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The Value of a Strong Family

with Jeremy Camp | June 3, 2015

Christian recording artist Jeremy Camp talks about his early years in the Camp household and his parents' radical conversion to Christianity. Jeremy remembers his own faith journey and the changes he made in his life in order to walk more closely with Christ.

Christian recording artist Jeremy Camp talks about his early years in the Camp household and his parents' radical conversion to Christianity. Jeremy remembers his own faith journey and the changes he made in his life in order to walk more closely with Christ.

The Value of a Strong Family

With Jeremy Camp
June 03, 2015
| Download Transcript PDF

Bob: When singer/songwriter, Jeremy Camp, was a young adult, his mom and dad started to see God’s blessing on his musical giftedness. They decided to invest.

Jeremy: Every time I’d lead worship, I’d ask my friends if I could borrow a guitar: “Hey, can I borrow your guitar?”  So, one Christmas, I went home. I woke up in the morning—and I wasn’t even thinking about this at all—and I saw this massive box—“Merry Christmas!”  “Okay.” I start opening it up, and it was a Taylor Guitar. Now, you have to understand—this is my dream guitar—and there is no way my parents can get me this guitar. It didn’t even make sense to me. I was—I asked them, “How did you do this?”  “We took out a loan in order for you to get this guitar.”

Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Wednesday, June 3rd. Our host is the President of FamilyLife®, Dennis Rainey, and I’m Bob Lepine. Jeremy Camp joins us today. We’ll hear about the significant role his mom and dad played in his life.



Stay tuned.

And welcome to FamilyLife Today. Thanks for joining us on the Wednesday edition.

Dennis: Bob, you are the music man—let’s just cut to the chase. Introduce our guest that we’ve got here on the broadcast because this is a great interview.

Bob: Well, actually, I got the chance to introduce him to our staff recently because, when Jeremy Camp came, he spent about an hour with our team. We got a chance to have him share his story—

Dennis: They loved it.

Bob: —and hear him play a few songs as well. So, we’ll get right to it. Here’s how I introduced Jeremy Camp when he came and spoke to our staff not long ago.

[Previously Recorded Interview]

Bob: Well, I don’t know how many of you guys realize kind of the last 13 years in Jeremy’s Camp life, but let me just track some of the stuff that’s happened: Thirty-six number-one songs over the last 13 years—[Applause]

Jeremy: It’s crazy.

Bob: —175 weeks—



—he’s had a song at number one. So—

Jeremy: I did not know that. [Laughter]

Bob: He’s got four gold albums. He’s been nominated for Grammy Awards / won Dove Awards. And if you’ve turned on Christian radio anytime in the last 13 years, and listened for 15 minutes, Jeremy Camp has come on at some point. This all goes back to kind of a crossroads in your life as to whether it was going to be football or whether you were going to play music—right?—

Jeremy: Right, yes.

Bob: —because you wanted to be in the NFL?

Jeremy: Oh, yes, that was my goal. I remember—when I was 16 years old, I was at a youth camp. Literally, my life was changed. I remember the pastor was talking about Revelation, and it scared me to death. I remember just going, “Alright, Lord, whatever You want”; but I remember getting to a point where God really spoke to my heart and said: “You’re walking on the edge of a cliff. You’re about ready to fall off, and you need to run as far away as possible. I want to use you, but get away from that edge that you’re walking on.”

So, I remember—at that point on, I said, “God, I submit my heart to You.”



I mean, because it is one thing to say, “I believe in God;” / another thing to say, “I make you Lord of my life,”—you know?—it’s two different things. So, I made Him Lord of my life. At that point on—when I went back, God said, “Don’t go to the school that you went to, and just get away from the environment for a while.” From that point on, God definitely started directing me toward music—I started writing songs—and literally, eventually, just kind of shifted me away from that.

Bob: Were you like a lot of 16-year-olds, who you loved Jesus, but you loved Friday night too?

Jeremy: Yes, absolutely—yes, and that’s what it was. It wasn’t really the Lord-of-my-life thing until later. I’m so thankful because I don’t know where I would have been—God saved my life. That’s why, literally, when I sing songs like Jesus Saves, I’m like: “Yes! God, I want to tell the world about what You have done in my life.”

