Their story combined with music really set the tone as people left for the day.
Scott and I walked around and interview folks at the conference about what it means to be a witness and how Jesus is alive today. We are working on putting it together to share with others.
If you’re curious what I spoke about, below you’ll find text from my first talk. I wrote it all down, well knowing that I would go off script and I did. But this gives you an idea. (Stay tuned for part 2).
Hello. And welcome to the 2012 Jesus is alive conference. It’s so great to see so many people here today. I look out and see a lot of familiar faces too. So many people in this room played a role in shaping who I am today.
For those of you who don’t know. My name is Lauren Squires…if it sounds familiar you may recognize the name…I worked set KWWL as a Dubuque bureaus reporter for three years before I moved to Omaha. Before that I was at Loras College. And I grew up in Cedar Rapids…where I graduated from Xavier High School. Oh and if you’re wondering. Because some people do…my husband is Scott. And yes my legal name is Lauren Ready. 🙂
I’m gonna be honest with you all…when I was asked to emcee this event I was humbled and honored. But then when they asked me to speak about my experiences in my job…I started to realized just how much god plays a role in what I do.
You see as a journalist we are supposed to be objective. Rarely do we tell people our personal beliefs and rarely do we share our faith on air. It’s more acceptable in different parts of the country. The Midwest is one of those places.
Still that being said…my approach to reporting and the stories I tell…is different. The truth is…I can’t get through a week without using my faith. Sometimes in the most subtle ways. And sometimes in the more obvious. I’ve always gone by the motto….find a person. Tell their story. And weave the facts within that story. Without people we wouldn’t have stories.
Let me take you back to June of this year. It was a typical day at work…I was working on a story for the 10pm newscast when a call came over the scanner. A young person was found unresponsive in the waters of Lake Manawa in council bluffs.
Fortunately I was not the reporter sent on that story. But my heart ached for everyone involved that day. By ten o clock that night we had learned that the boy who drowned was attending bible day camp with the homeless shelter in Omaha. The boy was participating in a program that just days earlier I had done a story on. It’s a program that gives homeless kids a chance to experience fun and normal camp like activities for free.
My heart ached for the family. For the staff and for all the community. I continued to pray for them. But like usual…in the daily grind of news cycle…we all moved on…the next day I was assigned another story and we continued moving forward. Until I received a call late Sunday night…it was the president of the mission. She told me that they mother who had just lost her son wanted to speak only to me. She wanted me to tell the story of her son…she wanted people to know who he was and remember his life. It was a heart breaking story to tell.
It only seemed natural to me to tell that story the way I did. Our interview began with prayer. I participated with them….that first shot was me holding her hand. I kept the them of faith in the story. Not because I believed it was important. But because that was how the mother was holding on.
A week later I received two letters from local churches. Thanking me for using faith in that story. Thanking me for reminding people that god is with us always. Even in time of tragedy. Each letter was signed by members of the church. I read the letters and thought ‘wow God…you are always at work aren’t you?’ Because the truth is…I didn’t do anything out of the ordinary that day. I did what I always do…and in return it reached out to an audience That touched so Many people’s hearts.
***********tell a few other stories here – woman in wheel chair thanking me for coming down to her level when I interviewed her. Mother emailing me thanking me for interviewing her son and cheering him up after his dad died (not knowing any of those details), floods of 2008, Parkersburg***********
These are just one of many stories I encounter on a daily basis. And i am always surprised by peoples reactions to even the littlest things. The fact of the matter is that God puts us all in situations on daily basis where we can be Christ for others. And where others can be Christ for us.
I have many more stories I could share with you. But we have a full day ahead of us. As we begin a day of celebration of our church and our archdiocese. Take time to reflect on the stories in your life. The times you’ve seen god at work.
The stories you’ve created.