Published March 15, 2011
Thursday morning I woke to the news that Jason Camp had passed away (March 9, 2011). I was in shock. It was difficult to imagine that someone so young, only 42, and so full of life wasn't with us any more.
We first met Jason when he was just entering his teens. Big Jim Hamill of the Kingsmen told us, "You have to hear these kids" and introduced us to the Kingsboys. That was 1982. With Jason's outgoing, friendly personality, we became lifelong friends.
From the Kingsboys, Jason moved to solo work and then to singing with his own young family. Ministry was always important to Jason. He and Christina served in missions in the Ukraine, as well as pastoring in the church. He was a powerful, dynamic speaker as well as talented singer.
His zest for life sometimes got him in trouble. Years back I remember receiving a phone call at about 2 a.m. The only phone calls I expect in the middle of the night are those of a very serious nature, where the call just can't wait. When I answered and realized Jason had just finished a revival and was "pumped" and he was calling me just to chat, I confess I was not pleased. I remember he asked how I was and I responded that I was asleep and gave him my office number where he could call the next day. I hung up. When he called the next day and apologized for waking me, I accepted his apology. I told him he was welcome to call anytime if he needed help or if he needed prayer. Otherwise, please wait until daylight. He honored that request and I continued to hear from him (in the daytime) every 6-12 months over the next 20 years.
We and our family were honored to be part of a group that went to the Pentagon June 16, 2006, to present a program of music open to the workers there. It was exciting to be in such a setting. Jason Camp and his family were also there that day. It was a most unusual, special setting and throughout the day, we had several opportunities to just chat. I remember that Jason, as well as his oldest daughter, made a special effort to share Jesus one-on-one with those who ate their lunch near the singing or simply sat down to listen to the music. One soul brought to the Lord and headed for heaven was always a rejoicing time for Jason.
Jason had a commitment to living out the Christian life. When he had stopped by our offices one time, he found out that his local radio station had never paid their account with us. This bothered him and he committed to paying their bill. Every few months, I would receive a check for $20 or $40 until the entire account was paid. Jason knew it bothered me to take his money, but he was insistent. In return, we gave him several free "ride-alongs." This is a system we make available to artists in which they simply send their radio single along to our affiliate stations that carry The Gospel Greats program. (The song is not necessarily played on the program, but rides along as an extra cut on the program CDs.) Jason called me full of excitement one morning. The Jason Camp Family had just been to Canada to present a concert. They had been treated wonderfully, sales had been excellent and people had responded to the message of Jesus Christ. He called me to tell me that they had gone to Canada because one of our affiliate stations had heard their "ride-along" and invited them to give a concert. I still remember him saying, "Shelia, what you do comes back to you, just like I told you." He had a great faith in God.
The news of Jason's death was hard to accept. Even more difficult was the news that he had taken his own life. "Why?" continued to ring in my mind all day. I found it difficult to keep my mind on anything else.
On my facebook page, I asked people to pray for Christina, his young daughters, his parents and the entire family. I finished off saying, "God is our strength," and I leaned on that strength.
Friday, I read what Sylvia Green of the Bradys had posted on her facebook page:
"Things I do not understand..things my mind won't comprehend..things I just can't bear to believe..I store in my heart, where only God sees: God's time frame is not as ours..and if one day here is as 1000 years..who's to say a split second, isn't long enough, for I'm sorry'..to make all things clear. 2 Peter 3:8 says ...that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day."
Taking a life, your own or someone else's life, is wrong. The Ten Commandments make that clear. But, as I read Sylvia's comments, it settled in my spirit, that one final gunshot, one spontaneous act of desperation, didn't change a lifetime of service for the Lord. It didn't change that commitment to the Lord. It didn't wipeout a zest for life and a passion for people. That moment before death was long enough to say, "Lord, I am sorry. Please forgive." And, as Jesus demonstrated on the cross, He will forgive anyone, anywhere, anytime if they ask, regardless of the circumstances.
Tough things come in life that we don't understand. I still have questions how someone so full of life and so used by the Lord could come to such a seemingly hopeless point in his life. I am reassured, though, that in the tough moments of life, God is still there and waiting for our call. Truly God is our strength.
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