Otto & Elizabeth DeCamp

My parents, Otto and Elizabeth DeCamp, were married in Korea on December 6, 1940—one year, almost to the day, before Pearl Harbor. They lived to serve the Lord; now they dwell with Him in Immanuel’s Land.

A Week to Remember

8 days to rest, rejuvenate, and celebrate our 51st

A Week to Remember #1

The week began in Nashville, and included a helicopter ride over the city (thank you, Rob).

A Week to Remember #2

Our week proceeds with an inside view of Nashville life.

A Week to Remember #3

Some cities were built on steel, manufacturing, agriculture, commerce. Nashville came to life by blending cords and lyrics––sounds on stage.

Here accomplished artists, aspiring musicians, and assorted dreamers converged to display their wares. Some rose to fame. The Music City today is home to The “Grand Ole Opry” and the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum.

Ruth and I got a taste of a local artistic seedbed, The Listening Room Cafe (Photo: warm-up session before the house filled). Four young women shared their original music hoping to be noticed, to get that first career break. Let me tell you: these are gifted songwriters who shared deeply of their passion, joys, and challenges. They were amazing. I’d like to go there again.

And, Oh, how I’d love for them to know the One Who fills every need.

Listening Room Cafe: Warm-up Session Before House Filled
A Week to Remember #4

Our abode for 4 nights.

A mailbox off the road was the only clue we were at the right place. My eyes followed a foot trail till it disappeared into the woods (photo #1). No cabin. I asked Ruth to stay in the car while I set out to search for our cabin and to ensure the car would traverse the trail.

A 1/4-mile hike led to a clearing, and this inviting cabin (#2). If they got the building materials and equipment in here, I reasoned, surely our Subaru will make it! Sure enough.

We had been in search of two things: remoteness and internet access (often thought of as mutually exclusive). The first requirement clearly had been met; one could have driven within this short distance of the cabin for years and never have known it existed! The second requirement would prove a reality, as well!

In future posts, I plan to discuss why these criteria were so important to us, yet God had already provided more than we could have imagined. And the blessings had only begun!

A Week to Remember #5

We didn’t venture from our cabin often, but when we did….

Ruth loves water: Oceans, lakes, ponds, rivers, streams, creeks. Ruth loves the water.
We were just 1/4 mile from a huge lake, and she drank it in.

“Be still, and know that I am God.” Psalm 46:10a––ESV

A Week to Remember #6

My thoughts one day: putting the world in its place

Predictability over Upheaval

In this secluded cabin, I was tempted to believe that this world was out of control. God’s design for life and family, for government and nations, is being perverted and mocked––evidence of a world attempting life without its Creator. In such an environment, who can know what vagaries lie around the corner?

At the same time, I recalled that God has never lost an election; He has never been defeated in war; His plan for this nation and world cannot be thwarted. From this understanding, everything is neatly on schedule. The Conductor of the Universe has a plan and, instead of panic, God reassures us with order, predictability.

Last week I took photos of the sun’s tireless march from first light till late afternoon. We––and all the animals––knew what to expect from this celestial lamp. The heavens declare the glory of God, and God’s eternal Word points the way.

The Rock of Ages will not be moved. His plan––on which we must stand––is our confidence and hope.

“No wisdom, no understanding, no counsel can avail against the LORD.”

Proverbs 21:30—ESV

A Week to Remember #7

From early morning solitude came these thoughts to sustain us through life:

1. Focus on Someone bigger than yourself.

Quietness, prayer and meditation on God’s Word––that’s how our day began.

2. Increase knowledge that builds confidence.

When it was light enough, we moved out to the porch. I read from Voddie Baucum’s book, Fault Lines: The Social Justice Movement and Evangelicalism’s Looming Catastrophe. There’s a backstory to almost everything. Set out to learn it.

3. Build faith and fortitude needed for what may be coming.

One of the most frequent promises in the Bible is “I will be with you.” Devote yourself to Christ and His way, and you will never be alone. Even in a jail cell He will never leave you nor forsake you. Drink deeply from the well that never runs dry.

“Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?”

Matthew 6:26—ESV

A Week to Remember #8

On the Road Less Traveled

We had talked about a quiet vacation (ideally remote) in rustic surroundings (probably a cabin). It wasn’t an attempt to escape life, nor evade people. We simply wanted to be alone with each other…and with God.

