Senior Profile: Laurie Fultz
Senior Profile: Laurie Fultz – Joy in Service
by Sheryl Blunt, AFA Parent and Freelance Writer
“This is where I was born. It’s just gorgeous!”
Laurie Fultz is flipping through pictures of Swaziland on her cell phone. Last summer she returned to her African birthplace to care for orphans in the country where her parents had served as missionaries years before. The pictures show Laurie surrounded by children with big smiling faces. They also seem to show the kind of person Laurie is.
“This is Sebenele! He’s such a sweetheart!” Her eyes are bright and her joy is palpable as she puts names to the faces. Laurie doesn’t yet know if she will follow in her parents’ footsteps and pursue full-time Christian ministry abroad, but she knows it’s a passion of hers to care for those in need.
“I’m the happiest when I’m overseas serving other people because God just lights up my life,” she says. “That’s how God changed me. To travel and to see what the other world is like, it puts things in perspective. There’s so much more to life than just living for yourself.”
Laurie traces part of her passion for ministry to summer trips she took with fellow Ad Fontes students to Pucallpa, Peru, where she worked with children and adults with disabilities. “I loved it,” she says, referring to her two, 10-day trips to the Refuge of Hope, a Christian center AFA has partnered with that provides education, rehabilitation and vocational training for people with special needs.
“The Refuge is such a place of light and powerful beauty. I never wanted to leave,” she says. “I just wanted to keep going back. Seeing people serve us there, when we were there to serve—they changed my life.”
Laurie is graduating in June, and has attended Ad Fontes since the fourth grade. Looking back, she says she is most thankful for the friendships she’s developed and the school’s strong sense of community. “I loved the small class sizes,” she says, adding that it helped her get to know people well. She’ll also remember Spirit Week, when each upper school class picks a daily theme and competes against other classes. “Spirit Week was so much fun!” she says. “Our class, we all came together on color day during Spirit Week!”
She is also thankful for caring teachers who took a genuine interest in her life, beyond academics. “Some teachers really care and will go the extra mile, like asking how your day is,” she says. One such teacher was her Literature and Classical Composition instructor, Mrs. Linda Mathwin.
“I’m going to miss 9th grade speeches and Mrs. Mathwin’s Classical Composition and Literature classes,” she says. “She taught me to love reading in Lit class. Her love of the books almost forced you to love them yourself!”
Laurie is known by her teachers and peers for her love of the Lord and her “overflowing enthusiasm and good cheer about the things she is passionate about,” says Mr. Ray Blunt, who teaches Senior Seminar and Worldview at AFA. Whether serving as co-captain of AFA’s girls’ varsity volleyball team, or leading students in group activities as co-leader of House Rome, she approaches things wholeheartedly and with gusto.
“She lives a life full of exclamation points,” says Blunt, who recalls that when high school students from King Abdullah Academy visited Ad Fontes last year, “she was the one who immediately made them feel welcome with her friendliness and enthusiasm. She kept them all laughing during our [community building] project, and said good-by with big hugs.”
Following graduation Laurie plans on joining Youth With A Mission (YWAM) in Kona, Hawaii, where she will study health care and medical missions. YWAM equips young people for evangelism, discipleship, and practical outreach overseas. She hopes to complete her nursing studies at Southeastern University in Lakeland, Florida.
“I don’t know if God is calling me to missions,” she says. “I don’t know if that’s what I’m going to do, but I’m praying about doing that.”
It was during another overseas trip last summer, this one to the slums of Mumbai, India, that she says she became serious about nursing.
Laurie stayed in the city and worked in the slums where she met with young girls at the Shiloh Center, a safe house for children rescued from brothels. She also met with girls and young women who were living at a nearby brothel.
“The pimp there actually allowed us to share the gospel with the little children,” she says. “The girls there are either born into prostitution or sold into it. They aren’t allowed to leave and they don’t learn how to read or write, or even speak. They are rejected by their families, brainwashed, and shunned. Their goal is to get pregnant so they won’t have to work.”
While she was there, a 10-year-old girl she had befriended was sold to a man for $100. “I’ve never seen darkness so real,” she says. “It was tangible. I could never have known what kind of darkness it was until I felt it.”
She also witnessed what little access there was to doctors and good medical care.
“It’s such a big need,” she says. “I was praying with a sick woman in the brothel and I just had no idea what to do.” It was then she realized how nursing could help her meet physical needs as well as spiritual ones.
“It’s great to go overseas and bring the gospel, but you also need a bridge. If you are there to serve they are a lot more willing to allow you to come and minister,” she says.
Asked how she dealt with all the sorrow and injustice she witnessed, Laurie says she focused on God’s sovereignty.
“You have to realize God is still sovereign and focus on God’s grace in the situation,” she says. “That’s when God is so powerful—when you realize you are weak. If He just made everything better there’d be no reason to rely on Him.”
“You can’t focus on the darkness,” she says. “If we focus on all the things that need to be redeemed there would be no hope. You have to realize that He’s still doing a work there. It’s not as if He’s turned his back on the slums. He’s still there. You just have to look for Him.”
Laurie got to see God’s love in the form of a grandmother who visits the brothel daily. “She’s there every day, in the darkest of places, sharing the light of Christ,” she says.
Laurie hopes more high school students will consider mission trips abroad to grow their faith in challenging environments while using their gifts for God’s service.
“God uses every person,” she says. “If you go overseas and just spread one seed, you don’t have any idea how He can use it.” Laurie has already been about such work. It will be no surprise if she continues to spread healing of body and soul as her life unfolds.