Eddie Williams stands amid walls framed in bare wooden 2X4s,
but he is seeing finished rooms for sleeping, eating, conferences and other
activities at the Shelby Mission Camp.
Williams and his wife, Martha, are veteran missions workers
who coordinated North Carolina Baptist response to Hurricane Katrina in
Gulfport, Miss., for about two years, and then oversaw the successful
renovation of a former textile plant near Red Springs in Robeson County into
the Red Springs Mission Camp.
Now Eddie and Martha are coordinating the construction of
the Shelby Mission Camp in Shelby.
There are two major buildings, warehouse plus a larger
building which houses administrative and conference spaces, housing and
The two mission camps have been started in a partnership
between the Baptist State Convention and North Carolina Baptist Men (NCBM).
Both camps are funded by North Carolina Baptists through
their contributions to the North Carolina Missions Offering (NCMO).
At Red Springs, Baptists bought and converted a textile
factory into a mission support station that is Wal-Mart-sized.
At Shelby, Baptists bought 43 acres of well-situated land
for $175,000, a good price for a site located just off the 74 Bypass, one of
the city’s busiest areas for restaurants and shopping. Two major buildings were
constructed during 2010 and into 2011.
The warehouse is completed and the main building’s exterior
shell is completed, lacking only interior walls, wiring and heating/AC systems
before it will be ready to host teams.
“We have a lot of work to do, but we can see the light at
the end of the tunnel,” Williams said.
To keep costs down, Williams is depending on volunteers to
do as much of the finishing work as possible.
“We have volunteer teams lined up for hanging sheetrock this
summer. We already have many full weeks between July and August. But we still
have some empty slots if a team wants to check with us,” he said.
“Howard Wacaster (see story) has helped a lot with the
electrical system, and we’ve had good help with plumbing, but we still need
some professional help with heating and air conditioning systems. Since these
will be suspended from the ceiling, we really need people who are fully qualified
for this kind of work,” he said.
“We’ve had many volunteers who come and work just for a day
at a time. That has helped tremendously,” he said. A few volunteer work teams
have even come from other states, he added.
“The most common remark we’ve heard both from Baptists and
others who have come to see the facility has been, ‘This is impressive!’”
Williams said. “It will be a top-notch facility, something that will be here
for a long time, and it will be something we can use in many ways.”
The mission camp concept was the brainchild of Richard
Brunson, NCBM executive director, who wanted to see the skills, equipment and
expertise developed by some 40,000 North Carolina Baptist volunteers who
responded to Hurricane Katrina put to work in North Carolina. The concept has
been well received.
Williams says the concept of “mission camp” has been a new
one for Cleveland County government officials; he has done lots of explaining
about the facility’s purpose as he pursued permits and clearances for the camp.
That purpose is all about missions: The camp will
accommodate thousands of North Carolina Baptist volunteers who will have
sleeping space and meals provided at the camp so they can do work projects
throughout the area — at $18 a day per person.
Several thousand volunteers put in more than 7,000 volunteer
days at the Red Springs Mission Camp last year.
Since more churches are located nearer to the Shelby camp,
volunteer use could be even higher.
“I’ve been getting calls from churches in a wide area wanting
to know when they can come and work,” Williams said.
“We’ll be setting up projects such as home repair,
wheelchair ramp construction, evangelism and many other kinds of ministries all
across Cleveland County, which is a big county,” he said, “but we’ll also
eventually get into Gaston, Rutherfordton, Lincoln and McDowell counties. We’ve
already supported Deep Impact projects in Lincolnton.”
As soon as the final construction bits are done, Williams is
looking forward to completely focusing on community projects.
“It’s all in God’s timing, if I can just stay patient. The
Lord did not bless me with lots of patience,” Williams says with a laugh.
The camp will also handle small conferences for churches and
“We’ll be exploring how to fully use the facility,
especially when weather does not allow outside activities,” he said.
While many Baptists have supported the camp with their
labor, others have helped in other ways, Williams points out.
“Between the main building and the warehouse, we will have a
prayer garden. Elizabeth Baptist Church in Shelby has taken the lead on that,
and one lady in that church gave a donation to help with it,” he said.
Williams could not list all the churches and groups which
have stepped forward to help the camp:
- one church will get three flagpoles installed out front;
- Eagle Scouts will work on an outdoor amphitheater;
- First Baptist Church, Boone, donated a large, powered
projection screen to be used in a conference room;
- Fruitland Baptist Bible Institute donated pews;
- Samaritan’s Purse brought in a truckload of office
furniture from a factory which closed down;
- Appalachian State University donated bunk beds;
- Many churches and associations donated furniture;
- Several Woman’s Missionary Union groups donated paper
products, napkins, bathroom paper, and trash bags.
On a recent day, Dale Duncan, former president of NCBM, ran
a tiller alongside the camp entrance so grass could be added to beautify the
Similarly, the Shelby Mission Camp will help Baptists
provide an attractive, attention-getting introduction of Jesus Christ to
thousands of people in the area. That is what Williams is really impatient to
Contact (800) 395-5102, ext. 5606, or visit www.ncmissions.org.
August 22-30 is the North Carolina Baptist Men’s Mission
There will be an event in each region including worship,
testimony, mission videos, prayer and food.
Contact Kecia Morgan at (800) 395-5102, ext. 5613, or [email protected]
for registration help. Visit www.baptistsonmission.org.
How does your church promote the North Carolina Missions
Offering (NCMO)? Do you highlight your missions or host a speaker from the
Baptist State Convention?
Send the Biblical Recorder your photos and information about how you
promote missions. Contact [email protected] or (919) 847-2127.