Dennis: You’ve written a book called I Still Believe.

Jeremy: Right.

Dennis: Your life is really one story after another that demonstrates Romans 8:28: “All things work together—

Jeremy: Yes.

Dennis: —“for good to those who love God to those who are called according to His purposes.”  You’ve had a number of—just a number of dramas in your life, going all the way back to how you grew up.



Jeremy: Right.

Dennis: Take us back to your home. You said your family was not just poor—

Jeremy: Right.

Dennis: —what was the phrase you used?  I wrote it down here: “You were super poor.”  [Laughter]

Jeremy: That’s totally something I said—I wrote that in there. I wanted to sound exactly like me. Yes, we—you know, it’s funny saying that now because we’ve been to countries where poverty is—I mean, Honduras/South Africa—I mean, there is poverty too. But in light of what our society was, we were considered below the poverty line in America.

So, I remember growing up—and there would be times when we literally would not have groceries. I remember the story because my mom was an amazing woman of faith—so was my dad. She would always—even when our engine wasn’t working in the car—she’d say, “Let’s lay our hands on the engine, and pray that it will start.”  And I’m going, “Mom, you’re crazy.”  All of a sudden, she would lay her hands on the engine, and the car would start. So, I didn’t mess with my mom at all [Laughter] because she had a direct path to the Lord.



I remember—but just praying for my dad, who wouldn’t get paid for probably three more days, and the cupboards would be empty. This was like real stuff that I watched, growing up; but I never felt like we weren’t taken care of.

Bob: Right.

Jeremy: Does that make sense?

Dennis: Right.

Bob: Yes.

Jeremy: Because every time, God provided. So, we would pray. One time, in particular—I remember the next day / the next morning, there was a bag of groceries on our front porch. We hadn’t told anybody—we just said: “God, You provide. We trust You.” We had story after story like that; and I’m so thankful for that. We had just the things that God provided. I didn’t always have what I wanted, but we had everything we needed constantly—constantly.

Dennis: Share about your dad’s conversion because he wasn’t always a man of faith.

Jeremy: Right. Yes, he grew up—he was—they used to call him, “Bear.”  He had really long hair and a huge beard. He was definitely a hippy. He was a drug dealer/alcoholic. On one night, literally, the Lord just got his heart—he went to church.



He had been drinking. In church that night, the pastor was talking about “If you want to be delivered from drugs and alcohol…” and started just sharing. He and his friend jumped over the pews to get to the front.

He said, “If you want to give your life to Christ / if you want to submit your heart”—they jumped over the pews, climbed over people, got to the front of the altar. Literally, he said that when he said the prayer and said, “God, come into my life and change me”—he said he sobered up instantly—like sobered up, where he had not been drunk anymore. So, it’s that power of God in his life saying, “God, deliver me from this”; and He did, instantaneously.

Bob: And the preacher told him: “If you really want to experience God, you’ve got to start living right. That means get married,”—right?

Jeremy: Yes; exactly. Then, he said, “You have to get married.”  So, they immediately ended up getting married.

Bob: He and your mom had been living together—had—your sister was already in the family.

Jeremy: Absolutely.

Bob: You hadn’t been born yet.

Jeremy: Right.

Bob: But that was a turning point in your dad’s life / in your mom’s life—in your whole family’s trajectory.

Jeremy: Absolutely.



At first, my mom was like, “Oh, I’m glad Tom changed his life.” It took her a little bit to realize: “Oh, wait! I’m a sinner too. I need Jesus,”—but it was a funny kind of: “Oh, I’m glad my boyfriend is finally getting his life straight.”  Then, she realized she was a sinner—she needed Jesus. From that point on—just submitted their hearts to the Lord.

Dennis: So, you were born into a family that had been transformed—

Jeremy: Absolutely.

Dennis: —prior to your arrival.

Jeremy: Absolutely.

Dennis: They took you to church then?

Jeremy: Yes.

Dennis: And you became a follower of Christ when?

Jeremy: Honestly, I would say—like I said earlier—when I was 16, when I went to that youth camp, and God spoke to my heart. I believe that young—I grew up knowing the Lord, in a sense, but I don’t think I really had that moment where I surrendered my heart until I was 16.

