Two weeks after sustaining a major injury on a SAGE mission trip with Maranatha Volunteers International, volunteer Ken Lauren passed away on Friday evening, Jan. 26. He was 71 years old.
“For the past two weeks, we have been praying for Ken and his family–for God’s leading and assurance. We are heavy-hearted by Ken’s passing, and our thoughts are with his family,” said Don Noble, president of Maranatha Volunteers International. “In times like this, we continue to place our hope in the very promise that Ken was sharing on this mission trip: Maranatha, Lord come.”
Lauren and his wife Linda were serving in Costa Rica as part of a Washington-based team called SAGE, Seniors in Action for God in Excellence, a Seventh-day Adventist ministry focused on providing fellowship and service opportunities for seniors. One of their activities is mission trips, and SAGE has coordinated more than 20 projects through Maranatha. This year’s group was focused on painting multiple churches, constructing One-Day Churches, and coordinating a variety of outreach in the southeastern part of Costa Rica.
“This whole trial has been difficult, but God has not left us alone, and we know that,”
On January 11, while painting the Bribri Seventh-day Adventist Church, Lauren fell from a ladder. It is not clear what precipitated the fall, but Lauren suffered head injuries from the accident and was taken by paramedics to the local hospital. He was later transferred to a larger hospital in San Jose, where he underwent surgery and was placed in a medically induced coma to facilitate recovery. On January 24, he was flown to a hospital in Seattle, Washington, United States, near his home. He died at the hospital, less than 48 hours after his arrival.
“This whole trial has been difficult, but God has not left us alone, and we know that,” said Jenny Bollinger, Lauren’s daughter. “I’m holding on to the fact that God will work all of this out for the best for us all!”
Lauren was a retired family practice physician from Snoqualmie, Washington. At Maranatha’s 2004 convention in Gladstone, Oregon, United States, Lauren shared his testimony of how he was led to Maranatha and back to the Adventist Church.
“I think I represent a significant number of people who had left the Adventist Church and were loved back into the Adventist Church through the love of Maranatha,” said Lauren, during his presentation.
Lauren said he had been cynical about Adventism, and he had drifted away from the church. Then in 2000, someone invited Lauren and Linda on a Maranatha mission trip to Nepal. The couple was intrigued by the idea of travel and adventure, and they registered for the project.
“I went for a strictly selfish reason. I thought it’d be a great way to see an exotic country,” said Lauren.
But it turned out to be no ordinary vacation. As Lauren worked with his fellow volunteers, his perspective started to change.
“I began to see people for who they were. They were ambassadors for Christ. They were loving Christians. It opened my eyes to the Adventist experience,” he said. When the project came to a close, Lauren told his wife that the mission trip was “probably the closest experience to heaven that I’ve ever had.”
Since then, Lauren and his wife have been on nearly a dozen projects with Maranatha; they have also served on mission trips with other organizations.
There will be a memorial service on February 24, at 3 p.m., at the Kirkland Seventh-day Adventist Church, in Kirkland, Washington. Messages of condolence can be posted on the Facebook page “Ken Lauren’s Journey.”
Maranatha Volunteers International, founded in 1969, is a supporting ministry of the Seventh-day Adventist Church which coordinates more than 60 mission trips a year, creating service opportunities around the world. Last year, Maranatha mobilized more than 2,200 volunteers to more than a dozen countries.