Although their homes were hundreds of miles apart, young Jeremy and Tiana Camp faced similar realizations of physical brokenness and pain through frightening medical diagnoses. Nine-year-old Tiana was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes, while nine-year-old Jeremy watched, bewildered, as his mother battled breast cancer. For both of them, the childhood revelation that God’s good plan sometimes includes physical trials and sickness became a catalyst for their faiths. Read their story to see how God revealed Himself to them as children and continued to draw them into ever-deepening faith as they grew older.
Tiana & Jeremy Camp
Tiana: I was raised in a Christian home by parents who loved Jesus. I always had health issues, beginning when I was diagnosed with diabetes at age 9. A few years later, I began having severe headaches – migraines. I had to undergo lots of tests as doctors tried to figure out what was causing the migraines. During the worst episode, I told my parents, “I don’t want to go through any more tests. Just tell people to pray for me.” I had faith that God could heal me. It was during that time in my early teens that the Lord really showed Himself to me and saved me. He also gave my parents wisdom and led them to an article that explored the connection between diabetes and these migraines. We were eventually able to work with doctors on my diet, and, when I was 16, I was also diagnosed with Celiac disease.
Tiana headed to Oregon to attend college. Her one close friend (someone she had met through a diabetes conference), abandoned her at the end of her freshman year. The loneliness that accompanied that lost friendship propelled Tiana into a closer walk with Christ.
Tiana: I just went straight for Jesus. I knew that He could meet my needs. I found my identity and fulfillment in my relationship with Christ. He was everything to me.
Whether the challenge set before Tiana was health or relationship-related, she always knew that the way through it was to cling to the One who knew her by heart – the Creator God who loved her and had given His Son for her. After finishing her undergraduate degree in Oregon, Tiana set off to Arkansas to work on her Master’s. Her younger sister Zoe was also a student in Arkansas, and it was Zoe who introduced Tiana to her future husband – Jeremy.
Tiana: As I had grown closer to Jesus, I realized that it was very important for the man I married to also really love Jesus. I wasn’t going to date someone who didn’t share my faith – who wasn’t actively pursuing Christ.
While Tiana had been battling her health issues and maturing as a believer, Jeremy was riding a roller-coaster of personal faith: periods of deep commitment to God, followed by a waning interest in devotion to Christ.
Jeremy: My mom always took us to church while I was growing up in Arkansas and Texas. I was baptized at age seven. When I was nine, my mom was diagnosed with breast cancer. It had advanced pretty far before they caught it, and she was in the hospital for a while. Even from the hospital, my mom made sure we were all going to church. My stepdad and two siblings and I would visit her in the hospital, and my mom would ask us, “Did you go to church?” I didn’t understand everything that was happening to my mom, but I knew enough to be unsettled and scared. Every week, our pastor would check on us, and he would ask me how I was doing. He would always say, “I’m here if you ever have any questions or want to talk.” So, I finally took him up on it. As a nine-year-old kid, I came at him with the obvious question: Why? Why my mom? Why us?
The pastor encouraged Jeremy to trust God, to believe that his mom’s illness was a part of His plan and that He was in control. But that answer did not satisfy Jeremy’s soul. He wanted a real answer. A solution. And the pastor didn’t have a magic solution. Instead, he calmly encouraged Jeremy to study his Bible and to seek God in the midst of his hurting and questioning.
As a nine-year-old kid, I came at him with the obvious question: Why? Why my mom? Why us?
Jeremy: So, I did. I started to read the Bible and talk to God. I had understood salvation when I was younger, but it was then, at age nine, that God became real to me and I began to truly believe Him. My mom came through her cancer and recovered from her treatments. Jesus had healed my mom, and that was enough for me. I kind of felt like that was the finish line for my faith. I had had faith when it mattered, and now I could move on. I moved God to the back burner.
Eventually, Jeremy moved from Texas back to Arkansas to live with his dad. There, he found a friend who encouraged him to go to church. The vibrant faith community and caring pastor reignited the embers of faith that had been quietly cooling for several years. Throughout high school, Jeremy’s faith and his involvement at church were a constant, something that kept him out of trouble – and kept him on the right path.
Jeremy: Our pastor had a high calling for its graduating seniors. They really sent us off equipped to live for God, and encouraged us in super intentional ways. I was really encouraged by the kind things that were said to me. Unfortunately, those accolades also touched the people-pleasing aspect of my personality. It became another moment where I felt like I had finished my faith journey. I had had this good season of walking with God, accomplished some good things, and now I was done. Again.
Early in college, Jeremy faltered in his devotion to Christ. He traded church attendance for dabbling in the college party scene. However, any time Jeremy returned home, his former pastor was quick to check in – and ask hard questions. His robust interest in Jeremy and his encouragement to continue walking with Christ were a lifeline – a tie that kept Jeremy tethered to his commitments and beliefs.
Soon, Zoe introduced Jeremy to Tiana. The two became friends, and, once summer rolled around, they continued talking from a distance. Tiana’s steadfast faith inspired Jeremy, and she nudged him back in the right direction. They sought the Lord together, and Jeremy experienced joy through serving on the worship team at their church. While he still struggled to dig into the Word on a daily basis, Tiana’s accountability helped him establish patterns of reading the Bible. Finally, Jeremy began to understand that faith wasn’t just about seeking answers or knowledge from God; it was about knowing God Himself. While he had always had a thirst for knowledge and understanding, he now began to see that a relationship with God is itself the prize and the goal. He understood that his faith didn’t have a finish line; knowing and worshipping God is something he will do for eternity!
Jeremy: Throughout my life, Proverbs 27:17 has been a theme of my story. It says, “Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another.” God has been faithful to keep bringing people into my life who sharpen me and challenge me.
Tiana: For me, a theme has been trusting God. Matthew 6:34 says, “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for itself is each day’s trouble.” The people who poured into me spiritually were my parents and sister, but even when they weren’t around, the Lord just taught me to rely on Him.
Together, Jeremy and Tiana are now discipling teens at Outpost. By God’s grace and through the Holy Spirit, they are now the ones pouring Truth into the hearts of young people – challenging them to read God’s Word and to live lives that glorify Him. As they look forward to a lifetime together, they are excited to see what else God might have in store for them. While challenges certainly await, they anticipate the deep joy of walking closely with Christ and with each other.
“You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart.” Jeremiah 29:13