Young Life Lite

Fighting Words

This past summer, when Annie Lawrence took the stage in the club room at Frontier Ranch she was living the dream seeded in her heart in June 2008. Then, as a newly minted high school graduate, Lawrence sat in a crowded club room, night after night, watching and listening to husband and wife singer-songwriters Drew and Ellie Holcomb. The Holcombs were serving as camp musicians, their second summer playing music at a Young Life camp. During that week, Ellie participated in “Real Life,” a time when a few of the assigned team members share more of their story, providing the “who and the why” behind their roles at camp.

After hearing Holcomb’s story, Lawrence determined “she wanted to do the same thing one day,” and she asked Holcomb if they could get together and talk. Holcomb agreed. More than that, she spent free time with Lawrence throughout the week, loving her, as Lawrence says, “in a Jesus way.” Before the week ended, Holcomb gave Lawrence a journal inscribed with some of her favorite Bible verses.

The next summer, Lawrence served at Windy Gap as a lifeguard and the Holcombs were also there. It was during this time that Lawrence showed Holcomb the notebook she’d received the year before. Added to the verses Holcomb had inscribed were pages and pages of Scripture in Lawrence’s handwriting. That month, the two sat down and made a list of Scripture references. Holcomb encouraged the in-working of Scripture to defeat internalized lies with the truth of God. These truths were the singers’ “fighting words,” which they put at the top of the page. As their friendship deepened over the next decade, they memorized dozens of Bible passages, some taking weeks to master. Others taking months.

Turns out, Lawrence would need those fighting words more than ever just a few years later when she was diagnosed with cancer. Unbeknownst to her, and highly unusual for a woman in her 20s, Lawrence had an ovarian tumor that had grown to the size of a 32-week fetus. The surgeon had believed the tumor would be benign (with less than a one percent chance of being malignant), but surgery revealed otherwise. Once excised, the surgeon took 19 biopsies of Lawrence’s abdominal region to determine if the cancer had spread. One week later, they knew it had not. Lawrence was cancer-free.

Lawrence likens her experience to our sin condition. She says she had “symptoms of an illness, but no idea I had something growing inside that was killing me. Something I had no power on my own to cure. The doctor did something in my life that I couldn’t do for myself.” 
When Lawrence shares this story of her healing and the healing power of Jesus over sin, it’s often from a stage at a Young Life camp. This summer she served at Frontier Ranch, exactly 10 years after meeting Holcomb, who’s now both a mentor and dear friend. Holcomb has said of their friendship, “It’s such a joy to see God grow up good things in the life of a younger person you love. It goes a step further when you get to see the person you've been walking with begin to tell her own stories of God's faithfulness and step into the role she once saw you in, to share the good news of who Jesus has been for her personally.”

This camp assignment was particularly sweet for Lawrence because she was up front singing for the girls from Nashville whom she’d walked alongside for two years. And sweeter still, when her month-long session was up, she handed the mic to her friend and inspiration, Holcomb, who would be the camp musician for the next month! A full circle moment with the one who gave her the fighting words leading Lawrence to her dream — and onto the stage at Frontier Ranch.