Children’s Bible Ministries (CBM), formerly named Children’s Bible Mission, began its work in North Carolina in the 1940’s. However, it wasn’t until 1955 that the work began in Robeson County. CBM came to the area because a believer among the Lumbee Indians, Mrs. Elsie May Blue (Mrs. Thomas Blue), had a burden for the lost boys and girls of her race. Mrs. Blue communicated with the CBM General Director, and after much prayer, CBM in Raleigh, NC sent Miss Grace Garthwaite (Pictured left) to begin teaching Bible classes to public school children in this area. “Miss Grace” was well-known and loved and had an effective ministry in Robeson County for 26 years teaching over 12,000 children a month in the public schools until she passed away in 1981.
David and Kathy Johnson came from CBM in Raleigh, NC and continued the ministry until 1991. It was no longer legal to teach inside the public schools, so they diligently worked with local officials to make it possible to teach the classes under the Released Time law using the “Rolling Chapel”, a fifth-wheel trailer that was converted into a mobile classroom. The Johnsons were followed by Barry and Susan Belles from Pennsylvania who served until
2001. In 1997 Stephen and Robin Webb and Bobby and Karen Williams joined the Belles’; a 240-acre tract of land was received as a gift to be developed into a new CBM camp; the work in this area became incorporated; and three weeks of summer day camp were held using local church facilities. Under the leadership of the Belles’, the full-time staff continued to teach the Released Time Bible classes, and George and Emily Elliot joined the staff in 1999.
In 2001 Bobby and Karen Williams began giving leadership to this ministry. The construction of Camp Grace began in 2001 and overnight camp began in the summer of 2003. Brent and Beth Woodard and Hector and Danyelle Miray also served as full-time staff for many years before following God’s leading to other ministry areas.
In 2015, Keith Eggert (long-time associate staff member) became the Interim Executive Director with his son Nolan Eggert giving guidance to the daily operations of Camp Grace. 2018 saw the beginning of the Stout family's full-time ministry with Camp Grace with Todd being named as the Executive Director and Katherine serving as the Office Manager.
The full time staff and local volunteers now work together to teach Released Time classes at 25 local schools, teaching about 3,700 children a month. Correspondence and Bible Lessons are given through the mail to over 500 children each month. ROOTS Outdoor Education field trips are available for elementary age school groups. Activities and Retreats for all ages and families are scheduled throughout the year, and Summer Camp is available for all school-age children during various weeks of the summer. The full-time staff currently consists of Todd and Katherine Stout (since 2018) Nolan and Bambi Eggert (since 2011), John and Chita Martens (since 2006), David Davison (since 2016), Timmy Martens (since 2017), and Andrew and Moriah Willis (since 2018). Rev. Keith and Sandra Eggert (since 2005) are full-time associate staff members, and Mark and Katelyn Martens are currently raising their financial support to join this ministry. The staff is also assisted by countless volunteers throughout the school year and high school and college age students during the summer.
None of our full-time staff members have ever received a paycheck from Camp Grace. They serve as local missionaries living on faith and supported by the financial donations of friends, family, and churches. They remain here to serve the people of this community out of a love for the area and because of their love for God who has placed them here. This is an exciting place of ministry and there is much evidence that it is God’s work! The board and staff desire that CBM/Camp Grace, its staff and programs, will be used to illustrate Biblical truth and the exciting reality of a personal relationship with God through His Son, Jesus Christ.