A Modern Day Nehemiah | Haiti Part Two

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

I promised to share with you about Pastor St. Cyr's son, who I consider to be like a modern day Nehemiah. Here's the skinny. He was living in America, working at a swanky resort hotel and living the American dream, except in his heart of hearts, he wasn't American at all, he was Haitian. The Haitian people are strong. They are dignified and brave and they are loyal to their families and their country. More importantly so many of them like these two men are loyal to their God.
 Travel back with me to Nehemiah 2:1-10 for just a bit to lay the foundation.

In the month of Nisan in the twentieth year of King Artaxerxes, when wine was brought for him, I took the wine and gave it to the king. I had not been sad in his presence before, so the king asked me, “Why does your face look so sad when you are not ill? This can be nothing but sadness of heart.” I was very much afraid, but I said to the king, “May the king live forever! Why should my face not look sad when the city where my ancestors are buried lies in ruins, and its gates have been destroyed by fire?The king said to me, “What is it you want?” Then I prayed to the God of heaven, and I answered the king, “If it pleases the king and if your servant has found favor in his sight, let him send me to the city in Judah where my ancestors are buried so that I can rebuild it.” Then the king, with the queen sitting beside him, asked me, “How long will your journey take, and when will you get back?” It pleased the king to send me; so I set a time. I also said to him, “If it pleases the king, may I have letters to the governors of Trans-Euphrates, so that they will provide me safe-conduct until I arrive in Judah? And may I have a letter to Asaph, keeper of the royal park, so he will give me timber to make beams for the gates of the citadel by the temple and for the city wall and for the residence I will occupy?” And because the gracious hand of my God was on me, the king granted my requests. So I went to the governors of Trans-Euphrates and gave them the king’s letters. The king had also sent army officers and cavalry with me.10 When Sanballat the Horonite and Tobiah the Ammonite official heard about this, they were very much disturbed that someone had come to promote the welfare of the Israelites.

Pastor St. Cyr had asked his son over and over to return to Haiti and help him care for his family and the community but the dream, the luxury was too good. It was too comfortable. "No" was met over and over with every ask, until one day when the Holy Spirit broke through and "No" was no longer an option. Bags were packed, the "palace" that America had become was left behind and "home" was on the horizon.

Like Nehemiah, who was the cupbearer to the king, no doubt having access to many of the King's confidence and riches, he had every comfort he could have ever wanted in his "palace". There were no walks for water, no cold showers, bouts of no electricity, no seemingly insurmountable poverty and ruin, no streets filled with rubble or children begging him for food. Or at least in his newly created reality there were not. He was blinded to those tings in America, because here we tuck those people and problems away, we isolate them and keep them from being an eyesore. But among his neat and tidy palace, the stable job, nice home and fancy clothes, there was also no peace, no peace with not helping to rebuild what was broken. No peace in not being obedient to the call of his fathers, yes both of them because the call from His heavenly father in this occasion was being channeled through the voice of his earthly father. There was no peace in living it up in the lap of luxury while other people perished.

A few things from the scripture.

1- Nehemiah wore his brokenness on his face. He was not able to hide his anguish. How many people do you pass by every day who clearly are in anguish? Which leads me to number 2, but before we get there how do you wear your anguish, your broken heart, your devastated places? Do you allow others in or do you put on the happy face and never allow your walls down, never giving people the opportunity to step into your hurt? How lonely you feel directly correlates with how vulnerable you are with others. Those people who are willing to be seen are the people others connect to. Can people see who you really are? Or are you blocking a blessing with your "everything is happy happy happy" face? Let folks in!

2- The king noticed his distress and entered into it. How many times do you enter into someone else's hurt with valid concern? How many long faces and broken hearts do you pass by because it would just be "too messy" to be involved in? The King was a king for crying out loud, he had better things to do, but he was humble enough in that moment to enter into a conversation, a simple conversation with his servant. What will you choose to do the next time you notice a look of desperation? Will you enter into it or will you keep moving along in hopes to return to your palace as soon as possible?