But I do know that God—I watched God’s hand on my life throughout my life, going: “Man! He was directing every single step in my life,”—and even the aspect of faith and walking through faith, growing up, to get me to the point—



—where I went through some crazy things as well—when I was older and looking back, going: “God’s been faithful. I know He’ll be faithful now.”

Dennis: When you were a sophomore and you gave your life to Christ, you came to that point where you wanted to go to a Christian school.

Jeremy: Yes.

Dennis: Right?

Jeremy: Yes.

Dennis: But you couldn’t afford it—

Jeremy: Right.

Dennis: —because you were super poor.

Jeremy: Right. [Laughter]

Dennis: And so, you became very innovative.

Jeremy: Yes.

Dennis: You figured out a way to pay your tuition by being—wasn’t it a janitor?—right?

Jeremy: Yes. Yes. So, real quick story behind this is—and my parents actually said, “No,” at first because they said, “We can’t afford it, and we don’t have the money for the books.”  I remember I was sitting there, and the bus was coming to take me to high school. I told my parents: “I can’t go back to high school because I just feel like I’m still too weak. I need to grow.”

Bob: You were concerned you were going to get right back—

Jeremy: I was.

Bob: —to high school, right with the old crowd.

Jeremy: Yes, and that’s where I was like, “I don’t want to do that.”  I knew myself. You know, I knew I needed to grow and get a better foundation.



I said: “I’ll clean toilets. I’ll do whatever.”  And they said, “Okay.”  So, every day after school, I would clean toilets. I would clean—I would vacuum the whole school. I would clean up whatever they needed me to do. And I didn’t get to play football or any of that.

Dennis: Yes.

Jeremy: And that was a big deal.

Dennis: And again, we’ve got to put that in context.

Jeremy: Yes.

Dennis: You really had a dream.

Jeremy: Yes, I did.

Dennis: You wanted to play at—wasn’t it Purdue?

Jeremy: Yes.

Dennis: So, in the process of giving up your dream and in supporting your faith, someone asked you to lead worship or sing with a group at church?

Jeremy: Yes, so, we—I ended up going to a Bible college. I knew I wanted to study God’s Word. I think having that foundation in God’s Word—it’s so key—it is living and it’s active.

I was sitting there in the cafeteria. I was just kind of playing music real soft and quiet and singing songs. The worship leader came up to me—from the school—and said, “Can you lead one morning for our worship devotions?”



I was just terrified because it wasn’t really what—I loved music and I played kind of a little bit in a local band before I went—

Bob: Yes, we skipped over the whole Temple Rising phase.

Jeremy: Oh, man!

Bob: Yes. In fact, you have your guitar with you; don’t you?

Jeremy: I do actually.

Bob: Can we bring Jeremy’s guitar up here?  [Applause]

Jeremy: Temple Rising.

Bob: Yes!

Jeremy: I love how you brought that up.

Bob: I just want to see if you can still play any Temple Rising songs.

Dennis: Well, explain what Temple Rising was. [Laughter]

Jeremy: Yes. So, when I—I can’t believe you’re making me do this. This is so embarrassing. So, when I was probably—I was 16—me and my local friends, who also were serving the Lord, said: “Hey, let’s start a band—why not?”

I started playing when I was 14—it wasn’t the main thing because football was still my main thing—but I told my dad, “Teach me a few cords.”  So, he taught me a few cords. My first song I wrote with this band that we called Temple Rising—we had multiple names, by the way—that was just one of them. I can’t believe you brought that up. That’s hilarious that you remember that.



I wrote a song—see, now, I don’t know if you guys know. There’s an old band, and their name is Poison; okay?

Bob: Yes!

Jeremy: Okay. Okay.

Dennis: You can’t name one that Bob doesn’t know. [Laughter]

Jeremy: So, there is a song called Every Rose Has Its Thorn. Do you remember that?

Bob: Yes, sure.

Jeremy: So, I decided to write my first song—and didn’t realize until later that it pretty much had the same exact melody.

Bob: Just ripping them off completely.

Jeremy: Yes; exactly!  [Laughter]  Let’s see if I can remember this. Do you remember any of it?  I’ll sing a part of it.

