Growing up on the golden shoreline of Perth, Western Australia, Nikki Dent spent her days surfing and soaking in the sun. Until as a fresh-faced 18 year old, she drove across Australia in search of adventure, only to find home on the east coast. At 26, she's a wife, mother, pastor, teacher, worship leader and blogger who handles all areas of her life with grace. This is her story.
Tell me about yourself. Where did you grow up? What did life look like growing up?
I grew up on the beaches of Perth, Western Australia. Barefoot and sandy with swimmers worn under my school uniform was commonplace for me, and paddling out for an early morning surf was a daily occurrence! I grew up in a Christian family with two older sisters, and a mum and dad who are still, to this day, deeply in love. They've been the most amazing example to me of what a committed, godly relationship looks like. I've always had faith in Jesus, but I had a radical experience with the Holy Spirit when I was a teenager - it changed me forever.
What does your life look like at the moment?
All the things! My husband and I are pastors at our church, as well as youth pastors, and I personally head up the women's ministry also. It involves preaching, teaching, leading, loving, and constantly leaving my comfort zone (pizza and dark chocolate in bed, scrolling through insty with Masterchef on in the background) behind! The calling of God upon our lives is a kaleidoscope of roles, platforms, layers, colours, giftings, seasons, stories and outworkings. The most rewarding role I have been called into, by far, is motherhood. My children are a precious gift, and the learning curve of raising them continues around the bend! It's the most exciting, crazy, rewarding, character-building, and stretching adventure. I get to be the mum of my two gorgeous daughters - Eden Elana is two, and Dayla Bright is 10 months - and I'm learning to stay a daughter of the King at the same time!
When you were younger, did you ever think you'd be living in beautiful Byron Bay? What a dream!
I'd never even heard of Byron Bay! I actually jumped in a car and drove across Australia when I was 18, with the intention of backpacking around the country. When I was left stranded in Sydney with no money or friends, I felt God speak to me and tell me to go to this little town of Byron Bay - I had nothing to lose, so I obeyed. I stumbled across a church called Eastgate, and I only went in because my surname (before I was married) was Eastgate! Immediately, I knew I was (ironically) where God had called me to be. It was a hilarious 'coincidence' that I became the youth pastor and pioneered a youth ministry there. I could never have imagined I'd be doing what I'm doing now - and I wouldn't change a thing! God weaved a way better tapestry of my life than I ever could have on my own.
You're a wife and mum to two beautiful daughters, you're pastor, worship leader, and teacher at your church, and a blogger - how do you balance each area of your life, and do it so well?
Well, the truth is, sometimes I do it well and sometimes I get overwhelmed and want to crawl into a hole with a pizza! (I think I'm hungry - pizza keeps coming up.). Yet, I've learnt a powerful lesson over the years. I've learnt to grow my no - sometimes we say yes to so many things that we end up saying 'no' to God, and the things He's truly calling us into. I'm learning to discern the difference between 'good things' and 'God things' - I had to learn that just because something is good, it doesn't mean God is asking me to do it! But more than anything, I have to attribute my energy, my peace, my clarity, my joy and my vision to my devotional life. One thing I've refused to sacrifice over the years is my time spent in His Word and presence. I'm committed to carving out time each and every day to spend with Him by digging into His word - even if it means I have to get up at 4am before the babies (yes, sometimes that happens!). The truth is, I can't do this life without that time in His Word - it breathes life into me, renews my mind, and gives me strength, just as my breakfast (and coffee) does!
Tell me about Paper & Treasure. When did you know you wanted to create this wonderful space on the internet?
I've always wanted to be an author: I've been writing stories since I was six years old - my first story was about a cat and a dog on planet Mars. It was written in purple comic sans. True story. Over the years I've had my work published on various platforms and journals, but to be honest, I never imagined myself writing a blog and founding a website! I actually originally created Paper & Treasure because I regularly answer questions from youth and missionary students all over the world regarding bible study, devotions, as well as Christian dating, relationships, sex, and women in ministry! I figured I may as well put all my teachings available for them to access online - but then I began to get a flood of emails from young women asking more questions and requesting me to write on certain topics - and I realised there was a real need to equip and empower young people, particularly women. Sometimes the Church can shy away from them, like sex and dating for example, because there's so much grey area in the bible. Or 'bible study' can be seen as something boring and tedious, and we assume young people won't be interested - when I've found it nothing short of exhilarating, challenging and outright adventurous!
What's your heart & dream for Paper & Treasure?
I want young people to realise that the words between the pages of the greatest book ever written is a goldmine that is going to enrich their life. If you're searching for treasure, it's on the pages of your bible! I want to teach them how to read it, use it, understand it, interpret it, apply and live it out! I want them to know that they don't have to go to bible college, or be a theologian or scholar, to interpret and fall in love with the Word of God and be changed forever by it. I want it to be a resource tool for young people who need answers to tough questions and encouragement for these big days! I want His Word to landscape our perspective on sex, dating, relationships and marriage - and not the ever-changing and confused culture around us. I want to encourage people to rise up and step into their God-given purpose and destiny over their life, and I know that by empowering them to seek the Word of God themselves, it's inevitable! They'll find their story between the pages of His!
The bible is a goldmine full of girls who changed the landscape of scripture and shook the world around them. We find them buried, like treasure, between the pages of the greatest love story ever told. I encourage you, girls, to find your story within theirs. Remember, yours is still being written.
Nikki, Author of Paper and Treasure
Wasn't it beautiful to hear all about Nikki's story, and her heart for young women? Her words feel like a breath of fresh air. If you're a young lady, I really encourage you to check out her website, and delve into the the content that she explores.
And get involved with the conversation over at Paper & Treasure: