"Does the end of the world begin in New Orleans?"
About the Author
Author Bruce S. Campbell’s new novel, The Beginning: Prelude to the Apocalypse, is so rich in scriptural truth taught through allegory that he had to add a study guide so that readers could unpack the treasure trove of truth they were reading. This ordained minister and counselor to other pastors will be the first to tell you that he has come a long way from his upbringing.
Bruce’s parents were divorced when he was five years old, and his mother worked two jobs to support three boys. Soon, she came to realize she could not take care of them properly, and put Bruce and his two brothers in an orphanage in Detroit, where they lived for three years until Bruce was in 5th grade. Bruce’s mother remarried and the boys were brought back to live in the home.
When Bruce was 11, he had a weekend visit with his biological father who had become a Christian.
It was on this visit that Bruce accepted Christ as his Savior. Unfortunately, he lost contact with his father shortly after that. His stepfather was an atheist. With no moral guidance in his life, at the early age of 13, Bruce began to use drugs. His addiction grew, and at the age of 16, Bruce had an encounter that began to change his outlook on life and God.
“I got into an altercation with deputy sheriffs and was beaten with steel flashlights,” Bruce recalls.
“I became separated from my body and began to float upward. I saw Jesus coming out of the clouds and felt love, like a warm blanket, surround me. I was ashamed to come to Christ like that and asked Him for another chance. I immediately came back into my body and woke up in the hospital many hours later. My mother was in the hospital room crying as she told me they almost lost me. Although I had asked Christ to come into my heart, I was not following Him nor did I even care if God was real at the time of the incident. I was shaken to the core and could not get the vision of Christ out of my mind. I didn’t want to believe it was real because I loved drugs. I rationalized that it was an imaginary experience due to the trauma I suffered. Yet, I couldn’t shake the vivid picture of Jesus coming for me. After several weeks in the hospital, I was released to jail and then went back to the hospital. After the second hospital stay, I was released to my mother as a minor until the trial. At trial, I was convicted of assault and was put on probation for a year.”
Bruce quickly slipped back into drugs and began to drink heavily, but he couldn’t shake the inner knowledge that God was real. His mother gave him a book entitled Deliver Us from Evil by Don Basham. Bruce scanned the book, but didn’t take it too seriously because of the book’s emphasis on demons and spiritual warfare. It was on a plane ride to see an old girlfriend that Bruce had an encounter with God that forever changed his life trajectory.
As he boarded the plane to fly back to Florida, Bruce made a solemn promise to God to never drink again. After the plane took off, the flight attendants brought the beverage cart down the aisle and he got a cup of coffee. He remembered that he had a bottle of Kahlua in his bag and poured some of it into the coffee.
“After the third cup of Kahlua and coffee, I suddenly realized I had promised God I would never drink again,” says Bruce. “I was dumbfounded at the reality of my promise and intent. It was as if another person took over my body and I had no control over my actions. I sat in the seat wondering how such a thing could happen. I remember saying, ‘Jesus, what is wrong with me?’
“I wasn’t expecting what happened next. A voice said, ‘Bruce, you have a demon.’ I started looking around me to see who spoke.
I suddenly realized it was not audible, but was the Spirit of the Lord. I asked the Lord what to do. He said, ‘Command it to come out in My name.’ I had never experienced anything like this. I wasn’t familiar with the Bible enough to know if such experiences were normal or not. I figured I would do what I was instructed and I asked a question to the demon, ‘What is your name?’ A different voice said the word, ‘Addiction.’ I said, ‘Addiction, come out of me in the name of Jesus!’ Suddenly, I felt energy like a ball start to move around my stomach and into my chest. It continued to rise up into my throat and began to choke me. After a moment, I felt the presence leave out of my face. I sat there astounded at what I had just experienced. This reality was far beyond anything I had known before. It was as if an evil part of me was ripped out and I was free from its grasp.”
Once off the plane, Bruce began to realize that his addiction was completely gone. “I stopped at a 7/11 convenience store a couple of blocks from my house. When I emerged, I had a can of Coca Cola in my hand. That’s when it all hit me. I realized I did not have a beer in my hand. I hadn’t come out of a convenience store without a beer in years.
I marveled that I didn’t even notice the beer cooler.
I suddenly noticed the pack of cigarettes in my shirt pocket. I hadn’t smoked a single cigarette the entire trip. In fact, it was as if I had never smoked a cigarette in my entire life. I had no craving, no driven urge to light one up. In that moment, I knew the power of God. What I had experienced was real. In one moment the power of drugs, alcohol and tobacco were permanently removed from my life.” Bruce turned his desire toward learning about the God who had healed his addiction. He read the Bible from cover to cover, drinking it in like water. He soon felt a call to the ministry and eventually received his Masters of Divinity from New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. Since then, he has served as pastor in various churches, and in 2010, he and his wife, Jill, founded “The Secret Place,” an international ministry that offers pastors and clergy a respite from their pastoral work. Bruce and his wife minster and counsel both pastors and their wives who need to be refreshed or have fallen into sinful behaviors.
Bruce’s new novel, The Beginning: Prelude to the Apocalypse, was birthed from a dramatic event that took place at a church where Bruce was serving as pastor a few years ago.
“We had a woman who was dying of cancer at our church,” Bruce recalls. “The doctors had given her no hope and basically, sent her home to die. We laid hands on her and prayed for a complete recovery. A couple of weeks later, she was told there was an experimental treatment so she went back to the hospital for tests. That day her son called me in tears, and I thought she had passed away. What he told me was that the doctors could no longer locate the cancer at all. It was completely gone. This sent shock waves through our church, and we began to see God move in miraculous ways. My associate pastor and I began to talk about how the New Testament was coming alive before us, and we began to discuss biblical characters. We started talking about the two witnesses in Revelation – who they would be, what they would say, are they here now – and that was the germination of the idea behind the book. How will the world end as we know it? Is it going to be something closer to home and more common than we might think?”
Bruce’s goal with the new book and his current ministry is simple: to embolden the body of Christ with a deeper understanding of the love and grace of God.
“Our view of God is too small, and we place Him into our neat little theological packages,” says Bruce. “The result is that the world discounts our message as a confusing mess of contradiction. Like Pharisees, we are more concerned about adherence to our doctrines than we are concerned about showing the world the redemption in Christ. We emphasize certain things that appeal to us and neglect other things as unimportant. It is my
belief that when Christianity becomes more about a lifestyle than doctrines and denominations, we will begin to present a more united front to the world. At the core of our problem is that we do not really believe Scriptures that teach us that with God all things are possible. We want to make the ways of God into an “either or” rather than “both and” realities. We see examples in such doctrines as law and grace. If we embrace grace we don’t think we are under the law. If we believe we must work out our salvation, we reject grace. The truth is that both realities remain true at the same time. Knowledge falls short of the reality of God. The realm of the Spirit is above the realm of knowledge. We must embrace every word that proceeds from God if we are to gain wisdom of His ways.”
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