Volunteer with cancer tries to ‘give back’
Mike Creswell, BSC Communications
June 07, 2011

Volunteer with cancer tries to ‘give back’

Volunteer with cancer tries to ‘give back’
Mike Creswell, BSC Communications
June 07, 2011

Howard Wacaster pulls a heavy electrical cable and then

mounts a ladder to make a connection.

He is at the Shelby Mission Camp, helping finish off the

interior of the camp’s administration/housing/food station building.

The mission camp is situated on a 43-acre site just off the

74 Bypass in Shelby. It will be a work center for thousands of North Carolina

Baptist volunteers to work in and around Shelby.

Camp coordinator Eddie Williams is depending on volunteers

like Wacaster to get as much of the final finishing work done as possible.

Wacaster (pronounced WAY-caster) has been working at the

Shelby Mission Camp off and on for months.

“He has become a great friend to Martha and myself,” camp

coordinator Eddie Williams said of Wacaster. (Martha is Eddie’s wife who helps

him coordinate the Shelby camp.)

Wacaster has contributed the equivalent of thousands of

dollars of electrical contracting to the camp. He still climbs ladders quickly

for a 68-year-old.

But that’s only half his story.

Wacaster has been fighting leukemia since 2005.

He has kept the disease at bay with intensive chemotherapy

treatments, which leave him exhausted and ill.

But on good days, as his energy picks up, he heads over to

the mission camp and starts to work. Why not stay home and rest, people ask


“Well, you know, if you’re sitting at home in a chair, you

have a lot of time to think. And over here, I have a lot of things that take my

mind off of it,” he said.

In fact, he said work at the mission camp has been a

“God-send” to him, allowing him to put his certified electrician skills to work

for Kingdom purposes.

BSC photo by Mike Creswell

Howard Wacaster, 68, has provided electrical contracting for Shelby Mission Camp for months.

Missions work is nothing new for Wacaster.

He recalls working long hours in eastern North Carolina,

cleaning up after Hurricane Floyd, which struck in 1999. He made many other

mission trips after that.

A member of Flint Hill Baptist Church in Shelby for 48

years, he says he has served on every committee possible and still serves as

Baptist Men director.

He retired from his job with an airplane parts manufacturer

in 2005 because of his leukemia; he left Flint Hill’s deacon board in 2008 for

the same reason.

Yet Wacaster is not bitter.

“If you love God and you love the Lord Jesus the way you

should, you need to give back. I’m just trying to give back,” he said.

Recently Wacaster’s condition took a turn for the worse: He

was diagnosed with acute lymphoma, an even more dangerous blood cancer which

could be fatal. He faces intense chemo treatments for the next six to eight


Wacaster sees the life-or-death options of his illness

through Christian eyes. “I am a winner either way,” he told Williams.

“He smiled, waved and drove out the gate. What a testimony!”

Williams said of his friend.

Related story

Volunteers finishing Shelby Mission Camp