Jeremy Camp: Melissa's Dying Wish
By Audra Smith
The 700 Club
Award-winning musician, Jeremy Camp leads worship all over the world every year. Jeremy says his success was born out of a life filled with personal suffering. It began with his marriage to Melissa, a marriage Jeremy entered into knowing that the woman he loved was dying.
Jeremy remembers the day he met Melissa. He was leading worship for a church group in San Diego.
"I was singing and I looked up, and there was Melissa with her hands raised up so high. You could tell she was really worshipping Jesus," remembers Jeremy.
"I kind of joke around [now] and say, 'I hit the wrong chords and sang a little flat.' "
After only a few months of dating, Jeremy was in love.
"I said, Melissa, I need to tell you something, ‘I love you.’ But she said, 'I don’t feel the same way.' "
However a few months later, Jeremy received a call from Melissa, who gave him some devastating news. She had been diagnosed with ovarian cancer."
"I remember walking into the hospital, and she had just found out she had cancer, and she was smiling. I was like, 'Why is she smiling?' ”
"She [Melissa] said, ‘I am doing okay, because I have been thinking, if I were to die from this cancer, if one person were to accept Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior, it would all be worth it.' "
"I was driving home that night, and I was crying, and all these emotions were coming up again. I said, 'Lord, if she tells me she loves me, I will marry her.' I don’t even know why I said it. It was just God preparing my heart."
Jeremy remembers, "So, about two weeks later, I got a phone call. She [Melissa] said, 'I need to talk to you.' She said, 'I know now why God wanted it to be just me and Him because He wanted to prepare me for this. But I have been praying for you for a long time, and I wanted to let you know, 'I love you.' "
"It was like, we both just knew. We just knew," says Jeremy.
Five months later, Jeremy and Melissa wed. However, during their honeymoon, Melissa started having serious stomach pains.
"So, we got back to the doctor when the honeymoon was over and the doctors pulled me aside. They had done some tests on her. They said, 'The cancer is back.' So I was like, 'What can we do?' There is nothing else we can do. It is all over her body. The doctor told Melissa she had months, maybe weeks, to live."
"I remember her [Melissa] saying, 'Jeremy I just want to worship the Lord right now.' So, of course, I would pull the guitar out. It’s those moments, and we had more of those moments, where it's not about our circumstances when we worship the Lord. He is worthy to be praised no matter what we are going through."
On February 5, 2001, at 21-years-old, Melissa died.
"I was on my knees and I remember her sister saying, 'She is with Jesus now.' A grief fell over me that I can’t describe. The weight of her suffering is over, but the grief is she’s gone. We always had worship music playing in the background. I remember the Lord speaking into my heart and saying, 'Jeremy, I want you to stand up and worship me.' I remember standing up and raising my hands."
"That was such a good act of obedience for me, just saying, 'Lord, I don’t want to do this, but I know this is why I am here.' "
"I remember not wanting to ask God, 'Why,' but I finally did, and God always spoke to me. He said, 'Jeremy, I don’t always want you to know why, because I want you to have a testimony of walking by faith.' And I had written that song previously on our honeymoon, Walk By Faith."
"And I look at these songs that come from it, Walk by Faith and I Still Believe. I wrote two weeks after she went to be with the Lord," says Jeremy. "I have seen story after story of God using this whole thing to show His faithfulness to encourage people. That blows my mind realizing that Melissa made that statement, that if even one person accepts Christ. I hear thousands and thousands of stories. I remember being on my face after that realization and God said, 'Jeremy, 'Remember.' "
"When I get distracted, when I lose sight of what is going on, God will say, 'Look at how many thousands!' "
Today, Jeremy is re-married and his thriving ministry is shared with his new wife, recording artist Adrienne Camp.
"From that, you have the ministry of God bringing us together -- Adrienne and I, and what we have together to minister to people. And from that, two beautiful girls, who have changed my life radically. My encouragement... .do not lose heart, because our affliction is just momentary and what He is preparing for us, what He has in store for us, it will blow us away."
"Imagine no more tears, no more sorrow, no more pain… and one day we will forever be with Jesus," he says.
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