My Name Is Nehemiah

My name is Nehemiah and I have heard the plight of my people I am a Metro-Nashville government custodial worker:

During the month of Chislev [a] in the twentieth year that Artaxerxes [b] ruled Persia, I was in his fortress city of Susa, [c] 2when my brother Hanani came with some men from Judah. So I asked them about the Jews who had escaped [d] from being captives in Babylonia. I also asked them about the city of Jerusalem. (Neh. 1:1-3, CEV)During the month of March in the third year that Karl Dean ruled Nashville, I was in City Hall and some of my colleagues came from the schools in the district. So I asked them about those who had escaped from being laid off, the ones who have worked without a pay increase for the last four years, who have had to deal with increases in electricity, gas, food, and housing prices without a single increase or adjustment in pay.

 3They told me, ” Those captives who have come back are having all kinds of troubles. They are terribly disgraced, Jerusalem’s walls are broken down, and its gates have been burned.”(Neh. 1:3, CEV)They told me, “The custodial workers who have stayed are having all kinds of troubles. The Director of Schools has written them out of the budget, and the school board has approved that budget to go before the Mayor and the council. The custodians have no protection from losing their benefits, getting lower pay, or even losing their jobs altogether.”

4When I heard this, I sat down and cried. . . . and I prayed: 5LORD God of heaven . . . please have mercy on me and answer the prayer that I make day and night for these people of Israel . . . 10Our LORD, I am praying for your servants–those you rescued by your great strength and mighty power. 11Please answer my prayer and the prayer of your other servants who gladly honor your name. When I serve the king his wine today, make him pleased with me and have him do what I ask. (Neh. 1:4-5)When I heard this, I sat down and cried and I prayed: “Lord God of heaven, please hear my prayer for these custodial workers, who are considered the least. As I go about my duties for the Metro-Government let the Mayor appreciate, and value the work of custodians, and have him do what we ask.

7Then I asked, ” Your Majesty, would you be willing to give me letters to the governors of the provinces west of the Euphrates River, so that I can travel safely to Judah?  “8I will need timber to rebuild the gates of the fortress near the temple and more timber to construct the city wall and to build a place for me to live. And so, I would appreciate a letter to Asaph, who is in charge of the royal forest.” God was good to me, and the king did everything I asked. (Neh 2:8, CEV)So we ask, “Mr. Mayor, would you be willing to give direction to the School Board so that the jobs and welfare of the custodial workers will make it safely through this budget process? The schools will need enough appropriation to make this a reality, so we would appreciate that you would make this plain in the budget that you send to the council for their approval.

Nehemiah was willing to get out of his comfort zone, stand up, and make a determination that, regardless of personal consequences, he was not just going to let things go on without speaking up, and speaking out. The question for those of us who preach “good news to the poor” is, “Are you willing to get out of your comfort zone? Can you speak up, and speak out without regard to personal consequences?

Will you be a Nehemiah?”

Make A Difference . . . For Life ! ! !