On a bright autumn Sunday afternoon, November 7, we left Heber Springs and headed our motorhome toward Northwest Arkansas. For the first time, Lee joined a group of men from our home church, affectionately known as the Hammerheads,
By late afternoon, we pulled into the construction site for Lakeview Baptist Church in Cave Springs, Arkansas, a small town in the Fayetteville-Springdale-Rogers Arkansas-Missouri Metropolitan Area. We were the eighth RV to park on the rocky, red clay soil littered with pipe, planks, and piles of dirt.
Although Nailbenders is an organization of Arkansas Baptists, churches nationwide in the Southern Baptist Convention, or in the Northwest Baptist Convention, have similar groups and ministries that furnish volunteer labor to churches. In some areas, the volunteers take on projects under the Campers on Mission name, a national fellowship of Christian campers who travel around the country assisting churches. Their ministries includes block parties, Vacation Bible Schools, sports evangelism, campground ministries, and church planting, as well as new construction projects and additions such as sanctuaries, educational facilities and fellowship halls.
Lee and seven other men from Heber Springs started before 8:00 a.m. on Monday morning, unloading power saws and tools from large box truck lettered with Nailbenders for Jesus: Trim Crew. This truck was purchased with special offerings for Arkansas state missions. All volunteers on these projects travel at their own expense. However, each church receiving the ministry is required to furnish the campers with full-hook ups. At Cave Springs, church members also served the crew and their wives a daily lunch. On other occasions, the wives of the Hammerheads have cooked lunch in a church kitchen.
While the men sawed, hammered, and fitted doors and windows into the new church building, the ladies in the group hauled into a temporary office plastic bins of fabric, a couple of sewing machines, and an ironing board. Those who chose to participate sewed girls’ dresses for children in a cancer hospital in Honduras. I joined the group for periods of fellowship and lunch each day, but I preferred to take photos and work on writing assignments in my motorhome.
For up to 20 years, most of the couples in our group have committed one or two weeks in various months to this ministry. They have traveled to many points in Arkansas, sometimes in cold or rainy weather. They have also made trips to trim out churches as far away as South Dakota and Iowa. Their dedication is admirable in fulfilling the Bible’s Great Commission, “…Go and make disciples of all nations…” (Matthew 28:19a)
Are these mission trips all about work? No. The group has formed tight and loving friendships. Often, in the evenings, they play dominoes or jam with musical instruments. They see and experience parts of our state and country that they would not necessarily visit. However, more importantly, they are giving their time and talents to help others grow spiritually. Working with Christian missions is a great way to combine RVing with a sense of productivity.
For information on getting involved with Christian ministries for RVers, contact: www.campersonmission.com; California Southern Baptist Convention: www.csbc.com; Northwest Baptist Convention Ministry Areas: www.nwbaptist.org/ministry/index.html; Utah Idaho Southern Baptist Convention: www.uisbc.org/campers-on-mission; Arizona Campers on Mission, Paul & Gloria Ramirez: email@example.com; Nevada Baptist Convention: www.nbcsbc.org/missions/; Wyoming Southern Baptist Convention: www.wyomingsbc.org/mmo/ShortTermVolunteers.htm
Traveling in their motorhome several months each year, Arline and her photographer husband, Lee Smith, make their permanent home in Heber Springs, Arkansas. She currently is a presenter for Workamper Rendezvous, sponsored by Workamper News. Arline has dozens of magazine articles published, as well as five books: “Road Work: The Ultimate RVing Adventure” (now available on Kindle); “Road Work II: The RVer’s Ultimate Income Resource Guide”; “Truly Zula; When Heads & Hearts Collide”; and “The Heart of Branson”, a history of the families who started the entertainment town and those who sustain it today. Visit Arline’s personal blog at ArlineChandler.Blogspot.com