"I was rich, I was young, I was famous, I could do anything I wanted with whomever I wanted." - Kirk Cameron
BELLFLOWER, California - At the height of his Hollywood success, former "Growing Pains" sitcom star Kirk Cameron started worrying about something his money couldn't buy: salvation.
He had more than just legions of fanatic fans.
He also had stalkers and kidnapping threats, and was sometimes driven to the set in a bulletproof car. It got him thinking about his own mortality. He had it all, but still felt empty.
"I was raised not going to church. We never prayed - didn't know how. Are you supposed to close your eyes, keep them open? Look up? Look down? Get on my knees? What do I do?"
Cameron started reading the bible and going to church.
He became a believer, but says his transition had some growing pains of its own.
During the Left Behind concert tour, Kirk Cameron shared his testimony with the capacity crowd at the People's Church in Franklin, Tennessee.
He began by revealing his feelings of deep loneliness, even during his successful stint on "Growing Pains."
Kirk said that much like the character Buck Williams whom he plays in the movie, he discovered how much he needs Christ in his life.
Through a friend Kirk came to know God.
"He said, 'Kirk, what you're feeling and the things you are talking to me about are the result of the fact that you don't know God. You don't know that you were made by God to know Him and have a personal relationship with Him.'
He explained to me about how sin separates you from God and how there is this stubborn, selfish streak that ran deep in the heart of every person, that we're all the same and that we need to turn our hearts to God and ask Him to forgive us, that God, more than anything, wants us to do that and He has provided a way for that to happen through His Son Jesus Christ, who died on the cross to pay the price of my sin.
So we can just come to Him and say 'God, please forgive me. I'll live my life for You.'
And I thought that, although I wanted it to be true, and I wrestled with so many thoughts in my mind and I had so many questions and doubts.
And finally there was a day where I remember very vividly saying to myself,
'You know, Kirk, you can play around with the ideas of God and being a good person and all this stuff, but you know what?
If you die tonight, you wouldn't be going to heaven, because if the Bible's true then being a good person is not what it's all about. The only way to heaven is by turning away from your sin and turning to God through faith in Jesus Christ.'
I didn't know any kind of theology or any kind of ways to pray. I just closed my eyes one day and said,
'God, if you're real, I really need to know. If You're there and You love me, You would show me in a way that I can really understand.'
It wasn't like a lightning bolt came through the door or anything, but it was like this little flame in my heart just sparked and it's stayed lit ever since then; my growing relationship with the best friend I've ever had.
And He began to change who I am and what I live for. So I can tell you today, of all the things that I had the opportunity to experience and all the privileges I have had in my career, absolutely nothing compares to knowing Jesus Christ.
He just came crashing through the walls of my life and said, 'I'm who you're looking for. I'm your hero. I'm the one that you need.'
Kirk is best known as the lovable teen heartthrob Mike Seaver, of the award winning series Growing Pains. He entertained audiences worldwide as the charming troublemaker. He is also known to many Christians as "Buck Williams" from the Left Behind films -- based on the NY Times runaway bestselling novels by Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins.
Kirk's most recent role was playing the part of "Capt. Caleb Holt" from the 2008 blockbuster movie success, Fireproof.
But much more noteworthy than his acting career was his conversion to Christ.
Kirk was not raised in a church-going home and describes himself as a devout atheist from a very young age. By the age of 14 he was so convinced there was no God that he laughed at those who thought there was.
But that all changed one afternoon as he sat in his sports car pondering the first Gospel message he had ever heard.
Kirk continues to be actively involved in quality family entertainment and travels throughout the country, making the most of every opportunity to further the Gospel. He speaks in schools, churches and at community events. He is also a producer and host of The Way of the Master television series and radio program..
Kirk and his wife Chelsea have six children and live in southern California.
Interview with Dawson: CBN News
Will Dawson [reporting]: He's graced the cover of teen magazines and starred in feature films. But actor Kirk Cameron is best known for his portrayal of the mischievous Mike Seaver on the hit show Growing Pains.
Will Dawson [reporting]: I have to tell you, I was eight years old when Growing Pains debuted. I remember the sunglasses, the leather jacket. I wanted to be Mike Seaver!
Kirk Cameron: It was fun to play the guy that people wanted to be like. It was just a very unique way to grow up.
Dawson [reporting]: Kirk won two Golden Globes and numerous other awards during the show's seven-year run. He was the quintessential child actor, and he admits it went straight to his head.
Cameron: It can't help but go to your head, you know? I was driving around in bullet-proof limousines, because stalkers were coming after me. I was flying around in Leer jets, because dignitaries wanted me to play tennis with their daughter. So it was a strange life, but it was normal to me.
Dawson: You considered yourself a devout atheist. Is that right?
Cameron: I was living large, hanging out with beautiful people, and making lots of money. I didn't want to entertain the thought of a God or get involved in religion. For all I knew, that would put a wet blanket on all my fun.
Dawson [reporting]: He wasn't following God, but he says he was following girls. One girl led him some place he didn't expect.
Cameron: I was about 17 years old, and I followed a girl into church. Not because I wanted to learn about God, but because I wanted to be with this girl that I heard the Gospel for the first time. I was sitting in my sports car on the side of Van Eiss Boulevard, dropping my friend off at an acting class, and thinking about the fact that I could die at any moment. If I were to find out that there is a God and a heaven, I knew that I wouldn't be going. I decided that I needed to be saved. I needed God to reveal Himself to me, and I asked Him to do that.
Dawson [reporting]: As Kirk's thoughts toward God changed, so did his life.
Cameron: My heart had been changed. It had been softened, and it had been opened to the reality that God existed. I didn't know everything. As I began reading His Word and understanding, I saw my need for his forgiveness, and it was a willingness to obey Him and to live my life in a way that pleased Him, that then began to characterize who I was.
Dawson: How did that change Kirk Cameron on the set of Growing Pains? How did it change your working relationship with the people who you had known for so long?
Cameron: My language changed. You know? All the f-bombs stopped and the parts that I would accept in Hollywood changed. The things that I was willing and not willing to do on Growing Pains changed.
Dawson [reporting]: Controversy took centre stage when Kirk refused a scene that portrayed an unmarried Mike Seaver sharing a bed with a girl.
Cameron: When you make a decision, like, 'I'm not comfortable saying that line or doing that scene.' Well, that meant that 11 writers had to come up with a new scene. And that meant that the other actors and actresses in that scene had to learn new lines, because I didn't want to do that scene. It's very easy for tabloids to grab onto that and say, 'What's the best way we can spin this into a front page story? I know!
Kirk Cameron goes off the religious deep end!'
When in actuality, it was nothing more than a 17-year-old kid finding something that was worth more than all the celebrity in the world and wanting his life to be a living thank you to the God who had saved him from hell and adopted him into His own family.
Dawson [reporting]: Growing Pains ended in 1992, but not before Kirk fell in love and married co-star Chelsea Noble in 1991. The couple is raising their six children in California where Kirk is involved in a ministry called Way of the Master. He continues acting, most notably in the Left Behind series and his newest project, Fireproof. Kirk admits mainstream Hollywood isn't beating down his door.
It's a reality he's willing to accept.
Cameron: My default position is not to be an actor. My default position is to be a follower of Jesus Christ.
If that means I continue in acting, great!
I'd love that. But if it means I need to change professions someday because I can't provide for my family, well, that's what I need to do.
I'm sure I've lost a few jobs, because I'm a Christian.
That's irrelevant. I can honestly say that of everything I have, of everything I've experienced, nothing compares to the joy of knowing Christ. Because I've been given a glimpse of heaven and it outshines all of the rest.