Alabama Campers on Mission helps with rebuilding projects in Franklin Countycomment (0)
May 17, 2012
By Leigh Pritchett
"Have RV, will travel” may not be the official motto of Campers on Mission, but it does capture the spirit of what they do.
The approximately 600 members, including spouse teams, of the Alabama chapter of Campers on Mission (COM) are willing to pack their rigs and travel to missions projects, said Pete McKnight, president of the state chapter and a member of First Baptist Church, Eufaula, in Barbour Baptist Association.
McKnight said members provide free labor for construction and other projects and they do it for the Lord.
McKnight calls COM the “best-kept secret in town.”
In the next few months, COM members will be involved in projects at Point Baptist Church in Pensacola, Fla.; Raleigh’s Place in Clanton; Oneida Baptist Institute in Kentucky and Mount Missouri Missionary Baptist Church in Russell County. Some members also work each year at a youth camp in Hawaii.
According to McKnight, recent COM projects have included work at Camp Baldwin; Blackwood Community Church, Headland; Bethlehem Missionary Baptist Church, Elba; and Alabama Raceway Ministries in Talladega. (see story, page 1)
Since the devastating tornadoes of April 27, 2011, however, rebuilding in Alabama has become a COM priority.
McKnight said some projects to which COM was previously committed were delayed to concentrate on needs in storm-damaged areas.
“Nobody (whose project was delayed) ever grumbled. No one complained,” McKnight said.
One COM member worked much of the last year, helping to coordinate rebuilding projects in Franklin County.
That individual is Wilton Whigham, a member of Southside Baptist Church, Huntsville, in Madison Baptist Association.
Whigham has served as project coordinator in Franklin County almost constantly since June 2, 2011.
Whigham said he and his wife, Kathy, have spent most of that time in Phil Campbell but also helped with a project in Hackleburg.
Whigham coordinates the work of COM and other volunteers who are repairing and rebuilding homes.
“We’re working on our third total rebuild” through Franklin Baptist Association, Whigham said.
Larry Dover, director of missions for Franklin Association, is appreciative of COM and its work in the county.
“Those folks are a very valuable resource,” Dover said.
Since last June, Whigham has been involved in approximately 30 projects. Sometimes, he provides physical labor; sometimes, he coordinates volunteer labor.
He also assesses needs, procures materials and develops plans, among other things.
A mathematician by profession, Whigham was employed with the Army Missile Command in Huntsville. Upon retirement, he worked for a contractor, later operating his own home improvement business for eight years.
Finally, he joined COM to do the same for free and ended up quitting his business to devote all of his time to COM.
The Whighams were working at Shocco Springs Baptist Conference Center in Talladega last April when tornadoes ravaged portions of Alabama.
The couple stayed at Shocco until their commitment was fulfilled.
Then they wanted to assist people affected by the storms. The Whighams went home and worked a few days in the Harvest area, serving in distribution and food preparation.
Soon Whigham received a call about becoming project coordinator in Franklin County.
Initially the Whighams served in Franklin County from June 2 through Dec. 18, 2011. They returned in March 2012 and are still there.
“I was only home from the 18th of December to the first of March,” Whigham said. Even then, the Whighams really were not “home” that entire time. For about three weeks in January, they worked at Camp Baldwin.
Whigham said it is not unusual for him and his wife to be on a project for two months at a time, though three to four weeks is the general span.
“We’ve been blessed. We need to do what we can (to bless others),” Whigham said.
The current project on which Whigham is working is for someone who is unchurched. Whigham hopes this project will give the individual a receptive heart that wants to hear about Jesus.
Though a year has passed since the deadly tornadoes struck, much remains to be done in Franklin County and the number of volunteers has decreased.
“We could use help,” Whigham said. “We’re not getting as many volunteers (now).”
To get involved in Franklin County projects, call Franklin Association at 256-332-1874 or Whigham at 256-656-1666.