A story of faith, love and the simple but oh-so-complex idea of believing.
Featured image courtesy of Lionsgate. Design by Elisabeth Oster.
Based on a true story, “I Still Believe” takes viewers through the rollercoaster of heartbreak and spiritual breakthrough of Jeremy Camp and his late wife, Melissa Camp. Played by KJ Apa and Britt Roberston, the chemistry and transparency throughout the film beautifully captured the most inspiring love story of all time.
The movie follows young, faithful and musically talented Camp off to college in California where he meets the love of his life, Melissa. Melissa and Jeremy’s relationship grows. My heart melted as I saw how their friendship grew into something more, coupled with their honesty in faith. Melissa talks to Jeremy about the galaxies, the stars and how out of the billions of stars in the galaxies, God knows her. The take of having a Godly connection in a relationship is so fresh and eye-opening, it made me realize how I forgot that was a possibility for myself.
In today’s society, I feel like the Tinder and hook-up culture is preferred over the ‘going steady’ culture that was the norm during my parents’ time with frequent date nights and church on Sunday mornings. Melissa and Jeremy find a different kind of connection in the midst of the college lifestyle hype and, in turn, create a deeper connection with and understanding of each other.
Along the way, Camp finds himself becoming best friends with John Luke, lead singer of a Christian rock band, who also has feelings for Melissa. John Luke encourages Jeremy to dive deeper into his songwriting and opens up opportunities to help him build a career he dreams of having. Luke’s major piece of advice to Camp is to find out what he wants to do for people through his music; that’s where he needs to start. He eventually discovers this on his journey with Melissa and their faith in God.
However, Melissa’s guilt eats away at her the more time she spends with Jeremy because she knows how Luke feels, and she doesn’t reciprocate the same feelings. In the midst of recording his demo with John Luke, Jeremy and Melissa make up after a fight in the recording studio where Luke catches them mid-lip-lock. Melissa and Jeremy’s fall out with John Luke drives them apart despite Jeremy’s effort to fix things.
The real challenge comes during the winter break months after the episode, when Jeremy gets a call late in the night from John Luke telling him Melissa is really sick. Without a second thought, Jeremy packs up his bag and drives from Indiana to California. Granted this takes place back in 1999 before Tinder was created, but it truly reminded me of the old-school, high school sweetheart kind of love that I seldom see anymore.
It’s cancer. Melissa tells him that’s what she’s fallen ill with as he sits on her bed after having just slept the entire night in a hospital from a cross-country drive. Despite being stuck in a hospital, Jeremy makes a grand gesture as he wheels her into the hospital chapel with her eyes closed. Little does she know, Jeremy brought the galaxy of stars to her with the stringing up of lights around the room.
It wasn’t just the gesture of lights, but the gesture of the drive, the concern, and most of all the faith and Jeremy’s consistent effort of not giving up that carried their relationship beyond the hospital visits and cancer treatments. It carried them so far that he proposed and they decided to get married.
As he is performing his songs on stage one night, Melissa stands in the crowd admiring him. He asks the entire audience to lay their hands on her in prayer for her healing. The scene brought goosebumps to my skin and tears streamed down my cheeks. To me, that is the most powerful thing someone can ask for or do for someone else.
Before a major, life-changing surgery commenced to remove Melissa’s ovaries and eliminate the cancer—a decision that crushed her because she wanted to have kids of her own with Jeremy—the doctors stopped the procedure. The cancer miraculously disappeared. They cried tears of joy, and I cried with them.
Their wedding takes place on a beach in California surrounded by their family and closest friends. Everything is beautiful: Melissa’s dress, the flowers, the ocean backdrop, and the vows that made me sob. But it’s all too good to be true. When they escape to their honeymoon, Melissa gets sick—the cancer returns.
The doctor solemnly tells Jeremy, this is the beginning of the end. There was no stopping it. It spread throughout her body. KJ Apa’s portrayal of Camp’s devastation and heartbreak was award-winning and made my heart ache. Before Melissa dies, she wakes up and tells Jeremy she doesn’t feel pain anymore; God’s cured her.
I was devastated, bawling and thinking to myself why God would do that? Camp returns home with his dad after the service and asks him why God doesn’t fulfill our prayers. However, he discovers that God not answering is him saying, “the best is yet to come.”
Two years later, he appears on stage once again with a new song, “I Still Believe.” He wrote it about God and his wife, for he believes they are both still with him. After performing, a woman introduces herself as Adrien. She had attended the concert where he asked everyone to pray for Melissa, and she had lost someone too at that time. She ultimately tells him that their story saved her. He doesn’t know this yet, but this woman will later become his wife.
If you’re looking for a deeper aspect of romance and true love, this movie is one you must see. The influential film is a #goals love story, but it isn’t a typical romantic love story. It makes you think, question and reflect on who God is in your life—at least, it did for me. It made me stop and realize that some of God’s greatest gifts in our lives are things we haven’t even seen coming. Even when we think he isn’t listening, He is there and is one step ahead of us. All we have to do is believe in Him.