Saturday, July 28, 2007

Remembering A Friend
...25 years ago today Keith Green went home to be with the Lord

I was at Carman's apartment in Tulsa, OK visiting with some friends when the news came that Keith had died in a plane crash at Last Days Ministry. All that I remember was falling back into a chair weeping in disbelief.

I had just been with Keith a month earlier visiting with he and Melody at LDM. Leonard Ravenhill, Keith and I also enoyed a tremendous time of fellowship together.

I flew down that week for the memorial service...

Keith's music still to this day remains powerful and influential. He rejected the CCM industry and didn't charge for his records (something I adopted due to his encouragement in the early 1990's). He was concerned about the entrance of secular ownership of Christian ministry - something he would be outraged by today. He and I shared a passion on those issues and much of my burden for ministry in evangelicalism today can be traced back to those earlier conversations with him.

Though Keith was severely influenced by the writings and life of Charles Finney; his music remained for the most part doctrinally sound and untouched by Finney's Pelagistic convictions (Finney was heretic who denied original sin, justification by faith, the doctrine of imputation, penal substitutionary atonement, the authority of Scripture, etc.)

My favorite song of Keith's was "Asleep in the Light" - IMHO, the most passionate missions song ever written. Keith and I were working that summer on an arrangement of that song for my "Fire and Ice" record. Sadly, that session never happened. I always try to include, even to this day, a few of Keith's songs in every concert I minister. Not so much to pay homage to my brother, but to honor the Lord through lyrics that exalted the Lord Jesus Christ.

Keith was characterized as a "voice in the wilderness" for most of his ministry. By spiritual gift, he was an exhorter. No question his zeal for the Lord was undying and his love for evangelism unfettered. Keith, as I, was a product of the Jesus Movement. Though his ministry in song began after the movement had ended, Keith remained a strong voice for encouraging the church to send missionaries abroad and for the American church to return to holiness and Christlikeness once again.

Here we are 25 years later recalling what the Lord Jesus Christ did through our brother's life. Though his time in ministry was brief, he impacted a generation for the cause of Christ. May his tribe increase once again in Christian music.

I miss my friend greatly.


Juice said...

Hardly a day goes by that I don't listen to at least one Keith Green song. I was born in 1975, but I remember my brother coming back from spending time with my missionary grandparents in Japan in the mid-1980s, and he came back with several Keith Green tapes.

Even at that young age they were incredibly powerful to me and they are almost always the first ones I sing when I can't find the words but need to cry out to the Lord.

My brother was killed in a motorcycle accident in 1994 and so Keith Green has an even more powerful testimony to me than before. Like you, I don't listen to remember my brother, but to praise the Lord for my life and how he has changed it.

Even has a reformed Christian I can listen to Keith Green "without compromise"! :-)


ann said...

My prayers are for You and Your ministry, as well as for more godly singers like Yourself and Keith.

SJ Camp said...

I always appreciated Keith's zeal for the Lord. Though we would disagree on some theological issues, we would find fellowship on so many truths of the faith.

No compromise was his theme---may it be ours too.


Captured! said...

I read the book "No Compromise" as a new Christian and God used it to shape my understanding of scriptures that we are to take care of one another and disciple others through intermingled lives, love of God and His word, and shared burdens. He and his wife walked with and lived with new believers in order help establish others in the faith, help free them of additions, and strengthen fellowship and Christian brotherhood. I have been afforded a few opportunities in my walk over the years to unite with new believers, to study scriptures together, to strengthen godly relationships, to daily live and support one another and to be satisified in Christ alone. For me, the fruit of Keith Green's life and ministry goes far beyond his music. He taught us discipleship and that we are our brother's keepers :>

donsands said...

Keith had a passion, and the heartfelt love for Christ that we need today.

Though his doctrinal stance was non-reformed, he was a strong Christian. I wish he was still here.

Didn't he also have his sons with him in the plane crash?
Melody wrote the hymn, "Lamb of God", didn't she?
Also, didn't Keith get the whole YWAM kicking?

I'm not as familar with him, as I wish I would have been. But even the little I knew of Keith and his service to the Lord had quite an impact on me.

I loved that one "cassette tape" with the song, "Create in Me a Clean Heart".

