Nehemiah ranks up there with one of my all-time favorite Bible guys. I've never actually sat and numbered anyone, but I am fairly confident that he would be in my top five.
I think it's because I feel like I can really get to know him and his heart as he writes. His passion and prayerfulness overflows in every chapter. And, forget the Fortune 500 guys and politicians of today's author lineup...he is one of the best leaders I've ever read about.
My goodness, was he a guy sold out for God or what?
I'm pretty sure that if I was a cupbearer in the king's house, in a foreign land, where I could have been treated a lot worse than I was, and I heard about a torn down wall from my hometown...I don't know if I would cry before the king and ask to go be the ONE to fix it. (And, ask for time off PLUS the king's protection and supplies to actually build the wall too.)
But, then, as I stop and think about Nehemiah, I'm reminded of one huge part of this story that's easy to miss.
This wasn't just Nehemiah at work. Because if it was only him, in his humanness, he wouldn't have gone.
This was an absolute broken-hearted-by-God moment. God knew who He was choosing to do the task he had planned. And, He absolutely crushed Nehemiah with the weight of its importance.
So much so that he couldn't NOT go. He couldn't NOT ask. He couldn't NOT do this all the way.
Have you had a call like that?
Something that nags at you at first, keeps you up at night, then turns to tears on your pillow, followed then by absolute action, because you just can't help but follow it?
Not all of us will have those. Nehemiah's story shows that. There were many, MANY people who become a huge part of this story...but didn't have the burden first placed on their hearts the way God placed it on Nehemiah's.
But, did they turn away? No. Did they say "This is Nehemiah's deal"? Never. Did they do it half-heartedly? Absolutely not. They worked all day every day alongside Nehemiah to get the wall built. Their faithfulness and determination is another part of this story that gets forgotten, but is a vital part of why their success came.
Nehemiah had the call. But, he was one, with many who joined him.
Nehemiah had the God-given courage to start this thing. But, God never planned for him to finish it alone.
So, after he felt the call to rebuild the broken walls of Jerusalem, and he asked the king to let him go do what he had to do, what did Nehemiah do next?
He called on the families. Sons and daughters. Brothers and sisters. Fathers and children.
They built the wall as families. Section by section by section.
Each one knew the part they were responsible for, and they worked hard, even enduring opposition, to make sure their section was secure.
As I was reading this story yesterday, I was struck with an image.
His Chase received a call. It was specific. To a certain group of children, for a specific purpose, in a way that captured our hearts completely. We've had sleepless nights. We've had tears on our pillows. And, we've asked families to help build.
And, never once, have we ever walked alone.
Never once, have we been left to answer this call, or build these walls, alone.
Every family that is a part of a student's life--as a sponsor, penpal, prayer warrior--is building their section of this strong wall. Every family is working hard to make sure their part is secure...that their student is growing in Jesus, and learning they are uniquely purposed and divinely created.
What power there is when we are all building.
We are watching walls go up where there used to be rubble. And, strength where there used to be weakness.
If you are a family who is building the wall, thank you. Because we work together, we will see the good God has planned for His children in the end.
And, if you are not yet a family who is building, there is a section waiting for you. Come take up your tools, and your sword (yes, they held both in Nehemiah's day!) and fight for safety and security for these kids. We need you in this.
And as family wall-builders, here are three big challenges to be praying about, as we put stone upon stone:
1. Do you know a family who could be building beside you? We have had some families bring others along, even just this week. Would you consider inviting just ONE other family to build? We need approximately 100 more to enter this effort, who will pour into these kids prayerfully, financially, and physically.
2. Will you start praying for the family that stands on the other side of the wall? This is a big one, so please read this carefully. We are the builders. The support staff, if you will. But, on the other side of the wall, in the city, is a family who will be receiving the student you care for, within the next year. As the orphanage closes by December of 2014, and families are found for each student, some of these situations will be hard. Really hard. Opposition will come. Although we pray daily against it. But, will you really, deeply, begin to pray for the family on the other side? For the team that will surround these students during this big year of transition, and hold them up, as they walk new paths?
3. Do you see yourself as the important part of this effort that you are? I think some of us think our job is small. Writing four times a year. Sending some money when it's time for a new school year. Praying when we pass the fridge and remember our student. Y'all. This is BIG. This is important. This is war. As the families built the wall of Jerusalem in Nehemiah's day, they had to build with one hand, and hold swords with the other, because there was all kinds of opposition around them. They took their building job seriously. But, they also took their job of defending seriously too.
And, guess what? God said "Defend the rights of the poor and needy." (Prov. 31:9) He also said "Defend the weak and the fatherless". (Psalm 82:3)
You are part of a vital defense team and this is more important than words can say. Take your job seriously. Realize the important role you play in the lives of your students and in their futures, especially this year.
There is power in family.
And, this year, we will get to witness families on this side (His Chase) building, while families on the other side (Rwanda) are being prepared.
There has never been a more important call.
Let's build this wall. For His glory and for the blessed future of His kids.