Landon, from Maryville, and a recent graduate of Tennessee Tech University in Cookeville, had been praying about a summer mission opportunity with the International Mission Board.
During his time in the BCM at Tech, Landon heard stories from friends about their work overseas. He also learned the importance of the Great Commission, and he wanted to play a part in it.
Landon is one of 13 Tennessee college students who participated in the Nehemiah Teams orientation in northern Alabama in early June. Nehemiah Teams is an eight-week summer opportunity through the IMB for students over the age of 18. At the end of the summer, students return to Alabama for a week of debriefing.
Landon learned about Nehemiah Teams through the IMB website.
“I wanted to give a summer and go overseas. … I hopped on the IMB’s website and found this opportunity,” Landon said.
For security reasons, Landon isn’t using his last name and can’t say where he’s going — only that he will be teaching English to kids in Southeast Asia. His specific location and ministry assignment came to him literally in a dream.
“I would look on the IMB’s website every couple of days, not really sure where I was going to go, just praying,” Landon explained. “I had a dream one night that I was in this country that I’ll be going to. The next day, I opened the website, and this trip was listed. That’s how I knew I was supposed to apply for this one.”
‘An answer to prayer’
Sidney Bennett is a nursing major at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, and a member of Brentwood Baptist Church in Brentwood. Like Landon, Bennett was searching the IMB’s website, trying to decide if a summer of overseas mission work was right for her. That’s when she came across a position for a rural health care worker in the Philippines.
“I’m a nursing major, and the position looked interesting. I decided to apply,” Bennett said. “Through continued prayer and confirmation from the Lord, I knew it was the right next step for me.”
Part of that confirmation came through her involvement with the BCM at UT Knoxville, Bennett said. While she was seeking direction about the trip, she had lots of conversations with leaders and friends at the BCM. She also met Kim Cruse, a former missionary to the Philippines who now serves as Missions Discipleship Specialist for the Tennessee Woman’s Missionary Union.
“I had some hesitation about the trip and that was when I met Kim Cruse who had been a missionary in the Philippines for over 20 years,” Bennett said. “She was at the BCM one day, and we got to talk. That was definitely an answer to prayer.”
Well prepared to share the gospel
Joy Tiebout is going back to the Philippines for a second summer as a team leader with Nehemiah Teams. Tiebout, from The River Community Church in Cookeville is a graduate of Union University. She is going back to the Philippines, she says, because she “fell in love with the island, the people and their need for Jesus.”
The Filipino people “know who Jesus is; they just don’t know that He came to save us from our sins through His death, burial and resurrection,” Tiebout said.
Camden, a member of Indian Springs Baptist Church in Kingsport, attends Tennessee Tech.
Like Landon, Camden’s last name and location can’t be shared for security reasons. Camden hopes to see “souls won, disciples made, and more churches planted” as he works with a team in Asia.
Camden also appreciates the training he’s received at orientation.
“I am more prepared to share the gospel in another culture than I was four days ago,” Camden said.
“I’ve learned about the culture and the small things I can do to let the people know I want to be their friend.”
Reading Acts 2 during his time at orientation, Camden realized that when the Holy Spirit came at Pentecost, the first thing He did was break down language barriers.
“My prayer is that God will break down barriers, and I’ll be able to share the gospel,” Camden said.
Jacob Norvell is a student at Samford University in Birmingham, Alabama, where he attends Shades Mountain Baptist Church. His dad, Rodney Norvell, is the BCM director at UT Knoxville.
“One of (Dad’s) former students was very involved in missions over the last few years … and he recommended Nehemiah Teams,” Norvell explained.
Norvell believes the disciple-making work in the Philippines through Nehemiah Teams is a good fit for him Like Camden, Norvell believes the training Nehemiah Teams provides has prepared him to serve well.
From a study of Nehemiah during orientation, Norvell has come to understand the importance of preparing for spiritual warfare.
“Spiritual warfare is going to be very real this summer and something that is a little different from the states,” Norvell said.
Norvell and his team will use sports to share the gospel alongside local believers with high school and college students in a city where Christians number less than 2 percent of the population. Still, Norvell is excited for the summer and for the opportunity to work with a team.
“The past four days have prepared me for working with my team,” Norvell said. “We’ve been learning each other’s personalities and interests. It’s been important to learn team dynamics. Anywhere you go in life you need to learn how to work with a team, especially in ministry and missions because it’s not meant to do alone.”
You can follow the work of Nehemiah Teams this summer by visiting their blog at nehemiahteams.blogspot.com. B&R — Lovell has written about Baptist work for more than 20 years. She is a member of the Church at Station Hill in Spring Hill.