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2008 Conversations

2007 Conversations

2006 Conversations

Conversation: Jeremy Camp

Fatherly faith fosters maturity

On a Sunday night in January 1977, a drunken drug dealer named Tom Camp stumbled into First Assembly of God in Lafayette, Ind., in an effort to locate his live-in girlfriend, Terri. As the song service started, Camp spotted Terri — who was upset by Tom’s inebriated state because he had promised to attend church — and walked across the top of chairs to reach her. During the service, the 22-year-old Camp started clapping so loudly that Pastor Charles Hackett dispatched his youth pastor to ask the guest to settle down.

Hackett preached that night about deliverance from drugs and alcohol. Camp wept through the whole message. At the end of service, Camp responded to the altar call, surrendered his life to Christ, and says he was instantly and supernaturally delivered from craving drugs and alcohol. Terri made Jesus her Savior two weeks later.

Members of the church immediately began an extensive discipleship process for the couple, who stopped cohabiting and soon wed. That act of acceptance and compassion sparked a five-year revival at First AG that resulted in church attendance growing by 900.

Camp went on to attend Central Bible College and for the past 16 years has been pastor of Harvest Chapel in downtown Lafayette, ministering to people who were much like he was 32 years ago. One year after the Camps began their spiritual journey at First AG, Terri gave birth to a son, Jeremy.

Jeremy Camp, after leading worship at Harvest Chapel, blossomed in 2002 as a leading singer/songwriter in contemporary Christian music. He has won five Dove Awards (including two male vocalist of the year honors) and earned three American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers Christian songwriter of the year awards. He has had 16 No. 1 radio hits and more than 3.5 million total album sales.

Jeremy’s first wife, Melissa, died at age 21 of ovarian cancer, barely four months after their wedding. In 2003, he married songwriter Adrienne Liesching, formerly lead singer of the group The Benjamin Gate. They have two daughters, Isabella, 4, and Arianne, 3.

Jeremy Camp, who now lives in Nashville, Tenn., recently connected with TPE News Editor John W. Kennedy.

tpe: Tell me about the faith heritage you had growing up, particularly your father’s influence.

CAMP: Much of my foundation in faith in Christ has come from my parents, but particularly my dad’s influence and love for me growing up. Seeing my dad’s faithfulness and care for our family shaped who I want to be as a man of God. Because my dad is also a pastor, I feel that pastor’s heart within me.

tpe: How did your father shape your ministry today?

CAMP: My dad did teach me to play guitar, but beyond that he fortified in me a confidence in the Lord. Through my dad’s love and patience, I learned that real, yet simple “trust and obey” kind of faith could give me an anchor in hard times.

tpe: If the church had turned your father away that night in 1977, how would that have changed your destiny?

CAMP: I couldn’t even speculate what God’s plans would’ve been. I know God is faithful through whatever circumstances; the Bible tells countless stories of this principle. And quite often He uses what is meant for evil or bad to fulfill His perfect will.

tpe: How did being a youth leader and leading worship at Harvest Chapel shape you?

CAMP: This wonderful experience taught me to serve. That was huge. It taught me to empty myself for the body of Christ. I still feel like I don’t have it all together, but I look back on that time with such joy, knowing that I did serve the best I could. It also taught me to be teachable, and I learned that humility always wins the day. I’m still learning that one.

tpe: How has faith carried you through tragedy?

CAMP: Faith is only as good as what you put your faith in. My solid rock faith is not in me, or anyone else, but in the Living Holy God, who created everything. Jesus carried me through all of it. When I wanted to throw the towel in and live in anger, Jesus was there to heal me. When I wanted to sink in apathy, my Father was there to remind me I was still very valuable to Him.

tpe: How do life’s disappointments frequently become a topic of your songs?

CAMP: Life can be disappointing, but let me make a distinction: God is not disappointing. Disappointment is what all of us face. That doesn’t mean that there is not happiness, too. Most of my life is like a boxing match between bliss and stress.

tpe:  Is your wife still singing and touring?

CAMP: She’s awesome, the best mom and wife! She is working on some songs, and we will hopefully be getting close to recording them this year. But she spends her days bringing up our two beautiful little girls.

tpe: What challenges do you face as a father?

CAMP: Time, time, time. Because of what I do, I wish I had more time with my girls. And we’ve made changes in the last several years with that in mind. But still, there are never enough hours in the day. I love my girls so much. Another challenge will be learning how to communicate to them — in a world full of lies about women — that they are valuable and beautiful. Our culture bombards women with lies about true beauty, and they often feel like a commodity growing up. I hate that and want to communicate to my girls what it means to be beautiful in the Lord’s eyes.

tpe: Do you always try to base your songs in Scripture?

CAMP: Yes, but I feel that it’s important for people to also connect with the heart, too. What I mean is that I want to infuse the absolute truth of God’s Word in my records, but I feel it’s important to communicate my humanity, my story, as well.

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