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Alabama hosts first stateside Nehemiah Teams trainingcomment (0)

June 17, 2010

By Kristen Padilla

For Nazareth Baptist Church, Rainsville, the opportunity to impact seven countries and 15 people groups with the gospel seemed like a distant reality.

So when Pastor Roger Graham was asked if the DeKalb Baptist Association church could host 105 college students from 19 states and Canada training to work with Nehemiah Teams this summer, he jumped at the chance.

Started by International Mission Board (IMB) representatives and Alabama-natives Jim and Jill Smith, Nehemiah Teams is a summer international missions opportunity for college students. The students are divided into small teams and sent to work alongside IMB representatives throughout the world.

“These students are going out for 52 days,” Jill Smith said. “If there were just 100 of them, that would be 5,200 days. Just the impact they are able to make in two months is more than one person could do in 14 years.”

But before the students can make an impact, they have to be trained. In previous years, training was done on-site by the Smiths and other IMB representatives.

This year, the Smiths realized they couldn’t do what God was asking them to do without some help and partners. So for the first time, training was provided May 31–June 8 at one location in the United States — Rainsville.

“It has been phenomenal how the church (Nazareth Baptist) and other churches have stepped in to help,” Jim Smith said.

Though Nazareth has many resources, it needed and wanted other churches to help if for no other reason than to pass on the blessing, said Chris Townson, director of youth ministries at Nazareth.

“I found that the more people we can get involved to allow them the opportunity to serve our Lord by serving others just perpetuates that attitude of Christ,” he said.

At least 11 other Baptist churches — Antioch, Fyffe; Broadway, Rainsville; First, Rainsville; First, Fort Payne; Second, Fort Payne; Maranatha, Rainsville; Minvale, Fort Payne; Mount Hermon, Fort Payne; Ruhama, Fort Payne; and Wills Valley Community, Fort Payne, all in DeKalb Association, and Happy Home, Henagar, in Sand Mountain Baptist Association — chipped in with meals, lodging, transportation and other needs.

“We were like God’s church; we felt like we were just one big family,” Graham said.

Kenneth Clement, director of missions for DeKalb Association, likened the coming together of the churches to a jigsaw puzzle.

“Everyone had a part and it all fit together,” he said.

And churches weren’t the only ones jumping in to help. St. Clair Baptist Association took its disaster relief shower trailer to Nazareth so the students could shower during their stay.

By holding training at one central location in the United States, Nehemiah Teams was able to do more to prepare the students like having them go through the IMB’s risk management training and hear from Jeff Palmer, executive director of Baptist Global Response; past Nehemiah Teams participants; and other IMB personnel, Jill Smith added.

The students even had the opportunity to learn some languages and how to kill and skin chickens for food.

On June 6, Nazareth held a community worship celebration for the students. About 200 people were present to cheer the students on and hug them for their families who could not be present.

“We got to put the hands and the feet and the voice and the hug to [parents’, pastors’ and churches’] prayers,” Graham said. “That’s an overwhelming feeling when God gives you the opportunity to stand in the place of someone who has loved that young man or woman since they were an infant and you get the privilege of hugging them.”

The celebration really hit home for many Nazareth members as five of the church’s students were among those being trained to serve with Nehemiah Teams in Southeast Asia this summer.

Jordan H., a Nazareth member and senior at the University of Alabama, said it was a “big encouragement” for him to know that there are 104 others just like him sharing the gospel and that they would all be praying for one another.

“Everyone is so excited and on fire,” he said, asking for consistent prayer for them this summer.

The students will convene back at Nazareth Aug. 1–2 for a time of debriefing.

For more information, visit www.nehemiahteams.com.

EDITOR’S NOTE — IMB representatives names changed for security reasons.

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