Contemporary Christian singer/songwriter Jeremy Camp knows that the best songs come from personal experience — and his music certainly comes from a very personal place. His unique style is born out of a heart thatÕs been broken and a faith thatÕs been tested. His many fans are touched by his heart-wrenching testimony of loss and restoration after the death of his young bride, Melissa, who succumbed to ovarian cancer just months after their wedding in 2001.
CampÕs road to restoration was paved with heartache, but he found GodÕs faithfulness and rich blessings along the way. In sharing MelissaÕs story with audiences around the country, he found healing. Today, the 27-year-old Camp is married to Adrienne, and they have a baby daughter, Isabella Rose. At the 36th annual Dove Awards in April, Camp won, for the second year in a row, the Male Vocalist of the Year Award and was awarded twice as performer and songwriter for his hit ÒStay.Ó He recently shared his testimony with Assistant Editor Ashli OÕConnell.
PE: You were already in the music ministry when your wife died. How did you find the strength to go on, not just as a Christian, but also in ministry?
CAMP: It was a battle. I was angry and upset. But God would always give me the strength to get through one day at a time. To be honest with you, I had to force myself sometimes to read just one verse in the Bible. And for a little while I simply couldnÕt pray. Really, it was just one day at a time. God slowly healed my heart. He was very faithful to give me the love that I needed.
ItÕs kind of funny, but when I would go out and share the story with my audiences, that helped in the healing process. I didnÕt feel like saying, ÒGod is good. God is faithful. ThereÕs hope in your trials.Ó I didnÕt feel like saying that — but when I got on stage, that was the message that just poured out of my mouth and I would see people touched by it. Doing that in the midst of my own pain was healing for me.
PE: Is it still difficult to share that story?
CAMP: There are times. God has been very faithful and HeÕs blessed me immensely with a family now. I have a new daughter and amazing things are going on in my ministry. But certain things will come up that trigger that pain, and remembering is still the most difficult part.
PE: What do you want the world to know about Melissa?
CAMP: She said something extraordinary to me after she was diagnosed with cancer but before we knew it was terminal. She said, ÒIf I were to die from this cancer but one person accepted Jesus because of my death, it would all be worth it. If He could use me in that way, then praise God.Ó That was her attitude. It was her whole life. She knew why she was here, and she just wanted to touch peopleÕs lives.
Her faith in Jesus never wavered. She continued to pray for healing even when the pain was hard on her. ThatÕs what was amazing to me and thatÕs what I want people to know. In the midst of that time she had an eternal perspective and she would still worship God through the pain.
PE: Tell me about the new beginning God has given you.
CAMP: God has shown His faithfulness to me in beautiful ways. I have a wife who is so supportive and understanding. She loves Jesus so much. It blows me away that I could love like this again. And having a baby now just adds to that love and understanding — I mean I love my daughter so much, and GodÕs love for me is even greater than that. ItÕs amazing to know that. It makes me desire to love Him so much more.
Having a baby has changed my perspective a lot. IÕm slowing down next year. IÕm still going to do tours and go out and minister, but my priorities are God, family and then ministry.
PE: YouÕve accomplished a lot in your career in a very short time. What are the highlights?
CAMP: When I get to see peopleÕs lives touched every night. I know it is God doing it; but that He uses me in some way to bless people just blows me away. Even with my faults, He allows me to minister. ItÕs very humbling.
PE: Is there a difficult side to your success?
CAMP: Seeing the superficial side of the music industry can be difficult. There are people who will snub you in the beginning and then when you start doing well they want to be your best friend. WeÕre all human and we all have our times when we act like that. But James 2:3 comes to my mind, which basically says, ÒDonÕt say to the poor man, come sit at my feet, and to the rich man, come sit at the best seat in the house.Ó DonÕt show favoritism. WeÕre called as believers to encourage all people.
PE: What if your career ended today?
CAMP: I would probably go help my dadÕs church, do worship, be a youth pastor. Just take care of my family. It wouldnÕt devastate me. I love what IÕm doing and I pray God has me doing it for a while, but itÕs not my life.
PE: Tell me about your latest project, Restored.
CAMP: ItÕs the next chapter of my life. I feel that IÕve grown spiritually and musically and vocally in the past couple of years. With everything IÕve gone through, when I write songs I just canÕt wait to share what God is teaching me. I put a lot of prayer into this album. My prayer is that God will use it.
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