BY LANCE LIJEWSKI, WSU Student and Story Team Leader

Twelve months ago, about a week before Christmas, Damian Clark and I sat in a tattoo parlor on the outskirts of Tri-Cities, Washington.

A wind chill began to frost the windows of the parlor as I relaxed by a heater, waiting for my session. An electric ink pen injected the outline of a demon on Damian’s back as he shared the gospel with his artist for three hours.

Wincing in physical pain but beaming with supernatural joy, Damian courageously shared his story of transformation through Jesus Christ with a man who in any other situation may not have cared to listen.

This isn’t an uncommon thing to witness when you’re with Damian. This wasn’t uncommon then and it isn’t uncommon now.

Damian’s story didn’t end when he abandoned his old self and found a new identity in Christ. It began instead.

Several months after his time overseas, Damian saddled up to serve Bhutanese refugees in Beaverton, Oregon. Shortly after that, he signed up for Resonate’s Elevate program.

Elevate took place during the summer and utilized the city of La Jolla, California to train 58 students in how to live intentionally in an urban environment. For 10 weeks these students worked regular jobs, built positive community, and actively pursued Christ.

Damian left for Elevate unsure he could learn how to be any more intentional than he already was, learn how function in an urban environment any more than he already could, and handle the kind of restrictions his community would hold him to.

But he knew he would grow more intimate with Christ and embraced Elevate for all that it is worth.

I met with Damian after his time spent in California and was immediately blown away. I didn’t think it was possible for him to transform any more than he already had, but he did.

Damian was gentler with his words. His spirit was more teachable. He spoke with a childlike wonder marred by a weathered maturity and humbly acknowledged he knows little but experiences much.

He witnessed a city radically impacted, young adults changed by the gospel, and his teenage sister declare Jesus Christ her Savior.

Today, Damian is a full time student co-leading a Resonate Freshman Village. He works part time as a restaurant server and lives off-campus with five other guys.

It exhausts him, but it excites as well. It challenges him, but it rewards too.

A couple of hours after Damian and I left the tattoo parlor in Tri-Cities, he became emotional and disappointed in all of the dark tattoos on his back. He began second guessing the outline that had just become a permanent part of his body.

I was quiet for a minute before I knew how I wanted to respond. He waited, growing more frustrated as the silence dragged on. Finally, I told him that I appreciate them. I told him that, in a weird way, the placement of every tattoo on his body was symbolic.

Damian has a mutilated female zombie, a scar he acquired years ago, and now a demon, among others, on his back. He also has a full sleeve consisting of a lion, a lamb, a dove, and the blind man spoken about in John.

His body is a visual testimony of who he was before and who he is today.

The dark scars of his past are behind him, and the fresh wounds of growth are in front of him. It’s hard to get a clear glimpse of what’s behind, but it’s easy to see what’s ahead.

Every time Damian sees himself in the mirror, his sleeve reminds him of what his life is like having an intimate relationship with Jesus Christ. When someone else sees it, he’s given an invitation to share the gospel.

Damian is a unique human being who has realized he needs a Savior and won’t go a day without reminding others of the same truth. His story continues to become better, become more intense, and become more impactful as he draws closer to God.

In two weeks, Damian will be leading a trip overseas. I’ll be there with him, but in a different way. Last time, we were partners being led. This time, he’s leading me. In a subtle way, he always has. Christ has impacted me by impacting Damian.

Damian’s story isn’t special because it’s just begun. Damian’s story is special because he has a heart for the Lord, and a heart for His people. He’s special because he’s been made new.