by Lisa Falknor
In Romans 15:20 the Apostle Paul wrote, “It has always been my ambition to preach the gospel
where Christ was not known.” This is the foundational basis of Nehemiah Teams. Nehemiah Teams offer an 8-week summer mission opportunity for students ages 17-29 to share Christ with people groups who are unreached or hard to reach. Is God calling you?
The interest to take the Gospel to the ends of the earth by serving on a Nehemiah Team is growing. In 2015, 168 US students went on a Nehemiah Team trip, only one went from Arkansas. By 2016, 171 signed up, including 15 Arkansans. This year, 203 students shared the Gospel with those who’ve never heard before–28 came from Arkansas.
Sarah King, 22, from Arkansas Tech University, was one of the 28 who went to Southeast Asia with a Nehemiah Team. Three people accepted Christ, she said; two got baptized in a community pool.
Sarah said she expected to have conversational English and teach the Bible in the coffee shops. She did not expect to interpret dreams, but God had other plans.
A student she called “John” came to their English workshop and told her about a dream he had three years ago. He asked her what it meant.“I saw God on His throne surrounded by apostles and people from every nation who died for their faith,” he said. Sarah read Revelation 19-21. “That’s what I saw in my dream!” he said. John did not accept Christ that day, but Sarah introduced him to a local believer who followed up with him.
Sarah said being on a Nehemiah Team taught her what it meant to have a mission mentality for the long haul, to be aware of your individual responsibility to reach the unreached and to align your life to these priorities.
Explore and evangelize Southeast Asia–that was what Danielle Cueria, 21, from Arkansas State University said she did as a Nehemiah Team member.
She remembers hearing the Islamic call to prayer five times a day, eating shrimp for breakfast, dodging at least one tarantula and backpacking to remote villages.
Danielle and other student Nehemiah Team evangelists split up usually into groups of four–two girls, a guy and a translator. The villages they hiked to had little or no electricity. The people still showed hospitality similar to those in the Southern US “only five times greater.”
Their main goal was “to tell whoever we could about the Gospel.” Two people got baptized. They also met people who had accepted Christ the year before.”“If there are any Christians in this area,” she said, “it’s because a Nehemiah Team went there.”
“I never thought it would be so easy to take a mission trip out of the country,” said Danielle. “They give you all your training and help you along the way.” She credits her time on Nehemiah Teams with defining her call to missions.
C.J. Womack, a 24-year-old New Orleans seminary student chose the Nehemiah Team website title “Take it to the Rim.” The catchy phrase simply meant playing basketball in the Philippines for the purpose of building relationships with the locals.
“Once we built relationships, we went house to house evangelizing and doing Bible studies,” he said. One 15-year-old boy became a Christian and immediately joined their group to evangelize door to door. They saw five people get baptized including a grandfather and two of his granddaughters.
‘Baptism is a huge deal,” he said. “If you are baptized, you forsake old ways and face persecution in the family.”
Like Sarah and Danielle, C.J. highly recommends other students go on an overseas trip like this.
When considering serving on a Nehemiah Team, C.J. said students need to ask themselves the right question. “The question isn’t, ‘Why would you go?’” he said. “The question is, ‘Why wouldn’t you go?’”