By Jeremy Reynalds, Senior Correspondent, ASSIST News Service (firstname.lastname@example.org)
BELTSVILLE, MARYLAND (ANS. APRIL 26, 2015) -- Some people go through life wishing they could make a difference. Others actually make a difference. Norma Nashed belongs to the latter group.
Through her ministry Restore a Child, Nashed (born in Ramallah, Palestine but raised in Jordan) helps meet the needs of economically disadvantaged children and those orphaned due to HIV/AIDS and living on the streets in Africa and elsewhere.
Nashed said she works mainly with American missionaries who she knows personally, or who have been introduced to her by trusted Christian friends. Nashed said she has a lot of input into ministries enabled or assisted by Restore a Child, and her involvement goes beyond just funding. She visits the projects where her ministry money is being involved, and regularly monitors progress.
In an e-mail interview, Nashed said her ministry has been in existence since 1999. She said she works alone in a small den in her apartment, directing “this huge global ministry for poor and orphan children.”
Nashed said she does get an occasional volunteer. She said she relies on United Nations Online volunteers all over the world, some of whom are Muslims, for graphic design and web development and translation into Spanish and Korean.
I asked her the motivation for founding the ministry. Battling cancer was a big part, she said. She added, “I felt God call me to leave my career and dedicate my life to serve Him through suffering humanity, especially disadvantaged and orphan children.”
Nashed said her penniless and widowed mother with seven children, whom she called her mentor and role model, also played a part.
Her mother, Nashed said, “Was a woman of great faith and unashamed of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and would give Bible studies and share her faith even with Muslims in Jordan. She taught me to give Bible studies to adults when I was around 14 years old.”
She said that at age 12 she began bringing children from the neighborhood to her one room home, and would sing with them and pray and teach them about Jesus.
Nashed added, “These years were the highlight of my youth. I loved children even when I was a child, and wanted to share what I learned about Jesus.”
Returning to her mother's influence in her life Nashed said, “Very frequently through my adult life, knowing how sensitive I was to God's call for believers, she would tell me, ‘Norma, leave your job and go serve HIM, and HE will take care of you.’”
Nashed said while the idea appealed to her, that was initially as far as it went. She said, “I did not have the courage or enough faith to trust God to do what He promised to do when He said, ‘Why do you worry about what you eat and what you wear... I will take care of you.’”
But all that changed when she was diagnosed with cancer.
Nashed said she works in 15 countries, mostly with Christian missionaries who have dedicated their lives to serve the poor, to bring the lost to the knowledge of Jesus Christ.
She added, “These missionaries sacrifice their lives, and they have all responded to the call of ‘Who shall I send?’ saying, ‘Here am I, send me.’”
As a result, Nashed said, she trusted God and believed His promises, and launched out into a new journey of faith having no idea what was waiting for her.
Nashed knew she still needed treatment for cancer, and leaving her job, she had the potential of not being able to afford medical insurance or pay for rent. But, she said, she believed God would take care of her.
He did. Nashed said one day a friend and his wife called her from Egypt, having heard about her situation and promised to take care of all her expenses.
She said, “He faithfully did for three years which amounted to over $100,000, until I called him and told him I was well enough to work."
Not having to work, Nashed said, allowed her to start her ministry, take care of her health and still spend a substantial amount of time daily studying the Bible.
She said, “I was never as happy in my life before than during these three years.”
In 2007 Nashed's ministry was growing, and she started building the first orphanage in Ethiopia. One morning she left to Ethiopia to check on the construction.
That evening she received media calls asking to interview her, because her home and office had been devastated by a fire.
Nashed continued, “I stayed doing the work, for there was nothing for me to come to. I did not cry when I had cancer, but I cried when I heard that. Why would God allow this to happen when I was serving Him, I thought?”
Nashed said area media kept checking when she was coming back, and were all at the airport to meet her with their camera crews.
All the publicity had an unexpected effect. Dr. Mitchell Davis from Washington D.C., saw her on FOX5 News and called to say, “I am a Jewish man who wants to help this Arab woman.”
Nashed said Davis gave her more than $300,000 for her ministry. He also helped her with dental bills. Nashed said Davis still donates more than $30,000 annually.
She said God continues to take care of the ministry. More than 80 percent of her funding comes from personal friends who are Christians from the Middle East, particularly those originally from Iraq.
In addition, Nashed said, she occasionally speaks in churches, schools and even organizations which invite her to share her testimony. She picks up a few donors from that.
Local and international newspapers and magazines articles, several TV and radio interviews also help attract new donors.
Nashed said she has plans for expansion. She said in 2009 the ministry built an elementary school for Maasai children in Tanzania. Last year it built Restore a Child Academy in Las Cahobas, Haiti. This year they are building two new vocational training schools in Haiti and Argentina to serve young boys on the streets.
She added, “I believe Christian education is where children learn their value in God's sight, and start believing in themselves and start to find a way out of their vicious cycle of poverty and have aspirations for a better future.”
Nashed shared some examples of her ministry’s work.
Lina Situmeang, she said, is from a small village near Medan, North Sumatra, Indonesia. She was born to a very poor family with five children. After the age of 12 she could not go to school due to lack of funds. A smart girl, she started cleaning homes so she could save for her education.
Nahed said her ministry took Situmeang into the orphanage in Medan in 2007, two years after the massive tsunami hit Indonesia in Dec. 2004.
“Seven years later,” Nashed said, “she finished high school with honors, so we sent her to university and she graduated in 2014 in mathematics. During my visit to Indonesia in November 2014, I had the privilege to meet her and attend her wedding.”
Nashed said Situmeang’s husband also graduated with a math degree. They teach in a Christian school near the orphanage in Kupang, East Timor.
“They both tutor the children in the orphanage and give back some of the blessings they have received,” Nashed said.
Tshava, Nashed said, was an orphan from a village near Kinshasa, Congo (DRC) living on the streets. He was picked up by the ministry’s director in Congo, and was in the orphanage until he finished high school with distinction.
Nashed said he became a Christian, and the ministry is sending him to medical school because he wants “to be a doctor and help the sick people.” He is now in his third year, and doing very well.
Nashed added, “It is no easy life these children have living in poverty and destitution. But if only we give them a chance, God can do miracles in healing their brokenness and lead them to the truth in His word. What better way to live our lives, but to serve others and lead them to the Master.”
Nashed said Restore a Child is a ministry of faith.
She said, “All I wanted is reach out, seek and find vulnerable children and help them by giving them hope and a future – like one American missionary who took me to their home as an orphan after my father died, and gave me hope and a future.”
Restore a Child helps to provide the basic needs for protection, nutrition, education, and health care of orphans and underprivileged children so that they may become fulfilled and productive adults. The ministry helps children regardless of race, color or religious affiliation.
For more information visit www.restoreachild.org
Photo captions: 1) Norma Nashed. 2) Some of the children she has helped through Restore a Child. 3) Norma Nashed with two of the kids she has been able to help.
About the author: Jeremy Reynalds is Senior Correspondent for the ASSIST News Service, a freelance writer and also the founder and CEO of Joy Junction, New Mexico's largest emergency homeless shelter, http://www.joyjunction.org. He has a master's degree in communication from the University of New Mexico, and a Ph.D. in intercultural education from Biola University in Los Angeles. His newest book is "From Destitute to Ph.D." Additional details on "From Destitute to Ph.D." are available at http://www.myhomelessjourney.com. Reynalds lives in Albuquerque, New Mexico with his wife, Elma. For more information contact: Jeremy Reynalds at email@example.com.
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