The Jewish people living in Jerusalem in 444 B.C. had a problem. The protective wall that had surrounded the city had been reduced to rubble more than a century earlier by the Babylonians, leaving the returning Israelites vulnerable to attack from bandits, wild animals or neighboring nations. The residents of Jerusalem had focused largely on the work of rebuilding and repairing their own homes and trying to reestablish businesses to provide a way of life, but repairing the wall was simply too large of a task for individual families to undertake. They knew that they were at risk, but they didn’t know what to do about it.
Nehemiah understood the true nature of the threat posed by the lack of a wall. Without being able to secure the city, homes and businesses that were being rebuilt could easily be destroyed once more. Repairing the wall actually was more important than most of the other work being done in Jerusalem, but someone needed to take the lead and bring to bear the organizational skills necessary to get the job done. Nehemiah accepted the challenge, starting by securing the cooperation of the Babylonian leadership who could provide both approval and access to critical resources and then moving on to secure the support of the families living within Jerusalem itself.
Along the way, there were doubters and nay-sayers who tried to discourage Nehemiah from even beginning to rebuild the wall. Once it was clear that the project was going to move forward, there were even some who tried to actively stop it. Through these challenges, Nehemiah stayed true to his mission and successfully led the Israelites through the massive project of securing the city. With Nehemiah’s leadership and the participation of the residents, the wall was completed in an astounding 52 days.
Communities large and small routinely face challenges that require significant involvement from multiple parties, yet won’t get started unless one person decides to take action and lead the way. Someone has to stand up and be the first, ultimately enlisting the other participants. For our small island, having a community-wide Covid-19 testing day was a significant challenge due to the multiple logistical issues of serving a population that required boat access. With the various other challenges facing individuals on the island, organizing testing seemed like too large of an issue to grapple with. Yet Dr. Carole Rizzo thought that it was important enough to do, and she put together a team who believed in the vision. Through her leadership and tenacity, medical professionals travelled to the island this week and administered tests to more than two hundred people who otherwise would have likely not been tested.
Communities need people like Nehemiah and Dr. Rizzo to accomplish those life-impacting projects that are beyond the reach of individuals. When there is a need to fill, God puts it in the hearts of faithful stewards who will look past the opposition and persevere until the work is done. I am thankful for those who will answer the call and remain faithful.
Peace and blessings – Pastor Aaron