Lauren Jacobs identifies herself as a woman, a sister, daughter, wife, leader and child of God. These markets combine in her passion which lies in empowering women to see their lives as full of possibilities and as a landscape for dreams.
Lauren is an activist committed to speaking about issues such as domestic violence in faith communities. She is also a story teller, researcher, author, journalist and an ordained minister in full time ministry with her husband.
How do you define storyteller?
When I close my eyes, and picture a storyteller, I am immediately transformed out in to the African landscape. A circle of men and women gather around the blazing fire and the storyteller completes the circle, up on her feet. She tells the stories of generations passed, the ones entrusted to her to hand down. She tells the stories that encourage, that teach, that rhyme and that are complex in its riddles and songs.
In many different cultures and tribes, the storyteller is essential to the survival of the community. Many different cultural and religious groups rely on oral storytelling to stay unified and connected to the past. For me personally, I love telling stories that are factual, historical fiction, poems that reflect truth or true life stories that teach us about ourselves and those around me.
To be a storyteller for me, means that I am telling the stories that can change mindsets and set us free, and keep us connected to the hidden stories of the past that carry deep meaning for our present wanderings.To be a storyteller means telling the stories that can change mindsets - Lauren Jacobs Click To Tweet
What do you think makes a good storyteller?
I think different people would answer this question differently, depending on what they are looking for in a story. For me, I love stories that teach me something. I gravitate towards storytellers that make me feel something, with their language, their wording and even their silences.
The kind of storyteller that draws me in and I am lost, coming out of the story as though I had encountered a little slice of heaven on this side of earth. That’s a good storyteller!
What led you to embark on this path of standing up for justice again gender violence in faith communities?
I saw abuse in my family growing up and I saw it around me as a child. In the lives of friends, at school and in the lives of family members. Gender-based violence with its injustice must have sat deeply inside of me. When I was just 14 years old, I told my mom that one day I wanted to build a safe house for abused women and children.
As I grew older I met survivors of abuse and when I enrolled at university, I started a B.A degree in English and Psychology. I went on to do my master’s degree in counselling and I specialized in Gender–based violence in South Africa. For me, I feel that our faith communities should be places of refuge and safety, but in essence they are often the opposite.
Religious leaders do not know how to overcome abuse or how to empower victims. I have it in my heart to help them, to empower them to be vessels of healing and hope, instead of vessels of secondary trauma and victimization. I believe this is part of my God design, the way He made me, to pursue justice and stand up against violence.I never saw myself as a minister, I wanted to be a psychologist & researcher - Lauren Jacobs Click To Tweet
Can you tell us about your journey to become an ordained minister?
I never saw myself as a minister. When I met my husband, he was studying to be a pastor and was already knee deep in the work of pastoring at a community church. He always knew that was his calling, I just wanted to be a psychologist and a researcher, helping the community and aiding healing.
The year before we were married however, we started up a ministry together, I wrote and did community work and he preached. I was happy to be in the background of the ministry, until God called me forward, which was a shock! Then, I knew I had to be ordained and take a more active role as a speaker and teacher, in the ministry.
I was ordained in 2013 and am so thankful I was. Our ministry has a big outreach heart and we have been blessed to travel and minister. I have also been blessed to have more opportunities to help communities through my role as a religious leader.
How can women discover their unique identities?
Firstly, I always say go back to the innocence of your childhood dreams. What did you desire to do as a child? What was your innocent dream, before the world came and told you that money or position was important? Was it painting, dancing, writing, acting, directing others, helping, shelving books?
Sometimes, a big part of your identity and your “sweet spot” can be found when you rediscover what you longed for as a child. What do you enjoy and what makes you unhappy, and weary? Some people love working in an environment buzzing with people, others love being solitary, that’s part of your unique design.
Invest in a hobby, something that you can lose yourself in, take a course and discover a different part of yourself. Pray, there is no better way to discover who you were created to be, than by going back to the Creator. We each have an individual stamp on us, that only the Manufacturer can understand. To be fully alive, means we need redemption within, it’s the simplest way to discover the true you.Your sweet spot can be found when you rediscover what you longed for as a child Click To Tweet
From your experience, how can women use their creativity to effectively combat social issues?
I think that the creative gifts can have such a profound impact on societal issues and injustices. Poets, especially spoken word poets, are making a huge impact these days. Using their words to speak about Aids or the refugee crisis, speaking about love and truth through their words; it is touching people in a greater way.
Artists who paint, doodle, sketch, or illustrate can address issues by what they share on canvas or paper. I want to encourage my fellow creatives to use their creativity to speak about issues or to give hope.
In 2013 I was part of an art exhibition that travelled creating awareness about human trafficking. I watched how 44 South African artists from all walks of life, created artworks addressing the issue of human trafficking. They did it in their own unique ways, and it was powerful!
Creativity is a gift and I believe it is a golden key to touch society!
Can you tell us a bit about your accomplishments?
The things I reflect back on with gratitude, are the things that have touched me or helped me find a new loop in my journey. These I define as accomplishments, which I know is not the traditional meaning of the word. So, I would like to share 5 of my gratitude moments:
- Spending an entire day with Sophia De Bruyn, at her home. Learning from her and capturing her story about the 1956 Women’s march and about her life in general.
- Being the resident poet for the Freedom Exhibition, and having my poem “The Age of Innocence,” travel with the exhibition and getting to perform poetry at their events.
- Being part of a women’s leadership series in 2015, where each of us were interviewed and recorded giving our message to the women around us. I got to speak to the heart of young women and that was a privilege.
- Signing with NB Publishers and living my dream as a published author, having birthed 3 books out in to the world and feeling as though I have only just begun!
- Teaching women in Ghana, as part of a ministry trip. Hearing Alison Botha, who is an incredible inspiration as a rape survivor and warrior, read and use my poem as part of her talks, that is a priceless gift.
Your latest book was published in July 2016, any advice for writers struggling to finish their first novel?
Forget perfection, embrace what you have to give. Write and write, challenge yourself. Do not copy another writer, we don’t need another Stephen King or Chimamanda Adiche, they are great but we need you.
Your words matter, your story matters, your gift is to do something in a way that only you can do, so get writing and don’t give up until it’s complete. Forget about finding a publisher until you have completed your final full stop.
Write because it’s something that makes you come alive, write because it’s a calling, write because ink is within your veins, write because it’s necessary for your life and most importantly, believe in yourself.
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