Bob: Play it a little.

Jeremy: This is so embarrassing. If I can remember this—it’s been a while since I’ve played it. Okay; alright. [Laughter]  I’m sorry—all of this lull time.

I was looking in the mirror, and I saw a figure there whose life was all bent out of shape and in total despair.



I took my stepping ways from you. I really don’t know what to do. You’ve got to set me free. Lord, you’ve got to set me free.

Yes, there it is!

You’ve got to set me free. Lord, you’ve got to set me free—free from sin.

Bob: Yes!

Jeremy: You see what I’m saying?  How embarrassing. I just played for you the first song I ever wrote right there. That’s the first one I ever wrote—never done that before the way.

Dennis: Never?!

Jeremy: I did it one time in concert because somebody asked me, “What was the first song you ever wrote?”  I went, “Okay.”  [Laughter]  So, I busted it out. First time, on air, I’ve ever done that, by the way—so, thank you, Poison.

Dennis: Well, but you did go ahead and go on to sing in college then?

Jeremy: I did. I did.

Dennis: And your parents show up with a—frankly, I got a little emotional, reading this story—with a special gift for you, knowing how poor they were.

Jeremy: Every time I’d lead worship, I’d ask my friends if I could borrow a guitar:



“Hey, can I borrow your guitar?”  So, one Christmas, I went home. I woke up in the morning—and I wasn’t even thinking about this at all—and I saw this massive box—“Merry Christmas!”  “Okay.” I start opening it up, and it was a Taylor Guitar.

Bob: Yes.

Jeremy: Now, you have to understand— this is my dream guitar—and there is no way my parents can get me this guitar. It didn’t even make sense to me. I was blown away. And they just told me—they said: “We see what God is doing with you, and He’s using you in music. We want to be a part of that and support you.”  Well, I asked them how they—“How did you guys do this?”—[they] had to take out a loan in order for me to get this guitar. And I’ve paid them back, years later.

You know, one thing that I remember very, very clearly—and I do it with my children as well—is my mom and dad were always saying: “We’re proud of you,” and “We believe in what God is doing with you,” and “God has plans for you—special plans for you. Don’t sell yourself short. Continue to serve Him, and continue to give Him everything.”



It was that constant encouragement that God had greater things in store. It wasn’t one of those things where—you know, I think we have this mindset, sometimes, where in order to be used, it has to be this big, big platform. People ask me all the time: “Well, I want to be you. I want this big platform.”  And I always have to stop and say: “Just because you have a big platform doesn’t mean anything because, if you have been given the—

Dennis: Right.

Jeremy: —“measure of this much, and then only been faithful with 20 percent of that massive platform—a person that has been given that platform with their family, or platform with their church in their youth group of two people—and they are faithful with 100 percent of that—they’ve actually done greater, in the eyes of the Lord, of what God has given them than that person who has been given a lot greater.”

And so, my parents—they explained that as well: “We believe that God wants to use you,” but they always set it in the sense of that “You be faithful where He has you, and He’ll continue to take you to the next step.”  So, that’s huge.

Dennis: And what I want our listeners to hear is—it wasn’t the guitar they gave you—



—it was the belief—

Jeremy: Absolutely.

Dennis: —in you. I think sometimes, today, parents are thinking that the gifts that they lavish on their children—

Jeremy: Yes.

Dennis: —are going to get the job done.

Jeremy: No. I think you can’t say, “I’m going to give you the best,”—even with sports. A lot of people want their kids to play sports: “I’m going to give you the best of everything,” and just automatically you think that that’s going to take them to the next level or put them in the best classes. It has to be something where you encourage them, you believe in them, you pray for them, and you continue to guide them and show them that the only way you can do this is doing it as unto the Lord. My parents always said, “Do what you do as unto the Lord.”  And yes, you are right—it’s not just the gift / it’s the belief.

Dennis: And just one last comment on what your parents did. I look at them allowing you to clean toilets—

Jeremy: Yes.

Dennis: —instead of rescuing you—

Jeremy: Right.

Dennis: —from cleaning toilets.

Jeremy: Yes. I’m so thankful for that because I can’t even tell you what that did in my life and in my heart—it taught me servanthood. It taught me humility; and it taught me that, if the Lord wants you to be somewhere, you do whatever it takes to be there.



