Wednesday, January 19, 2005

The Rebuilding of Montserrat, 4:
Except the Lord Build the House . . .
GEM 05:01:17

The key lesson of the past decade – a nightmarish time in which we have struggled in the face of the ongoing volcanic crisis, the loss of much of our territory and infrastructure, de-population, fear and denial of painful reality, lack of consensus and vision, economic slowdown, and a devastating breakdown of morals and community spirit in high places as well as low – is that the time for "business as [nearly] usual" is over.

So, where can we turn, to find a truly sustainable development path?

Psalm 127:1 answers: "Except the LORD build the house, they labour in vain that build it . . ." For, our national rebuilding challenge is not only a matter of physical devastation and resulting dislocation, but it is also a spiritual crisis, one that reflects the wider moral disintegration and intellectual bankruptcy of Western culture; which has spurned the God of the Bible over the past hundred years, only to end up so confused that it is no longer confident that truth or right are anything more than mere rhetorical fantasies created by deceptive power elites.
Montserrat is not immune to this decay. That is the clear lesson of: (1) the recent revelation that 70% of our secondary school children are sexually active [in the age of the global HIV pandemic!], (2) the strong insistence in some quarters on the plainly immoral proposal to try to base our economic future on gambling, and (3) the looming tidal wave of scandals over reported mis-management of various rebuilding projects.

Paul is ever so relevant: "the Gentiles . . . are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts Having lost all [moral] sensitivity, they have given themselves over to sensuality so as to indulge in every kind of impurity, with a continual lust for more. You, however, did not come to know Christ that way . . . You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness." [Eph 4:17 – 24.]

How, then, can we find a way to rebuild Montserrat under God’s blessing?

Nehemiah -- God’s rebuilder -- provides a time-tested answer, through a classic management case study that teaches us how to restore a nation in the teeth of daunting challenges and determined, unscrupulous opposition:

1] Learning of the broken down walls of Jerusalem, he was concerned. So he penitently prayed then tactfully approached a key powerbroker, the king of Persia. Thus, Nehemiah obtained backing and necessary resources before opponents could block the effort. [Ch 1.]

2] In Jerusalem, he quietly surveyed the wall then called the people and their leaders together in a solemn assembly, giving them hope and a vision: let us arise and build! [Ch 2.]
He then organised the project, delegating manageable tasks to specific groups and their leaders. [Ch 3.]

3] As the project went on, challenges, opposition, threats, slanders and crises arose; but Nehemiah could safely stand on his strengths and so he handled the crises, and attacks firmly -- while making sure he was not distracted from the main task in hand. [Chs 4 - 6.]
When the wall-rebuilding project was finished -- in 52 days! -- time was set apart for celebration and worship, with the help of Ezra, a recognised and respected spiritual leader. Revival broke out. [Ch 6:15 - 7:5, 8:1- 11, & 8:13 - 9:38.]

4] The project and initial wave of revival then triggered waves of national renewal, empowerment, reformation, transformation and liberation that continued for centuries. [Chs 8 - 13.]

Here in Montserrat, we too need to pause and pray, repenting of our sins and seeking wisdom and opportunities for God-blessed rebuilding. So, let us come together as a people in times of prayer, solemn assembly and consultation before God. Then, we can host a forum on the future to identify a cluster of key projects that can serve as a beginning for rebuilding not only our infrastructure and institutions, but also our community. Then, we can create a broad, community-based NGO to coordinate the projects. And, as we undertake the initial wave of projects, we will build capacity, community and confidence that open the door to even greater successes to follow.

So, let us ask: "why not now, why not here, why not us?" AMEN

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