taking the words of Jesus seriously

As I followed the media coverage on the revolts in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya and now even America with Occupy Wall Street and the “99%” Movement, I knew that it sounded all too familiar.

I searched through the bible with hunger and was finally satisfied when I came to the book of Nehemiah. He shows us what happens when you step forward for justice to rebuild what has been destroyed. He was just an ordinary guy that made an extraordinary impact on his people, his city and biblical history. He didn’t just talk and complain about his concern. He MOVED. He started alone but due to his faith, the favor of God and noble heart, he created and ignited a MOVEMENT.

Here is a brief timeline of ACTION:

He was concerned –> Wept in repentance and prayer –>  Asked for favor –> Left his job to occupy his homeland –> Assessed needs –> Gathered organizers and support –> Started rebuilding the wall –> Faced much opposition yet still maintained leadership through periods of conflict –> Exposed the unethical practice of predatory lending/exploitation of the poor –> Exhorted and urged them to refund all that they had extorted –> The wealthy granted his request  –> The wall of Jerusalem was rebuilt and justice was restored –> Elected new gatekeepers and officials and people witnessed firsthand the glory of God

This current movement is rapidly making its way across the globe and ordinary people are mustering the courage to leave their homes to have their voices heard. The millions with whom are unemployed, underemployed and have/or currently facing foreclosure, bankruptcy and financial devastation in the midst of the inflation of food and gas prices all while the worlds wealthy are recording mass profits and receiving federal funds for bail out.

The protesters, like Nehemiah, have their fair share of naysayers, hecklers and people who tell them that it’s pointless or will never work. There are debates and pundits digging to discredit and mock their efforts, but they press anyway. Of course, they are not coming up with any alternative solutions, they just sit on the sidelines criticizing and complaining. Thus, the predicament we find ourselves in. We are supposed to be a Christian nation.

Of the millions of protesters, we do not know the hearts of their motivation to face that opposition, but in my own experience ten years ago facing a job loss and homelessness with three children in tow, I most definitely humbled myself and PRAYED. Many are being humbled through loss, so I find it likely that somewhere right now, that there are a multitude of men praying to obtain gainful employment and to be able to provide for and feed their families. We can’t possibly know whether or not a man is praying alone when he is alone at night with a wife, two children who while asleep, is unemployed, staring at empty cabinets and an eviction notice on his door.

Considering the issues, effects and number of protesters who are facing desperate and dire situations, it has been a pretty peaceful protest. If a few extremists and radicals resort to insults, threats and violence, I only pray that we do not hold the entire movement responsible. But that the voices that proclaim, “We the people have a right to social justice, fair wages, protection against political corruption, fair lending, equal opportunity, concern for the poor and equality in the distribution of the world’s wealth.” are heard and received.

“Now the men and their wives raised a great outcry against their fellow Jews. Some were saying, “We and our sons and daughters are numerous; in order for us to eat and stay alive, we must get grain.”

Others were saying, “We are mortgaging our fields, our vineyards and our homes to get grain during the famine.”  Still others were saying, “We have had to borrow money to pay the king’s tax on our fields and vineyards. Although we are of the same flesh and blood as our fellow Jews and though our children are as good as theirs, yet we have to subject our sons and daughters to slavery. Some of our daughters have already been enslaved, but we are powerless, because our fields and our vineyards belong to others.”

When I heard their outcry and these charges, I was very angry.  I pondered them in my mind and then accused the nobles and officials. I told them, “You are charging your own people interest!” Nehemiah 5:1-7

Katrina is an author, columnist, and founder of Butterfly Ministries Inc. for broken women and girls in Indianapolis, Indiana. She also facilitates workshops in the inner city on financial literacy, goal planning and job development. Her focus is on faith, family, social justice, advocacy and the power of community. She is the author of the newly released book “The Butterfly Movement” and upcoming book “Wisdom is a She” due to release in the summer of 2012.

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