Winning with Jesus: A Q&A with Cameron Mills

Originally published in The Patriot –

I sat down with Cameron Mills, former UK basketball player now evangelist and speaker at the Fall Awakening, and asked him a few questions. Here is what he said:

The Patriot: Can you tell me a little bit about your salvation testimony?

Cameron Mills: I was 7 years old. School had been cancelled from snow, and when you’re seven years old, that’s exciting. I wanted to go out and play in the snow. Mom said no; it was too cold. I didn’t understand how it could be too cold to play in the snow. She said I could watch television all day instead. I obviously wanted to watch cartoons and Bozo the Clown.

I wondered into mom and dad’s room and grabbed the remote, and mom turned it to what she wanted me to watch, which was a televangelist. You can imagine as a seven year old kid that is the last thing that I wanted to watch. She said if I could sit still for 15 minutes (which as you can tell I can’t sit still well) when it is over, I could watch whatever I wanted. We made that deal, and I sat still.

As a child, I had grown up in a few different churches and I heard the gospel preached and taught well. But the truth of the matter is until you hear it, until your heart clicks, until you’re called, until Jesus says come on, you don’t hear it. That’s the morning I got it.

The theme of his message that morning was, of course, the gospel — sin and separation from God, Jesus’ cross and bridging that gap, the shedding of blood and the washing away of sins. The theme was the difference between knowing who Jesus is and knowing Jesus, and I certainly at 7, going to all these churches and being heavily involved in church and knew who Jesus was. I knew from Matthew to the end of John; I could tell you who Jesus was; I could tell you the plotline of His life. I could tell you that He was born on Christmas or at least that is when we celebrated His birth. I could even tell you the difference there. I knew His Parables; I knew His disciples. I could tell you the story.

But I did not know Him. And it wasn’t until that morning that I realized the difference. It was that morning that I gave my life to Christ. I said a prayer, and it was the prayer of salvation. I confessed my sins (not all of them) but just said ‘I am a sinner and I need salvation and Jesus, you’re the only one that can save me.’

The Patriot: What exactly is it that you do now?

Cameron Mills: That is a great question because there are different offices in a church. I’m an evangelist. I do not pastor. I do not have that gift. Gosh, I don’t have that gift. I am not administrative. Pastors, they tend a flock. I would be such a bad pastor that I can’t even tell you what a pastor does.

I travel, I preach. I always say, I preach messages that I need to hear. A lot of times it’s the same messages. But every night I tend to need to hear it. I do this.

The last few nights at University of the Cumberlands have been some of the sweetest nights for me. You guys have been so amazing, so sweet, so kind and so receptive. I get it.

I understand that even thought this is a heavily Baptist and Christian school, not every kid who comes here is a Christian, but that doesn’t mean they can’t be when they leave. And that’s why I love Fall Awakenings and convocations and bringing in preachers and focusing on what truly matters.

Because it’s not biology, and it’s not history. All that stuff is wonderful and all that stuff is important, but it’s not what’s really important. What’s really important is that these kids come to know Jesus Christ because that’s what’s going to change their life and change their eternity.

The Patriot: When did you first feel the call to ministry?

Cameron Mills: I first felt the call to ministry at 12 years old. The two most influential people in my life other than my parents and Christ were my youth pastors. My relationship with my youth pastor made my initially think that it had to be youth ministry because, the idea of going on mission trips to Panama City Beach, how could ministry get any greater than this?

Of course that’s what you see as a kid. What you don’t see is that the youth pastor never sleeps because he is worried about his kids. You never see everything that is going on. You never see the administrative stuff (which I’m terrible at) going on months before the trip. And then add to all the administrative stuff he has to prepare for all his lessons, he has to prepare himself.

I didn’t even know you could do what I do now. I didn’t know this was a job. But it was 12 years old when I thought, ‘Okay, I’m going into ministry. I don’t know what it’s going to look like. I don’t know what I’m going to do. But I can’t not spend my time (at least the bulk of it) sharing who Jesus Christ is.’

How did all that fit into you playing basketball at UK?

Actually, it fit perfectly. I had so many opportunities at UK to share my testimony. When I shared my faith, I got asked to share my faith more.

Really what happened for me that gave me the first ‘Oh, maybe I can do this’ thought was an FCA rally in Maysville, Kentucky. I was a freshman at UK. I was heavily involved in Fellowship of Christian Athletes and we drove up to Maysville. On the way up there, we planned this rally for 200 high school students. We put together a skit, and Max (the leader) looked at me completely out of the blue and said, ‘Cameron, do you want to share about 20 minutes; do you want to preach?’

I don’t remember being shocked even though I look back and I think ‘Why wasn’t I shocked?’ He and I had never had a conversation as far as I can remember about preaching. I just remember him looking at me and saying that and me saying okay, like an idiot.

We stopped at Wendy’s so I grabbed some napkins and started scratching out some thoughts and scripture on sexual purity.  15 minutes from Maysville, Max looks at me and says ‘What are you going to talk about?’ thinking I was going to talk about faith or trust or something. I said ‘I’m going to talk about sex.’ He went white as a ghost thinking no, no, no.

I go up there and I spoke for 20 minutes about sexual purity, told the story that I told the other night about my parents and my mom praying over my underwear and all that silly stuff.

And 20 minutes after that I had about 15 kids coming up to me thanking me, which was encouraging to me because I needed that. Had I gotten up there and had kids tell me that was the worse sermon I’ve ever heard, I probably would have never preached again.

I talked to a girl and she shared that she needed my message. When I left there, I thought, ‘This is what I am doing with the rest of my life.’

The Patriot: If there is one thing you have to tell

1) New Christians

I would say read through the book of John and the book of Proverbs. Find a church that teaches the Bible, and don’t get discouraged because Satan is going to come hard after you.

2) Young Christians

Read through the book of Romans, the book of Job and the book of Genesis. Don’t get discouraged.

3) Christian Athletes

Nothing you will ever win will ever be as great as Jesus.