RED SPRINGS – This year Baptist State Convention of North Carolina (BSC) staff decided to do something a little different for the annual staff retreat. Instead of the usual two-day event at one of the Convention’s conference or retreat centers, staff gathered at Red Springs Mission Camp and focused their attention on serving in various ministry projects throughout the area and surrounding communities.
BSC staff divided into different teams and participated in children’s ministry, construction projects, senior adult ministry, prayer walking and Hispanic ministry.
Red Springs Mission Camp is a 52,000-square-foot former textile plant operated by N.C. Baptist Men. The remodeled facility can house more than 200 volunteers. Each year North Carolina Baptists from across the state stay at the camp for a very affordable rate while they serve throughout the area. The camp includes bunk-style lodging, shower facilities and a large warehouse for tools, equipment and supplies. Volunteers can also eat all their meals on site.
Mission Camp Director Larry Osborne and his wife Teresa live next door to the camp. The Osbornes are native North Carolinians, but have been involved in missions for years. Prior to coming to Red Springs, they served in New York City. For two years they lived in a Manhattan apartment just two blocks away from New York’s biggest housing projects. They worked with the volunteer teams coming to serve at Graffiti Church.
Prior to serving in New York the Osbornes lived three years in Sri Lanka, coordinating North Carolina volunteer teams coming to help after a tsunami hit the country.
Osborne has been known to say that God took him to New York City, Sri Lanka and other places around the world to prepare him for what he would encounter in Red Springs. Of North Carolina’s 100 counties, Robeson County, where Red Springs is located, is the poorest. Red Springs is a community with many physical, as well as spiritual, needs.
BSC photo by Mike Creswell
Patti Cardwell, who works at the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina, shares a snack with a young girl near Red Springs Mission Camp. The BSC staff retreated to Red Springs recently for a mission trip. See photo gallery.
Alms House, about 20 minutes from Red Springs in Hope Mills, is a ministry seeking to help those in need while sharing with them about Jesus Christ. Alms House is one of the ministries BSC staff worked with during the retreat.
Alms House ministers through its food pantry, clothing closet and emergency financial fund to help people cover expenses such as utilities, transportation, medical care and school supplies. The Love Lunch program runs seven days a week, and meals are served twice a day.
“It’s God’s work. I’m convinced of it,” said director Delores Schiebe about Alms House. Schiebe has been involved with Alms House since it started in 1984. She said more families are now homeless and the request for food has recently increased. Despite that, she has seen God work in the lives of people in Hope Mills.
Landscaping and construction is an area where many people in Robeson County need a little help. During the retreat BSC staff worked at the home of Annie Blue McRae, 83. They mowed, clipped, and sawed an assortment of trees, bushes, vines and briers that had grown up around the modest brick home not far from downtown Rowland. McRae said she feared thieves would creep through the underbrush and break into her house at night.
Tree limbs have grown up over the roof, and McRae hopes other volunteers will help repair the leaking roof.
McRae is diabetic and had a leg amputated after an infection led to gangrene. But she was all smiles on the day the staff came to help. “Oh, praise the Lord! These are angels God sent to me. Nobody would have done this for me, but God sent these angels,” she said.
Another team of staff volunteers visited the Baptist Children’s Home facility in Pembroke, where they heard a 17-year-old talk about how glad he was to be there. His mother is a drug addict; a grandmother abused him and his sister. The young man wants to graduate from college and become a law enforcement officer.
At a mobile home park on a dirt road in Robeson County, another team of staff volunteers set up a ministry to mothers and their babies. The first day the team visited the home to introduce themselves and spent time with children after they returned home from school.
Rick Trexler, campus ministry team leader for the BSC, led a group of staff in serving lunch to local firefighters and police officers. “It was nice being able to give back to those who are always giving of themselves,” he said.
His team had opportunity for one-on-one conversations with those who came to lunch. “Within those conversations we were able to talk with people about what they were dealing with in life and how we could pray for them. We were able to share the gospel on more than one occasion,” Trexler said.
Mark Gray, church planting team leader for the BSC, led a team ministering with single mothers at a drug rehab facility. The team helped the women make jewelry and taught them computer skills and how to shop and navigate safely online. Gray taught them to identify their personal strengths through the Strength Finders program. The team also focused on ministering to the facility staff.
“Our goal was to help them feel good about themselves in the way God had made them as unique. They don’t have to be like anyone else,” Gray said.
After sharing about Strength Finders, Gray shared the gospel. He explained to the ladies that in order to get the greatest use of their strengths they needed to understand that God made them – but they needed to know Him personally.
Between the two days of ministry, six ladies prayed to receive Jesus Christ as their personal Lord and Savior. “It is important that we intentionally build a bridge to the plan of salvation. The ladies knew we really cared about them, and so when we shared the gospel, they were willing to hear us out and hear what God had to say in His Word about having a personal relationship with Him,” Gray said.
Yet, ministry cannot end there. “God did not call us to make converts, He called us to make disciples,” Gray said. “It’s easy to go in and do our thing and feel good about it. Unless we can help lead them to the next level, perhaps we have not done all we can in our going to serve.”
For more information about the Red Springs Mission Camp and how your church can get involved visit baptistsonmission.org.