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RVs on the road for mission

RVs brought these roof-raisers to Lake Michigan
What do retired United Methodists do when they get bored? They take their RVs to a place and fix something. They call themselves NOMADS.

Florida United Methodist Church
NOMADS at work at Lake Michigan Camp
Some jobs are less glamorous than others, but NOMADS get ’em done. Working on the tile at Lake Michigan Camp & Retreat Center. ~ Facebook/Lake Michigan Camp & Retreat
A little-known but fascinating corner of United Methodist mission work consists of a small corps of retirees scattered throughout the country. They call themselves NOMADS.

The name fits because they spend their lives roaming the country in the RVs in which many of them live full-time.

But as they roam, small groups of them converge at various locations – at United Methodist churches, children’s homes, camps or retreats, or at disaster sites. And where they meet up, good things happen.

Dilapidated doors and windows get replaced, faded furniture refinished. Leaky plumbing and outdated wiring and electrical fixtures get modernized.

Parking lots get striped, storage areas deep-cleaned, floors replaced, sanctuaries painted — and sometimes, entirely new buildings are built from the ground up.

Oh, and jelly and salsa get cooked and bottled for charity sales.

“They’re the best-kept secret in the church – a group of incredible servants who will do just about anything you ask of them,” said Rev. Ted Wood, pastor of Community United Methodist in Casselberry.

NOMADS have worked every year at the two Florida churches he has led for the past 17 years.

“I’ve had them build a two-story garage for a church, but I’ve also had them just clean the floors, scrape off the old wax,” he said. “They’re some of the humblest and most Christ-like people you’ll meet.”

NOMADS at Lake Michigan Camp
His t-shirt says it all. WHO loves you? NOMADS! Last September nine NOMADS drove their RVs to Pentwater, Michigan from Colorado, Indiana, Texas, Ohio, and Wisconsin. They arrived at Lake Michigan Camp & Retreat Center and built a pole barn in the three weeks surrounding Labor Day weekend. A holiday was given to service. ~ Facebook/Lake Michigan Camp & Retreat

The NOMADS, with about 850 active members and 180 or so alumni, are a division of the United Methodist Church’s Global Ministries, but they’re based nowhere except on the Internet.

Most are retired contractors, craftsmen, or handymen of various kinds and their spouses, but some just provide labor and learn skills on the job.

They come from all 50 states and can be male or female, single or couples, but they all have access to RVs, said Director Carla Kinsey, the only paid individual involved. She coordinates their work from her home in Hot Springs, Ark.