Home Christian News Life on the Road Extends to a Never-Ending Mission for Campers

Life on the Road Extends to a Never-Ending Mission for Campers

Rick and Cindy Truesdail have worked at several Christian camps and other locations in the Midwest, staying in their RV while serving through Campers on Mission. They lead the Michigan chapter, which meets next month and will host next year's CoM annual gathering. Photo courtesy of Baptist Press.

GRAND BLANC, Mich. (BP) – Rick and Cindy Truesdail’s retirements a few years ago came with plans. They took their camper and drove to Florida, setting up close to the beach. The couple prepared to take life easy.

“We loved it,” said Cindy, “but we also loved working for our church. We figured that God doesn’t want us just sitting on a couch.”

In 2019 a friend introduced them to Campers on Mission, a national ministry that includes many Southern Baptists. Chapters exist in 30 states and look for ways to connect missions opportunities to those who have made life on the open road anything but temporary.

The Truesdails, members of Heritage Baptist Church in Grand Blanc, had always camped with their kids. They built family memories courtesy of a 37-foot pull-behind camper before moving up to a 40-foot motorhome.

Rick Truesdail helps in a Campers on Mission project with youth in Flint, Mich. Photo from Michigan CoM

But soon after Cindy retired as a paralegal in Flint’s 68th District Court and Rick after 32 years with General Motors, the couple joined others for a different kind of building.

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Campers on Mission (CoM) was formerly funded by the North American Mission Board, but now chapters generally fund themselves. The Michigan Baptist State Convention has pledged to help fund its chapter’s annual meeting next month as well as the national gathering in 2023.

Speaking from Moorcroft, Wyo., CoM national directors Jerry and Renee McGovern noted that much of CoM’s work is with helping Christian camp facilities. But they also work in nursing homes, pregnancy centers, Christian schools and other locations.

“We also communicate with pastors,” Renee said. “You name it, they’re dealing with it and need to talk to somebody about it. That takes a lot of our time.”

The Truesdails lead the Michigan chapter of Campers on Mission, which will have its annual meeting Sept. 8-10 at Bambi Lake Baptist Camp in Roscommon. The chapter will also host the annual CoM meeting next year, June 7-9.

Like the Truesdails, the McGoverns did not feel God wanted them to slow down in retirement.

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“I started working as a plumber when I was 19 and worked my whole life at it,” Jerry said. “I owned my own business and retired as a master plumber at 55 but then realized, ‘You’re still young. Get up and go.’”

More are doing just that.

At CoM’s most recent annual meeting, the McGoverns shared that membership had grown from 2,460 in 2020 to 3,256 in 2021 to partner with 146 churches and associations. Work hours increased as did the professions of faith, with 71 recorded in 2020 before jumping to 228 last year.

Like other ministries, the COVID-19 pandemic left its mark on CoM in several ways. A significant increase was noted in food ministry work, for instance. But COVID also made people want to get outdoors and go exploring.