by Mary Miller
SOS is an international distress signal, but it is also an acronym for a group of Christians—Servants of Our Savior—whose mission is to help churches and ministries that are in distress.
The Servants of Our Savior emblem displays two hands and a willing heart. That logo shows part of what you need to be a volunteer with SOS—a willing heart and hands, and a love of God. You’ll also need an RV and some free time. Are you retired or would like to use your free time serving the Lord? Then read on, SOS may be just what you are looking for.
What Is SOS?
The volunteers who comprise SOS are mostly retired, but they have something else in common: they travel in recreational vehicles. The Christian church/church of Christ ministry is overseen by the elders at Williamsville (Illinois) Christian Church, but RV’ers from across the nation are welcome to join—and more help is needed!
Are you wondering how you too can travel the country and serve the Lord? If so, then we would like to tell you a little more about our organization in hopes that it might move you to get involved.
How It All Started
The origins of SOS go back more than a decade to when Bob and Karen Kaiser of Wyoming retired and started traveling across the country doing Chris-tian growth seminars. During their travels, they encountered many RV’ers who desired to serve the Lord, but who didn’t know how to help or whom to help.
At the same time, the Kaisers observed there were many churches, camps, and other facilities in need of help. The Kaisers spent a year looking into RV ministries and determined that there were no RV ministries associated with the Christian church/church of Christ community. In 1998, they began to develop the SOS ministry with Al and Roberta Wilson, of Colorado, who were also interested in doing this type of work in retirement.
While the Kaisers worked on the ministry’s organization, the Wilsons found an eldership to provide oversight. In August 1998, Servants of Our Savior launched, with initial oversight provided by the Christian Church of Coolidge, Arizona. The Kaisers and Wilsons were the first members.
“The SOS projects were very different in the beginning,” according to the Kaisers. “We didn’t have as many requests [for help] and many of the people worked on projects by themselves. Initially, we did not have enough people to form project teams.” Over time, SOS has grown steadily, and today there are more than 40 SOS families serving the Lord. The Williamsville church now provides oversight.
What They Do
SOS members travel across the country to work on projects for churches, camps, schools, retirement homes, youth ranches, and other Christian organizations that have written to request help. Members travel in RVs and converge on the work site. The designated team leader has background and experience for that particular project.
Projects have included building, remodeling, repairing, painting, general maintenance, cooking, cleaning, secretarial work, general office help, and library assistance. Volunteers have assisted with youth camps, church growth surveys, Bible teaching, Vacation Bible School, church leadership and teacher training, and interim preaching. A project’s length may vary from a few days to several weeks.
Over the years, the number of requests have increased to the point SOS is unable to fulfill every one. The group needs more members, and this is the lone requirement: “If you can smile, shake a hand, and show the love of the Lord, you are needed.”
Where They Go
SOS members can be found working just about anywhere there is a need. Some members live in their RVs on a full-time basis and they travel from one project to another. Others may travel in their RVs to several projects within a year.
The group conducted its annual rally in October 2008 in Slidell, Louisiana. In connection with that, SOS carried out a work project with International Disaster Emergency Service (IDES) in Pearlington, Mississippi, supporting construction and repair of homes damaged by Hurricane Katrina.
Here are some other places SOS volunteers have worked:
• Spanish American Evan-gelistic Ministries, El Paso, Texas: Assisted this printing and benevolence ministry by cutting and folding publication materials and providing general maintenance of the building and grounds.
• King Solomon Christian Camp, Solomon, Kansas: Assisted with cooking, cleaning, and general maintenance.
• Hot Springs (Arkansas) Christian Church: Installed 5,000 square feet of ceramic tile (this was one of our toughest jobs).
• Youth with a Mission, Nashville, Tennessee: Helped with general maintenance and repairs.
• New Life International, Scottsburg, Indiana: Built a deck, and constructed and painted a building/workplace for building water purifiers.
• Boise (Idaho) Christian Retirement Village: Removed old sidewalks and installed new ones; remodeled apartments, assisted in the kitchen and garden; and cleaned.
• And there are many others.
Where You Can Help
SOS volunteers enjoy working for the Lord and traveling around the country to do it. As members Clyde and Lorraine Carpenter said, “We feel we cannot be a blessing without being blessed in the process. If you want to be blessed by God, then go out and be a blessing.”
If you are looking for a way to serve the Lord and travel in your RV at the same time, then SOS is for you.
For more information, contact: Williamsville Christian Church, P.O. Box 233, Williamsville, Illinois 62693; phone (217) 566-3381. SOS information can be found at www.williamsvillecc.com under Ministries, Adult. You can also contact Gene Frazier at (870) 404-3520 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Mary Miller is an SOS member living in Burney, California.