I mean—and nothing is too lowly—I mean, look at Christ. It says, “He humbled Himself, and He made Himself of no reputation and became obedient to the point of death.”  The least I can do is clean some toilets; you know what I mean?

Dennis: No doubt.

Bob: You were in a Bible college in Southern California—got involved with the Harvest Crusades—

Jeremy: Yes.

Bob: —up there.

Jeremy: Yes.

Bob: In fact, it was through the Harvest Crusades that you got connected with Kry and started working with them—working the merch tables for them.

Jeremy: Absolutely.

Bob: And wasn’t one of those guys who said, “Come on up on stage and do a song”?

Jeremy: Yes, absolutely, Jean-Luc—he believed in me. I mean, he really just said: “Listen, I see the gifting. I see your heart. Hey, why don’t you come on stage, and why don’t you play a couple songs with us?”  So, I learned a couple of songs—I’d be on stage.

One time, I remember him saying, “Hey, why don’t you just come out and play a song before we come on?”  And he just kind of poured—he mentored me. He was a big reason, you guys, why I think I’m here today.



I mean, it was God using him; but I am so grateful for him.

Dennis: What in the world was that like, though?  That had to scare the daylights—

Jeremy: Terrifying, yes; absolutely.

Dennis: How old were you?

Jeremy: At this point, I was 20. Yes. So, a 20-year-old is on stage in front of thousands of people.

Dennis: So, do you remember that song?

Bob: Get Away.

Jeremy: It was Get Away.

Bob: It was Get Away.

Jeremy: Yes.

Bob: Go back—kind of take us back—recreate the moment for us; can you?  If you’re up there for the first time in front of a crowd, and they hand you the guitar and say—

Dennis: You’re rubbing—

Jeremy: I am—

Dennis: You’re rubbing your hands—

Jeremy: —because I remember. I’m like—man! I remember being so nervous and sweaty. My palms were sweating. Yes, it was the first time—and I remember I was shaking so terribly and sweating all over that guitar—but I remember, all of a sudden, at the very end of it, I felt the joy of the Lord. I felt like His pleasure to say, “This is what I’ve called you to do.”

So, first, the terrifying: “What am I doing?!” and people looking at me and “I don’t want to mess this song up,” and “It’s got to be on time.”



So, I’m going, “Oh, my word!”  And I got done; and I went, “Wow! Lord, I felt Your joy / Your pleasure.”

Bob: So, play a little of Get Away; can you?

Jeremy: Oh, man! I don’t know if I can—[Strumming]—it’s been so long—this has been how many years?  Oh, man!—got to get away—it was—you put me on the spot, here, trying to remember this.

Bob: I know. I just keep thinking of Lenny Kravitz, “I want to get away.”  But it’s not that one.

Jeremy: Oh, yes, it is. That’s about right; isn’t it?  It’s almost right. [Laughter]

Bob: Got a feel.

Jeremy: “Get away. Get away. Get away. I want to get away. Something like that—that’s what it was—something like that. Get away. Get away. Get away. I want to get away.”  There you go. [Laughter]



Crazy! Literally—you—I love this! I’ve never done stuff like this! Do you realize?

Dennis: Did you write that song?

Jeremy: No, that was the song that I had to play of their songs.

Dennis: Oh.

Jeremy: So, I learned that song. They’re like, “Come on, Jeremy.”  I’m like, “Oh, my word.”  This is the first time in—hold on—let me think how many years—let’s see, I’m only 25—[Laughter]—so, it’s only been a few years, really.

Bob: It’s been weeks.

Jeremy: So, I really should know it.

Bob: It’s been weeks. Yes.

Jeremy: No, 17 years.

Bob: Wow!

Jeremy: So, imagine—that’s why I was going, “I don’t remember this song.”  I could have butchered it, but that’s about right.


Bob: Well, that’s the first part of our conversation with Jeremy Camp. And you know, listening to him share his story—I was just struck, Dennis, by how significant a mom and a dad, believing in a son—I mean, without his parents, I wonder if he’d be doing what he’s doing today.

