A wife, a mother, a missionary and an international speaker are all epithets Karla May loves and wears proudly. She lives an excitingly full life of travel, adventure, rich relationships and clear purpose.
Together with her family this Sunny Coast girl calls Thailand home. Each day is spent living in tropical Asian heat, without many of our western world comforts. Her satisfaction comes from pouring herself into her family and working toward the epic mission of ending child-slavery.
Karla ministers to young girls who have been rescued from the sex-trade industry and others who have been prevented from its harm. Her story is inspiring and her laugh is contagious.
At 39 she lives a life of great satisfaction and significant influence around the world. But not all inspiring stories have great beginnings and Karla’s story is no exception.
Left behind at the hospital by her teenage mother, Karla spent the first two weeks of her life in the care of nurses and hospital staff. She didn’t have a bonding moment with her birth mother; in fact later she found out that her mother looked away as she gave birth. She never laid eyes on the baby she delivered.
“Strong feelings of abandonment and rejection plagued my life as a result of knowing I’d been an unwanted baby. My self-confidence was bankrupt and I remember always feeling like I didn’t fit and nobody really wanted me around.”
As a child Karla was a good girl. Wanting to be loved she didn’t dare think of doing things wrong. Karla was a perfectionist, hated getting into trouble and did everything she could to please people and have them think well of her. Living in the here and now, Karla didn’t think of her future instead adapting a “Survival” mode. As a teenager this nasty concoction of emotions and unhealthy habits thrust her into making many poor choices.
After falling for the first guy who winked at her Karla fell pregnant in high school. Karla was given the choice to abort her baby and continue at school or keep her baby and leave home. When her classmates were preparing to graduate, Karla was preparing to give birth.
Unfortunately it was an abusive relationship, both physically and emotionally. Karla’s self-confidence took yet another beating and shortly after giving birth she found herself alone. With the future looking bleak, her heart was shattered and Karla felt overwhelmed with her new responsibilities of raising a child on her own at 17.
At 22 Karla married her best friend from high school, Damien. He was the only one who was really there for her throughout the whole ordeal. They both became Christians, giving their lives to God and welcoming His plan for their broken, messed up lives.
“For the first time in my life I remember having hope. I realized that God of the universe was real and He loved me. ME! A little abandoned baby rejected and unwanted. “
Karla and her husband Damien have been working with the kids the world treats like trash and consider it a great privilege.
“Knowing firsthand what it feels like to be a young girl full of rejection and feelings of no self-worth, it was only natural for me to gravitate toward others in the same situation. The girls we work with are no different to me all those years ago. Abandoned and rejected by their families but very, very loved by God. What God did in my life is what He wants to do in theirs. Seeing their little hearts begin to heal and their eyes light up with hope is all the reward I need.”
Karla’s story is one of rescue and redemption. She has a heart for thrown away children. The ones no one else wants, the ones treated like trash.
Karla and Damien are currently full-time volunteer staff with Destiny Rescue. www.destinyrescue.org/aus/