Lauren and Jo Ann Helveston are two of the finest people I know. Hailing from Citronelle, Alabama, this couple responded to a call of God upon their lives first to pastoral ministry and then to be missionaries in Ghana. Later, they connected with TMS Global serving in various positions. Their last two roles found them providing pastoral care to missionaries around the world and debriefing missionaries as they returned to the United States. Their combined love of Jesus, love of people, wisdom, and gracious manner was a perfect match for such responsibilities.
As director of church ministry, I was blessed on those occasions when Lauren would be able to partner with me to teach a weekend workshop in a local church. When I first came on board with TMS Global, Dick McClain told me the best preacher on staff was Lauren. That is quite the compliment given that there were then, and are now, gifted preachers on staff. Whether it was Aldersgate , The Cove, Guntersville First, or the other churches we were in, Lauren always delivered teaching and preaching with grace, humility, and passion.
I recall one weekend we were conducting a workshop at Good News UMC in Santa Rosa Beach, Florida. The church had provided us rooms in a condo at Sandestin Resort through the good graces of church members. It was early Sunday morning and I was getting dressed for church when Lauren called and said he was going to get some coffee and did I want anything. I put in an order and hung up. A few minutes later there’s a knock at the door and there stood Lauren with our coffee orders spilled all over the front of his white, Sunday dress shirt. His only dress shirt I might add. We did a quick search and found a Walmart Supercenter about 12 miles away, rushed there, bought a shirt, Lauren changed, and we barely made it to the church on time. Unflappable, Lauren preached a powerful sermon to complete our weekend.
This week, there was a gathering of friends and colleagues at the Norcross, Georgia, office of TMS Global to mark the retirement of the Helvestons. Due to recent surgery I was unable to attend. However, someone on staff had the foresight to videotape the gathering and capture some of the stories of how Lauren and Jo Ann had impacted their lives. I have enjoyed watching these video stories. Ari Morsella, director of member care, solicited written sentiments from our team all over the globe and presented them to the Helvestons. These contribute to the greater story of their lives.
Often we think of our lives as simply a continuum of successive days lived from birth to the present. Another way of thinking is that our lives are made up of a compilation of stories. The stories that make up Lauren and Jo Ann’s life together are stories of lives affected through their love for Jesus. Those stories will not end because they have retired from TMS Global.