Dennis: Well, he sure wouldn’t be as balanced and as centered as he is.



And I just want to encourage moms and dads: “Don’t quit. Keep on believing in your son / your daughter, even when they don’t believe in themselves. Use the power of love—the power of the grace of God that you’ve experience in your life / the forgiveness of God and how He’s cleaned up your mess and still cleaning it up—and hang in there with your kids. Just don’t give up on them and love them because, at certain points, they may realize you two are the only people on the planet—or if you’re a single-parent, you’re the only person—who may be believing in that young person, as they grow to maturity.”

Bob: There is a lot more in Jeremy’s story that we’re going to hear this week. He has also shared his story in a book that he’s written called I Still Believe. It is the story of his life, to date. It’s a compelling account of how God has been at work in his life.



If you are a fan of his music and you know somebody who is—or if you just want to read a powerful story of God at work in the life of a young man—get a copy of Jeremy Camp’s book, I Still Believe. We have it in our FamilyLife Today Resource Center.

You can go, online, at Click the button in the upper left-hand corner of the screen that says, “GO DEEPER.”  You’ll see Jeremy Camp’s book there, and you can order it from us online. Again, the website,; or you can order the book by calling 1-800-FL-TODAY. That’s 1-800-358-6329—1-800- “F” as in family, “L” as in life, and then, the word, “TODAY.”

I have to tell our listeners about a couple I met recently who shared with us that God had used the ministry of FamilyLife in a significant way in their marriage. They said, “We hit a rocky patch in our marriage,—



—“and God used your ministry—the Weekend to Remember® / the radio programs—He used all of it to help us get through that difficult time in our marriage relationship.” In fact, they shared with us that they found out about FamilyLife Today because her mom and dad had been to a Weekend to Remember getaway more than 30 years ago.

And I have to tell you—it’s encouraging to me to know that God is using the ministry of FamilyLife Today multi-generationally—that a generation that went to a Weekend to Remember two or three decades ago—now, their children are going to Weekend to Remember getaways. Families that grew up listening to FamilyLife Today—some of those kids, who were in the backseat of the car, listening to FamilyLife Today when their parents were raising them—now, those kids are raising children of their own.

And I just want to say a word of thank you to those of you who make this ministry possible with your support. We are listener-supported.



Your donations are what cover the cost of producing and syndicating this program. You make our events, our website—all that we do—possible through your support of FamilyLife Today.

And if you can help with a donation today, we’d like to say, “Thank you,” by sending you a couple of books that we think you’ll find very helpful. One is a book for men from Dennis Rainey. It’s a book called Stepping Up. You’ve heard us talk about that book, here on FamilyLife Today. Along with it, we’d like to send you the new book from Nancy Leigh DeMoss and Mary Kassian—True Woman 201: Interior Design book. Obviously, that’s a book for women, along with a book for men. We’ll send both of these books to you as a thank-you gift when you support the ministry of FamilyLife Today with a donation of, at least, $50.

You can make your donation by going to FamilyLife Today and clicking the button in the upper right-hand corner of the screen that says, “I CARE.”  Make an online donation. Or call 1-800-FL-TODAY. Make your donation over the phone.



Ask for the books for men and women when you do that. Or you can mail your request for the books and send your donation to FamilyLife Today at PO Box 7111, Little Rock, AR. And our zip code is 72223.

Now, tomorrow, we are going to continue hearing from Jeremy Camp. In fact, we’ll find out tomorrow about how he met and fell in love with the woman who would become his wife. We’ll share that story tomorrow. Hope you can be here for that.


I want to thank our engineer today, Keith Lynch, along with our entire broadcast production team. On behalf of our host, Dennis Rainey, I’m Bob Lepine. We will see you back next time for another edition of FamilyLife Today.

FamilyLife Today is a production of FamilyLife of Little Rock, Arkansas.

Help for today. Hope for tomorrow.

Song:   Set Me Free

Artist:   Jeremy Camp (Live Performance on Program)

Album: (First song written by Jeremy Camp)

©Song: Get Away

Artist:   Jeremy Camp (Live Performance on Program)

Album: Let Me Say (p) 2000 by The Kry on Freedom Records


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Copyright © 2015 FamilyLife. All rights reserved.



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