Lawrence was born in Brooklyn, NY and raised in New Jersey. His parents, Nigerian immigrants and faithful Christians, influenced Lawrence’s early faith. While his childhood church attendance was formative, it was in college while experiencing his own loneliness that Lawrence hungered to connect with other Christians to grow in his faith. Lawrence’s desire to know God as revealed in scripture led him to begin leading a Bible study. This regular study changed Lawrence’s life as it strengthened his own faith.
Lawrence studied at Harvard, the University of Texas, and Stanford. His professional career was started in Jersey City, which is located across the Hudson River from New York City. The area is a melting pot of young adults who work in NYC and hardworking families from diverse backgrounds.
While living and working in the city, Lawrence observed how increasingly isolated and disconnected the people around him seemed to be. Conversations in NYC among young professional adults often revolve around networking and image management rather than relational connection. Lawrence wanted to be a part of the solution, so he started the organization Our Family Dinner (OFD).
The first dinner started with Lawrence’s invitation to 30 friends to meet at a restaurant in Times Square. The only rules were: no talking about work, no running down resumes, and no phones at the table. The evening was such a success that everyone stayed until the restaurant closed. They committed to do it again and to invite a friend. OFD grew from 30 to 70 family members, then to 150 and 200. The dinners continued all over NYC and grew to a second city, San Francisco. To date, OFD has engaged and trained nearly 300 dinner hosts and reached over 30,000 young adults across 30 cities and 3 continents.
While Lawrence was excited about the connection happening through OFD, he began to realize, “the level of transformation I long to see, and the type of vibrant community that could exist in Jersey City can only happen through the power of the gospel in a local church.” God began stirring in Lawrence’s heart the desire to be the one to start that church, and Lawrence reached out to Orchard Group.
Lawrence has been a part of Renaissance Church in Harlem, NY from the beginning. He is currently Renaissance’s Director of Community Life as he prepares for church planting. He is completing his MDiv at Gordon Conwell Theological Seminary. The Jersey City Project is projected to launch in the fall of 2019.