With Each Other

I like words, but am at a loss to explain what Ruth means to me after 51 years. When we got engaged it dawned on me that every plan I would make from there on out would include her.

That was an exciting and very welcome thought!

I would learn how “for better or worse, for richer or poorer, in sickness and in health, till death do us part” holds meaning, substance, sacrifice. God would use the next five decades as a training ground: the Bible as guide and His Spirit as inspiration. Oh, how the Lord has been good to us!


During those five days we had only one (brief) conversation with another person. We’ve been a lot of places, but that Kentucky cabin offered five days of quiet solitude like we had never tasted. Lord willing, it won’t be the last.

With God

In recent years, Ruth and I have come to cherish the early hours. The Good Shepherd knows what we need before we ask, and we want to feed in His pasture.

In a men’s Bible study 20 years ago, the conversation turned to God’s design for marriage and family. An older, wise elder concluded simply, “You can’t improve on God’s plan.”

Though many are experimenting on other roads, those words have proven true for those who feed on God’s eternal Word. (And thanks be to God that He can redeem any situation!)

I’m still looking forward to every plan that includes Ruth…and God.

E. Otto DeCamp

Photo: 1948. Dad in front of the West Gate Prison in Seoul after World War II, and seven years following his incarceration there.

My father, E. Otto DeCamp, was born 110 years ago today. His early missionary service in Korea was interrupted by a stint in a Japanese prison cell. Yet even there the Gospel brought light.

He wrote about it in “Five Months in a Japanese Prison” (February 25 – July 21, 1941):

“While contact with others was forbidden there were many curious guards who would drop by and ask what had brought us here. Each one who came gave us a chance to tell them of the Christ who was the Lord of all and the Savior of all who would believe.”

I hope soon to share this paper on this site.

Easter Memory from Korea

Site of Easter Sunrise Service on Nam San (South Mountain) in Seoul

First memory of Easter: as a child, on South Mountain in Seoul, Korea, for the Sunrise Service. 

From every direction came figures on foot in the dark. Thousands upon thousands. Silent. Plodding. Climbing. Most with one volume held close. All with a memory. 

Japan had ruled Korea for the first half of the twentieth century. On this spot had stood a Shinto Shrine, at which the Japanese forced Koreans to worship the emperor. 

Because of their allegiance to Christ, many Korean believers refused. They had been beaten, imprisoned, or worse. The first thing the Koreans did when liberated after World War II was to tear down that shrine. 

Now in the darkness, long before the sun rose that Easter morning, the Light of the World illumined their steps. They just kept coming. And coming. A great multitude. From the north and the south and the east and the west, they came. 

Free at last to worship the Savior, they came. Hearts ablaze. 

Then, at first light, together singing: 

Jesus Christ is risen today, Hallelujah!
Our triumphant holy day, Hallelujah!
Who did once, upon the cross, Hallelujah!
Suffer to redeem our loss, Hallelujah!

Remarks at DeCamp Retirement Ceremony

First Army HQ, Fort Gillem, GA
24 March 2011
1100 hours

Passion to defend what we love.

Well, the bad news is that a preacher has the floor. The good news is that it will be brief…by a preacher’s standards!

Thank you, Major General MacCarley, Sir. You rode the red eye last night from California to be here to officiate this morning. Thank you, Sir. And Command Sergeant Major Andrews, thank you for honoring me with your presence here this morning.

And thanks to all of you, dear friends. Thank you, Chaplain Meek, Sir, for your mentoring and friendship; Chaplain Holley, for your winsome spirit, and your knack for making things happen; Chaplain Thomas, for being a tremendous deputy and seeing to all the details of this day—what a joy!; Chaplain Bedsole, for faithfully applying your intellect in the effective training of our chaplains and chaplain assistants; Sergeant Major Penick, for being our treasure trove of military knowledge and technical expertise, and for your skill in teaching and leading others; Staff Sergeant Townes, for being completely reliable, and for ensuring that every task is performed in an outstanding way (except for making stir fry!); and—yes—Arlene, who patiently reminds us, sometimes prods us, and always fully supports us.

