A Modern Day Nehemiah
"...The wall of Jerusalem is broken down and its gates have been burned with fire." When I heard these things, I sat down and wept. For some days I mourned and fasted and prayed before the God of heaven."
A Simple Man, A Simple Woman
When was the last time an event moved you to tears? Nehemiah was a simple man, the king’s cupbearer, but heartbreaking news of the Jewish remnant and Jerusalem moved him to mourn, fast, and pray for days. Then he believed God was calling him to take action
That ever happen to you? Me neither.
But I know a woman who heard God’s call, a simple woman, a P. E. coach whose church set up shop to minister to people in the poorest neighborhood in Central Texas. The church wasn’t called to erect a big building or start a lot of programs. The members were called to invest in the locals’ lives simply by hanging out with them and loving them. But through this process their hearts began to break.
One day, after several years in the neighborhood, a woman I’ll call Barbara walked into a licensed daycare to pick up a friend’s daughter. Barbara was shocked to find one caregiver asleep in a bedroom. In another dark room, the caregiver sitting with the kids was drinking a beer. This was Barbara’s "Nehemiah experience." Her heart quickened and she knew God was giving this problem to her.
She returned to her church, gathered support, and began to act. The neat part is that both she and the church acted slowly . . . deliberately. They prayed. They prayed . . . and then they planned. The plan was sketchy, even naïve, but Barbara and her church were faithful to wait on God before acting. They eventually found an abandoned building in the neighborhood. A local foundation showed confidence by giving them a grant to buy the building; then began the slow process of raising money, volunteers, and other resources to renovate it.
Five years passed between Barbara’s initial vision and the Nurture Center that exists today, but it is far more than Barbara dreamed. This mental health therapeutic nursery is breaking the cycle of multi-generational urban poverty for 16 neighborhood children from infant to four years and their families. It hosts weekly parenting meetings, a weekly free medical clinic, and a swimming pool for neighborhood children during the hot Texas summers.
All because a P. E. teacher was touched by a need and went to her church . . . and because the church members stopped, prayed, and waited on God to raise the support to fulfill a vision bigger than any of them . . . a woman’s action will affect generations. Not because she is a great woman, but because a Central Texas P. E. teacher allowed God to lead her down a path that required more than she could deliver by herself.
• When is the last time you stepped out and attempted something beyond your own abilities?
• Is there anything in your life right now that you feel compelled to do, but you have not allowed yourself to consider it? Should you?
The words of Nehemiah son of Hacaliah: In the month of Kislev in the twentieth year, while I was in the citadel of Susa, Hanani, one of my brothers came from Judah with some other men, and I questioned them about the Jewish remnant that survived the exile, and also about Jerusalem. They said to me, "Those who survived the exile and are back in the province are in great trouble and disgrace. The wall of Jerusalem is broken down and its gates have been burned with fire." When I heard these things, I sat down and wept. For some days I mourned and fasted and prayed before the God of heaven.