The Faith of Glen Campbell
He grew up in a small town in rural Arkansas, the seventh son of a seventh son, a dirt poor farmer’s son in a poor rural county. But Glen he did have two gifts—good parents who gave him a $5 Sears and Roebuck guitar and a strong work ethic.
Through hard work and vision, high school dropout Glen Campbell found himself not behind the “north end of a southbound mule,” but in Southern California in the Sixties. Though he never learned to read music, it was apparent to all that he was something special, a prodigious guitar player. He played with Elvis, The Beach Boys, Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Rick Nelson, and The Mamas and The Papas, just to mention a few.
But despite his success as a session musician, Glen charted a different course—he decided to take the lead. What a bold and wise decision it was. Glen quickly racked up mega-hits: Gentle on My Mind, By the Time I Get to Phoenix, Wichita Lineman, Southern Nights, and Rhinestone Cowboy to name just a few. He also became a star of television and film.
Still, to obtain fame, the boy from tiny Billstown, Arkansas had done a load of compromisin’. And as a result, marriages and relationships failed and he was horribly addicted to drugs and alcohol. While he never sought to be a star, “just a country boy who played guitar,” he nevertheless fell into the trap of so many who pursued stardom.
Then in 1981, after a near overdose and due to the faith and love of Kimberly Woolen, whom he would eventually marry, Glen accepted Christ as his Savior. He still struggled with alcohol on a daily basis, but Glen’s faith would overcome his addiction to drugs.
He would not lead a perfect Christian life, but Glen was an incredible witness for the perfect grace of God.
I had the opportunity to meet Glen on two occasions when he played his hits and his songs of faith at my church. He was gracious, affable, humble, and a man who truly loved the Lord. Like all of us, he had his struggles. But it was his struggles that allowed him to sing not just the hits, but songs that touched masses of fans with the good news of the saving grace of Jesus.