"Create in me a clean heart, O God,
and renew a right spirit within me.
Cast me not away from Thy presence, O Lord
and take not Thy Holy Spirit from me.
Restore unto me the joy of Thy salvation,
and renew a right spirit within me."

Thanks for this wonderful post, to help us reminisce

bj735 said...

I didn't know (until I started reading your blog) that you had actually known Keith. I became a Christian just a little before he passed, so I wasn't as familiar with his music as I am with yours. Both his, and your, music speaks to me of faithfully following our Lord.

Praise God for Keith, and you too.

Alan E. Kurschner said...

Steve, thanks for posting this. I am always inspired when I hear one of his songs.

davidinflorida said...


Even in a tribute, some people can`t give it a rest without calling someone who disagrees with their theology a heretic.

donsands said...

"Even in a tribute, some people can`t give it a rest without calling someone who disagrees with their theology a heretic."

What are you talking about?

Connie said...

How 'bout that, I was not too far from you in Tulsa when I heard the news--at college in Stillwater, OK.

My roommate and I were new believers and HUGE Keith Green fans. I remember it well because it forced us to think about and sort out our understanding of God in our "baby Christian" ways. Why God would take him, etc.

The song that has stuck in my mind over the years is, "So You Wanna Go Back to Egypt?"

jen said...

Mr. Camp, thanks for posting this sensitive tribute to Keith Green. I'm one of the many his music has impacted.

davidinflorida, I don't know... maybe you should read a post before commenting on it? I'm not being sarcastic, but truly, there's nothing in here that would remotely indicate that Mr. Camp is calling him a heretic.

SJ Camp said...

thank you...

thank you as well...

Create in Me... What a powerful song--thank you.

I wasn't calling Keith a heretic, but Finney. He and I would talk about this a lot.

One thing is for certain... Keith is a Calvinist now! And BTW, if he were standing right here next to me, he would be laughing at that line.

Egypt was one of my favorites as well. I appreciate your thoughts here...

To everybody
Thank you for helping me remember this day in honor of an old friend who served the Lord with zeal and truth.


Des said...

Steve, thank you for sharing your memories of Keith Green. Like yourself, my favorite song by this passionate man of God was "Asleep In The Light." After viewing a YouTube video of Keith singing Asleep In The Light at Jesus West Coast 1982 ( I was led to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ with my mother like I've never done before. I pray that God would use this performance by Keith Green just before his death to lead us all to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ with our family, friends and neighbors. God bless, Des

Like our dear brother Keith once said
We're so well fed but still were dead
We need to hear it once again

Hell Is Burning While The Church Sleeps ~ Steve Camp, Justice (1988)

Wm Mallory said...

My memories as a young child were, No compromise...No compromise... Hate compromise... I remember these from both Keith and Steve.. One of my favs was "Prodical Son".. Miss him greatly, not just for his music, but his testimony for Christ.. And his Zeal...

candy said...

I met Keith Green and his wife when they first became Christians. They had friends here in Reno and came sometimes to do concerts and hang out a bit. I remember in his young Christian zealousness he told a man at one concert to have faith and get up out of his wheelchair and walk. We all had dinner together after the first concert. Some friends of ours also moved to Hollywood to live with Keith and participate in his street ministry. I used to be slightly distressed at Keith's Finneyisms only because the Christians I was involved with at the time became soooooo legalistic. Really. As for me, I rebelled, went though some really tough years and came out of it a reformed Christian. I was very sad to hear of his death, and the death of his children. It sent shock waves though the Christian community.

Terry Rayburn said...

Despite bouts of legalistic-sounding stuff, Keith caught glimpses of the Lord of Grace and wrote some profound grace stuff.

My favorite:

When I Hear The Praises Start.

A small clip:

My son, My son, why are you striving?
You can't add one thing to what's been done for you.
I did it all while I was dying.
Rest in your faith, My peace will come to you.

For when I hear the praises start
I want to rain upon you...
Blessings that will fill your heart
I see no stain upon you...
Because you are my child and you know Me.
To Me you're only holy,
Nothing that you've done remains
Only what you do for Me.

Profound grace, with an emphasis on our new identity in Christ. ...O Lord, You're beautiful.

SJ Camp said...

Thank you for the YouTube link--I have added to this article.

No compromise is the message we all need to hear once again. Amen.

Thank you for sharing your testimony in response to our brother's home-going to the Lord. How sweet is the sovereignty of God in our lives...

