Local Transformation Initiatives
The Nehemiah Vision - Nelson Mandela Bay
We live in a divided community. Crime rates are high, with the worst-affected being women and children. The average man on the street is unemployed and, worse yet, unemployable due to lack of skills and education. This leads to poverty and desperation. And the younger generation faces no better hopes for the future due to continuing failure in schools and hospitals to meet even the most basic standards. We are living in a modern-day vision of city Nehemiah faced, divided by factionalism and disunity.
Like Nehemiah, we can rebuild our city. Imagine NM Bay in transformation, where there is socio-economic upliftment. The standard of education and health-care improves, leading to more skilled and educated graduates. The people are better able to find work and earn a stable income, which means less poverty. In turn, daily living becomes less of a battle of desperation. People have time to examine their behavior and hold their leaders accountable to moral and Godly principles. Communities develop pride and so unite to protect each other and maintain their upliftment. Violent crimes lessen as people are held accountable for their actions. Children can walk safely in the streets, knowing their neighbors will protect them. (Zechariah 8: 4-5; Isaiah 60: 17b-18)
How do we go about achieving this?
4 Parts of the Vision
In August 2012, Bishop Lunga Ka Siboto chose Nehemiah 2:17 for the theme of his address at a Community Forum. A month later, a vision of how to implement the Nehemiah vision in NM Bay was presented at the Bishop’s prayer meeting. This vision was confirmed by the Church Leaders at the next Bishop's monthly prayer meeting in November 2012 with a scripture from Habakkuk 2: 2-3. The vision is in four parts.
1. A big circle in the form of a foundation surrounds NM Bay. A strong foundation is not possible without the mixture of all the elements needed. Only once these elements are united, will they have the strength to support the metro. This is “church unity”. (John 17:21) That strength will be determined by the strength of the unity of churches in our metro. (Psalm 133)
2. On this solid foundation the first layer of 60 large bricks is laid, “end to end” forming a circle, with each brick as a section. These sections represent the 60 municipal wards of NM Bay. Just as Nehemiah divided the wall of Jerusalem into sections and allocated each section to a specific group of people, we need to motivate and mobilize the people in each ward to accept responsibility for the rebuilding of their section of our metro. (Nehemiah 3: 1-32)
3. The next eight layers of bricks are eight domains: church, business, education, government, family, media & communication, arts & entertainment, and sport. Just as the foundations support the brickwork above, so we call upon the people of each ward to work together in the domains to rebuild their section of the wall. The strength of our unity of purpose will be the cement to hold these bricks together.
4. The walled city is covered by a canopy of prayer. To build this canopy over the metro we need to find a prayer “warrior” for each ward. These warriors will establish prayer groups to saturate their wards in united prayer and encourage the establishment of further groups covering all domains in their wards. (Isaiah 62:6)
Action Steps and Principles
1. A person of peace needs to be identified in each municipal wards to promote church unity in order to achieve this vision. This person will encourage churches in their ward to focus their energies on rebuilding their communities and seek out candidates within each domain who can become people of peace themselves. (Luke 10:6)
2. Every person in NM Bay has a part to play in building this wall. In every domain, we commit to, whether on a voluntary basis or through employment, each one of us needs to get involved in this rebuilding process. Just as the people of Jerusalem used the tools and skills of their trades, but prepared and equipped to fight off their enemies, so we need to bring our skill & talents and knowledge of spiritual warfare - knowing who and what we are up against - to the rebuilding of our section of the wall. (Nehemiah 2: 19-20 and 4:1-15)
3. No section or brick in the wall is more important than any other. And each of us, as a member of NM Bay, has ownership of the wall and must take responsibility for its rebuilding. Each of us should discern our specific purpose in God’s plan for our city and then accept responsibility for rebuilding to the very best of our abilities. Teachers should produce the best possible schooling for the children. Councilors should facilitate the best service delivery for their wards. Parents should ensure the best home life for their families. Each person should do their best in all they do. (1 Corinthians 10: 31)
4. We must destroy the sacred/secular divide in our thinking, and realize that all eight domains combine to form an integral part of our lives in NM Bay. We cannot expect one domain, such as the church or the government, to take care of the all the others. However, we must encourage the leaders within each domain to perform their duties morally, efficiently, and timeously. For example, the government must focus its energy on service delivery and transparent and moral governance, while businesses must operate with ethics and accountability while seeking to develop the better opportunities for the good of all in the metro.
To achieve our Nehemiah Vision, we will need to establish a Nehemiah Network consisting of the 60 People of Peace across the 60 wards, and the further 480 People of Peace across each domain in these wards. Out of this network, church/city task teams can then be established. This endeavor will rely heavily on clear and timeous communication. Each Church must discern the individual role it is called to play in our metro, and communicate and collaborate with other Churches. Finally, to ensure a cohesive movement toward achieving our vision, partnerships need to be established between elements of different domains, such as between Ward Councillors, Churches and schools.