January 27, 2016 Edition

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Circuitous path brings Bro. Tim
and Janie Campbell back home

Bro. Tim (right) and Janie Campbell

John Bland

Bro. Timothy Campbell and his wife, Janie Williams Campbell, have come full circle, returning to their home county after almost 30 years. They returned to Walnut Ridge the latter part of 2015, when he became pastor at First Free Will Baptist Church, the church that his father, the late Bro. Glynn Campbell, started in 1952.

"It's a dream come true to pastor my home church," Tim said. "I never sought to leave Walnut Ridge."

Tim fondly recalled his childhood and youth and spoke with gratitude for the many individuals and experiences that have shaped his life.

He proudly noted that Campbell Township, the name of the Walnut Ridge voting precincts, comes from one of his ancestors who was a local judge. Tim is a sixth generation Arkansan and a third generation Free Will Baptist.

His paternal grandparents were Henry and Barbara Campbell, while his maternal grandparents were Leonard and Ethel Douthit.

Tim's first job was as a shoe shiner at Palace Barber Shop next to the bus station, which used to be located on Hwy. 67 South. His father was a barber there. Next, Tim then started mowing lawns.

He saved his money to buy his first car, a '62 Falcon. He recalled riding around on the weekends with friends on a quarter's worth of gas and splattering his passengers when he drove over a mud hole due to the rusted out floorboard.

Walnut Ridge School teachers, such as Clara Bell Hart, Louise Hutson, band director Arlin Jones and others, came to mind for their positive influences. "Arlin Jones was a profound influence," he said.

"While I didn't make the grades, I never forgot the lessons," he added.

His mother, Lereau Douthit Campbell, died when Tim was 14. Tim said he will always remember the simple words and a moment of attention given him by C.R. Snapp at the funeral home. When most adults were consoling his father, Snapp took time to talk to him saying, "We just don't know why these things happen, Tim."

Tim would work at Piggly Wiggly and later at Hays as a butcher. "Leo Davis (Piggly Wiggly owner) taught me so many things," he said.

Tim graduated from WRHS in 1974, and he and Janie were married on Dec. 26, 1975. They have recently celebrated 40 years of marriage.

Janie's mother is Bobbye Williams and her father is the late Duffy Williams. Janie lived here until she was three, when her family moved to Michigan. Her family would return when she was 13. She graduated from Hoxie High School in 1977.

"I couldn't have a better helper in the ministry than her," Tim said of his wife, noting that her intelligence and work ethic are just two of her good qualities.

After being married for 16 years, the Campbells had a son, Ben, who is now 24 years old. A doctor had told them they couldn't have children, and Tim and Janie had agreed that they would devote their ministry to other children and families. The news of the pregnancy was a bit of a shock at first, but Tim said Ben has brought so much joy and fun to their lives over the years.

Call to ministry

Tim's formal journey to the ministry began in 1986, when he felt called to be a minister. That same year, Tim and Janie moved to Nashville, where he would enroll in Welch College, a Free Will Baptist College.

Tim was profoundly influenced by his college professors and has kept a close friendship with some of them since graduating in 1990. "What I do here is a continuation of what they gave me," Tim said. "As long as I have a ministry, they will have a ministry," he added.

After Tim graduated from Welch, the Campbells moved to northern Missouri, where Tim would pastor a country church in Kirksville, Mo., for two years. From there, the Campbells moved back to Arkansas, and Tim served as a pastor in Monticello for a little over four years.

When the president of Welch called Tim and offered him a position as an administrator and fundraiser for the college, the Campbells moved back to Nashville and spent approximately seven more years there.

Before returning to Walnut Ridge, Tim was director of the Arkansas State Association of Free Will Baptists in Conway. He spent 13 and a half years in that position and traveled quite a bit as part of his job.

Because the church had been without a pastor for several months, Tim often filled in at First Free Will Baptist in Walnut Ridge. He was voted in as pastor in October and commuted from Conway to Walnut Ridge, carrying out duties for both jobs, until just before Christmas.

Janie, who had worked in marketing for a real estate agency in Conway, is now a teller at First National Bank in Walnut Ridge.

For the Campbells, it is evident that God had a hand in the timing that brought them to Walnut Ridge. In an unrelated turn of events, their son accepted a position to serve as youth director of the Pocahontas First Free Will Baptist Church.

Until recently, Ben and his wife, Kaylee, and their five-month-old son, Beckett, had been living in Muscle Shoals, Ala., where Ben was a youth pastor. Now, Tim and Janie are overjoyed to be living close to their son and his family.

"A lot of people forget where they come from, but there's no place like my hometown and state," Tim said. "I absolutely love Walnut Ridge."

As pastor, Tim said he wants to foster revitalization of the church through discipleship and evangelism, a process that will take several years. He also wants to see his church reach out to its neighborhood and community and work to assist community leaders.

"We can make the community better," he concluded.

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