Two of my favorites you've shared here. I sing the original lyrics Keith wrote to "Oh Lord You're Beautiful." The extra verses never made it to recording, but they are rich as a confession of our weakness and struggle with sin and the depth of God's grace.

Grace and peace to you all,

gigantor1231 said...

SJ and all

I was at Devonshire Downs the day that the youtube recording was made, I was with YWAM working the gates! I felt that I had something to say to Keith and I knew if what I had to say was of God then the Lord would allow him and I to cross paths. To my amazement, the opportunity arose, I saw Keith sitting alone in some bleachers listening to Lauren Cunningham speak. I walked up to Keith and told him that I was with YWAM working the gates and that I felt that the Lord had given me something to tell him. Keith summarily rebuked me and told me he was listening to Lauren and that I was rude for interrupting him. I apologized and sat down, kind of shocked but understanding that he was probably deluged with folks trying to give him words and he was just like anyone else that needed time to get away from things. As I sat there, I heard Keith off to my right, kind of fidgeting around like something was bothering him, I was still just sitting there dazed wondering what just happened. The next thing I knew he was right next to me, he apologized saying that he did not understand that I was one of the volunteers with YWAM working the gates. We spoke for a bit, I told him what I thought God was speaking to me and we parted ways.
The next week I ushered one of his concerts in LA and got to meet his mom, these were very interesting times for me to say the least, traveling with a YWAM, evangelizing the west coast and Canada, meeting Keith Green and his mom. It is all kind of a blur to me now.
A few weeks later on outreach in Chiliwack B.C., sitting in the basement of a church reading the most rescent last days news letter someone told me Keith and some of his children were killed in a plane crash. Wow..... that is about all I could say then and about all I can say now.
I know that more than anything else Keith loved Jesus and he loved His Word, that is what Keith was all about. We need more people like Keith Green today, more people who want to be like Jesus!

Jack said...

God used Keith in my life at a crucial time. My mother had just passed away the winter before and his songs really hit me hard. Keith showed me what repentance was and just had such a clear way of conveying the gospel. God changed my heart that summer with Keith's songs in my head. I particularly like "I want to be more like Jesus" which still brings tears to my eyes.

Steven said...


Thanks for the post. When I first got saved 10 yrs ago I didn't listen to hardly any artists but you and Keith. My family and I are missionaries headed to West Africa to plant churches among the Muslims. God used you and Keith's music to deepen my convictions (Asleep In The Light, Go To The Hungry Ones, Abandoned To God, The Mark Of A Man Of God, etc.)Few people will sing about the true Holiness of God, and rather their view of God. Thanks again.

In His Labors,

Van Edwards said...

I used to think that "Asleep in the Light" was your song. As many times as I listened to your rendition of that song (was it on "Shake Me to Wake Me"?), it never failed to send chills down my spine when you sang, "Jesus rose from the grave, but you can't get out of bed." Chills of conviction, I suppose.

Since then, I've become familiar with much of Keith's work and I've been inspired by his passion and shear joy. I used to sing "Create in Me" to my kids at bedtime.

Thanks for this reminder.

donsands said...

We sang this beautiful song of Keith's during the taking of the Lord's Supper, and I thought I'd come back here and share it's incredible words:

"My eyes are dry
My faith is old
My heart is hard
My prayers are cold
And I know how I ought to be
Alive to You and dead to me

But what can be done
For an old heart like mine
Soften it up
With oil and wine
The oil is You, Your Spirit of love
Please wash me anew
With the wine of Your Blood"

Unknown said...

I wish I had a friend like Keith Green.

gkngc04 said...

do you remember what the date was for rhe concert at Devonshire Downs? I was a little girl and my cousins took me with them.

James said...

Steve, first off, thank you for your music. Your "Consider the Cost" was and is one of my favorite CD's. I heard a story once about you and Keith, and I wonder if you could confirm it. I think (and this would have been like, 40 years ago, so my memory is hazy), that I saw you in concert and you told this story between songs. The story, as I remember it, was that you had gotten mugged and the guy took your wallet. You were talking to Keith about it after it happened, and Keith said, "Well, did you tell him about Jesus?" And you said, "No, man, they guy was mugging me!" And Keith looked at you and said, "Get your priorities right, or get out of the ministry."

Was that your story, or do I have it wrong?