*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.
As college students embark on their summer vacations, most see themselves sleeping in every day, hanging out with friends, and maybe getting a part-time job to earn extra money. Most don’t see themselves sleeping in a hut in tropical conditions or trekking through the jungles of foreign countries. However, one student found herself doing just that.
Adrienne, a student at Ouachita Baptist University, spent her entire summer in Southeast Asia serving with Nehemiah Teams.
Nehemiah Teams connect with International Mission Board missionaries already on the ground and sends young adults (17-29) 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. They can serve for up to 8-weeks on summer trips to countries all over the world.
Adrienne and her teammates led English clubs where citizens would come to learn, or improve upon their, English skills. Learning English in that part of the world enhances one’s qualifications and improves the chances of obtaining a job, in most cases a better-paying one.
Connecting with The Locals
When her team arrived, there were little to no connections in these villages and communities. They essentially started from scratch by meeting people in shops and universities, inviting them to come to learn English. In some places, the team met with local churches already established and helped them build-up their English clubs. They helped to improve English skills, as well as walk alongside and disciple them while also inviting other people to come and learn.
These English clubs met three nights a week. During their off time, the teams developed relationships with individuals so they could build upon those connections and ultimately share the Gospel with them.
A Woman’s Passion
Making connections was the most important aspect of Adrienne's experience. Without the connections, English clubs wouldn’t have functioned at all. Engaging people where they were and doing life with them is what ultimately brought up the conversation for sharing the Gospel.
They encountered many people from all walks of life and belief systems. Adrienne talked about a girl named Ruth that they met who was already a believer. She was so zealous for her own people and intent on wanting them to know the Truth she knew. They got to pour into Ruth, disciple her, and help her to share the Gospel.
In contrast, there were plenty who had never heard the word “God” before. There was a man named David, who had never heard any of the Bible stories that they shared.
David had never heard the Gospel but was very curious and eager to learn all about Jesus. Adrienne said he never quite grasped the concept of having a relationship with Christ. David’s best friend, Jonathan, hung out with some of Park’s teammates one day and both men came to the English club that night. Jonathan heard the stories and instantly got it. Jonathan told one of the team members that he “wanted to believe.”
Through the Nehemiah Team experience, Adrienne has discovered that being a long-term missionary is what she’s called to do. Growing up in a non-Christian household, Adrienne didn't have any discipleship when she first became a believer, so she wasn't quite sure how it should look when it was time for her to disciple others. Getting to see discipleship firsthand overseas really cemented her passion and made her excited to come back to school to do the same things she’d done all summer.
Although Adrienne was thousands of miles away from home, she was surrounded by the support of Arkansas Baptists across the state. She was able to plug into an existing network of IMB Missionaries that spread across the globe & make an immediate kingdom impact.
All this happens because Arkansas Baptists faithfully give to their church and their churches agree to participate in cooperative missions, through the Cooperative Program. Adrienne plugged into an existing strategy, made immediate kingdom impact and ignited a passion for missions and evangelism in her own life because of the Cooperative Program.
Adrienne was one of 835 Arkansas college students representing their Baptist Collegiate Ministry and serving from all over the state. Adrienne, as well as other Arkansas college students, represented Arkansas along with 24 other states serving in 50 countries on five continents in the summer of 2019.