Chelsea Hurst wants to be a bridge reaching out to her peers who have never encountered Jesus. As a YouTube vlogger, she says many of the people who watch her videos have never seen Christianity modeled in action and may even be unfamiliar with basic tenets of the faith. She says God has called her to bridge that gap and introduce them to the joys of living for Christ.
In her interview with Charisma, Hurst discussed her own testimony, how she became a successful vlogger and author, and what the biggest crises facing the next generation are.
This interview—originally recorded for our “New Year, New Voices” podcast series—has been edited for length and clarity. Listen to the full interview here.
Berglund: Can you tell me your testimony?
Hurst: I always feel like this story can definitely be pretty long. But I guess we could start when I was a little bit younger. I was raised up in the church, but my family kind of stopped going for about eight or nine years. And by that time, I was friends with a lot of people who just went to church anyway. I think that was a really big part of what grew me and my faith and actually kept me in walk with the Lord, because it’s kind of hard when you don’t have friends who are kind of on the same page as you. So I’m really thankful for those women; I honestly just went and visited them recently, and I love them.
I started a YouTube channel when I was about 13. And at the time, I was saved. I asked the Lord into My heart when I was like 10 in the bathtub. It was pretty funny. But I don’t think I really made the connection that this takes walking with the Lord and following Jesus and what that looks like, until high school, when I went to an event called DNow. It stands for Discipleship Now. I loved that weekend. It was just a bunch of time to hang out with friends and eat a lot of junk food, but then also hear the Gospel presented and what it means to walk with Jesus.
I share this testimony in one of my YouTube videos from a few years ago, but I mean, it really rocked my world, because I had never seen the Gospel presented in the way that said it’s a relationship. It’s not necessarily like this big broad religion or perspective that I can’t really have a close relationship with God. It really changed me, and I feel like I was encouraged in that time to start making faith-driven videos.
During this two- to three-year trek, I was doing a lot of faith videos, and then I realized that my calling online was more so to be a bridge for nonbelievers and believers to be encouraged and uplifted and hopefully pointed toward the Gospel. It’s been amazing to see the messages I’ve received from people who are now more open and receptive to what it’s like to walk with Jesus or who went from practicing some different religion I had never even heard of to inviting Jesus into their heart and seeing visions. It’s crazy what God has done through just the platform that He’s blessed us with.
So now the channel I have is the Hurst Family, because my husband and I wanted to make it a family channel that we can take into the next few years of our lives when we have kids. We were thinking more long term with that. But I love doing anything creative. I think the Lord has encouraged me in that, with not feeling like I have to just have one job or one thing that I’m sticking with the rest of my life. I think He has instilled these gifts in me and encouraged me to walk in seasons.
Like right now, I’m focusing on launching the book I wrote called Above All Else. It’s a 60-day devotional for young women. I wanted to just focus on that. I feel like, as someone who can get easily distracted, it’s just fun to have several different things I love and then focus on them one by one, if that makes any sense.
So, God’s really moved in my heart and my life through the people He’s put in my path. I really am thankful for those people, because I don’t really know where I’d be if I didn’t have that encouragement and those people to lean on. I’m thankful to be where we’re at.
We’re learning a lot in marriage; we got married in March 2019. So it’s been so cool to see how God is wanting to teach us new things in this time. It’s way different than being single, for sure.
Berglund: You made the YouTube channel when you were 13. I’m guessing the channel did not blow up in popularity immediately. At what point did you start to realize, “Oh, I might be onto something here”?
Hurst: Yeah, it definitely did not blow up in popularity immediately. I did start recording videos on YouTube about a year after I created my account, and I was really into all the comedy videos and anime/cosplay makeup tutorials. … I started in the makeup scene, and when I think I blew up, it was honestly from this makeup competition that I entered. It was an online competition where there were different themes and challenges. I ended up going to Los Angeles to compete live, and I was 14 at the time, competing against like women in their 30s and 40s.
It’s pretty fun, but I just think I got a lot of exposure from that event, and I went from like a couple thousand to 100,000 subscribers at that point. But the channel’s really evolved because I went from doing makeup to lifestyle to faith videos. Recently, then, it’s been positive encouragement and being unapologetic about my faith, but also not wanting to shove anything down people’s throats. My husband and I just like to make content that’s natural to us and that’s fun, but also draws people into what we believe as well.
It definitely was not a hit right at the start. It took me about a year to even see any traction at all, and people were weird at the start of the YouTube channel. They requested some different types of videos, and I was just like, “I’m gonna stick with the makeup right now.” I did all different sorts of costume videos, and those are my most popular videos on my channel still today. People comment on them like it’s 2019 and I just uploaded the video, and then when they go to the channel, they realize, “Wow, she’s married, and she used to make Barbie tutorials.”
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SOURCE: Charisma News