My journey to here
Kayla leads one of our Activate Church Gatherings with her husband Josh, and works with the team at Activate Developments. Kayla cares deeply about showing others the love she has been shown, and loves serving our church family.
My Journey to here
Even though we went to church sometimes as kids, I wouldn’t say I was raised in a Christian home as our family didn’t really live out those values’ day to day. We’d lived in Melbourne, Fielding and Auckland, and whenever we did go to church I loved it. We went to a family camp once where I made a commitment to Jesus and got baptised, but otherwise church and youth were fairly sporadic.
I had been through some very difficult times in my childhood, so when I started high school I was really struggling with them. I was a high achiever and sporty, but I had a strong desire to please everyone and seek approval from others. I found myself playing different roles in different social groups, and at a young age I became involved in drinking, drugs, and partying.
At 14, some school friends invited me to a Youth Snow camp and things took a positive turn for a while - I recommitted my life to Jesus, got baptised again, and became actively involved in their youth group and church. But after a year of this ‘good’ streak I found myself living a double life; I lived ‘the Christian life’ around Christians and did all the wrong things when I wasn’t around them because of my unresolved issues.
At 16 I left school to study Beauty and Spa Therapy and sought approval from some unhealthy friendships in those circles. I was still trying to escape from my issues - God kept trying to reach me, but I kept running and believing all the lies the enemy was telling me about myself. After a while I realised I couldn't escape the collision of my two worlds anymore. I was overwhelmed with shame, guilt, and self-hatred for the things that had happened to me and for things I had done, so I kept running and left Auckland.
At the start of 2009 I’d just moved to Hamilton and I met Josh at a concert. He was deeply involved in Activate Church as a Youth Intern, and we quickly started dating. Our relationship progressed rapidly, and soon I found out I was pregnant. Fortunately, we had an incredible support system from our families and the Activate Church community who stood by us and encouraged us. In that same year we were married, and I gave birth to our daughter Annabelle just before Christmas.
We tried our hardest as 18yr old newlyweds and parents but as time went on cracks started to appear and it soon became too much. Two years after we met, we broke up and I walked away from my faith.
I was back seeking approval from the wrong people again, still trying to get relief from the shame, guilt, pain, and loneliness in my life. I partied whenever I didn't have my daughter and by the time another year passed, I had hit absolute rock-bottom and was thinking of ending my life... I thought I was irreparably damaged. Even though I still believed in God, I felt helpless and I just didn't know how to change. One night I cried out to Him saying, "God, if I truly matter, if you truly have a plan and purpose for my life, reveal yourself to me. I'll do anything!" And He did.
God spoke to me in a few ways, though other people and through His Word, and He kept showing up, proving He was waiting for me. I knew I had to stop running and start facing the things that had always felt too hard to face. I knew I didn’t have the self-control to keep having one foot in both worlds, so I made the difficult decision to cut ties with almost all of the people from that destructive season of my life. I had to cut out the other voices and bad influences in my life, so I could hear His voice clearer and walk the way He knew would heal me. When I surrendered my whole life to Him, He pulled me through all the hard stuff.
Josh and I decided to give our marriage another chance, and today we are walking so much closer with God and each other, despite many more trials that have shaped us. We both have a huge heart for helping people from all backgrounds and walks of life, and we love to serve His church that helped us so much.
Over the years we had a number of people prophesy that we would be in ministry together as a couple, and those words began to take shape in our lives as we intentionally put our hope in Him and His promises. By 2019 we were serving in different ministry areas, and one day God challenged me to stop home-schooling our 4 kids and start a full-time Ministry Internship. Josh and I had been on a journey learning to say “yes” in faith instead of focusing on the many obstacles in front of us, and we now lead an Activate Church Gathering together. We love what God is doing in us and through us.
I wouldn't be here without the seeds that were planted all throughout my life by faith-filled people who accepted me, prayed for me, encouraged me, spoke life into me, and for those took me to youth groups and church when I was younger. I have seen God woven through so many different situations in my life. “Love because He first loved us” is what I live by now.
I encourage you to do your best to love the people around you in all circumstances, because all those little moments add up, and God could be speaking through you to help answer the desperate prayers of others.