C.J. dripped with sweat as he passed off the basketball to his teammate, a Filipino villager he had just met earlier that day. C.J., a college student attending the University of Arkansas at Monticello, was spending eight weeks of his summer in the Phillipines through the Nehemiah Teams program. Nehemiah Teams is a missions opportunity created by the International Mission Board (IMB) for college students.
Working alongside local IMB missionaries, C.J. and his Nehemiah Teams partners were here to share the Gospel with people who did not know what church was—who did not know who Jesus was.
“When I got saved, I learned about the 2.1 billion unreached people in the world,” C.J. said. “So I think if you’re called to salvation, then you’re called to ministry.”
For outreach, the guys would play basketball to build relationships before visiting their new friends’ homes, and other homes nearby, to share the Gospel. Later they would go back to those homes and lead Bible studies.
“People in the Philippines—and other unreached people groups—that God has yet to redeem, they just need someone to go and tell them the Gospel,” he said.
Involving Students in the Great Commission
Since Nehemiah Teams was founded in 2004, more than 2,600 students have been trained and sent to serve alongside IMB missionaries in more than 31 countries.
When you give to your local Arkansas Baptist church and your church gives to cooperative missions through the Cooperative Program (CP), you are putting International Mission Board (IMB) missionaries on the field around the world. You are also providing the strategy for those missionaries to then involve students, like C.J., in cross-cultural missions to unreached people groups. The term unreached people group (UPG) means that their population worldwide is less than 2% evangelical Christian.
“By funding IMB missionaries through the Cooperative Program (CP), the IMB is able to develop a robust strategy and support system for missionaries to serve in the field with little to no interruption,” said Jamie Naramore, Missions Strategist for the Arkansas Baptist State Convention. “This includes developing platforms for new generations of Arkansas Baptists to learn and serve on mission. Their engagement with missionaries in the field and participation in hands-on mission means [these students] catch both the knowledge and the passion of our international missionaries.”
“So, when you give sacrificially to your church, this means you are helping to equip the next generation of missionaries,” he added.
This is why the CP, a 90-year-old missions-funding mechanism of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC), plays such a significant role in preparing the next generation of students and young leaders to answer the call to missions. And with a force of more than 45,000 SBC churches working together with a common vision and commitment to see people come to know Christ, this vision—with God’s blessing—can happen.
“When you go to a place where there is no church, no concept of the true Gospel, and there are little to no believers, it makes you really appreciate the church,” C.J. said. “Being back in the States, I appreciate the church so much more and how they can send college students—like myself—to places where it’s unreached with the Gospel.”
“I think [this appreciation] also fuels me to mobilize other students and share the Gospel, to make disciples while I’m here [at the University of Arkansas, Monticello], so that we can create more missionaries,” he added.
Nehemiah Teams are currently forming for the Summer of 2019. For more information, contact your university's Baptist Collegiate Ministry (BCM) campus minister, or contact Lynn Loyd with our College + Young Leaders Team.