400 Campers on Missions Gather for COM Workshop and Ministry

Jun 17, 2003 05:42 PM EDT

PUEBLO, Colo. – More than 400 Campers on Missions members gathered at the Colorado State Fair and Exposition Center in Pueblo Colorado for fellowship, worship, testimonies, mission and craft fair and a series of mission-oriented worships, June 9-11. Sponsored by the North American Mission Board, the COM members encompasses individuals and families reaching the lost and ministering to people in need as they vacation across the United States.

Workshop leaders from the NAMB and LifeWay Christian Resource came from as far as Florida to show ways to witness to the cowboy culture and Mormons, work with children in missions, prepare for construction trips and use dry-walling techniques.

Among the leaders was Iva Petz who taught a group about quilting ministry. Petz and others make quilts for abused women and children shelters, nursing home residents and others. The quilts, which Petz said can be done at any time and any place, have a Scripture tag sewn into them. The ministry is both a means of fulfilling needs, she said, and "of passing on the Gospel."

The 6,000 COM members nationwide help with construction projects, facilitate Vacation Bible Schools and other special events in the areas where they vacation. The Bridge, an online service through NAMB, matches ministry opportunities to the COM volunteers.

COM veterans and national coordinators, Wintford and Martha Haynes, have been serving the communities since 1973 when they first learned of Christian campers organizing in an article in the Alabama Baptist press. Since then, the Haynes and their three daughters have been an “on mission family.”

"We'd give up our vacation every summer to do ministry," Martha said. The Hayneses have missed only one year of camping since 1974, but made up for it the following year with two trips. Last year they spent eight months on the road doing COM work.

Wintford said the love of God and the call on their lives' to share Him with others is what compels them to continue camping on mission. "Martha and I thought years back that if God was good enough to give us 52 weeks a year, we could certainly give a few weeks back."

This year, the COM honor chapter was awarded to North Carolina who devoted the most service hours with 13,151 and participated in 60 different ministry projects. They recorded 73 professions on faith and three other decisions made. Seventy-eight percent of the North Carolina chapter's members are actively on mission.

Overall, this year COM volunteers gave 315,520 hours to ministry and counted 580 people who made professions of faith.

By Pauline J.