David & Liz Campbell’s Story

David was born in England and grew up in rural Dorset (South West England) in a farmhouse that was half a mile away from the closest neighbours. His parents were hardworking and wanted him to have opportunities in life, so put him in a private school, so he went away to a boys boarding school at the age of 7. This gave him good opportunity for education, as well as being able to learn from many extra curricular activities like music, sailing, woodwork, and gymnastics just to name a few. However, the other side to boarding school was that, within weeks, he began to get the rougher end of some fairly intense teasing and bullying from other boys in the dormitory. Feeling very isolated because of this, at ages 10, 12 and 14 those feelings led to three separate incidents where he made preparations to commit suicide, but each time drew back because of the pain it would have caused to his family. He then took a different path in response to the bullying and decided to fit in with his peers. By this point he was in High School, and was a student at Marlborough College. He soon paid the price of fitting in when, at age 15, he got expelled for stealing several crates of alcohol from the teachers’ bar.

His parents weathered the storm and got him into another school, but he followed the same trend of fitting in with his peers, and feeling empty inside. A missionary who had given up a position as a Doctor in a private practice in London visited the school to talk about his motivation to go and serve as a Doctor in Afghanistan … and David was so struck by his courage that he could no longer ignore that there was more to life than parties and alcohol. Quite unexpected to his friends and family he ran away to Jamaica at age 17, praying for the first time in the chapel at Gatwick Airport to offer His life to God and ask Jesus to come and live in his heart. The experience of peace was unlike any he had ever known before.

Liz grew up in Australia, one of four children whose parents served in the mission organisation, Fusion Australia. As a family they were always helping out at mission events and were part of the extended family of Fusion workers who were all serving in tough contexts. She experienced many adventures of faith in her childhood, including a moment when they were due to go on a family holiday together but had absolutely no money. Her father and mother prayed and said to pack the car because they were confident that God would provide. As they finished packing the car a letter arrived with a cheque in it, which paid for the holiday. She always had a heart for children, particularly the more underprivileged children, and vividly remembers hearing her father describe the children he saw living on a garbage dump when he returned from a mission trip to the Philippines. She set out to serve in mission herself in her early twenties, spending three years as a teacher at a school in Indonesia.

Liz with some of her students in Indonesia

As for David, he arrived in Jamaica the day after that first prayer, not knowing a soul. He checked into a guest house for the first few nights, and eventually found work as a volunteer at Mustard Seed communities, where he looked after disabled children and saw first-hand some of the challenges of inner city life in Kingston. In his first month in Jamaica he had his pockets picked twice, was held up and robbed at knife point twice and had the police run past him shooting at a criminal. Over a year in Jamaica at that time, needs of the young people in West Kingston compared to his own privileged upbringing became a motivating force, and after 4 years back in England he sensed a call to return to Jamaica to serve in Trench Town.

He started a basketball programme using the sport to teach young people positive values for their lives and built 3 basketball courts in Rema and Arnette Gardens. In 2001 he rode a 3 person bicycle across the USA (from Florida to Los Angeles) to raise money to build a community centre in Trench Town, but this project did not work out and with a combination of other projects failing at the same time he struggled with depression for 2 years.

David and his two sisters, cycling across America to raise money for work in inner city Kingston

He then went into a business partnership running a health food restaurant, in order to try and generate income to help fund the community work in West Kingston. During that time he came across an Australian charity named Fusion that had developed a method of working in tough communities with young people at risk, so David left the business in order to focus fully on using and adapting their methodology to help young people in West Kingston.

By this time Liz had returned from Indonesia, and had done training in youth and community work with Fusion. She was helping with Fusion’s training, and been part of training teams in Australia, South Africa, Indonesia, Canada and the U.K.

David and Liz met at a Foundations Course in Australia in 2004, and they were married in January 2006. After living together in Trench Town for the first year of marriage (without running water) they moved to nearby Swallowfield only 9 days before the birth of their first child, to have the convenience of water and more of a safe place to start raising a family.

The early Fusion Jamaica Team

Their work with Fusion has focussed mainly in Trench Town and Majesty Gardens, while also assisting in other communities such as Tivoli Gardens, Rose Town, Central Village and Maverley to name a few. They have run youth sports clubs, children’s after school clubs, youth and family day trips, youth mentoring programmes, parenting support, reading programmes and major community celebrations that bring communities together 3 times a year. All of Fusion’s programmes foster cooperation, healthy interaction, fun and positive personal and interpersonal development.

As of 2021 David and Liz have sensed a calling to the U.K. alongside a continuing calling to Jamaica, so are in the process of changing roles and preparing to move to the U.K. in July 2022. They will continue to support and serve the Fusion Jamaica team, visiting each year, while also setting up a missional community in the U.K. focussing on children and young people who don’t have strong family support systems.