Thank you to our friends from the Morrow Presbyterian Church for coming. They are golden; they are the salt of the earth.

Though they could not be here, thank you to our wonderful children, Dorothy, Rob and David, who never complained when Dad was away…again.

But most of all…thank you to Ruth, my dear wife of 40 years—31 of those in the United States Army in one manner or another. You went with me to Germany, Korea, and back to Fort Benning…again; and stayed behind when I deployed to the desert.

This is for you, Darlin’. [a dozen pink roses…and a kiss]

It won’t surprise you to hear a chaplain say, “God has led me all the way.” One of my favorite expressions is “The Lord is good!” And, indeed, He has been so very good to me. It has been a joy to share God’s grace. I love to pastor and I love to Soldier, and as an Army chaplain I’ve been able to do both.

But in a more earthly sense, I have worn the uniform of my country for one reason: freedom. I have always loved freedom’s defender: the United States military. I grew up in Korea of missionary parents. My father said to this young boy in the early 1960s, “Jimmy, the South Koreans are the only people in the world who have lived under Communism and then been freed from it.”

I was to grow in my understanding of that.

We had GIs in our home every Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter. Then my dad took me to see them in their units in the Second Infantry Division, between Seoul and the DMZ. As a young boy, I drove a tank! (That was before they had Risk Assessments!) As a boy, I wanted to be like Soldiers, because they were fighting for our freedom.

All I ever wanted to be was a Soldier. I almost dropped out of college my sophomore year so I could wear a Green Beret in Vietnam. But to honor my parents, I stayed in school.

(Incidently, God bless all of you who served in Vietnam: Weeghmyn Lewis, Donn Ladson, Andy Anderson…quite a number in this building. I never want to miss an opportunity to thank our Vietnam vets; you all paid a much higher price in some ways that those who come back from war today. I honor you for your sacrifice.)

Then I wanted to transfer to the U. S. Military Academy at West Point and start all over again in year-one, but by then, a beautiful young lady had entered my life!

In the interest of getting to lunch, I must leap over 40 years. (And for those of you who brought your kitchen timers, ’less than 10 minutes left!) But I come back to the reason I have worn the uniform.

“Freedom isn’t free,” was the refrain of a popular song in the ’60’s. It’s an old truth; the only thing that changes is the battlefield on which it is proved.

I love my country, because she is about freedom. But like that person who is most precious to us, freedom is there to be cherished, nurtured, defended.

We can serve our country by wearing the uniform, of course. But also by strengthening our Family; by praying—“God help us!”; by helping a neighbor—like Celeste, who’s probably helped everybody in this building!; by working tirelessly (did you ever think of that as a patriotic thing to do?); by inspiring young people to invest their lives in a noble, righteous cause.

And I’m going to add one other—what, for me, is a new way to love my country, one that goes all the way back to its founding.

What is the one document many of us have sworn to “…support and defend…against all enemies, foreign and domestic…”? In the last five months, I have wrapped my arms around this North Star of our country: the United States Constitution.

Last November, I set out to read it once a week; now it’s once a month. Print it out; it’s only 21 pages, including Amendments. (Congress read it out loud in 85 minutes. I’m not a fast reader, but I can read it in less time than that.)

I couldn’t stop asking questions: “Why does it say that?” and “Where did this concept come from?”

I was attracted to The Federalist Papers, a collection of over 80 essays that promoted ratification of our Constitution during the two years it was hotly debated. I’m about half-way through The Federalist Papers, and this exercise has transformed my appreciation of the land I love.

If you want to see what intelligent discourse is, read The Federalist Papers. They reach back, for examples of good and bad government, to the Greek city states and the Roman Empire––right on through the eighteenth century. There is no poverty of thought in The Federalist Papers!

The Bible says, “It is not good to have zeal without knowledge.” My passion for freedom did not need more fuel; it needed more knowledge. Our children and grandchildren will continue to taste sweet freedom if we teach them, and inspire them to cherish, nurture, and defend it. Do not delegate that high calling to anyone!

I love freedom the more today because I am being instructed in the roots of it. So please—if you are inclined or as you are led—read the Bible and the Constitution, then instill in your Family a longing to follow God and to breathe free.