3- Nehemiah was AFRAID to respond to the King! Afraid. Afraid, how many times does fear creep in to you and me, how many times does fear cripple us into living small? How many times does fear tell us we can't, we aren't, we won't? Nehemiah didn't let fear win, instead he responded to it, he spoke through it and the king entered deeper into his hurt! The king asked him what he wanted from him. The king who used this Nehemiah to drink from his cup to ensure it wasn't poisoned asked how he could serve him. Role reversal much? I love those. I love seeing people who think they have it all be used as instruments to elevate people who may look small in their eyes to positions that will impact the world on a grander scale than they could have ever imagined. I love it when our sweet Father turns the tables for his people.

Hear this if you hear nothing else, fear is a lie from the pits of hell. It is one of the enemy's favorite tools to keep us bound up, small, insecure in ourselves and the ability of the Spirit to work in us. Throw it off, move past it, move in spite of it, even if you have to move with your hands and knees shaking and a lump the size of a basketball in your throat. God will be there. I promise. Fear keeps you from being light in darkness and from being hope to the hopeless. It shackles you to small, to insignificant, to insecure. Fear will rob you of every good thing that God has for you. Throw up a prayer in it's face and move like Nehemiah, give God the opportunity to turn a table for you and I promise the next time fear creeps in you will remember how He delivered you, how He empowered you and it will get a little easier to kick in the face the next time it rears it's ugly head.

4-Nehemiah PRAYED TO GOD and then he ANSWERED! Go up to the top and reread back over those verses and hear that it says  He didn't go sit in a corner and get in some holier than thou position, I assume he shot up one of those "OK Lord, I'm kinda in this tough spot and I could really use some help kinda prayers. Maybe if he was a little like me it was "oh Lord, I have to open my mouth and good words need to fall out, your words, not my words, please, please, please give me the good stuff, you know the kind God, not the ones that can be really messed up and taken out of context and misunderstood, the good stuff."


I shoot up those lighting prayers to God a million times a day. And sometimes I am really hard on myself because I don't spend an hour at my kitchen table in prayer with my eyes closed and my head bowed and my room silent. I think this assures me that God can take the constant seeking that I go to him for, that he likes that I look to him countless times a day, that he can totally handle my ADD and my incessant need for his opinion, even if it is spur of the moment, God can handle being put on the spot. He responds. He answers.

5- Nehemiah asks BIG! He doesn't come to the king with a sheepish, bashful request, he goes big. He asks for permission to return to his home, which was not a small deal. The king depended on him to stay alive, to eat and drink a bite of everything before it went in his mouth. Asking to leave the king was kind of a big deal, kind of a bold move. But he didn't stop there, he asked for letters to the government that would keep him protected, and for letters to another to buy wood to rebuild the temple and the gates of the citadel. I can just hear it in my head. " Umm, yeah, I want to leave you for a month, and oh yeah, could you send out for some guards to protect me and oh yeah, since I am just a servant I won't have materials so could you send a note for me that would allow me to buy the needed wood and materials to fix the place up when I get there?" Really, this isn't 2014 and there are no Home Depots to stroll into. These things took time and a tremendous amount of labor and a whole slew of people to accomplish.

He asked big. He had crazy big guts in the midst of being afraid. And what Did God do? Verse 8 says "and because the gracious hand of my God was on me, the king granted my requests."

6- Someone will always be offended when we are elevated for the Kingdom. Always. Bet on it. When God chooses to set us apart for His purposes the devil doesn't sit idly by and let it happen. He knows he's ultimately defeated so he's determined to just take us down with him, to keep us silent and in bondage. Believe that. Believe that he will use people that you love and people you admire and even perfect strangers to make you feel like you are a complete fool, that you are ill equipped and totally unprepared for the task set before you. People will be mad when you choose to do things differently than it has been done for a hundred years. So many people hate change and they fight it tooth and nail because they are afraid. Fear is such an ugly root. It hurts. It destroys and it will suck the life out of you if you let it. Don't. Put on the armor, be ready for the offense, the rejection and call it out for what it is. Be willing to let things go and love from a distance if that is what you have to do to be obedient to what God is asking YOU to do. Don't let people pleasing keep you from your God breathed purpose. People will suffer either way, but if they suffer and you are living for Christ they have the opportunity to have their eyes opened when they see your life changed by Christ. Some may not, but you surely can't grow from a seed that's never planted.

