If you asked those closest to her, What is one word that best describes Kristey Simmons?, many would say confident. “But if you had asked that three years ago,” she admits, “it would have been something very different.”
Confidence is a recent addition to Kristey’s list of top traits, one that has been nurtured and developed by the Holy Spirit since moving to Texas just a few short years ago. “The Lord got me down here completely blind to what was going to happen,” she says. Having grown up in a Methodist congregation in New York, the Holy Spirit was a foreign concept to her. She definitely did not expect what the Lord planned to do in and through her once she encountered His Spirit.
Kristey attended a Methodist college, where she majored in religion and philosophy and minored in classical music. “I had this mediocre faith and was okay with it,” she shares. But the Lord began to expand her heart for worship when she started attending a non-denominational church near her school. When graduation approached, Kristey found herself pursuing worship leadership training. As she searched for a place that she anticipated would help her develop the practical skills of musical worship, her pastor recommended Christ for the Nations Institute in Dallas. As a vocalist, Kristey was also greatly influenced by Kari Jobe, so the decision to move to Texas was an easy one.
She thought she was moving down to learn worship, but quickly discovered the Lord had something entirely different in mind. “It’s how the Lord does things with me,” she shares with a laugh. “He has other things bring me to a place, and blindsides me.”
Having no experience with the gifts of the Spirit, joining a Spirit-filled school was like “jumping in the deep end of a pool,” she explains. It was incredibly difficult at the beginning, but by the end of her year at CFNI, God’s purpose for her time there was crystal clear. “Beyond learning worship, it was an experience of falling in love with the Lord and breaking off limitations I was putting on myself and on Him.”
Finding herself once again with a decision to make, she sensed the Lord telling her to go on for her master’s degree. The King’s really wasn’t on her radar, but when a friend invited her to an informational lunch that TKU was hosting for CFNI students, free food and an afternoon off of work was enough to draw her to campus.
“As soon as I got on campus I knew,” she recalls, “I sensed something was different and was intrigued to look into TKU further.” She was blindsided again. “Ultimately, I chose The King’s because I was looking for a firm foundation of a Spirit-filled theology,” she says. And that decision was confirmed again and again as the Lord provided for her practical and relational needs. “The whole thing about TKU being a family has been huge for me. It wasn’t what got me here, but it’s what kept me here,” she says.
Kristey is now pursuing her Master of Divinity at TKU and working in the financial aid office. She loves getting to hear students’ stories. Time and time again, it’s God called me here. The Lord told me to come. A sentiment that resonates deeply with her. “It’s like TKU finds you,” she explains. “Our students are just being obedient to what God’s telling them, and I’m so inspired by it.”
“I love the person He’s made me to be now,” she says. It’s been a work of the Holy Spirit in her, applying what she’s learning in the classroom, nurtured by her TKU family, that has given her the boldness and strength to step out into all that God has for her.
“There’s something different about TKU and you do not fully understand that until you get here. It changes you… He changes you! No place I’d rather be.”