Couple Launches Mobile Campground Ministry
Jerry and Cynthia Winegard, members of Providence Baptist Church, Montevallo, Ala., are stocked up on Hershey's chocolate bars, marshmallows and graham crackers and are on the road again, again and forever.
"Well at least until the Lord says, 'Don't do it anymore,'" Jerry Winegard told The Alabama Baptist. "But He has just given me a testimony that really has an impact on people when they hear it. But I never knew who I'd be able to share that testimony with other than people in the area where I live."
On Feb. 3, 1990, a robber shot Winegard twice in the chest. He was 26. The bullets crushed his spinal cord. Medically speaking, he was dead for seven minutes but lived to tell about it. Recently he's wanted to tell a lot more people about it.
"I'm not a rich person by any means with the means to travel around in order to do that, so over the years, I said, 'Lord, if that's what you want me to do, you're going to have to make it happen,'" Winegard said.
God soon obliged him in the form of a 19-foot 2008 Palomino Gazelle travel trailer. And that's all it took to get RV Outreach off the ground and on the road.
On May 30, the husband and wife team began pursuing the RV park and campground ministry full time, an idea Providence Baptist Pastor Allen Foster said was born through months of prayer.
"Jerry and I have probably been praying over this thing for a year and a half now or longer," Foster said. "It's just something he felt the Lord wanted them to do and they're suited for it. They've got wonderful personalities and they're grounded in their faith and organized down to every little dime they're going to spend as far as the things they're doing, especially with the kids."
Reaching out to the kids of America's campground-vacationing families with crafts, gospel tracts, Bible studies and scavenger hunts, one of the items on the list is a Bible, is one of the ministry's main avenues of witness.
"It's easy to connect with the kids, and then once you get them involved in something, then you can talk to the parents," Winegard said.
The first stops on the couple's itinerary include campgrounds in Georgia and North Carolina.
Cynthia Winegard knows that not all the people they'll have an opportunity to minister to will be at the campgrounds for fun.
"The very first time we took out our camper was on a short trip to Oak Mountain (State Park in Pelham), and our granddaughter was with us, and while we were in the campground, we actually encountered a family living in their car and with a two-man tent," she said. "We didn't come prepared to give anybody anything, but we had bought the items to make s'mores. We did that and those little children were so excited. To me, that just confirmed the work we're planning on doing."
The Winegards are documenting their travels in a blog on their website, www.rvoutreach.org. Also follow them on Twitter at twitter.com/rvoutreach.