Nine years ago, Jeremy Camp stepped into the contemporary Christian music scene, proving himself as a gifted singer/songwriter, garnering critical acclaim and multiple awards. Beyond the music, however, audiences were inspired by the moving story of losing his first wife, Melissa, to cancer three months after they were married. Camp has penned this story along with co-writer Phil Newman, I Still Believe: Discovering Hope and Healing in the Midst of Life’s Deepest Valleys. The book is personal reflection on his story of Melissa, his ministry, and how an unexpected friendship let to marriage with Adrienne [Adie ]. Now he is not only a husband, but also the father of daughters Bella (6 ½ years old) and Arie (5 years old) and son Egan, who was born August 17, 2011.
Paula K. Parker had an opportunity to talk with Camp about being a husband and dad and the process and purpose of writing I Still Believe.
Paula K. Parker: Congratulations on your new son.
Jeremy Camp: Thank you.
PKP: With Egan being just 3 weeks old, you’re probably in what my husband Mike and I call the Zombie mode.
Camp: Oh yeah. I just got back from being on the road last night and I thought, “I just need to rest.” [laughs] Nope! That didn’t happen!
PKP: I really like I Still Believe. It’s very straightforward and honest. It sounds like you sat down and talked to me.
Camp: That is exactly what I wanted. There is no use in trying to overdo it or trying to draw out things that aren’t there. I just wanted to share what God has done, in a very simple way.
PKP: Writing in the first person is hard; you and Phil Newman did a great job.
Camp: When I say we worked hand-in-hand, it was hand-in-hand. It took six months just editing the manuscript, because I literally, almost with every phrase, said, “Well, we need to twist this around.” The people who know me really well, when they read the book, said, “Wow, that was definitely you, wasn’t it?” But Phil did a great job.
PKP: Are you going to try and write a book by yourself?
Camp: I am actually. I felt like this was a good start, to get me accustomed to writing and what all the details are. Of course, I would work with an editor, but now I feel more confident about writing more things that God lays on my heart.
PKP: I laughed over the way you brought up the topic of marriage to Adie; you were going to break up with her and a proposal popped out instead.
Camp: [laughs] People always bring that up, because it was just so crazy. I had just gone through a tragedy and I wasn’t looking for anybody, but we had became good friends on tour. Pretty soon I had feelings for her and I was concerned; it was too fast. So I took her out one night, I was going to break it off. I was looking at her – I was going to tell her I was going to break it off – and instead I said, “Do you think you could marry me?” She said, “Yes.” I said, “Okay, great.”
PKP: In the back of your mind, were you thinking, “What did I just say?”
Camp: Kind of that but – it’s hard to explain – it was so natural and it must have been the Lord that I thought, Well, that was a little crazy, but I don’t feel super weird about that. I knew that she felt it was from the Lord, because we both knew that we were not playing any games. That was the thing; I’d been through life and I wasn’t going to play any games. If you [talking to Adie] don’t feel you can marry me, then we don’t need to be attempting this.
PKP: Did you go back and do the romantic, down-on-your-knee proposal?
Camp: I did, later. We were at a restaurant and I had the waiter bring out the ring in a to-go box. I had a CD player hidden behind the table. When he brought the box, I reached back and fumbled around to push the Play button. Adie said, “What are you doing?” When the song started playing, she looked at me and I said, “Here you go,” and gave her the box. She opened it and said, “Oh my goodness!” I got down on one knee and asked, “Will you marry me?” Everyone in the restaurant clapped and said, “Yeah!”
PKP: I have trouble remembering details from last month; you shared details from ten years ago. Was it a challenge to remember so many details from your life?
Camp: There are things that happen when you grieve; you either block it all out or you remember all the details. For me, I remember a lot of things, but some of the major things, like Melissa’s very last moments – the fine details – I had to ask my mom and dad, who were there with me. They told me exactly what happened. But I do remember a lot; I can even remember the smell of the room.
PKP: Reading through the book, it seems that you have another purpose for writing this book beyond just telling your story. Am I correct or am I off the mark?
Camp: No, you’re one hundred percent correct in that. I think the reason it took me ten years to write the book was that God had to do so much in my heart. He still is, but there was so much more He had to teach me and I had to learn. [In the book] I wanted to share more of what the Lord has done and what He has taken me through since Melissa’s death. [I wanted to share] my heart for this generation and my heart encouraging people through different areas of their life. That was the purpose; to say, “This is my story, but let me share my heart. From someone who has been through a tragedy, how God has used that.”
There are still things in my life, things that need to be torn out. It’s amazing to look back and say, “Okay, Lord; I see Your hand of faithfulness. You’ve been good. You’ve done a lot in my heart, even since I started playing music and this whole industry thing.” Now since writing the book and having children, I’m continuing to grow. That’s why I think I’ll continue to write; I have a lot on my heart. God is still doing so much and I have a lot I want to share.
PKP: I was so sorry to learn you and Adie had lost a baby.
Camp: That was hard, because I thought, “Really, Lord? You would do this again? I don’t want to go through any more loss.” He said, “Son, no. It’s not like I did this; it’s a part of life. Sin entered the world and that’s part of what happened. But I’m here and I love you and there’s a purpose behind it, like there was a purpose behind Melissa.
PKP: Is there anything else you want to say?
Camp: I think one big thing about life – and where we’re at and what we go through – there is a scripture in John that I love, because it just sums it up. Jesus says to His disciples, “I say these things to you so that you will have peace. In this world you will face trials of many kinds, but take heart, for I have overcome the world.”
We’re going to face trials; we don’t get a get-out-of-trials-free card when you accept Christ. But, it’s not that we are depressed; but we listen to the One that we are serving and the One that we living for. He has overcome the world. We can run to Him; He is the author and finisher of our faith, our refuge, our strong tower, our everything. That’s what we have to understand.