The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

January 26, 2013

Former Miss America talks about personal transformation

By Ruth Ann Replogle, Special to the News & Eagle
Enid News & Eagle

ENID, Okla. — She’s beautiful.

This girl from Oklahoma walked the Las Vegas stage in 2007 to become Miss America. She went on to get her public relations degree from the University of Central Oklahoma, landed a job at KWTV News 9 and married the man of her dreams.

But Lauren Nelson Faram wants you to know there is more to life than glitz and glamour; she wants you to know her God.

Nelson, a native of Lawton, grew up in a Christian home.

“I was learning about God,” she said. She had been sprinkled as a baby and went to the Methodist church regularly. She saw God moving in the lives of her family and friends, but says she didn’t make the connection in her own life.

As she ascended in local and state beauty pageants, displaying the musical talent God gave her, she still wasn’t ready to surrender to His soft whispers.

It was following her plane ride back to Oklahoma after being crowned Miss America that Nelson encountered God again, this time through the face of Robin Marsh. The News 9 anchor was walking what she talked and that impressed Faram.

“We started hanging out. She invited me to be part of a Bible study, to go to church with her,” Nelson said.

The weekend of July 4, 2008, at First Baptist Church-Edmond, she said God was tugging at her to respond to Him. So she did.

“That’s when God started working in me. I was reading the Word; I began exploring,” Nelson said.

During this time, she became acquainted with the church’s associate youth pastor, Randy Faram, who was leading the youth group in which Nelson’s friend’s daughter was involved. They wed in 2009, and she did what pastors’ wives do —dove straight into teaching Sunday school and leading worship. Her passion was working with teenage girls.

But something still was missing, Nelson said.

She eventually discovered the missing piece was a personal relationship with God, a full surrender of obedience to Him.

One day in October 2011, Nelson’s life changed forever. A guest preacher was speaking “and I just knew I couldn’t leave there without making a 100 percent public commitment [to God],” she said.

As it turns out, Nelson wasn’t the only one to make a personal decision at that worship service. Several others went down the aisle and made decisions, too; other Christian people like her who already had  been serving in the church.

“I surrendered everything to Jesus that day,” she said.

Today, Nelson is more than a TV news anchor at 4 p.m. She and co-worker Marsh  have launched a teen girls ministry called Unveiled Ministries.

“We both had platforms for something bigger. It wasn’t about us,” Nelson said. “I have a heart for teen girls and Robin has a heart for teen girls.”

Their mission is to connect young women spiritually and socially so they can become confident women of God. It is based on 1 Corinthians 3:18: “And we all, who with unveiled faces reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into His image with ever increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.”

Among the first projects for Unveiled Ministries was writing and releasing a book called “God, Girls, and Getting Connected: Spiritual Apps For A Teen’s Life.” It is meant to help girls deal with the daily pressures through devotional passages formatted as text messages to and from God. A second book called “God, Girls, and Guys: Answering the Questions On Dating and Relationships” followed six months later. It is meant to help teens embrace a healthy, biblical perspective on dating and love.

Nelson and Marsh average about two events a month with Unveiled Ministries, traveling and speaking to girls far and wide. Nelson is scheduled to speak at the Heartland Women’s Ministries’ women’s retreat March 8-9 at First Baptist Church in Enid. She will have a special breakout session that Saturday with teen and college-age girls.

When Nelson isn’t on assignment for work or church — her husband became the youth pastor full-time last September — she performs around the state in her husband’s band.

So, what’s next?

“Working full-time and doing ministry on the side is tough,” Nelson said. But she said she is excited to see whatever doors God opens.

“God doesn’t need extraordinary people to do great things through. He just needs ordinary people who will say yes to Jesus,” she said.

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Nelson will speak at local women’s retreat

Miss America 2007 Lauren Nelson will be the main speaker for Heartland Women’s Ministries’ women’s retreat March 8-9 at First Baptist Church in Enid.

This two-day conference is open to women of all ages and all denominations. It will be held 4-9 p.m. March 8 and 8 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. March 9.

Cost is $35 if you sign up this week; it goes up to $40 thereafter.

Deadline to register is Feb. 17.

This year’s theme is “Be Dazzled: All Things Are Possible With God.” Nelson plans to talk about the women in Jesus’ lineage and encourage ladies from 13 to 103. She will be joined by worship leaders Marty and Ronda Spena of Enid.

Throughout the weekend, attendees will be able to choose three out of eight breakout sessions taught by local women. This year’s session leaders are Cynthia Gentry, Jennifer Kisling, Lisa Grimes, Jenene Tate, Brenda Salladay, Haven Williams, Marisa Sauls and Ruth Ann Replogle.

The retreat also includes a catered dinner, breakfast and snacks along with door prizes, games, skits, book sales and all-around fun and fellowship with women from across the state.

For more information about the Heartland Women’s Ministries’ women’s retreat, call 234-2512 or email heartlandwomensministries@gmail.com.

For more information, you also can go online to the Facebook page, facebook.com/HeartlandWomensMinistries.