Dr. Lynn Shmidt – “From Passion to Action”
“The words of Nehemiah son of Hakaliah: In the month of Kislev in the twentieth year, while I was in the citadel of Susa, 2 Hanani, one of my brothers, came from Judah with some other men, and I questioned them about the Jewish remnant that had 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.
Then I said: ‘Lord, the God of heaven, the great and awesome God, who keeps his covenant of love with those who love him and keep his commandments, let your ear be attentive and your eyes open to hear the prayer your servant is praying before you day and night for your servants, the people of Israel. I confess the sins we Israelites, including myself and my father’s family, have committed against you. We have acted very wickedly toward you. We have not obeyed the commands, decrees and laws you gave your servant Moses. Remember the instruction you gave your servant Moses, saying, ‘If you are unfaithful, I will scatter you among the nations, but if you return to me and obey my commands, then even if your exiled people are at the farthest horizon, I will gather them from there and bring them to the place I have chosen as a dwelling for my Name.’ They are your servants and your people, whom you redeemed by your great strength and your mighty hand.” -- Nehemiah 1:1-10
Nehemiah, a man moved by compassion for those struggling as they returned from exile to Jerusalem, sat and wept as he heard the report of the disgrace of a destroyed Jerusalem. From the depth of his pathos grew an increasing passion for the social need of the returning Jews, which ultimately led Nehemiah to respond to the need through his actions. He began in prayer, "Please grant me success today by making the king favorable to me" (1:11). As the Lord provided and with the approval of King Artaxerxes, Nehemiah returned to Jerusalem and began rebuilding the wall around the city.
The account of Nehemiah illustrates the role of a person today in mission, and what God can do when that person steps out to confront the needs of the world. There are many people who feel compassion in the face of disturbing accounts of poverty, modern slavery, wars, and tragic global events. Responding to the call of God in mission means to pursue one's passion for hurting people by engaging in ministries that alleviate their hurts and suffering. One person can make a difference. Be that person.
- Dr. Lynn Shmidt, Professor of Christian Studies & Philosophy