Actor finds marriage is worth fighting for
NEW PORT RICHEY - In the 1980s, Kirk Cameron was one of the 1980s top teen heartthrobs. His likeness adorned the bedrooms of adolescent girls across America, inspiring countless dreams of romantic ever-afters. Today, those girls are approaching middle age, married, with teenagers of their own and fully aware of the for-better-or-worse realities of marriage and family. So is Cameron. And at 6 p.m. Saturday, he will be at Calvary Chapel Worship Center. His faith-based presentation, "Love Worth Fighting For," addresses the challenges and rewards of marriage and offers tips for maintaining a healthy marriage that can be found in Scripture. "A strong marriage is critical," Cameron said, talking by phone from his home in California. "For most of us it's the foundation of our lives. If it goes, everything is affected."To some people, Kirk Cameron will always be "Mike Seaver," the trouble-making character he played on the sitcom "Growing Pains" from 1985 to 1992. About halfway through the show's run, Cameron underwent a transformation from a self-described "teenage atheist" to a born-again Christian. This fundamental change dictated the course of his career and life. Most of his post-"Growing Pains" acting has been in Christian-themed projects, such as the "Left Behind" film series. Today, he devotes much of his time to his "The Way of the Master" evangelical ministry and TV show of the same name. For Cameron, who will turn 42 in October, his most enduring role is that of family man. He and his wife, actress Chelsea Noble, have been married more than 20 years, have six children and are the founders of Camp Firefly, a camp for seriously ill children and their families. Cameron's evangelical views have occasionally created public controversy, but the one topic that resonates in a consistently positive light is the importance of family. In 2008, Cameron starred in the movie "Fireproof," something of a sleeper hit. Mostly marketed through church bulletins, its $33 million box office take made it the biggest-grossing independent film of 2008. Most critics liked the movie's message about the enduring strength of marriage. "Love Worth Fighting For" was developed on the heels of "Fireproof," with the idea of conveying the same message in a live, interactive experience. Cameron, with the help of musician Warren Barfield, presents a program of humor, music and religious inspiration through scripture. "Everyone needs to have a plan of how to build up your marriage," Cameron said, adding that the Bible is like the "manufacturer's instructions" for life. "The Bible has fantastic insights into the subject of marriage," he said. "We break it open, look at it, go through some of the passages together and talk about what it means and how to apply them." He's been touring the country with "Love Worth Fighting For" for about three years. He's seen couples of all ages at all stages of their relationships. "It's a fantastic date for you and your spouse," he said. "There are couples that are definitely struggling and looking for something that will help them. Then there are other couples whose marriages are great, and they're simply looking for an event where they can come and have fun and talk to Mike Seaver." Cameron has no problem sharing the spotlight with his alter-ego, even after all these years. He understands some fans still think of him as the poster boy of 25 years ago. As a father, he catches himself wishing he could "flip a switch" and freeze his children where they are now. But he's learned it's wonderful to watch and sometimes be surprised as they grow and mature. In addition, he likes to think there's something in his growth and experience that he can share. "I love Mike Seaver," he said. "Mike's my buddy. I wouldn't be where I am, have what I have or have the perspective that I have without Mike Seaver. I'm happy to reminisce about 'Growing Pains' any time." Calvary Chapel Worship Center is at 6825 Trouble Creek Road. Tickets for "Love Worth Fighting For" can be purchased in advance online at http://www.feedyourfaith.org or at www.kirkcameron.com. General admission is $22.50, or $20 per person for groups of 10 or more. Special VIP tickets are $35, and include a pre-event, 30-minute Q&A with Cameron at 4:15 p.m., reserved seating for the show and a post-event, VIP-only autograph session. General-admission tickets at the door, if available, will be $25.