One of the most significant short-term projects of biblical times dates back to Nehemiah.
In 52 days he led his people to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem, restore a nation, and revive a people.
Four students with North Carolina ties worked with Nehemiah Teams — through the International Mission Board — this summer teaching English, caring for orphans, and more (see letter to editor).
“I did not want to leave,” said Courtney Bell, a senior in communication disorders at Appalachian State University and member of First Baptist Church in Garner. “Coming back was really difficult.”
Bell was one of a team working at a special needs rescue orphanage in Manila, Philippines. She had seen poverty on her trips to Ukraine, Belize and Mexico before but nothing like what she encountered in Malabon.
“What words can clearly describe Malabon?” she wrote. “Constant flooding. No sewage system. Filthy floors. Garbage sidewalks. Garbage stacks of clothes, rags. So much garbage. The ground gives like a trampoline. Naked babies. Children with sores. People with TB. Clothes hanging by a thread. Shacks 10’x10’ for 10 people. Smoke. Hard to breathe. Low scrap metal overhangs. Crowded. Confused, sad faces. No education. No work. No money. No food. Starvation. Disease. Loss of hope.”
She countered what she saw with biblical truth: “Yet, Christ promised to bring hope to the hopeless; rest to the weary. Christ loves, an everlasting love. He loves these people. He died for these people. Why are they left like this? Why doesn’t Jesus do something? He is doing something. He has sent me.”
Two children still tug at Bell’s heart from thousands of miles away. One three-year-old girl had excess spinal fluid in her brain. Developmentally, she’s three months old.
“She can’t sit up by herself; no strength in arms, legs,” said Bell, who was the one who carried her from her home in Malabon. Her family could not care for her. Another girl had autistic-like symptoms. Bell worked one-on-one with her, utilizing some of her training.
“I miss having the babies around and … never having a moment to myself,” Bell said.
In South Korea, Rachel Chiasson learned the importance of prayer.
“One of the biggest things I learned … truly believe in what you pray,” said Chiasson, a junior kinesiology major at Campbell University in Buies Creek who worked with North Korean refugees.
God showed her how small her faith is while she was teaching English as a Second Language (ESL) and spending time with students.
Chiasson, a Louisiana native, estimated that about half the refugees did not have any family in South Korea. She said she also learned to use her resources more wisely.