Born from a desire to share words of comfort during the pandemic, Makenzi Koyen’s weekly devotional “Abide” encourages women to deepen their experience with God and His word. Join us as this actress turned writer shares her journey towards simplicity and growing passion to help others create space for what they value most.
Photos by Zilah Drahn
Can you introduce yourself - tell us more about who you are, where you’re from, and what you do?
My name is Makenzi Koyen, I’m originally from Seattle, WA and have been working as an actor and in the fashion industry in both New York and LA for the last 6 years. I read and write a lot, love coffee, good films, music, thrifting, am always hungry and run almost every day! I’m currently pursuing my Masters in Theology, writing a weekly devotional called Abide, and leading a bi-weekly women’s group. I also recently started a new business called Make Home, a service helping others create space for what they most value.
How did you end up in Seminary? Was this always the plan?
Seminary was definitely not always the plan haha. I was not raised in a Christian home, so I find it equally funny and puzzling I ended up pursuing ministry at all. God called me into ministry before I even really knew what it meant. I remember being in a church service and while watching the pastor preach, I heard an inaudible voice, as if the Lord dropped it into my spirit, that said, ‘That’s going to be you.’ I laughed in response. I couldn’t possibly imagine a world where God would entrust me to share His word. However, it is profoundly true, if you delight yourself in the Lord, He will give you the desires of your heart. As my intimacy grew with the Lord, so did my hunger for His word. I began sharing consistently through social media and eventually applied to seminary in order to learn more.
While this was not the way I saw everything coming together, I can see how God has been preparing me for this and shaping me into a minister of His word—where acting has instilled within me a deep empathy for the human experience, where struggle has produced perseverance and trust—all to walk alongside believers, equip them in their biblical knowledge and empower them in their discipleship to Jesus. God often breaks our “dreams” in order to realize the greater plans he has for us, and I’m excited to expand on the possibilities of where He is leading me.
What inspired you to start sharing weekly devotionals?
It’s funny because 2 years ago I felt the Lord leading me to come back to LA. I was in New York at the time with no plans on leaving, but there was a stir in my spirit I couldn’t ignore. Assuming this chapter would open doors left and right, turned out to be a season to shut them.
Solitude met me at the door. Loneliness. Mundane, ordinary days, sitting, waiting, pleading with the Lord why He had led me here. In the quiet, I began to let go and let God unravel the grip of control I spent many years wrapping around my life. He was teaching me how to listen, how to be with Him in the restlessness, and truly depend on him for everything. I felt like I was experiencing what it meant to “abide,”(Jn 15:5) and thus, Abide was born. I began to write out of this space and knew I wanted to share it. It was originally only going to be 7 days, but when Covid happened I felt an invitation to continue encouraging others to seek His presence in this time of unrest.
What are your hopes for Abide?
My hope is that Abide serves as a reminder to get to know God! To seek him in prayer, worship, and Scripture. I hope people learn more about the Bible and become excited to grow in their discipleship to Jesus.
How do you find the courage to be bold about your faith in a culture increasingly hostile towards Christianity?
It’s easier said than done, and while I can still fall into the trap of comparison and seeking validation, I know my identity, strength, and confidence are found in Christ alone. My reputation is secure because my name is written in heaven. Therefore, I am not ashamed of the cross because no one could ever do what Jesus did for me. My relationship with Jesus is real. He is the best part about my life. Before Christ I was barely breathing—drowning myself in broken wells, rooted in lust, control and shame, but his love set me free.
There’s a powerful shift that happens in ones heart when they come to understand their desperate need for a savior. Jesus opened my eyes to see sin for what it really was and he saved me from myself. In my willingness to understand the meaning of the cross, to embrace the cross, even that which may offend, and boast in nothing but the cross, I find the courage to follow Christ obediently and share the gospel boldly because it’s true! It’s wildly true. And the more I study and grow in my knowledge of Him the more sure of it I become.
Christianity brings everything into focus for me. In the words of St. Paul — “I consider my life worth nothing to me; my only aim is to finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me--the task of testifying to the good news of God's grace.” (Acts 20:24)
As you evolve, has your personal style evolved too?
The word intentional is coming to mind. I’ve noticed a greater sense of comfort and contentment in my personal style. Less is always more for me, though it’s fun to spice it up from time to time. I definitely value quality over quantity and am more interested in discovering what I actually like versus keeping up with trends.
What’s the first thing you do every morning to start your day on the right foot?
I begin the day early, in quiet solitude, with no technology. I drink a bottle of water first thing, make coffee and rest in God’s presence. I usually move into praying the psalms, my bible reading for the day, and end with a personalized prayer.
What advice would you give someone seeking purpose, and desiring a relationship with God?
Keep it simple. Stay consistent. Find community. C.S Lewis says it better, but if you want a relationship with God, you have to go where God is and intentionally place yourself in His presence. God isn’t pushy, so like any human relationship, going deeper requires investment of time and energy and we have to take the initiative to move closer. As we draw nearer to God, I believe we will find no matter the context we’re in, whether working or unemployed, in a relationship or single, our primary purpose is to know God, cherish Him above all else and demonstrate His likeness to the world.
What is your life verse or words you live by?
“make it your ambition to lead a quiet life..” 1 Thessalonians 4:11 — reminds me to stay in my lane, steward wisely, live peaceably with others and keep my eyes fixed on Jesus.
- When are you most inspired? — On a run or walking around NYC
- It's brunch! What do you eat? — Eggs Benedict, roasted potatoes and an iced coffee with oat milk please!
- If you could raid one women’s closet who would it be? —Princess Diana 100%
- What’s your guilty pleasure? —Sex and the city and a slice of tiramisu :)
- Who do you admire the most? — People who take criticism well.