God cares for the wellbeing of his people. He is moved by our brokenness over His children and we are all His children. He loved Nehemiah and he loved Pastors St. Cyr's
son just the same. He knew what they could accomplish if they were put in the right position. He took their brokenness for their homelands and amongst their biggest, physical and emotional fears, he sent them back and he used them to lead people, to rebuilt walls. He started with a bunch of broken, devastated, afraid people in Jerusalem and he used the same broken, devastated, afraid people in Haiti. And he wants to use you too.

All around us there is brokenness. There are people who are hurting and people who have long faces. We respond to Christ every time we respond to them. What will your response be? You may not have a devastated wall in your town to rebuild, you may not have to literally use pieces of your homes rubble to break up and make new brick with to rebuild your home, but there is brokenness around you in your office, in your spouse, in your neighbor, in your government, in your schools, in your Sunday school class, in your best friends marriage. There is brokenness everywhere. Will you ask big? Will you let God use you? Will you throw a left hook in the face of fear and tell Satan where he can take those shackles? Will you get your hands dirty and your heart broken so that you can sit and feast at the table that the KING turned for you? Will you use your position, whatever it may be, to set someone else up for greatness? Will you?

I could sit in the presence of Pastor St. Cyr and his son for hours. His story was like a summer storm on my scorched soul. I need people around me who dream big and ask big and believe big, because now that I have been redeemed and delivered in such a huge way, living life small isn't an option. I often I feel boxed in to western "religious" beliefs and practices. My precious friend Sheena asked me recently how I lived so boldly outside the walls of the church and before I even knew what had come out of my mouth I said "because I feel more comfortable outside the church." Outsiders are my people. Outside is where I believe we are supposed to spend the majority of our time. And quite honestly, I feel like a square peg in a round hole most of the time within the walls. I love the church, don't get me wrong, I need the church and it needs me, it refines me, but my favorite times with Jesus aren't in church. They are with his people in real life, when the walls come down, where the music is conversation and the only agenda or program is His spirit in the moment leading the way. My drum beat is often a lot different. The way I reach out to people is different. I need authenticity and real people willing to be vulnerable with who they really are. And if I am really honest, I don't feel the need to change the outside as much as I do to love it. Most everyone I know has heard the gospel, even abroad.  What they crave is to see it, to feel it. They need to see someone who says they love Christ live like HIM, imperfections and all. They need to see arms open, homes open, doors open and love poured out. Jennie Allen said something similar in a post this week from Rwanda and I think I could have cut backflips!

Sitting with people like these guys and with Brennon and Nick and Chris of HON my personal relationship with Christ makes sense. It dances in perfect rhythm to the heartbeat of Christ that I feel in me. They are living the way I often struggle to here in the land of plenty, in the land of Westernized religion. Jessica, my boss and founder of Noonday just quoted on  her blog where Isaiah 59 says that the Lord looked and was displeased that there was no justice, He saw that there was no one to intervene and he was appalled." Appalled. The need is a mandate for action. It's not a project you go on or a mission trip you sign up for, it's a way of life and when Christ has captivated your heart, you can't imagine living any different. How obedient we are is a good gauge I believe to what is really Lord of our lives. Obedience is our spiritual thermometer.

These men taught me all about obedeience. Even with fear and trembling, like Nehemiah, they prayed and they asked and they went. And piece by piece, with a devastated country, with the homeless and hungry they rise. They rebuild. They overcome. I want to be obedient and faithful enough to be a modern day Nehemiah, how about you?

Love and Blessings,

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