Deborah Peck Campbell

As I was growing up, my parents taught me a sensitivity and respect for God and the things of God.

A very important aspect of my testimony is the fact that I was a chronic stutterer during my entire elementary years. I stress its role as I developed my self image. Coming from a stable and secure home, my parents taught me the basics of faith: the Father, Son and Holy Ghost, Jesus is the Son of God and the Bible as God's Word to be respected. Unfortunately the torment of other children for so many years drew me to a deep desire to find acceptance from my peers. So at a young age I began to experiment with drugs and alcohol.

When I was 13 my parents enrolled me in the Louise Boyka Studio of Stage Arts. This was a finishing school, coupled with modeling and theatrical agency. Amazingly within 6 weeks of training, I completely stopped stuttering. With this new found skill of being able to speak I soon gained popularity among my peers at school and went on to become Assistant Director of Louise's studio.

In my senior year of High School I made a friend who came from a Baptist family, and who regularly attended church. I began at that time to attend on Sundays, read my Bible and pray. God was drawing me close to Himself and I enjoyed getting to know Him. Still, I was involved in the drug culture (as was my friend who introduced me to church). Still, God was drawing me.

One spring afternoon, just before graduation, I was sitting on the lawn of the school campus praying to the Lord. I remember His specific request for me: give up drugs and alcohol. I also remember reasoning that “Lord, I have been doing this for years. All my friends are doing it. I am young, I will stop later. Until then, I am enjoying just the way things are now”.

Not knowing the depth of my decision on that day until years later, the Lord let me go. You see, we have a free will and we are free to make decisions. Decisions to obey the Lord as He commands, or decisions to do as we wish, and only obey in the areas we desire to. Oh, isn't this the plague of so many in the Church today, selective obedience.

Slowly, unnoticeable, I began slipping. I met Howie in 1980. It was a whirlwind romance that has lasted still to this day. But, it hasn't been without its treacherous moments. The first thing I gave Howie was a Bible, but he noticed that I was living like him (in the world and all that it was) yet I was talking about Jesus. He didn't want to hear it. After we were married I stopped reading the Bible, soon after that I stopped praying. We had children, we were poor, we struggled and we fought. By 1985 we were talking about separating – but Howie wanted to stay together for the sake of the children until they grew up.

Winter of 1984 Howie began reading the Bible. Our situation was nearly unbearable at this time. I began to read “Atlas Shrugged” by Ann Rand (a very anti-Christian existentialist). Somehow I saw John Galt, the hero of this 1000+ page novel, as a type of “Christ” figure. It is amazing how God can use what is available to open our eyes to His truth. Howie had a dramatic conversion that left me reeling, confused, but seeking.

Spring 1985 Howie meets Jesus and I recovered my Bible and began to read. The Lord led me to read Ecclesiastes, “Vanity of vanities, all is vanity sayeth the preacher”. I realized all the things that I built into my life for meaning and acceptance – modeling, my wardrobe, my figure, drugs and so on. Having traveled so far from the One who loves me so, I went into the back field one evening and cried out to God, “Lord, if your real, I need to know”. He revealed Himself to me at that moment in such a way that I would never doubt. Immediately, 8 years since my decision on the school campus, the same request was there. Will I follow him? I lifted my hands and said and said “I surrender”

Years have passed. We have raised our two children. God has remained faithful, because that is His character. Sometimes I wonder what would have happened had someone at that church explained the plan of salvation to me rather than shunning me because I wasn't like them. I am reminded that no matter what, we are each competent before the Lord – He speaks to our hearts, through our consciences, and what we do with it is our decision.