As things move along at the
North Carolina Baptist Men’s latest mission camp in Shelby, there is an ongoing
need for volunteers.
“There’s a real need,” said
Eddie Williams, mission camp coordinator, not just at the site but in the
The area has one of the
state’s highest unemployment rates and a surprisingly high homeless rate,
The site, which is still
under construction, can now house 84 people at a time. Deep Impact, a ministry
of Baptist Men, almost maxed them out earlier this summer.
The goal is to have sleeping
accommodations for 210 people. Twelve acres of the 43-acre site are enclosed in
To begin construction on the
Shelby site timber had to be cut, the land had to be graded, and lines for
sewer, water and electricity run to the property.
On site coordinators Eddie
and Martha Williams live in a camper “not built to live in all the time,” said
The Williamses coordinated
Baptist Men response to Hurricane Katrina in Gulfport.
For Internet use and at
times when no volunteers are on site, the couple has a mission house donated by
a couple at Elizabeth Baptist Church in Shelby.
But when teams are in town,
the couple has to stay on site to make sure everyone’s needs are met.
They go home to Spruce Pine
when they can.
Volunteers with Deep Impact
went into the community doing Vacation Bible School and helped elderly people
in Kings Mountain.
Mission work relies on
Locally trained disaster
relief workers come and help too, especially when bigger crews are working.
With Deep Impact, 82 people
on campus shared a shower trailer, but they did it in shifts so it worked,
On Aug. 3, a team of 14 from
Branch’s Baptist Church in Richmond, Va., was on site framing.
They spent part of the week
building a couple of ramps at local houses as well.
The team stayed in mobile
sleeping units that sleep 26 and shared the shower trailer.
“This crew does a lot of
work,” said Mat Brown, Branch’s pastor.
Hammers banging and saws
whirring, the crew stayed busy at the task — serving God through laughter and
One of the volunteers
sporting a yellow disaster relief shirt and hat was in Massachusetts just a
month ago helping with flood relief efforts.
“We go somewhere two to
three times a year,” said Warwick Llewellyn.
The Branch’s crew sent teams
to work with Eddie in Gulfport and at the Red Springs mission camp.
After a hot morning, when
the crew broke for lunch, Jim Collins prayed, “Thank you for the opportunity to
When finished the main
building will have areas for beds, showers and bathrooms to accommodate larger
groups, and an office as well as a fully stocked kitchen and pantry.
Now crews use the warehouse
next door for the eating area and a mobile feeding unit to prepare food.
The main building and the
coordinator’s house still have much work to be done.
The coordinator’s house —
1,500-square-feet — will have three bedrooms and two bathrooms.
A lot has been donated to
help the site continue its work: two refrigerators and a stove, as well as the
tables and chairs.
The key is keeping the
associations and churches involved.
“So far we’ve had a great
response,” Martha said.
“The biggest challenge right
now is with the economy.”
Martha said they utilized
their experience when designing the buildings.
“I don’t think we have any
wasted space,” she said.
Someone donated some flowers
and she and Eddie took the golf cart around the neighborhood up the street to
get to know the neighbors.
“We want to be a light in
the community,” she said.
Some people from Campers on
Mission have stayed at the recreational vehicle stations on site.
On the go
Eddie and Martha stay busy.
Each carries a cell phone and Eddie’s is labeled “Fuzzy,” a nickname from
Eddie’s truck is a mobile
office, complementing the files he keeps in the camper.
His mind is always
churning, Martha said.
Eddie still receives media
calls from Gulfport for follow-up stories on Hurricane Katrina and the work of
N.C. Baptist Men.
The couple share with others
about the work that is going on in Shelby.
“Everybody’s real excited
about North Carolina Baptist Men being here,” Eddie said.
In March it had been a year
since the Williams moved to the site. The hard winter has put work behind schedule.
More volunteers are needed.
Baptist Men has been asked
to help with the renovation of a homeless shelter and to be part of a local
program to spruce up neighborhoods.
The goal is to “set a higher
standard,” Eddie said.
With so much to do Martha is
hesitant to call anything a challenge.
“I feel blessed by
everything God has given,” she said.
“I don’t ever want to look
at anything as a challenge but an opportunity.”
Once the main buildings are
done, the eventual plan is to build ball fields and have fields for soccer and
other sports camps.
Williams foresees this as a
hub of activity for the community and for people to come to volunteer.
Part of his long-term vision
is to have cabins like at Caraway for people or groups to stay.
To volunteer, contact N.C.
Baptist Men at (800) 395-5102, ext. 5599.
The Mission Camp is a
project of North Carolina Baptist Men, which operates on gifts received through
the North Carolina Missions Offering (NCMO).
This year’s NCMO goal is $2.1