In Summer 2008, God called a 17-year-old girls’ ministry intern named Jessica (who was a new believer herself) to pour into a student named Kayla Wallace, and encourage her that God was going to do something amazing with her life. Although Jessica had no ministry experience and was already trying to learn about her own faith, she obeyed God.
Over the summer, Kayla told Jessica she was her role model. She bought a cross necklace just like her and opened up to her all the time about struggles. Jessica and Kayla had identical stories- they both came from broken homes, had broken pasts, and were both chasing after God. Kayla blossomed and became zealous for Jesus, and at the end of summer, Jessica was able to share that God doesn’t just waste the bad times that happen to use- He uses them for His glory! By sharing her painful testimony, Jessica was able to connect and encourage Kayla years down the road. That night, Kayla rededicated her life to Jesus… but it was the last conversation she’d ever have with Jessica.
Kayla died a week later- from a highly rare and completely surprising cause. At her funeral, her youth pastor read a letter she had recently written. It was word for word the girl’s last conversation with Jessica, their experiences over the summer, and the positive things she’d learned about her identity in Christ. At the burial, every member of her family knew Jessica’s name- because she was all Kayla ever talked about!
Later, Kayla’s family invited Jessica over to their home to show her how she decorated her walls with the scriptures and notes of encouragement/advice Jessica had given her through their Bible study together. Jessica had no idea just how closely Kayla watched her, followed her, and echoed her every step.
Kayla’s death impacted the entire community. Her story has been shared with thousands of people, causing hundreds of people to receive Christ as their Savior. Over the past 6 years, God has fulfilled His promise to use Kayla’s life to do something amazing.
Her story completely changed my life… because I’m Jessica.
Being part of Kayla’s life was both humbling and encouraging. In order to lead well, you must be willing to commit to Jesus well.
Your influence can change lives- so don’t settle for anything less than complete commitment to Christ.
It has been 6 years since Kayla’s death, and my passion for girls ministry has only grown. Today, the reality that every move I make in my Christian walk could be replicated by numerous other girls is a healthy form of accountability for all of us. Our complete commitment to Jesus matters.
Recently, the Lord brought a few girls into my path who shared they looked up to me and had been following my walk with Christ over the past few years. Although encouraged by their precious hearts, I am very aware of the responsibility that comes with that. We can never take lightly our effect on others. Thus, I’m compelled by a sense of conviction and urgency to ensure I am fully committing all of myself to God in all things and in all ways so that I lead a life worthy to be followed. After what I experienced with Kayla, I learned just how moldable the heart of a middle school girl is, as well as how powerful her witness could be in such a compromising culture. The need to lead them well is so pivotal.
Never forget that people are watching us- and even copying us.
Little girls, whether we want them to or not, look up to us who claim to be authentic women of God and follow every move we make! The reality of such a mantel will never cease to humble me to my knees, and recently has become one of my greatest motivations to live completely committed to Jesus. Everything must be examined- pictures/tweets on social media and the morals they communicate, how I treat others and show Christ’s love on those public forums, the clothes I wear and what they say about the worth I claim my King has for me, etc.
In all I do, I ask myself: Will Jesus be pleased with me if one of his daughters copies this? Is this the absolute best choice I can make for girls to replicate or could I lead them in a better direction? Make them love Jesus more? Encourage Kingdom-minded things?
Taking inventory is humbling and sanctifying- but fruitful and necessary. Now, more than ever, I need Jesus to help me reflect Him. The good news is, all God needs is our willingness to authentically commit to Him to make that happen.
Authenticity is key.
Being completely committed to Christ buckles under the weight of a facade.
When that facade crumbles, anyone looking up to it will be crushed. It is so urgent to authentically pull ourselves under the microscope of God’s Word so that He might purge any root of evil to make us new. Complete commitment to God demands complete obedience to God.
Your cross will not take itself up and follow Jesus- you must do it yourself, especially in light of these precious onlookers.
Commitment to Christ is vital because we are called to make disciples- a.k.a. replicate ourselves! But we must ask ourselves: “Is my commitment to Jesus worth replicating?” God doesn’t call us to be perfect and make others perfect. God isn’t looking for perfect people who have no need for Him. If that were the case, Kayla and I would have never connected- because I was the least-qualified candidate.
God is looking for those who are willing. He is looking for commitment. Kayla’s story still impacts me today because of this truth. Although there is no denying God’s hand and His power in Kayla’s story, it is His grace that continues to propel me forward. For in a little town full of really good, godly, church girls with stable homes, clean pasts, and far more knowledge of God’s Word, God chose to let a redeemed girl with a broken home, messy past, and little Biblical knowledge be part of Kayla’s life instead.
You know what the most powerful part is? God used that unqualified yet redeemed girl to do something she had never, ever done- produce good. I will never get over the fact that God allowed me to be apart of Kayla’s life. In response, I’ve learned that completely committing to God is the reward because by the power of the Holy Spirit, God gives us the opportunity to be made new, to be made into His likeness, and then to lead little girls like Kayla into His loving arms- regardless of if we’re qualified or not! Complete commitment is all that is needed.
As we put God on display in our lives, exalting the pursuit of holiness and the expansion of His kingdom above all else, always remember that others are watching and being transformed, too.
May we commit everything in our lives to Jesus!
Jessica Haas is an unapologetic woman of faith whose heartbeat is for girls ministry. She is a national Speaker and Speed Art Performer. Jessica placed 6th at Miss Tennessee two years in a row, and was the first Speed Painter in Miss Tennessee history to ever win a talent preliminary with art by painting the face of Christ in only 90 seconds upside down. A graduate of Memphis College of Art and seminary student at Union University, Jessica is also a multidisciplinary artist and the owner/lead designer of The Birds Nest Co., as well as the founder of Unbound Ministries- an empowerment ministry that seeks to free at-risk girls from poverty. Find out more about Jessica’s business, ministry, and journey on Instagram and Twitter.