Hope for Life Chapel RV Ministry

Monday, 30 September, 2013

Tamara John tells the story of Hope for Life Chapel RV Ministry, a fresh expression of church in a motorhome.

Duration: 12:46   | Download Download video (flv) | Download Download video (wmv) | View on YouTube


Tamara John: I live in an RV, a Recreational Vehicle that has a chapel in the back! It's a house on wheels, you can either drive it – a motorhome – or you can pull it with a truck and I live in a trailer which is pulled by a truck.

And for people in the United States it's something that isn't as expensive as it might be in other countries because people, having lost their homes; they can pull together a couple of thousand dollars and get a small RV and try to start over again and get on their feet. So, I'm in an RV Park where there are 100 spaces and 52 of those spaces are there long-term – going through some sort of life crises, transitional space in their life. They may have lost their homes due to foreclosures; you would have a family with a mom and a dad, three kids, a dog and a cat, that has come from a five-bedroomed house into a 27ft RV. So there's a lot of tension there and also you might find there are migrant workers who come in to work the oilfields or roadwork; there are people that are there struggling with alcohol and substance abuse; people going through divorce; people that need to be near the hospital – going through some sort of treatment for their illness. There are also people who come in that need to be close to their parent to help them transition into an elder care living situation. It's really an all across the board situation of a microcosm of society that is all right there in a big parking lot.

And I am there to try to offer hope, to try to re-engage conversation, with the individual and the need for Jesus. A lot of people there are mad at God because of the situation that they're in. I want them to be seen, that I can look into their eyes and offer that someone sees them and that I want to hear their story and I want to walk with them into a new life through this transition - and that's what I want as well for the community there is to create a transparent community that we can all come alongside each other. You know, one person might be struggling and we can come alongside each other and say, 'You can do this' and 'We will do it together.'  And that's what I love about my ministry. It's offering dignity, it's offering hope in Jesus, it's offering new life in Jesus Christ.

How I ended up doing this? Well, I learned how to completely surrender what I think my life should be. My final year in seminary I kept praying, I knew I was not called to a traditional, church pastoral role; I knew I was called to something different. My final year in seminary I was praying, 'Lord, OK, what do you want me to be doing here?' And as I was praying and crying out – as the graduation day was getting closer – I was saying, 'Lord, what do you want me to be doing?' And I 'saw' a white RV with a chapel in the back and I thought, 'That's ingenious!' And I could never, ever have thought this up and - I'm pretty creative – but I could never , ever have thought this up and that's where life begins is if we find what God's plan for us is and get in sync with that, that's where fullness of life is and I remember when I saw the vision of the white RV with the chapel in the back, I thought, 'Well, I guess I need to go RV shopping, I don't know anything about RVs!' So I got online and looked at chatting communities and went to a dealership and, as it turned out, I researched and talked with a lot of people for a good six months and, as I went to the dealership, this was March and I was getting ready to graduate in June and I was talking with the guy there and everything that I thought I needed. They had there an RV they were selling for basically nothing because it was an older model and I thought, 'This is perfect.'

I said, 'Well, but I don't graduate until June and the earliest I could get would be in July.'

'We'll store it for you.'

'Ah, that's lovely. And financing? I don't have any…..'

'Zero per cent financing.'

I mean, everything I thought I needed was being handed to me on a silver platter and I said, 'I need to pray about this.' I stepped outside and said, 'Give me about 10 minutes.'


So I step aside and I'm praying and I hear, 'No.'

And so it ended up that he said, 'OK' and gave me his number. As I was getting in the car, I said, 'Would you mind writing down a couple of RV Parks so that maybe I could go see where I might be living?' He writes them down and I get in the car and I'm driving and I see one RV Park as I'm driving and it wasn't on the list.

I'm like, 'It's not on the list' so I'm looking for these and I couldn't find these for anything; my GPS wouldn't work. It was just the most bizarre thing and it was getting dark so I thought, 'I'll just turn around and go back to that one I saw.'

So I go there, and I park, and I walk in to the RV Park office and there was a girl in there wearing a cross and I said, 'You're a Christian!'

'Yes I am.'

'O my gosh you've got to pray for me, I'm just finishing seminary, I'm going to be a pastor , I feel called to some RV ministry.'

'Hold on just one second.' And she goes and gets her husband and he comes over.

'You feel called to the pastorate?'


'RV ministry?'


'You're not going to believe this but…my wife and I, we've been praying for months, feeling like some sort of ministry needs to be started here but we don't know what to do! Do you think you would want to come here?'

'Wow, you're so amazing! I think we need to discuss this. This sounds very likely that God is up to something here.' And, this is so great, he says, 'Don't go to some dealer to buy your RV.'

'OK why?'

And he said, 'Because I'm a dealer and I can get you into the manufacturer's plant. You could design whatever you want and they'll charge you just over cost.'

