Rebuilding The Falling Walls
In an economy that we in America are experiencing, the subject of financing the Lord’s work is not one that many find enjoyable to discuss. I was once having a conversation with a former Christian college president and the topic of fund-raising came up. He quickly expressed to me that he enjoyed raising funds. Similarly, I enjoy telling congregations and elderships about the current work of missions and the potential for growth around the world that exists now and in the future. I enjoy inviting mission-minded brethren to participate in exciting evangelistic endeavors where the fields are indeed “white unto harvest.” I enjoy encouraging brethren to share in the efforts where all that is keeping the gospel from turning a community or a country upside down is the producing and sending of spiritually-minded men and women. But I also must take a realistic look at the current state of things as well.
We are all well aware of the story of Nehemiah and the rebuilding of the wall around Jerusalem. About 140 years prior, Nebuchadnezzar breached and broke down all the walls, slew mercilessly princes, an innumerable number of soldiers and inhabitants, burned the temple of the Lord as well as all the other houses of Jerusalem, seized all the riches, and thousands were carried captive to Babylon! That was the reality of Jerusalem—nothing sugar-coated or rose-colored.
When Nehemiah the Persian king’s cupbearer received news from his brethren who had recently been to Jerusalem, he asked what they saw (Neh. 1:1-3). He wanted to VISUALIZE the situation that existed. Remember, they had no radio, cameras, newspaper, TV, internet or cell phones. Nehemiah wanted to know, “What is the city of God like?” “What about the people of God? What is their condition? I want to know!” Can’t you imagine the tears they must have wept when they told Nehemiah the news? “Oh, you have no idea, you can’t believe the degradation. You can’t believe the desolation, you can’t believe the danger, you can’t believe the poverty! The city is in disarray, the gates have been burned, the walls have crumbled, the streets are filled with weeds, and trash and debris!”
This is what Nehemiah saw, a destroyed and defenseless city with walls that had crumbled. Before you can build, you have to be realistic with the conditions that exist. You have to visualize the situation exactly as it is. Yes, there are some aspects of the Lord’s work that are difficult to accept. The reality is that because of the foolishness, ignorance, arrogance and pride of many in leadership positions, our country is facing difficult financial and spiritual times. Our American churches have long-depended upon our financial strength to carry the gospel to distant lands. However, that strength we took for granted for so long may very well now be challenged.
What will happen to our established mission works? Will they fall in “ruins” like the walls of Jerusalem? Will they become a “reproach” to the Lord and His church due to our lack of commitment? Can we “visualize” the current state of things and possibly the future? Nehemiah understood what Jerusalem’s current condition meant to the nation of Israel and her future. He felt a tremendous weight of grief for the future of his people.
He knew things had to change, and they had to change soon. He then began to AGONIZE over the state of things (1:4-11). He sat down and wept tears of contrition over the sad condition as it was (1:4, 5). He prayed a prayer of brokenness. He felt the helplessness of human effort to remedy the efforts of human failure. He fasted and prayed many days to the God of heaven from which our help comes.
He prayed a prayer of confession of national sin and personal sin. “Israel has sinned and I have sinned” (1:6, 7). He didn’t play the “blame” game. He didn’t point fingers. He accepted personal responsibility for Jerusalem’s condition. But he also prayed a prayer of confidence (1:8-10). He reminded God of what He had promised in His word—that he is standing upon those promises. He knew what God wanted. Someone once said that prayer is not overcoming God’s reluctance; it is laying hold of His willingness. But Nehemiah also prayed a prayer of commitment (1:11). Here was a man accustomed to being accountable—after all, he was Artaxerxes’ cupbearer!
This meant that he needed a plan. In order to fulfill God’s promise for Israel, Nehemiah knew he must ORGANIZE men and resources (2:1-8). Having visualized the condition as it existed, and having brought everything to God in prayer, Nehemiah was ready to put his faith into practice. Carrying this heavy burden on his heart, he couldn’t hide it—it was plainly seen by the king (2:1-3). Here was an “open door” provided by God (cf. Col. 4:3; Rev. 3:8).
Nehemiah needed three things that everyone needs to ask when trying to do something great for God. First, Nehemiah needed the king’s permission (2:4-6). Before you do anything for the king, you need to get his consent. It’s as dangerous to run ahead of God as it is to run behind Him. Second, Nehemiah asked for the king’s protection (2:7). He needed a letter authorizing his activities when he entered other lands of those who might ask of his business. Aren’t you glad that as God’s children He has given us His word? But Nehemiah also needed the king’s provision (2:8). He needed building materials to accomplish his goal of rebuilding the walls. Notice this extremely important statement: “And the king granted them to me according to the good hand of my God upon me.” This earthly king was but a tool in the hand of the King of kings!
Allow me to make an application. Many of you reading this newsletter have shared with me a vision of operating preacher-training schools around the world. We both understand how important these schools are to training faithful men to teach others. However, we also understand the future of these schools are in danger of collapse from diminishing funding. That’s the situation. We agonize with that state of things and it breaks our hearts as we admit to God that in some areas we have failed—I have failed! Our limited abilities and lack of faith has caused our finances to gradually slip away. We blame our economy, but we really limit God by doing so. We still remain the wealthiest people in the world! I sometimes get caught-up in the “doom-and-gloom” picture so often portrayed by church leaders. But I am confident God wants His gospel carried to all the world, and I am confident it can be done if we make the commitment of being accountable. Why would we be responsible in domestic affairs, but somehow drop the ball with the Lord’s work?
So, we ask King Jesus His permission to continue doing His glorious work; to “shore-up” those financial walls the devil has breached. We have the right to ask Him to do that because it is what He desires. We ask Him to protect us through His providence and by His powerful Spirit-filled word. And we need His provisions to rebuild the financial wall that has fallen due to a deficit. The Bear Valley Bible Institute of Ukraine (BVBIU) in Gorlovka is facing failing financial walls. It is facing spiritual Babylonian forces endangering its very existence. The hand of our God is good upon us. Let us arise and build! Please, will you help? Howell