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Local church uses the power of prayer to help refugees

By Ellen Bacca
Published On: Jul 05 2013 07:14:32 PM CDT
NEW BERN, CRAVEN COUNTY -

After several prayers were answered in unique ways, one congregation has put the power of prayer to work once more for a new fellowship center. The center would be used to teach dozens of Burmese refugees that have moved to America, and attend Rhem's United Methodist Church.

"It was a very dying church. it was a much older crowd that was coming. very very few children if any at all were coming at that time." said Susan Saltzman, a member of Rhem's United Methodist Church.

The congregation of 35 began praying for children. At the same time, refugees on the other side of the world were praying for a place where their children could have opportunities and education.

"I heard about this chance to sponsor a family. and from that point it went from there to where we have over 75 people. Most, almost all of them are refugees." said Saltzman.   

Refugees were selected to come to the United States through Interfaith Refugee Ministries. Each given a health check and legally integrated into countries like America.

Now the church is so bountiful, it is looking to expand. When they needed a new bus, they prayed and one was made available. When Hurricane Irene hit their building hard, they prayed and the repairs were made. Now, the focus is turning to a building on the back of the property. It is an old fellowship hall. The church is praying for a new one.

"We need classroom space and we are working on a building. We call it our fishes and loaves campaign." said Saltzman.

Since then, the Duke Endowment and Duke Divinity School has selected Rhem's United Methodist Church as one of only nine churches in the state to participate in the Thriving Rural Communities Initiative program. This program will help the church so more of what it has already been doing; get involved in communities in eastern Carolina. 

Leaders say they hope this exposure will help lead them to someone who will help financially with the new building they are planning.