By Jody Trautwein
Imagine this…you find yourself on foreign soil against your will forcibly made to serve the governmental leadership in place when you suddenly receive an alarming report from a family member about your hometown. Here is the report, “Those who survived the enemy’s invasion and were not taken captive are in great distress and trouble. The walls are broken down. The gates are burned with fire. It’s real bad!” So you hear the news and your heart breaks. It’s worse because you are a two-month journey away. You desperately desire to be there and yet you have no control over whether or not you can even go.
The biblical “wall-rebuilder”, Nehemiah, found himself in just such a predicament in 445 BC. He was a cupbearer in the Persian court of King Artaxerxes I at the capital city of Susa, which lay 150 miles east of the Tigris River in what is now modern Iran. Nehemiah, whose name means “comforted by God” ironically found himself anything but comforted as he heard just how disturbed his hometown family and friends were. The treacherous condition of his city revealed the truth of his heart. Now he faced a question, what would he do with the information he just received?
As men and women of God, we hear bad news frequently, especially concerning the condition of our communities. The question is, what will we do about it? Some may already be fully engaged in fulfilling your God-given destiny as it relates to preaching the gospel and making disciples of all nations. Others, like Nehemiah, may find yourself serving faithfully in the position you currently hold, but you know deep down you were created for more. What are we waiting on? Perhaps, like Nehemiah, you are waiting on the voice of Hanani to ring in your ears and rouse your spirit to action!
As existing Gatekeepers for our families, churches and communities, we have accepted Revivalist Charles Finney’s challenge that “The Pulpit is Responsible” and are functioning to the best of our abilities in that Nehemiah type rebuilding mindset and role. Might it also be added that we too should be like Hanani, the family member who gave Nehemiah the report that AWAKENED his heart for ADVOCACY. Yes, our current wall-building efforts are significant, but I believe our pressing duty to call forth NEW Nehemiahs is equally critical. Will we be the voice of a brother to our other brothers and sisters in Christ releasing a clarion call to action encouraging them to practically be the light in the darkened political halls and chambers of our executive, legislative and judicial branches of government?
Further, some would say that Christians have no biblical precedence for and thus, no business attempting to “lobby” or influence the actions of our legislators for or against certain laws on behalf of the citizenry. On the contrary, a closer look at Nehemiah’s Holy Spirit led strategy reveals, after four prayerful months from his moment with Hanani, he went directly to the Persian King “lobbying”, or advocating for his brothers and sisters in his hometown of Jerusalem, Israel. Unfortunately, in our current political climate, the term “lobbying” has become synonymous with special interest groups spending large sums of money to sway legislators to create laws that benefit only the organizations that are paying the lobbyists and funneling huge campaign contributions to elected officials. This, of course, opens the doors for corruption. However, an “advocate” is someone who simply speaks, pleads or writes in support of a person or a cause. Therefore, that is the term preferred in this article. 1 John 2:1 shows us that “if we sin, Jesus Christ is our ADVOCATE with the Father.” If Jesus the Advocate lives within us, then it is this writer’s opinion that not only can we advocate for causes, but we MUST BE HIS AWAKENED ADVOCATES who speak, plead and write on behalf of issues concerning true righteousness and justice!
Nehemiah asked for and received permission to leave his current position, a protective detail of soldiers to escort him through potentially hostile territory, and provisions of materials needed for the rebuilding efforts. Guess what? He got everything he asked for because he dared to believe His God enough to do what seemed impossible in man’s eyes. Yes, it seems impossible to be able to make a positive impact in political processes right now, but that begs a question for you? Will you believe and plead for His cause and His people in this hour?
Nehemiah’s moment with Hanani awakened him to help lead a movement that would transform a city, his home city. Has your moment come? If so, then keep building, Nehemiah, and be a resounding Hanani while you build! If your moment has not come, then consider this writing as your wake-up call and get to work on your part of the wall. Your hurting city is waiting on you to receive your catalytic moment and spark a movement that could help transform corrupt systems into Kingdom of God principled systems that facilitate genuine “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness!” The Birmingham Civil Rights Institute in Birmingham, Alabama clearly reveals through a quote on its walls, “The power of an idea whose time has come!” Your time has come. Your voice will be heard. Your hands will complete the work. You are God’s Awakened Advocate!