Nehemiah Teams: A Life on Life Experience
*Due to the high-security areas that Nehemiah Teams work in, the names of those from these areas have been changed in order to protect their identities and their people group.
Hope for An Unreached World
College is an integral time in a student’s life. It’s the time when they don't have the full responsibilities that come with adulthood, where they still have enough free time to take opportunities that will help their spiritual growth. They can explore missions’ opportunities with the whole world in their reach. But how can a student maximize their impact with any destination in the world in front of them?
Nehemiah Teams connect with International Mission Board missionaries already on the ground and sends young adults to help them in many different aspects of an international missionary's life. This helps connect the next generation with international missions and creates a legitimate missional impact on them and the setting in which they serve.
Jack, a student at Williams Baptist University, spent his summer overseas living in a remote village, farming with the locals. There, he and his team used this labor and daily connections to build relationships with the people in order to share the Gospel.
Students can plug into programs like Nehemiah Teams, that connect with these missionaries who have a network and strategies already established. Students can spend their summers helping these missionaries and when the summer comes to an end, the missionaries will still be there to reap the seeds they sow long after the students leave.
Nehemiah Teams were created by International Missions Board (IMB) missionaries Jess and Wendy Jennings. It’s an 8-week summer program designed for college students and young professionals to get hands-on experience with life as a missionary.
A ‘Life on Life Experience’
Jack would walk with the farmers to their fields, help them tend to their lands, walk back with them and share meals together. They would chat, and he would share Bible stories with them. They would teach farmers the stories and ultimately use them to teach deeper understandings of the Bible itself and answer different questions the farmers had.
Jack described it as a “life on life experience” interacting with these people on their own levels in their own literal fields. Since they were able to connect with them on this level, the connections and relationships were able to go deeper and mean so much more.
Sowing the Seeds
Jack encountered a man named Daniel. He was one of many men they’d been helping tend their field over the weeks. He was also a new believer they were discipling. He asked Jack if he was going to be around when it came time to harvest the field. Daniel wanted him, and the team, to see the fruition of their labor. Unfortunately, Jack had to tell him that their time would be up in about a week and a half, and they’d be returning home.
After investing in their lives, Jack could see that leaving was going to be hard. He left knowing that seeds had been planted and that his friend Daniel would get to see the fruits of that labor. That gave Jack hope.
When Jack first learned about this area, he learned how heavy the Islam influence was. He was afraid that no one would be open-minded to hear the stories they had to share. He thought they’d face opposition. However, he was pleasantly surprised to find that they wanted to hear about Jesus and His stories.
“[God’s] word is there. We saw it move people...We saw it change people’s lives.”
Jack was only there for two months. He shared Bible stories through a translator. But what God was already doing and will do there was very encouraging.
Cooperative Program at Work
When Arkansas Baptists give to their local church, a portion of that money goes to the Cooperative Program, which funds cooperative missions.
So, when students like Jack are given the opportunity to serve with Nehemiah Teams, it’s because money given through the Cooperative Program has already established mission strategies and placed IMB missionaries in the field.