Not Only A Testimony: It’s a Rescue Story!
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death (Psalm 23:4). My name is Kevin Campbell, and I live in Southern Wisconsin with my wife Wendy and our three dogs and two cats. My calling is in transition and prison ministry. So, I am learning more about the Bible and ministry free online at the Christian Leaders Institute (Learn more about the Bible and ministry, Click Here).
I grew up in Edgewater Park, New Jersey. My childhood was abusive, dysfunctional, and spiritually decayed. In my younger years, I was in a state of perpetual fear. My mother’s and father’s discipline was over the top. My home life affected every aspect of life. I did not create healthy friendships with other kids and struggled at school.
There was constant confusion inside of me. You didn’t talk about your feelings in our household, and emotions were locked inside yourself. Things truly fell apart within my family in the first grade, and my own life was spiraling out of control. Finally, my parents were summoned to my school. I was having issues getting along with other kids and having trouble learning. The Child Study team informed my parents that I was emotionally disturbed, my very first label.
My family was also in chaos. Due to addiction and abuse, my mother and father separated. My sister and I stayed with dad, and my older brother moved in with my mom. It was at a point in my life when I needed a deeper understanding of what was going on.
I became very rebellious and learned to run from my problems and bury my feelings inside. I was an outcast because I behaved poorly and treated anyone who got close to me badly. Also, I learned that I got attention when I got into trouble. Further, I was introduced to the criminal justice system at a young age. My youthful years ended with me feeling that I wasn’t normal and something was wrong with me.
My teenage years were much the same as my youth. I continued to have issues with school. Things got worse for me at home too. Being the youngest and after the chaos of my younger years, I felt that my parents gave up. Honestly, I couldn’t be controlled, didn’t care, and didn’t trust anyone to change the direction of my life.
I continued to run from my problems and finally dropped out of high school in the tenth grade. Upon entering the real working world, I was unprepared. I didn’t have any practical experience about how to navigate life’s issues. Quickly, I found myself in over my head. I struggled with emotional and mental health. I was lying, stealing, and manipulating, and also dealing with a growing addiction.
At the age of 17, I left home full of resentment, anger, and a whole bunch of character defects. As a teenager, I got into a lot of trouble with the law. But the result was always the same. I was a juvenile and would get a slap on the wrist.
However, that all changed when I turned 18. I was an adult and received adult treatment. In the beginning, I was given breaks such as sentences of probation or short jail time. In 1989, at the age of 20, I received my first prison sentence in the state of Florida. Since then, I spent the majority of my adult years serving time. The crimes that landed me in prison were always theft-related. When I was released there was always some type of supervision that I would violate and end up back behind bars. It was the cycle of my entire adult life.
The Rescue Story
God was not talked about much in my home. The is a story that my mother’s father snuck me to the church and had me baptized when I was a baby. I remember my brother going to some “weird” church where guitars were played, and people were shouting and dancing. I thought it was the strangest thing.
Then, I was introduced to the gospel during my first prison sentence in Florida. I didn’t fit in as a prisoner either. It was a scary place for a 20-year-old. However, it was the place that Jesus found me. I had just arrived at the prison where I was supposed to serve my thirty-six-month sentence. I received my permanent housing assignment in a large open dorm-style area with 120 prisoners.
As I was making my bed and putting my few belongings away, my bunkmate spoke to me. He began telling me about the chapel and how good our chaplain was. He also told me about the many different speakers that would come to the prison. I didn’t want to hear about religion or any God who supposedly loved me.
Touched by God
However, my bunkmate wouldn’t drop the subject and continued to invite me to services. Finally, one day, I decided to go see what it was all about. My bunkmate was excited since Brother Ray was coming that weekend, and he was so cool. Brother Ray would bring 20-30 volunteers with him, and I would experience something special.
When I walked into the chapel, I immediately was welcomed and hugged. The volunteers were so friendly. The concept of someone coming into the prison and offering up hospitality to the prisoners was hard to grasp. So, I sat down and listened to Brother Ray. It felt like he was speaking directly to me, and God moved in me. I was in tears by the end of the service. I became a regular at services and was baptized several months later by Brother Ray. However, I didn’t know that I needed to learn more about the Bible and ministry service at this time.
It was difficult to be a Christian in prison. The other inmates criticized and say that I found “jail-house” religion. I would love to say that my life turned around after my baptism and my prison sentence ended. However, after my release, the Bible and faith stayed behind, and I took over my life again. Sadly, this cycle of crying out to God every time I got into trouble only to take over once the trouble was behind me continued for over 30 years.
Thankfully, I can clearly see God’s influence in my life through those troubled years. That is the awesome thing about our Lord, He doesn’t abandon us. He goes through the trials and tribulations with us until we are ready. That day for me was January 3, 2021.
Five years earlier, I told myself that I would never go back to prison. I was being booked into the Marion County Jail. I was face to face with my past, and I had failed once again. Due to walking away from a work-release center years earlier, they considered me a security threat and placed me in maximum custody. Once in the cell and the door closed, I was faced with myself and broke down. I cried out to God and begged for His mercy. That night, I recommitted my life to God, and God rescued me.
The next morning, my road to recovery began. I had the strongest urge to call my ex-wife although I didn’t know how she would receive my call. However, God was working in Wendy’s life also. She was praying that God would bring me back to her and back to God. God and Wendy brought me back, and God has poured His grace out on me.
Opportunity to Learn More about the Bible and Ministry
Today, I live for Jesus, and I accept the calling that God has given me. I will study God’s Word and spread His gospel and grace to the lost. That is why I am here at the Christian Leaders Institute. I want to learn more about the Bible and ministry. This opportunity at CLI is a blessing!
Ezekiel 36:26 And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.
Romans 12:2 Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.
2 Corinthians 5: 14-17 For the love of Christ controls us because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died; and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised. From now on, therefore, we regard no one according to the flesh. Even though we once regarded Christ according to the flesh, we regard him thus no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.
Hope for All
In closing, I want it to be known that no one is too far gone. God’s grace is sufficient for all. He will never forsake or leave you. He will walk through the valley of the shadow of death with you. Trust Him. It is also never too late to answer God’s call and learn more about the Bible and ministry. God Bless!
Steps to Sign Up At Christian Leaders Institute
Step 1 – Register for a free study account that automatically enrolls you in the Christian Leaders Getting Started Course Part 1 &2.
After you register, you will automatically be enrolled in the “getting started” course. You will locate the course at your “home” button when you are logged in. Scroll down to find the Christian Leaders Getting Started Course Part 1 &2 Link. Click the link and open the course.
Step 2 – Complete Part 1 of this course, and then you are allowed to enroll in mini-courses or regular courses.
The Christian Leaders Getting Started Class Part 1 shows you how to enroll in courses and mini-courses. Part 2 of the course connects your calling into ministry with programs offered through Christian Leaders Institute. Part 2 will offer some ministry training and introduce you to the other programs offered through Christian Leaders Institute.