My journey to here
Kylee Forrester is Group Marketing and Communications Manager for the Activate Faith Community Trust and oversees the communications for our churches. She is passionate about helping broken people and loves being part of a church community committed to bringing hope.
My Journey to Here
I feel like I have loved and known Jesus since before I was born, but my life with Him didn’t go the way I expected.
I was born in Waikato Hospital to a Christian dairy farming family, calling Putaruru home and making wonderful childhood memories at Lichfield Lands. My Dad was great at logistics so we moved to Papua New Guinea when I was 7, Dad working while my Mum volunteered in the local church teaching cooking, sewing and music. We jumped around a little - back to Putaturu, then to Australia for a few more years while my Dad flew back & forth to PNG. We even lived in Africa for a while.
I have amazing parents who I adore but life doesn’t always go to plan and those last few years took a toll on their marriage, with things eventually falling apart. Not long after my 13th birthday, I found myself alone in non-english speaking Mozambique with my family in great crisis, trying to care for my little sister and older brother… and crying out to Jesus to come and take us away because I remembered hearing that would happen one day. That was one of the many times in life I would come to know Jesus as my great Comforter, who was always with me.
Back in Australia, my teen years were surrounded by more brokenness, and I felt I needed to step up be the one to hold things together. One of the lies the enemy told me was that I needed to be perfect for my parents and family, and I did live the ‘perfect Christian life’ until the pressure became too much... One “slip up” here, another there, and soon I was living a double life. There was a fully immersed church version of myself and a fully immersed world version of myself. (It was actually very hard to maintain!) Eventually one gave way to the other and somehow, I found myself quitting uni and managing a nightclub at 18.
I often describe those years like I never let go of Jesus’ hand but held it tightly behind my back because I didn’t want to look at Him while I lived that lifestyle. It did a great job at numbing the pain for awhile but I always knew deep down it wasn’t who I was. When I met my husband Shannon, we were both wanting to live fully for Jesus and as we started our family it became easier. I remember being pregnant with my oldest son and one day becoming incredibly aware of how much hatred, grief and trauma I was carrying in my body. I was deeply convicted to do everything I could to make sure I didn’t pass any of that on to my kids. So I started the journey of healing, with Jesus now in front of me, still holding my hand at every step.
I had spent many years managing and marketing different entertainment, hospitality and sports centers but was often frustrated at my career; I’d just accepted great job opportunities but never planned to be where I was. When I got to my 30s I realized if I didn’t make an intentional change it would never happen. Shannon and I had often dreamed of serving in developing countries together, so I began studying Social Science at uni. Half-way through that Degree, our church was trying to hire a Families Pastor and no one suitable was applying. Shannon and I were praying one day that God would tell that person who they were so they would apply, and clear as anything in my spirit I heard God say “It’s you”. My jaw dropped and I went into a bit of shock, secretly battling with God and myself about this for weeks until I finally told my husband and Mum what was going on. They laughed at me and said “Well duh! Why are you so upset, it suits you and makes perfect sense – do it!” And each time I told someone, they had the same reaction (and always laughing at me!) But I didn’t want to do it and it made no sense to me, so I kept fighting with God until I finally chose to give up everything I thought I knew and be obedient. It turned out God wasn’t asking me to be ordained as a Pastor; He was opening a door for me to spend the next four years on church staff leading the Pastoral Care and Connections Ministry fulltime.
In that last year, God unexpectedly started the Pastor conversation with me again… which I still really didn’t want to do! I wrestled with Him - again and ended up at the obedience step - again. I now know that was God preparing my heart for an even bigger faith step. To cut a very long story short, after a series of dreams and other mysteries, God gave Shannon and I enough faith to sell almost everything we had and move our family to ‘somewhere in NZ’ for a reason we had no idea about. But doing it was the only way to find out if that really was what we thought God was telling us to do.
Romans 8:28 says God makes all things work together for the good of those who love Him, and who He has called according to His purposes. And I soon found myself in this role at Activate in Hamilton, where all the jobs I had before - that I didn’t want to be in, didn’t understand, or didn’t appreciate - suddenly all made sense. I’ve come to realise almost every life experience I’ve had equips me in some way to serve the different ministries and entities here, and to help develop the Activate Community Park vision. Even more, my work here just happens to align with my passion to help Jesus heal a broken world through His church.
While the journey has been tough and we still don’t know what’s around the corner, Jesus has continued to walk closely with us, providing many miracles along the way and giving us enough faith to keep following where we think He is leading.
My prayer is for you to also have a couple of the things I have been given. Firstly, that you would discover the incredible gifts God has for you in tough times. And secondly, that you would have the courage to ask God for the faith to risk obedience, even when you don’t fully understand what you ‘think’ He is saying… Because He truly does make all things work together in ways that can only be made possible by a genius, supernatural, loving and kind God who has a brilliant, brilliant plan for your future.