God bless you, and God bless this Shining City on a Hill. Amen

Elizabeth DeCamp: Into the Ivory Palaces

My mother, Elizabeth DeCamp, was born on this day in 1908. She and my father, Otto DeCamp, served together as missionaries to Korea for 37 years. Here are some ways I admire, and am grateful for her:


> She had the benefit of a classical education and had studied Latin for years. She had read countless historical novels, and all of Winston Churchill’s works.
> She knew her Bible. Well.
> Her allusions to literature and Scripture are legendary.


> When her husband of six weeks was taken from her and placed in solitary confinement for five months in a Japanese prison in Korea the winter 1941, she trusted God.
> When she kept her four children for four years in Tokyo while her husband cared for war refugees in Korea during the Korean Conflict, she displayed a core of steel.
> She taught perseverance, one day at a time.


> She taught me the books of the Bible, and how to apply life lessons from cover to cover.
> Our school produced two plays every year––operettas for grade schoolers, and Shakespeare or Rogers and Hammerstein plays in high school. She ensured I knew my lines.
> Her way of answering a question with another question would send me thinking for hours.


> As a nurse, for years she ran the Foreigner’s Clinic of Severance Hospital in Seoul, Korea.
> Pouring out her life amidst trial and sacrifice, a calm demeanor revealed her abiding faith in Christ.
> She had always wanted to cruise through the Panama Canal. When I learned this late in her life (after my father had become ill with Alzheimer’s), I offered to cruise with her. She declined, in order to be by the side of her husband of 60 years.

I remember her singing to herself around the house. She loved this hymn; it was often on her lips:
“Out of the Ivory Palaces”
By Henry Barraclough, 1915

My Lord has garments so wondrous fine,
and myrrh their texture fills;
its fragrance reached to this heart of mine,
with joy my being thrills.

Out of the ivory palaces,
into a world of woe,
only His great, eternal love
made my Savior go.

His life had also its sorrows sore,
for aloes had a part;
and when I think of the cross He bore,
my eyes with teardrops start. [Refrain]

His garments too were in cassia dipped,
with healing in a touch;
each time my feet in some sin have slipped,
He took me from its clutch. [Refrain]

In garments glorious He will come,
to open wide the door;
and I shall enter my heavenly home,
to dwell forevermore. [Refrain]

“To God be the glory, great things He hath done.”

Every Day . . .

“Every day, you should do two things that you don’t want to do before 10:00 AM.”
—my father, E. Otto DeCamp

Thanking God on Our 50th Anniversary

August 1, 2020

God has been so good to give Ruth and me 50 years together!
By numbering us among the redeemed, He gave us hearts to seek His Word.
Through want and plenty, joy and sorrow, the Faithful One has provided.
Whether the path was level or steep, the Maker of the Mountains led every step.
Ruth is my greatest earthly treasure. The Lord gave us three wonderful kids, and seven beautiful grands.
“You can’t improve on God’s plan.”
Thank you, Jesus!

In Honor of My Father’s Birthday, 2020

July 19, 2020, on the occasion of my father’s birthday:

My father was born on this day in 1911 in Seoul, Korea, his parents being missionaries there. Near the beginning of the Korean Conflict in 1950, my father served as an interpreter for U. S. advisors who were training South Korean commandos.

This Hymn Ministered Deeply to My Father

January 27, 2020

“How Firm a Foundation”
In addition to the Scriptures, this hymn ministered deeply to my father while in a Japanese prison in 1941, in a religious liberty case.

How firm a foundation, ye saints of the Lord,
Is laid for your faith in His excellent Word!
What more can He say than to you He hath said,
To you who for refuge to Jesus have fled?
To you who for refuge to Jesus have fled?

“Fear not, I am with Thee, O be not dismayed,
For I am thy God, I will still give thee aid;
I’ll strengthen thee, help thee, and cause thee to stand,
Upheld by My righteous, omnipotent hand,
Upheld by My righteous, omnipotent hand.

“When through the deep waters I call thee to go,
The rivers of sorrow shall not overflow;
For I will be near thee, thy troubles to bless,
And sanctify to thee thy deepest distress,
And sanctify to thee thy deepest distress.

