A Leader for Life

   In 2008 Kayla Higginbotham, a freshman in college, hopped on a bus to take a group of WyldLife girls she had not yet met to camp at Castaway Club. That week Kayla built relationships and made the commitment to pursue this group of girls with all her heart so that they might one day know the same Christ that transformed her life a few years prior. Through her college days, Kayla continued to chase down these girls who were now in high school. She kept inviting, kept showing up, and never stopped sharing the gospel and the hope that is found in Christ.

   One girl in particular was incredibly lost her sophomore year. By this time, Kayla was a senior in college and she noticed the way Kylie would sit silently at Campaigners while her mind was somewhere far away from the God that loved her deeply. She was defiant, she was resistant, and she definitely didn’t think God could handle her baggage and the mess she had made. Kayla prayed daily for Kylie to know the Lord. The summer of 2011, Kylie went back to camp at Castaway. This time was different, though. She had been on a downward spiral and had hit rock bottom. Kayla was unable to go to camp, but she continued to pray for God to work in Kylie’s life. That summer, Kylie gave her life to Christ and Kayla rejoiced. In the fall of that year, Kayla baptized Kylie in the lake and she began her new life with Christ. Through the remainder of her high school years, Kayla stayed close to Kylie and continued to pour into her, even though she was working full-time and was no longer officially a Young Life leader. She watched and cheered Kylie on as she went to college and became a Young Life College leader. Their relationship was now long distance, but Kayla called, checked in, and continued to pray for Kylie as she navigated the rough terrain of college. Kayla wrote letters to Kylie while she served on summer staff and during her internship with Young Life. Her love never stopped flowing for this WyldLife girl she had pursued back in 2008.

   Now, in 2017, and after almost a decade of pursuit and friendship, Kylie and Kayla are working professionals and spend time together in the same circle of friends and through the church they attend. They continue to meet up over coffee to talk about life. Kayla sits back and smiles as Kylie tells her about how Jesus is working in her life lately, as well as the struggles in the lives of the college women Kylie is pursuing. This story is a unique testament to God’s love and intentionality. He puts people in our lives through Young Life, and asks us to chase and to pursue the broken and lost. It may be four or five or 10 years down the road before the fruit of hard labor is evident, but we continue to trust God and the way He intends to use us. You never know how He will write your story, and 10 years down the line you may be best friends with the stubborn WyldLife girl you chased after all those years ago. The Lord is singing, "Well done, good and faithful servant" to Kayla Higginbotham (Matthew 25:23). — Kylie