God healed Dave Campbell’s throat as a teenager and gave him a boldness to preach. He hasn’t looked back since. Becky Barlow met the popular member of Elim’s National Leadership Team
Dave Campbell’s arrival into the world made headlines when he and his identical twin, Ian, were born with a combined weight of 20lbs!
With the average weight of a twin being just 5.5lbs, Dave went on to thrive in every sense of the word. The third generation Elim member excelled at school and was pushed forward, finishing a year ahead of the pack – at a time when something happened which changed the course of his life forever.
“God really got hold of my life,” he recalls. “I had something wrong with my throat and I lost my voice for six weeks. I had to go into hospital and I went and got prayed for by my pastor, Richard Lighton, who the Lord had just healed from cancer, and God healed me and gave me my voice back.
“Before that I was really shy in public but I remember praying, ‘God, if you heal me, I will speak anywhere for you.’ And when my voice came back, my problems with public speaking disappeared too.”
“When my pastor prayed for me to get baptised in the Holy Spirit, he prophesied that I would go into the ministry,” Dave says. “I didn’t want to give up my job and go into the ministry full time – I thought that I could just do it as well as working.
“But God reminded me of my promise to him during that six-week period of illness. Eighteen months later I went to Bible college – which was in Capel at the time – for three years. It was a great time and some of my contemporaries were Nigel Tween and Robert Millar.”
Upon his graduation, Dave spent six years at Ashbourne where he met his wife, Mandy, before moving to St Albans, where his experience of the Holy Spirit was to go even deeper.
“We saw phenomenal growth in the St Albans church and we became a Holy Spirit-centred church,” he explains. “We were the first Elim church to visit Toronto in 1994 and we came back and all heaven broke out. We had seven years of blessing.
“My grandmother was saved under George Jeffreys and she was a founding member of Greenock Elim. Later my father was an Elim minister for a short time. For me, the whole Toronto experience took me back to the stories my father would tell me about what it was like during the early days of Elim with George Jeffreys, so it was like we were rediscovering our roots.”
This passion for the Holy Spirit birthed RIVERcamp – a family event now in its 12th year, that last years attracted more than 2,000 people.
“RIVERcamp came about when we handed over the church leadership and took over the Region – we stopped doing the church conferences and RIVERcamp became a natural successor to that,” Dave explains.
“Someone suggested that we have a camp where the whole family could be touched by the Holy Spirit. That was 12 years ago – we started with around 300 people and now we have around 2,000 over the whole weekend.
“I’m a Holy Spirit person; I like the reality of that. I don’t do religion, I’ve had too much of the real thing. I put it like this: once you’ve had a colour TV you don’t want to go back to watching black and white! But our ministry has to be enough not to just bless Christians, but to give away.”
It was at St Albans that the father-of-two’s other passion was developed – missions.
“I’ve always had a heart for releasing people into missions, so when we came to St Albans we started double tithing to up our missions giving and that’s something the church still does today,” he says.
“When the Toronto Blessing came, our prayer was always that God would give us enough to give away. We sent a lot of people on short-term missions and they’d come back passionate about missions for the rest of their lives. In 1995, 120 people went out on a short-term mission, which was nearly half the church.”
Although Dave, 56, resigned from St Albans eight years ago to concentrate on his role as a Regional Leader for Elim, he is keen to point out that the local church is at the forefront of everything that he does.
“I still have an office at St Albans and try to be there on a Sunday at least once a month,” he says. “I became a Regional Leader in 2000 and though I handed over the church in 2005, the local church is still very important to me. I make myself accountable to them. That’s the key.
“Deep down I’m a revivalist and always have been. I believe in and seek for and pray for revival. Elim was birthed in revival – every Movement needs to revisit their roots when they’re looking to the future. Elim’s roots are unashamedly Christian and unashamedly Pentecostal which suits me down to the ground because that’s what I am.
“Reaching the lost and church planting is how we started, so we are just going back to our roots with The Big Centenary Ask. It’s not a new thing but it’s a new way of going back to our roots and to what God gave us as a Movement in the first place.”