Kenya BelilesTina Pearson Beliles holds baby Rachel in a Kenyan orphanage. Beliles was asked to give the baby a name since the child had been abandoned. She named the baby girl in honor of her own daughter. (SurfKY News/Photo Courtesy of Tina Pearson Beliles)MUHLENBERG COUNTY, Ky. (1/27/14) – Through much of the year, Tina Pearson Beliles of Greenville, teaches fifth-grade students at Greenville Elementary School.

She also loves spending time with her husband, Mike, and their three children, Rachel, Elijah and Samuel.

Beliles, along with other members of Leigh’s Chapel General Baptist Church near Greenville, have discovered firsthand how short-term mission trips can make a long term difference to the people they visit, and the mission members themselves.

“Last year, our church group went to India,” Beliles told SurfKY News. “In December of 2013, we went to Kenya. We may be a small church, but we have a global vision. The number of orphans around the world is overwhelming, but each of us can make a difference, one child at a time.”

Beliles said churches of all denominations in Muhlenberg County are taking part in missions worldwide.

"Many churches throughout the county are very active in mission work,” she said. “Before we went on our church mission to Kenya, Carter Creek Baptist Church made pillowcase dresses for us to take to the children in Kenya. This is just one example.”

The reason Beliles and others like her spend time helping orphans is taken directly from the Bible, she notes.

“We are commanded by the verse in James 1:27. It specifically says we should visit orphans and widows in their distress. So that is why we do what we do. I also go because of the inspiration of people in our church including Kris Yeomans, Leigh’s Chapel’s head of missions, who also works with the General Baptist International Missions. Another inspiration is our church pastor, John Galyen, who is very active in mission work.”

One other huge reason Beliles became involved in short term mission work is Kristen Mitchell, another member of Leigh’s Chapel General Baptist Church.

“You might say my friend, Kristin, has a heart for orphans.” said Beliles. “She has two biological children, and has adopted four boys, plus is caring for an orphan baby as well. She helped get our church on track as far as short-term missionary work through a group in Nashville called Visiting Orphans."

After teaming up with Visiting Orphans, the church went on missions to India last year, and in December of 2013, to Kenya.

The group of 11 mission members flew to Africa. Once there, Beliles says God stepped in unexpected ways.

“Another mission trip had been planned but was cancelled,” she said. “Looking back now, I can see that that trip was cancelled because God had another plan for Kristen, myself and others in the group.”

kenya kidsThree unidentified children smile as they snack on some sugar cane at a Kenyan orphanage. (SurfKY News/Photo Courtesy of Tina Pearson Beliles)Once the group arrived in Kenya, Beliles said the group visited an orphanage where there were more than 200 children.

“With that many young people to take care of, the children take on much of the responsibility,” she said. “They must. The children are leaders in every capacity. When I am asked why we go to Africa, or Haiti, or India, my answer is that you just have to go there and experience it to realize why we go. There is such dire need. We go is to show children God’s love one on one. When you hold one of these orphan babies in your arms, you know why you are there. We are changed when we go. We think we are going to help these people, but it makes me a better person. The change in me is greater than the change we can do in another country.”

One incident in particular changed Beliles in a big way.

“One of our mission members lost her luggage, and it was total chaos,” said Beliles. “But once again, I could see that God had stepped in even in the event of missing luggage. If this had not happened, a group of us would not have received word that a seven-week-old baby girl had been abandoned at an orphanage, and was dire need of a specific baby formula and other items.”

When the group arrived at the mission, Beliles said the orphanage staff was so thrilled they wanted to show the missionaries the baby they were helping.

They asked Beliles to hold the baby.

Beliles said was like holding a miracle.

"This tiny, unnamed, abandoned child kept looking in my eyes,” she said. “I rocked her to sleep and really didn't want to leave. But when we did have to go, one of the staff members said to show their gratitude they wanted me to name the baby. This was overwhelming. I have three children and my daughter’s name is Rachel, so we named the baby Rachel. I felt this was divine intervention. I will definitely be going back to Kenya, to see how baby Rachel is doing.”

To find out how you can help one of the more than 131 million orphans in the world, contact Leigh’s Chapel General Baptist Church at (270) 476-3059.

Paul McRee
SurfKY News Reporter

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