It’s Sunday, July 22, 2007.  My 12-year old son left today for his first mission trip.  Although I started missing him yesterday before he even left(!) and will miss him all week, I am very excited for him to be pursuing this opportunity.  I’ve never been on a mission trip.  Although I would like to, I haven’t had that calling on my heart.  I think that accounts for part of my excitement for him.  The greatest reason for my excitement is because he has chosen to go away for a week to do God’s work.  He’ll be giving up the comforts of home to go somewhere he’s never been where he’ll encounter a different culture and way of life so that he can serve Christ by serving others.  He’s also serving Christ by giving of himself and being willing to take on all the unknowns and challenges that will be posed by this trip.  How many of us are willing to do that?  Are you willing to give yourself completely to a project for Christ that inlvolves encountering “unknowns”?

 The mission trip he’s on is called the Nehemiah Project.  To refresh myself with Nehemiah  I came home from church started reading the Book of Nehemiah in the Old Testament.  I’ll be reading Nehemiah over the next few days and will share what I learn along the way.  The Book of Nehemiah is a short book.  Why don’t you join me in reading it?  Maybe you’ll find points of interest to share with us, too! 

Nehemiah was written approximately 445-432 BC, recording the history of the third return of Israelites to Jerusalem after they’d been sent into exile.  The exile occured when God allowed the Israelites to fall to Babylon when they refused to turn from their sinful ways.  The Babylonians were merciless, killing many Israelites, taking plunder, and destroying the Temple.  This occured in 586 BC.  The few who survived were taken into exile in Babylon, serving the Babylonian King and his sons.  (2 Chronicles 36:17-21)  They remained in exile until King Cyrus overtook Babylon.  The Lord put on his heart to rebuild the Temple at Jerusalem and release the Israelites to return to their homeland to help with the task.  (2 Chronicles 36: 22-23)

Zerubbabel then led the first group of Israelites back to Jersusalem in 538 BC.  Ezra led the second group in 458 BC, and finally Nehemiah felt it on his heart to lead the third group in 445 BC.  That brings us to the start of Nehemiah’s place in Biblical history.  Please stay with me!  I know the intro part of this was probably ‘dry’, but the story of Nehemiah and the lessons we can learn from him are worth sticking around for!

I began this post by asking if you’d be willing to take a project for the Lord despite probable unknowns.  Although I’ve only read a couple of chapters of Nehemiah, I’ve discovered that Nehemiah was not only willing to take on a big project for God that would present many unknown challenges, he even went to God and volunteered for the job – ASKING to do it! 

My time for writing is up for now.  I’ll return soon to continue with the inspirational story of Nehemiah.  Hopefully we’ll all seek to be more like him!