Click here to watch a video about this group of retired RVers.
The Sojourners, a group of retired Christians who travel around the country in RVs, are visiting York College in York, Neb., and donating their labor.
Each summer, the Sojourners visit York College and do whatever it is that’s needed. This year, the group is helping to renovate Childress Hall to turn it into the new campus bookstore and post office. Part of the group is also helping out with data entry in the library and painting bookshelves for the new bookstore, according to the York News Times.
The Sojourners organization performs physical and spiritual work to help Christian organizations related to the Church of Christ. They often visit children’s homes, small congregations, youth camps and colleges. There are 695 active Sojourners, 14 of which are currently at York College. The amount of ground the Sojourners cover stretches across the United States and beyond. They travel to Canada, Sweden, Ghana and Belize. Each Sojourner pays his own way on every trip. Members can work with the group all year long or for just a couple of weeks a year. Organizations who request that Sojourners come visit them guide what work the group does at each location.
Sojourners come from all walks of life. In the group visiting York College, there is a retired banker, a rancher, a railroad worker and a bricklayer.
John Lucas, a Sojourner originally from Iowa who now calls his RV and wherever it may be his address, does Sojourner work throughout the entire year. For 30 years, Lucas designed houses and small commercial buildings. And now, he is rolling up his sleeves and doing all he can to help others.
Lucas got involved with Sojourners after one of his friends joined the organization. His friend was a 55-year-old retired optometrist and decided he wanted to do something. He got an RV, which meant he could move around and have an opportunity to visit his children who lived around the country.
“We get to travel, see the world and meet a lot of interesting people,” Lucas said.
He said the group enjoys working with each other and for other people, and everyone who is part of Sojourners are “people-type people.” The best part of the work the Sojourners do is being able to help Christians, Lucas said. The Sojourners also benefit from the work they do, as it also lifts them up.
“All of us are retired, so a lot of times retired people think they’re done with,” or they have no purpose, Lucas said.
He explained that one of the things that’s inspiring to them is when older people see the work they’re doing and realize that they are also capable of getting out there and doing something different.
Lucas sees a need for the work the Sojourners are doing when he looks around and sees the pain the world is suffering from. He said the group hopes they can “help others see a better way of life.”
There are a lot of people out there who are hurting and discouraged, Lucas said. And the Sojourners work to provide encouragement for them.
The services the Sojourners perform are completely free of charge, and Lucas said it is hard for people to adjust to things with no price tag. He said it’s a rare thing in this world for someone to help another person without wanting anything in return.
“There’s a real blessing to people who do things for other people,” he said.
Lucas said another facet of being a part of Sojourners is being able to no longer look at what’s in the Bible as a theory or keep God at arm’s length. Instead, Lucas said they are putting the theory into practice and it’s become no longer just a theory. It’s real, he said.
“It changed the relationship between us and God,” he said. “It’s like embracing somebody.”
He said the work the group is doing has helped them to understand their faith even more.
“It helps us to start understanding the concept,” he said.
The Sojourners fight through their own struggles on their journey. Everyone in the group visiting York College suffers from different health problems. Lucas had cancer last year, and another man has had hip troubles. But they’ve all pushed through it and aren’t letting it stop them.
“This work keeps you young,” he said.
One member of the Sojourners visiting York College, Herman Zeller of Edmond, Okla., is going to be 90 years old in a few months. Zeller said what he likes most about being a part of Sojourners is the fellowship and encouragement. And, he said, it’s nice “being able to do something in old age.” Lucas said Zeller is one of the hardest workers in their group.
Dude Eggar of Livingston, Mont., travels along with the Sojourners with his wife Janet. He said it’s a lot of work, but they enjoy it.
“We’re old, but we got teamwork. It makes a big difference,” Eggar said.
Lucas explained that there is something to be said when you get up in the morning and you’re excited to be doing what you’re doing. It helps you think sharper, he said, even though sometimes your body complains. But, he said, that happens to people of all ages.
One day they’ll all settle down when their health does not permit them to keep going, Lucas said. But until then, they’re going to keep sojourning as long as they can. When they leave York College next week, they’ll head for their next stop, where they’ll go to work and help enrich the place with their service. And from there, they’ll continue to do it all over again.