Believers sometimes struggle to understand the book of Nehemiah because of its “dark nature”. In a nutshell, Nehemiah is about rebuilding the city walls of Jerusalem that were torn down with the invasion of the Babylonians, just before the exile. The restored walls had symbolic value for the Israelites. It brought physical protection against hostile intrusion, but it was above all a sign of faith restoration and unity. After all, God originally singled out the Israelites as a model to follow for all the gentiles around them.

I hear Christians so often refer to them praying with a need in mind, but their prayers are not answered. It causes them to lose heart, and unfortunately many also lose their faith in the process! The biggest mistake Christians make is to forget that God also expects us to take action as we continue to enter into prayer with Him. Nehemiah was prayer- as well as action-driven. He is an excellent example for all of us. Not only did Nehemiah motivate leaders to start building Jerusalem, but he also completed the wall and established a healthy community despite great danger and attacks on his work. Please read Nehemiah 4 for inspiration.

Nehemiah quickly found out that God’s calling is accompanied by opposition and criticism, for both believers and nonbelievers! (Read Nehemiah 2:19 & 20.) “Tobiah the Ammonite, who was at his side, said, ‘What they are building – even a fox climbing up on it would break down their wall of stones!” (Nehemiah 4: 3)

Nehemiah’s perseverance in his faith and focus is astounding – he refused to give in to fear! In Nehemiah 6: 8 his opponents try to frighten him and set a trap, but he saw through it and replied: “I send him this reply: Nothing like what you are saying is happening; you are just making it up out of your head.”

Nehemiah’s absolute determination in the face of great opposition and danger is evident from the fact that he and his people worked with a trowel in one hand and a sword in the other (Nehemiah 4:17). Nehemiah 4: 6 gives us a glimpse into Nehemiah’s character: “So we rebuilt the wall till all of it reached half its height, for the people worked with all their heart”. Nehemiah and his team had to endure so many challenges and obstacles, even severe mockery, with the rebuilding of the wall, but they never lost their calling – they were busy with God’s will which was bigger than all of them. When we begin to rebuild our own lives, it is also necessary that we do so with our hearts, but not lose our perspective throughout the process. We should remain focused on God.

One of the other good things that Nehemiah accomplished was to address social injustice and exploitation. He taught the people to support poor families and those who are exploited (Read Nehemiah 5). He was aware of the need of others and did something about it! As Christians, we must constantly be on the lookout for how to be compassionate towards a needy person who shares the world with us. It reminds me of the great truth I once heard: “I worried that I did not have shoes to wear until I saw a man who had no feet!” There is always something to be thankful for…

In Africa, each of us has the opportunity to be compassionate towards others every day. There are so many vulnerable people in the most remote areas who need our help. Too many are born and trapped in poor circumstances and see no way out. FEBA Radio SA reaches the least reached communities through its online and radio ministries and has achieved great success over the years. The statistics are there for everyone to see and you can visit our website, to find out more about our work.

Covid-19 has indeed brought a financial burden to us, among other things. But, is it not now the time to take action and to start rebuilding the proverbial walls again? We each have a role to play – no matter how small, or large. Nehemiah’s selflessness made a big impact. In the same way, the selfless support and financial contributions of thousands of FEBA’s longtime supporters and sponsors have also made a huge difference in helping us spread the gospel to the most vulnerable. Thank you for helping us!

Until next time,

Dr. Jurie Vermeulen.

National Director: FEBA SA

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