Indiana Wesleyan University has chosen evangelist and actor Kirk Cameron as the 2012 inductee into the Society of World Changers.
Cameron, a former child star best known for the hit ABC sitcom Growing Pains and the films Left Behind and Fireproof, has been an outspoken Christian since he came to Christ at age 17. Now 41, Cameron has spent much of his adult life relentlessly sharing the gospel of Christ and serving others through a variety of causes. Cameron 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.
"Mr. Cameron is blessed with a God-given charisma," said Dr. Keith Newman, IWU Executive Vice President. "That word, charisma, actually means 'gift of grace' in Greek. Mr. Cameron's ability to connect with total strangers is a priceless gift for a Christian seeking to acquaint people with God's grace."
"Mr. Cameron's commitment to the Gospel infuses every part of his life - his evangelistic witness, his family life, his professional career and his extensive humanitarian work," Dr. Newman said.
For more than two decades, Cameron and his wife Chelsea have personally run a nonprofit organization called the Firefly Foundation, which invites seriously ill children and their families to spend a week at an idyllic summer camp in western Georgia.
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 that disease can take on an entire family: "I felt something more needed to be done for these exhausted, strapped, stressed families," Cameron wrote in his 2008 autobiography, Still Growing.
Cameron has donated his time and talent to other causes. In 2009, he agreed to host a documentary called The Karen: Forgotten But Not Forsaken, about human rights abuses perpetrated against Christians belonging to ethnic minorities in Burma/Myanmar. Released in late 2010, the film was produced by the nonprofit organization Vision Beyond Borders.
Cameron' faith has also guided his professional choices. He has starred in a number of theatrical Christian films, most notably a trilogy adapted from the bestselling Left Behind novels and the church-produced film Fireproof, which became 2008's highest-grossing independent film. His latest film, Monumental, comes out in late March.
Cameron tours as a speaker for the "Love Worth Fighting For" marriage conferences. In addition, for several years he has worked with evangelist Ray Comfort in a ministry called 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 himself is grateful for the opportunities his life's journey has afforded him.
"Some say that the only reason we've gotten The Way of The Master show on 20 networks is my fame as a teenager," Cameron wrote in Still Growing. "I don't understand why the world listens to me when there are far more articulate teachers and preachers. I guess it's the pull of image and celebrity. Rather than run from it, I've learned to accept it and watch as God uses it for His glory."
Cameron married Growing Pains co-star Chelsea Noble in 1991. They have six children.
IWU established the Society of World Changers in 2003 to "recognize role models who have exemplified the concept of world changers and whose lives can serve as an inspiration to future generations." Previous inductees include television producer and author Robert Briner, author Frank Peretti, child psychologist Dr. James Dobson, world-renowned surgeon Dr. Benjamin Carson, legendary football coach Tony Dungy, writer and speaker Joni Eareckson Tada, musicians Bill and Gloria Gaither and last year's inductee, Chick-fil-A founder S. Truett Cathy.
IWU will officially induct Cameron at a special convocation in the IWU Chapel-Auditorium on Wednesday, April 11.