She is devout, good looking and unlucky to speak to the camera as much as she believes. Her videos have been clicked thousands of times, and even major news outlets have already become aware of it. Li Marie travels for God on social media.
Lisa is like that pretty girl you get along with right away: uncomplicated, happy, cordial. And somehow a bit unremarkable. At least unnoticed, than in her YouTube videos, where she tells Li Marie about her faith and her life, and where more than 11,000 people follow her. As she comes over the extrovert. She does not want to release her last name publicly to protect her privacy. The 24-year-old wore a plain white T-shirt, light blue skinny jeans, barely make up, and long blonde hair tied to a loose braid at our meeting. The only thing that makes a restrained girl noticeable is her size. Overhangs for others along the main length.
We are located in the cold cellar of the youth of their parish in Frankfurt, the Free Christian Community, which belongs to the Association of Free Church Pentecostal Churches (BFP). The atmosphere of trust is quickly emerging. It is also a matter of dispute. Because Lisa presents as Li Marie on YouTube rather conservative and controversial opinions, such as "sex before marriage", the role of the woman and the relationship as a whole. In the social media influencer business, this is an exception. Her video "No Sex Before Marriage 1" was viewed by over 300,000 people. In the other three episodes, he talks with his current husband, Lukas, and then his fiancé about how the couple has managed to wait for sex, how much they think they can go through in a prejudiced love affair, or what to do if it happens despite contrary planning.
For someone who has little to do with religion, or at least does not share conservative views of the couple, it takes a lot of getting used to. The Christian way of life as a mess of forbidden signs? And: must there be a public display of an intimate life? Focus Online, Bavarian Radio's young people's radio pulse and Vice's online magazine were even worthy of reports in which YouTube creators like Li Marie printed the "Christfluencer" stamp, which did not mean positive. Focus Online attracted a "sect researcher" who warned of such occurrences on YouTube. In the comments below the Li Marie video, the topic of sex is big. Many users responded with a misunderstanding of how to "do something like that."
"I need the freedom of Jesus."
Lisa meets the critic with a smile. Alleged sect researchers, accustomed to being real and not very serious, explain their opinions. And even if: she doesn't mind. "I think if you don't stay in the famous network, sit in a Catholic church and pray, then you're kind of funny to many," she says. God already says in the Bible that Christians are attacked for their beliefs and truths are distorted. "Obviously we're going to do it right. If only the world loved us, that would be weird," Lisa says.
That explains a lot with the Bible. In recent years, she has learned to love her again in a "severe life crisis". What exactly happened, he doesn't want to say. But the question, "how can such a thing be allowed by God has gotten me out of my Christian bubble." Then she looked at the whole picture of Christ from the outside and thought, "It can't be that Christians do everything beautifully as they see fit." Growing up as a Christian, she never thought of expressions like "Jesus loves you" and "Jesus died for you." She realized, "I feel better with God than without Him." She felt without faith a "terrible void" in herself. "I realized that I needed the freedom of Jesus. That's when the gospel really first entered my life. "
Lisa has just graduated in Theology from THS Academy, a non-denominational evangelical school that collaborates with Free Pentecostal Churches (BFP), among others. The study is twofold, she explains. Classes are held three days a week
Theological Seminary in Bingen, followed by a three-day practical training that can be completed in special projects or educational communities. Lisa decided to start a church planting project and got in touch with YouTube. The project resulted in Givic, the "Global Video Church." It is a type of online church, joined by local house churches. They act like house groups, says Lisa. The difference is that the new community is no longer visited or shared.
Givici, with his home churches, sees himself as an independent community movement. The givici portal contains video presenters on topics such as relationships, forgiveness, sins, or sermons on specific Bible texts. These topics can be discussed in home churches. Anyone can become the founder of new givia-affiliated houses. Lisa started out as one of the video presenters. Now she is in charge of the video department and has multiple speakers, so she no longer has to play so much alone. "But I have so many entries in my head that I want to get rid of it," he says. So her own YouTube channel grew more and more. Video recording and editing has always been her hobby.
It was not always natural for a native Allgäu woman to stand in front of the camera as a woman. In her hometown, she learned that "a woman can serve God more in the kitchen and education of children." But even then, she wondered why "there are still so many women who change a lot." A few years ago, Lisa became very ill. Diagnosis: chronic fatigue syndrome, short CFS – an incurable immune disease that leads to chronic, crippled fatigue. For many sufferers, even the smallest efforts, such as climbing stairs, are enough to be completely finished.
At the time Lisa was lying in bed a lot and had to cancel her education as an occupational therapist, which she did at the time in Munich. During this time she prayed a lot and asked God what she should do with her life. "But all the time he was just asking, What do you want to do? She didn't like this question," because I wanted to do what God wanted. "But the more she thought about it, she came up with the idea of studying theology. That's what Lisa took as an answer from God." Just because you're a woman, I want you, "God told her. Lisa interprets that as answers from God when she doesn't then she made a "contract" with God: "When I study at THS, it should make me healthy." That sounds weird and weird to one or the other. .
YouTube as an opportunity for Christians
He cannot imagine preaching on Sundays or regularly leading a church. "There is no great desire for me as a woman to be the center of attention," he says. Lisa wants to inspire other people to seek God in their lives, which is why she runs her YouTube channel. It doesn't matter that her position on the role of woman is polarizing and is likely to upset many Christians who are more feminist than herself.
The 20-year-old, working in youth in his community, sees young people often determine themselves on YouTube stars. That's scary. "But for Christians, this is a good chance." In many emails you have written to young viewers, her husband Lukas – incidentally, the youth leaders in their community – and they are, for example, on the topic of relationships. Li Marie is also followed by many users who have little to do with the Christian faith. "I'm often surprised," he says. They would often ask questions, and they would also represent the opposite. She thinks that's okay. Only "really angry comments" delete them.
She had to get used to negative and personally offensive comments. Sometimes it was "really violent." At first, she too doubted herself. But she learned it. Lisa explains it completely. He seems to meet his "haters" with a deep, inner calm. Her videos are different now than they were two years ago. "I repeat things when recording, when I realize that I have said something that could be misinterpreted." But you can't please everyone. Even if viewers initially find things "stupid," she thinks it's important that opponents have heard, "There are people who have sex waiting for marriage. And there are people who read the Bible every day and find it exciting." Lisa receives positive letters via email. Since the arrival of "almost 100 percent" only encouraging. And sometimes someone tells you that through their videos, he has returned to faith. "It's Oberhammer and I see: It's worth continuing."
This article first appeared in issue 4/2019 of Christian Media Magazine pro. Order pro here for free.