Released last month, just days before the nation’s record-breaking period of movie theater closures in compliance with COVID-19, the Christian cinematic biopic I Still Believe successfully reached number one across US box offices. Starring Riverdale‘s leading man, K.J. Apa, and the Tomorrowland breakout actress, Britt Robertson, I Still Believe follows the emotional love story of contemporary Christian singer-songwriter Jeremy Camp and his late first wife, Melissa Lynn Henning-Camp. From tear-jerking hospital bedside performances and worship gatherings to raw concert venue shows, K.J. Apa authentically steps into character and shares Jeremy Camp’s musical influence with diverse audiences.
Born and raised in Lafayette, Indiana, the Grammy-nominated artist met Melissa while attending Calvary Chapel Bible College, where he received an associate degree in theology. Diagnosed with terminal ovarian cancer early in their relationship, Melissa fought the illness with Jeremy by her side. Spiritually tested throughout their rollercoaster journey, Jeremy used his talent and rising platform to facilitate communities of prayer for Melissa’s healing. While temporarily cured, Melissa’s cancer ultimately spread throughout her organs, passing away within months of their marriage. Devastated and heartbroken, Jeremy questioned God’s predestination and doubted his faith. Angrily smashing a guitar against the floor of his childhood bedroom in a climactic scene, Jeremy found a letter from Melissa, encouraging him to overcome grief and suffering through God’s love. Subsequently choosing to trust in Him, Jeremy vulnerably poured his heart into writing the film’s namesake single, “I Still Believe.” Closing the movie in peace after a festival performance, Jeremy met his current wife, Adrienne, who unapologetically confided in him and stated how his music and love story introduced her to Jesus.
Christian music-themed motion pictures are not everyone’s cup of tea. However, pain is universal, and the Lionsgate visual story retold by the Tennessee native Erwin Brothers relates to viewers on countless personal levels, especially during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. Despite apprehensions regarding K.J. Apa’s ability to capture the essence of an early 2000s Jeremy Camp, he convincingly conveyed the ASCAP-winning musician’s profound transformation and spiritual growth. Playing many of Jeremy’s popular records, including “This Man,” “Find Me in the River,” “My Desire,” “Right Here,”and the title track “I Still Believe,” K.J. effortlessly highlighted the singer-songwriter’s stage presence and sense of comfort in Christ throughout each verse. Although his acting occasionally emitted cheesiness, K.J. confidently embodied Jeremy’s pain, loss, and perseverance. Currently available on-demand, I Still Believe is the culmination of Jeremy Camp’s testimony, a must-see film inevitably bound to cry your eyes out.
Featured image provided by Lionsgate