Many would testify that Melissa Camp lived her life fully dedicated to serving the Lord. She desired nothing more than sharing her passion for Christ with others—especially those who didn’t have a relationship with Jesus. Her faith-like-a-rock never wavered, even when at a young age she faced an unimaginable adversity. In this biography Melissa’s mom, Janette Henning, chronicles her daughter’s early adult life, mostly through Melissa’s conversations with God taken from her personal journal entries. Melissa’s unfeigned words draw you into her world—capturing the heart of a woman who loved the Lord and desired to please Him above all else.
We are first introduced to Melissa at 19 years old. She’s attending Palomar Community College and just met a worship leader at the college Bible study by the name of Jeremy Camp. They are smitten with each other, and despite a bumpy start, their relationship becomes serious. But Melissa feels like it’s moving too fast and becoming a distraction from God, so she breaks up with Jeremy. They get back together but Melissa breaks up again in the summer of 1999.They remain friends but all of Melissa’s indecisiveness causes Jeremy to begin to harden his heart toward her.
Around this time, Melissa starts feeling pain in her abdomen. When doctors run tests, they determine it is a volleyball-sized ovarian cyst. In September 1999, the doctors successfully drain it through laparoscopic surgery. Throughout the ordeal, Melissa’s faith remains steadfast and hopeful. When she sees her doctor for a follow-up visit a few months later, the cyst has returned. She remains strong in the Lord and prays she would be a vessel for God’s glory and endure her pain with grace, writing in her journal, “I know You’ll give me the strength to endure anything that comes my way. Help me to praise You through this.”
Melissa has her second surgery on May 1, 2000. Unbeknownst to her and her family, their world is about to dramatically change. She is diagnosed with stage 3C ovarian cancer, which spread from her ovary to her intestines and liver. Incredibly, she responds to the news of cancer positively. She knows God is going to do amazing things through her trial and use her suffering to bring others to Him.
When Jeremy visits Melissa, she tells him, “If one life comes to know Jesus Christ as their Savior because of what I go through, it will be worth it.” On his long drive home, he cries out to Jesus, “Lord, if You want me to marry her, she has to tell me that she loves me.” Melissa eventually expresses her love for Jeremy and he must wrestle with the difficult decision to marry the women he loves during the hardest testing of her life. He decides to support her through the cancer as her husband so they plan their wedding. Melissa pens in her journal, “Jeremy helped me in the hardest time of my life, and then as if that wasn’t enough, decided to walk through my life with me.”
Just two month before their wedding, Melissa has a sonogram that reveals another 4-centimeter tumor on her other ovary. A complete hysterectomy is scheduled. But only one and a half hours into surgery the doctor calls Melissa’s mom into a room and tells her, “I opened her up and there was no tumor.” God miraculously heals her!
Melissa and Jeremy get married. During the honeymoon, Melissa helps Jeremy write the song Walk By Faith, which includes lyrics that she can relate to as she walks her “broken road.” When Jeremy and Melissa go to the doctor for her follow-up appointment, the doctor tells them there are no other treatments available to help her, and that she only has weeks to months to live. Melissa, Jeremy and her family continue to fight the fight and not give up hope, but the Lord has other plans and brings Melissa home on Feb. 5, 2001, at only 21 years old.
Throughout Melissa’s trials, her faith remained steadfast-strong. She prayed for healing but trusted God’s perfect will for her life, even if He chose to end it. She put other’s needs above her own and often witnessed to the hospital’s medical staff and other patients throughout her battle with cancer. Her unconditional love for Jesus and others is sure to inspire those who read her story. The book provides a glimpse into her battle with cancer, her love for Jeremy and her family, and most of all her undeniable love for the Lord.
Melissa If One Life is sure to inspire believers to walk more boldly in their faith and encourage others to learn more about the One Who strengthened her throughout her battle. Most would agree that the trials Melissa endured at such a young age are difficult to understand. We don’t always comprehend God’s plan, but because it is His plan, it is the BEST plan. As Melissa’s story will testify, she fully trusted God’s plan for her life and lived it to the fullest.
Due to heavy subject matter dealing with illness and the loss of life, we are awarding our Dove-approved Seal for Ages 12+, for the book’s moving story of unwavering faith in Jesus no matter the circumstances.
The Dove Take:
This biography shows one woman’s unshakable faith in Christ despite unforeseen affliction, and because of her hope, this testimony continues to impact the world.