What can save a life? I’m blogging today from a session of Bigstuf Camp in Daytona Beach, Florida. Three thousand students hearing the story behind “To Write Love on Her Arms”.
If you’ve not heard about this… Where have you been? Let me catch you up.
The founder, a young man named Jamie Tworkowski, shared with the students about his friend, Renee. It was for this friend that the movement got started six years ago. Renee, even then a follower of Christ, was struggling with depression and self doubt. He saw carved into her arm a word evidence of her struggles. He wanted to instead, write love on her arm…
Friends, this is an example of the church being the church. This guy and his friends did more for this troubled girl than offer shallow platitudes and judgmental stares.
Because Renee had a fresh wound on her arm, she was denied admittance into a drug treatment facility. To be admitted, Renee had to stay clean from drugs and self injury for five days. So Jamie and his friends stayed with Renee twenty-four hours a day for those five days so she could begin to get the help she needed. In those five days they were the hands and feet of Jesus to Renee.
Today Renee is no longer in treatment. Today, Renee has the added pressure of being the poster child for this movement. As an unexpected surprise, our host, Lanny Donoho, welcomed Renee to the Bigstuf stage.
Today, Renee is not what you might expect. She has bright red hair, one side shaved close. Both arms are heavily tattooed. Her makeup a bit on the heavy side. As she came out on stage, I could tell the students were a bit taken aback. Sometimes its hard to look beyond adornments and see the person. Most of these kids are on the clean cut side of couture, and likely expected her to be more visually like them.
But then she spoke.
Her words went straight to the hearts of those students. She spoke of acceptance and real love. She spoke of her struggles and the amazing love shown to her in her darkest days…Even when she didn’t want it. And she spoke of hope being found not in your circumstances, but in the process of growth and change.
And then Renee Yohe sang
And she had us all. Because wrapped up in her song (called Crazy Fishes) we forgot her outward appearance and saw the person. We saw her as God sees her. And she is beautiful.