“The soul that on Jesus hath leaned for repose,
I will not, I will not desert to His foes;
That soul, though all hell should endeavor to shake,
I’ll never, no, never, no, never forsake.
I’ll never, no, never, no, never forsake.”

Two Lessons from My Father

My dad, Otto DeCamp, would be 109 today if he were living on this earth, yet what he taught me as a child remains fresh. For example:

1. “Lay it down” (forgive).

Once Dad was driving me through the city. He said, “Jimmy, do you see that red brick church up on the hill? The third row down and fourth from the end…that’s my brick.”

He explained, “The building committee asked me for help in the form of a loan, and promised to repay it. That was years ago. So now, every time I drive by, I just say, ‘That’s my brick, right there.’”

Little did I know life’s myriad opportunities to “lay it down.”

2. “It doesn’t cost anything” (little things are huge).

We played tennis as a family six days a week––whether in Seoul, Karuizawa, Princeton, Davidson, Black Mountain, Wheaton, Jonesboro, Duarte, it didn’t matter––we played tennis everywhere…except Wimbledon.

Typically Dad would play two sets with us kids then, while we went a third set, he would crawl around the fence and pull weeds. By the bucket full he pulled…everywhere he pulled.

He was forever doing acts of service or kindness.

His only explanation: “It doesn’t cost anything.”


I could go on and on about my parents’ lives; writing for my grandchildren’s grandchildren is what I fully intended to do in retirement. Yet with spiritual sorrow, cultural decay, and political upheaval everywhere, I’ve been speaking up in the public arena––for the sake of everyone’s grandchildren––while there is time.

Veterans Day, 2017

This Veterans Day, I want to honor my father, Otto DeCamp, who served as an Army Chaplain in World War II. He taught me to live for Christ, to love my country, and to risk everything in the defense of sweet freedom.

My Favorite Christmas Eve Memory

(Taken on another occasion, this photo is of a staff member, two visitors from the States, and my father.)

My favorite Christmas Eve memory is going with my dad in the middle of the night with cookies and hot chocolate for the staff at the radio station in Seoul, then at the transmitter site outside of town.

My father was in Christian radio work in Korea. They were on the air all night twice a year: Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve. From these experiences with my dad, I learned something about
*Leadership––having regard for subordinates.
*Faithfulness on the job––even at odd hours.
*Sacrifice––putting others before oneself.

Tribute to My Parents

My mother died in February, 2002, following the death of my father by five months. This is a tribute to them both, sent to friends at the time.
Dear Friends,

As she was fond of putting it, my mother, Elizabeth DeCamp, “went to glory” on February 22, 2002. We thank God for her beautiful life––for 93 years this side of the river.

Our family also thanks you for your friendship to Otto and Elizabeth DeCamp over the years. You enriched their lives and, in turn, ours. Thank you from the bottom of our heart.

Their children, Betty, Dorothy, Ed and Jim, have much for which to be grateful. Our parents taught us how to live, and we will gladly carry our debt to them for the rest of our days.

From childhood days in Korea and China, to 37 years as missionaries to Korea, right on through their retirement at Westminster Gardens in Duarte, California, Dad and Mother never wavered in their response to the call of God. Their love for Him was steadfast, and their service faithful. What an example; what a heritage.

Theirs was no easy life, however. As a newlywed, Dad knew loneliness in a Japanese prison cell. Mother was by herself in Tokyo with four little children during the Korean Conflict. They lost their possessions twice, during the evacuations of 1941 and 1950. And in their years of declining health, no doubt they asked, with the Psalmist, “Where does my help come from?”

Before this tribute ends, allow me to give their answer, for it was their treasure. Their lives were changed by more than willpower, and their compassion exceeded what they could muster. They would have been the first to give Christ the credit. Jesus did for my parents what they could not do for themselves: offer an acceptable sacrifice for their sin. Living within them by His Holy Spirit, this God of redemption was their comfort and strength, “an ever-present help in time of trouble.” By revealing Himself on the pages of Holy Scripture, their heavenly Father nourished and led them “in green pastures.”

Theirs was not a private faith; it was for all who would receive. And for the proclamation of this Good News, they gave the best years of––indeed, their entire––lives.

“To God be the glory––great things He hath done.”