Two books in the Old Testament, Ezra and Nehemiah, are about rebuilding a city from bottom to top.
When Ezra returned to Jerusalem from Persia, he found a city with no spiritual center. Jerusalem was basically a pile of rubble. Wild animals wandered the streets freely. The people around Jerusalem were basically predators: they waited until the Jewish farmers brought in a crop and then descended upon them and steal it all. They were rustlers, too; they stole the Jews’ herds- not all of the animals, though; they made sure the Jews had enough stock left to breed them- so they’d have something to steal next year.
It was a pointless, endless cycle to. God didn’t seem to care. If He did, He seemed powerless to help them. Then Ezra showed up with a message: God DOES care. He wants your land redeemed, full of secure homes and happy children. But they needed their spiritual center renewed- they needed to love God again. God never stopped loving them, but He wasn’t going to force Himself upon them either.
They prayed. They did the best they could. They started businesses and rebuilt homes out of the rubble. But they were still helpless when the marauders came through every year. Then Nehemiah arrived. He was the new governor, appointed by King Cyrus himself. he was king of Persia, which in those days meant he was more or less the king of the world. Nehemiah had a charter to rebuild the WALL, the only thing that could protect the people from the predators around Jerusalem.
He exposed compromise within Jerusalem- people who profited from the situation at the expense of their Jewish friends and relatives. He had to throw some people out of town. The rubble from the destroyed buildings and wall had to be cleared to make room for construction. A city-wide food distribution program was necessary. He enlisted crews to build different sections of the wall so there were no insecure gaps- the whole wall went up all at once. Nehemiah encouraged his workers when one of the local opponents belittled their work. He was required to arm his workers; his bricklayers held swords in one hand and their trowels in the other.
He summarized the results like this: “So we built the wall, and the entire wall was joined together up to half its height, for the people had a mind to work” (Nehemiah 4:6, NKJV). A mind to work… when it’s all said and done (and usually, a lot more is said than done), the people of Jerusalem built the wall because that's “where their heads were at.” They had a mind to work.
The ambassadors who volunteer to spread the word about Habitat’s mission in the community, inviting others to the table- they have a mind to work. The board members who spend endless hours working on our finances, policy, networks, land development, all for no pay, just because they love their town and they see it as it could be- those people have a mind to work.
The volunteers on our Acts of Kindness projects on Tuesdays and Thursdays, cleaning up yards and buffers, fixing fences and painting peeling porches and steps- basically REDEEMING neglected parts of Fresno County, one yard at a time- those people have a mind to work. God blesses through people one or two at a time because He’s a PERSONAL God, full of love and relationship.
The students and others who come to the ReStores for service projects, hauling furniture, loading and unloading trucks, removing usable hardware from broken items, handling e-waste and cardboard recycling, know that there will be another mess in the same place the next day. But they also know that the proceeds go into our construction. And those people have a mind to work. Little is much, when God is in it.
Construction volunteers show up in the cold, wet, heat and dry to work side by side with future homeowners. They help these families get into a new home, away from slums the drudgery of pouring all their monthly income into energy bill because of no insulation. They change the standard of living in the neighborhoods they build in because the new houses make the old ones seem fixable. That lowers crime because criminals don’t like operating in neighborhoods where people are always working in their yard and know everyone. All that happens because those volunteers have a mind to work.
No experience is necessary to volunteer with Habitat for Humanity. However, the absolute must for any volunteer is a mind to work. Is that where your head’s at?