There can be no doubt that 2022 will still be a year of rebuilding for many witness ministries such as LAMP (Lutheran Association of Mission and Pilots). With the pandemic still lingering in remote locations, we are unsure of how many communities can welcome mission teams back this summer. Our prayer is that it will be at least half. But after such a long hiatus, many mission teams are still trying to regroup.
And to be sure, even the Lutheran Church at large is still recovering. So we continue to feel somewhat exiled, and maybe even weary and weak. However, there is much we can learn from the prophet Nehemiah, the return of the exiles, and the rebuilding of Jerusalem.
Nehemiah 6:9 offers encouragement for those weary in their ministry:
For they all wanted to frighten us, thinking, “Their hands will drop from the work, and it will not be done.” But now, O God, strengthen my hands.
Seven Insights for a Time of Rebuilding
Here are a few reflections and insights on the process of returning to the mission after exile:
- Start to rebuild one piece at a time.
The wall of Jerusalem was rebuilt brick by brick, even though it was a painstaking task. We cannot expect to completely rebuild our programs or ministries overnight; rebuilding will require focus and patience. That means we work toward returning to one community at a time, recruiting one new mission team at a time, reaching out to one new person at a time.
- Dedicate each piece to the Lord.
Each day when Nehemiah’s work on the wall was complete, the very first thing he did was to dedicate it to the Lord in prayer. We will give glory to God for every piece of our ministry that is rebuilt, no matter how big or small, in the knowledge that God alone is to receive the credit for the work that is done.
- Recognize that the enemy never stops trying to thwart us.
Day and night, the builders kept watch, knowing that their enemies would not rest until their work was brought to a halt. They kept a tool in one hand and a weapon in the other. We, too, need to work to rebuild while, at the very same time, we prepare to fight the enemy who wishes to stop us.
- Pray that the exiles can return.
By the grace of God alone, once the rebuilding of the wall was completed, the exiles were safe to gather back together once more. We will continue to pray that God would grant us to return to communities and that the great anticipation will turn into joyful reunions.
- Seek the Word of God.
Once the people had returned, the Book of the Law was read before them all. We too will listen to God’s Word, as we are convicted of our sins for which we deserve to remain exiled and enslaved. But so too, like those in Jerusalem, we will repent with great joy because God has shown mercy upon us, forgiven all our sins for Jesus’ sake, and gathered us again.
- Confess that we are weak in and of ourselves.
When there is success, it is easy to rely on our own strength and become prideful. Because the world is convinced that we are too weak to complete the work, we must pray like Nehemiah that the Lord would strengthen our hands for the work. When we are weak, then we are strong in the Lord.
- Rest in the Lord.
Just as we work, fight, and pray, so we can find our rest in the Lord, as His yoke is always light.
May God strengthen us in our resolve as the pieces are put back together and the exiles are gathered once more and we return home to our New Jerusalem!
Learn more about LAMP’s mission of sharing the Gospel of Jesus in remote areas of Canada.