I was stunned. We have a Father in heaven that cares about every desire and detail of our lives and our hearts. And I could have just been in any old RV, the older model, but God was, like, 'No. No. I want you to have this…' And it was such a gift and a reminder of who my heavenly Father is and what Jesus died for so that I can live and to whom I'm created to be and share the gospel message in this unique way. That's who I am.

The first year was extremely challenging. There's a hitch on the front of my RV that connects to a truck to be pulled and I'm running around and I raise up and hit my head on the hitch, I'm knocked out, blacked out on the ground. And they're watching….

And then there was a windstorm a few months later and I get smashed into the side of the RV, I punctured the top of my head, I had blood coming down my face. And they're watching….

Then the transmission on my car goes out. And they're watching…

And then after a while there is a man and woman that came up to me, that lived in the park, and they said, 'We just want to know how you're doing? We see you're the crazy woman here, trying to talk to us and we're starting to feel sorry for you! We thought we would come up and introduce ourselves and listen to what you have to say.' We have to be invited into and have the credibility to say that, 'I will persevere because Jesus Christ has called me here with a message and, through that, I also need to show that I can persevere and offer that, to stand with others as they need to persevere.'

And that's what's drawn up together into community. Saturday mornings I have a group that gets together and it's called Straight Talk and I have, on little cards, different emotions – shame, sadness, hopeless despair, anger, disgust – and I put them in this basket and everybody passes it around and they pick out the emotion that most matches what they're feeling for that week.

Well, last week everyone picked anger; anger, loss of control, rage, and we had a discussion on what it's like to have that emotion. I was able to share with people that the emotion isn't bad; the emotion isn't sin, it's what we do with it that has the repercussions. So we talked about, 'Let's think of characters in the Bible that had anger – and the humanness of that.' And then we discovered, with Moses and John the Baptist and poor Joseph - he probably really had anger even though he didn't talk about it(!) - and as people were bringing up the different characters of the Bible with anger they would tell the story for people that may not know that story.

We find people in community that we can invite into our lives to be that transparent, vulnerable, person so that they know us well enough so, whenever we're beginning to make that wrong turn, that they will grab us and pray before there are serious consequences by our acting off the emotion. And that seemed to really land with people and, since then, they have been opening up, more transparent because they are finding that there's no judgement, that we're all real people – even me – and that we're in it together, we're in this life together.

I leave my chapel door open and it's about the power of presence; it's about the power of just being there and available. With this type of ministry you can't go up to people in crisis and if they want to talk, you say, 'Well, are you available next Tuesday at 5o'clock?' No! It's all in the moment and coming alongside and locking arms and encouraging them through this and helping them.

It can be very challenging. That's why a person needs to trust their call because any time that I have a challenge or I feel distraught, I think back to 'seeing' the white RV with the chapel in the back and how God brought me along to this RV park, that these people had been praying and when I think of that I think, 'I am called to be here.'

And I think the most important thing I've learned that I would share with all other pioneers is my job is to be faithful and obedient to what God has called me to do and to leave the results up to him. Fresh expressions is, I believe, the way of the future that Jesus will go into the community, into people's lives and really make a difference.


Awesome and what I needed to read tonight as I pray Father help me with faithfulness and courage, patience and your love to reach out, step out and drive into the unknown.

This chapel indeed brings hope of life to many. Many many thanks. Peace. B. Wishes

Since helping Rev. Tamara John put up her flag on her RV I have seen Rev. Tam John grow in the ministry to the RV community. I have watched her counsel and nurture young girls with the love of Jesus Christ. I have seen her give Bible studies for both men and women who are in need of Christ's instructions in life for each individual in the RV Community. Weekly Rev. Tam John feeds the people in the RV Court not only physical food but the all important spiritual food. Rev. Tam John walks the park many days with a little dog named Jobie, who she calls her missionary. Jobie is a very affectionate dog that can warm the heart of any little girl and melt the heart of even most hardened souls so I believe Jobie is an important instrument that Rev. Tam john is using very effectively in her RV ministry. The RV ministry was first only a vision given to Rev. Tam John, which she made a reality by her obedience to Gods leading her to serve the RV Community. At first she was skeptical about starting the ministry wondering which RV park she should go and serve in until God led her to a Christian couple that strongly believes that Rev. Tam John could start her ministry in their RV Court. Since her beginning Rev. Tam John has come a long way in promoting this new idea of RV Ministries. She has even gone to England to share her ideas there. Lately she has shared the RV idea to many churches in the U.S., mostly in California, but I hope it goes to other States as well, as I would like to have the whole Nation know the R.V. Minister. I could write a lot more but must close here or I'll run out of space. I ask nothing from anybody but to support the ministry of this beautiful lady with her heart of gold. I would compare her with Mother Teresa but would call her Sister Tamara instead. I close now with my fondest aloha for Rev. Tam John in the name of Iesu Kristo (Jesus Christ).

Dear Tamara,

I just watched your video. I knew you were doing great things, but I learned more!

God bless you in your wonderful path that God has led you to. I received a mailing from you to my old address. I'm now at 369 Gun Club Rd, Sp 11, Woodland, WA 98674.

Love and hugs,

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