2012 | Kirk Cameron
Kirk Cameron may be best known as an actor, but it is the totality of his life and work - his unashamed passion for Christ and the gospel, his dedication to his family, his extensive work with multiple humanitarian causes - which makes him a strong example of Christian commitment. IWU has chosen Cameron as the 2012 inductee into the Indiana Wesleyan University Society of World Changers. Cameron has lived in the spotlight since he was 14, when he won the role of Mike Seaver on the sitcom "Growing Pains." He later became known for his starring roles in the films "Left Behind" and "Fireproof." Now 41, Cameron has impressed many with his dedication to living out his love for Christ in his public and personal lives. He has demonstrated a keen commitment to sharing his faith, in one-on-one encounters and with a wide audience. In addition, he has been involved with organizations providing rest and recreation for seriously ill children, offering advice to married couples, and raising awareness of human rights abuses in Southeast Asia.
"God Knew the Core of Me"
Cameron was one of the biggest teen idols of the 1980s, collecting 10,000 fan letters per week and staring out from millions of magazine covers, posters and pillowcases. Even though he had everything he could want, he started asking fundamental questions about his place and purpose in the world. Spurred on by the father of a friend, he visited Pastor Chuck Swindoll's California church and read a book by apologist Josh McDowell. He started to rethink the atheism he'd held onto for most of his life.
"God knew the core of me - the totality of every thought, emotion and action - and cared about the real me," Cameron wrote in his 2008 autobiography "Still Growing." "Surrounded by a world of superficiality, this was a new and humbling concept." Since then, Cameron has used his celebrity as a platform to speak plainly and directly about Christ's work in his life, in the Hollywood community where he still lives and to myriad audiences around the world.
A Global Influence for Christ
He has found many ways to live out a Christian example. Since 1989 he and his wife, Chelsea, have personally run the Firefly Foundation. They invite seriously ill children and their families to spend a week at a Georgia summer camp, to rest and make friends with people going through similar situations.
The inspiration for Camp Firefly came from Cameron's work with sick children while on "Growing Pains," through groups like the Make-A-Wish Foundation. Most camps of that sort focused only on the children, but Cameron had seen the toll disease could take on an entire family: "I felt something more needed to be done for these exhausted, strapped, stressed families," Cameron wrote.
Cameron has donated his time and talent to other causes. In 2009 he volunteered to host a documentary, "The Karen: Forgotten but Not Forsaken," about human rights abuses perpetrated against Christians belonging to ethnic minorities in Burma/Myanmar. "The Karen" was released in 2011.
Cameron's faith has influenced his career choices as well. He has starred in a number of Christian films, most notably a trilogy adapted from the best-selling "Left Behind" novels, as well as the church-produced film "Fireproof" (which became 2008's highest-grossing independent film). His latest film, "Monumental," premiered in limited release in March 2012.
After starring in the marriage-themed "Fireproof," Cameron has toured America to speak at the "Love Worth Fighting For" marriage conferences. For several years he has assisted evangelist Ray Comfort's ministry "The Way of The Master," which produces a wide variety of evangelistic materials, including a television program hosted by Cameron and Comfort broadcast on media outlets all over the world. Cameron has been married to Chelsea Noble, his on-screen girlfriend from "Growing Pains," for more than 20 years. Kirk and Chelsea live in Southern California with their six children.