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Cameron experienced 'Growing Pains' on his way to God

September 03, 2010|By MATTHEW UMSTEAD
  • Kirk Cameron, former "Growing Pains" actor, speaks Friday on gospel-centered marriages and families at The Maryland Theatre in Hagerstown, an event sponsored by Convenant Life Church.
Kelly Hahn Johnson, Staff Photographer

Former TV sitcom star Kirk Cameron attempted to rid a Maryland Theatre audience of "Seaver Fever" on Friday night before delving into a more serious discussion about marriage and faith.

Known as the lovable teenager Mike Seaver on the 1980s TV sitcom "Growing Pains," Cameron had the crowd of about 900 people sing the show's theme song to help "transport" him back to 1986 so he could recite a few of his lines from six years of the show in 60 seconds.

In retrieving a bit of his teenage character's voice from the show, Cameron had the crowd laughing and hopefully forgetting his past television persona.

"For me, 'Growing Pains' was a huge game changer in my life," Cameron said after the laughter subsided.

Growing up as an atheist, Cameron said his experiences on "Growing Pains" led him to become a Christian. He also met co-star Chelsea Noble on the show, and they eventually married.

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"I thought Jesus was part of a different trinity," Cameron said. "I thought it was Easter Bunny, Santa Claus and Jesus.

"And (now) the longer I live, the more I am so thankful for Jesus Christ for his grace and for his mercy and his ability to give me a new heart and change my desires and turn me away from that which is going to destroy me and my family and turn me to the God who will show me the more excellent way and the path to blessing and honoring him and loving my family."

In addressing the subject of marriage, Cameron said so many people jump into marriage without any instruction on how to make it work.

While not avowing to be a marriage counselor, Cameron said the manual for marriage is God's word.

"I've gotten to know him and I've gotten to know his manual and I know his advice trumps Oprah's every time," Cameron said.

Cameron's remarks came after former Boonsboro resident Vaughn Thompson and his wife, Irene, led the crowd in song. The couple now are worship pastors at a church in Fullerton, Calif.

Terri Gable of Greencastle, Pa., and Vicki Cole of Williamsport said they came to Friday's program, which was hosted by Covenant Life Church in Hagerstown, to hear Cameron, who they have seen minister on television.

"We just thought he would be encouraging and edifying and lift us up," Gable said before they took their seats.

Both said they were fans of Cameron when he was on "Growing Pains" and since have enjoyed the inspirational film "Fireproof," in which the actor played the leading role. The movie is about a firefighter on the brink of divorce who gets his heart right with God and then tries to win back his wife's heart.

Dave Walker of Sharpsburg said he appreciated Cameron's ministry because he gives a "very quick and concise presentation of the gospel."

Walker attended the program with his wife, Gayle.

The couple, who have been married for 47 years, said keeping an open dialogue is one of the keys to maintaining their marriage.

"Don't ever go to bed angry," Dave Walker said, laughing. "Or don't ever go to sleep."

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