Bowl of soup turns into ministry to thousands
    November 5 2008 by Melissa Lilley, BSC Communications

    About 18 years ago Lee Flowe noticed the fair worker at Gate 6 had nothing to eat at meal time. Neither did he always have transportation to work.

    So Lee asked his wife Carroll to make some extra food, and from time to time Lee picked the worker up at home, brought him to the fair and took him home at the end of the day. Wondering if other fair workers could use their help, Carroll began setting a crock-pot out on a table and refilling it every hour or so.

    By word of mouth workers at the N.C. State Fair heard about a place they could get a warm meal. Now, 18 years later, one bowl of soup has turned into thousands of servings and thousands served. This year the Flowes estimate more than 12,000 servings helped fair workers.

    BSC photo by Melissa Lilley

    Mary Reagan prepares food for N.C. State Fair workers.

    The Flowes coordinate the state fair ministry for North Carolina Campers on Mission, a national organization with state chapters of Christian campers who “proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ as they go.”

    From more meager beginnings, the fair ministry now includes lining up groups to perform at the Church of Yesteryear, leading morning devotions, making salvation bracelets, checking blood pressure, passing out hygiene kits and serving lunch and dinner every day to fair workers. This was the first year a clothing ministry was offered. Fair workers were given clothes and blankets. A kick-off barbeque meal drew 450 fair workers.

    Carroll and Lee will step down as coordinators after this year, but the memories they made will always be sweet. Above the door in their RV is a sign that reads, “The best things in life are the people we love, the places we’ve been, and the memories made along the way.”

    Carroll tells of a worker she met this summer at the Appalachian Fair in Gary, Tenn. While giving the man a haircut she shared the gospel and prayed with him. Before the week ended the man came to faith in Jesus Christ. The man also worked this year at the N.C. State Fair and stopped by to visit Carroll. Year after year Campers on Mission volunteers say that fair workers remember them and come by to say how grateful they are for their kindness.

    The Flowes serve with Campers on Mission all over the country, always with a missional purpose. They have served at fairs in other states and traveled to places such as Las Vegas, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Orlando and Oklahoma to build churches, lead Vacation Bible Schools, and help with repair projects.

    Pete Butler, Campers on Mission director and member of Union Baptist Church in Rocky Mount, has been with the state fair ministry since inception and said the ministry “really makes you think about how blessed we are.” Butler meets fair workers who are homeless, or sleep in the bed of their truck, or sleep underneath the ride they operate.

    Like the Flowes and many other Campers on Mission volunteers, Butler serves on mission fields beyond the state fair. He serves alongside more than 150 families in outreaches such as street festivals, revivals, construction and disaster relief. Shortly after Hurricane Floyd hit the East Coast in 1999 Butler saw eight Campers on Mission RVs in his front yard.

    Butler has been with Campers on Mission for nearly 27 years, when the group was nothing more than a family camping weekend with seven or eight families just having a good time. Now he gives testimony to lives changed during Campers on Mission outreaches.

    During a street festival in Erwin, Butler met a young woman with two children, and as he did her blood pressure check, he shared about the blood of Jesus Christ that saves sinners. One hour later the woman returned to the booth to talk more with Butler, and she left that day as a sinner saved by grace through faith in Jesus Christ.

    “I could go on and on with these stories,” Butler said. At this year’s state fair with four days left, 17 people had been saved. “These are witnessing people,” Butler said.

    Whether it’s at the state fair or a street festival, Campers on Mission seeks to meet the needs of others and share the gospel. “You see this. This is what it’s all about,” Butler said pointing to fair workers sitting at tables behind the Church of Yesteryear, having a meal together and being served by hands that know the deep love of the Father.

    11/5/2008 6:01:00 AM by Melissa Lilley, BSC Communications | with 0 comments

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