By Kevin Marsico, Northeast Regional Mobilizer for the North American Mission Board and the founding pastor of Northstar Community Church in Monrovia, Md.
One question can change your life.
“Will you marry me?” Now that is a question that has the potential for vast implications.
But most of our questions seem more innocent. Like “What’s Up” or “How you doing?” or, “What did you think of that game yesterday?”
But some simple questions lead to more.
Consider a line of questioning from a leader in the Old Testament that was about to have his world changed.
“I (Nehemiah) questioned them about the Jewish remnant that had survived the exile, and also about Jerusalem. They said to me, “Those who survived the exile and are back in the province are in great trouble and disgrace. The wall of Jerusalem is broken down, and its gates have been burned with fire.” When I heard these things, I sat down and wept.”
Wow. I wondered if that is what he expected when he first asked a question.
It is not like he didn’t understand His nations history. He knew his country rebelled against some regional kingdoms and paid the consequences dearly. He knew Jerusalem had been ransacked and destroyed. Young leaders had been dragged off into captivity to serve foreign monarchs and people were left without a reasonable government or structures that could help protect and provide for them in day-to-day life.
He knew things were bad. He knew enemies were still plundering and stealing. He knew people did not feel safe and jobs were not plentiful and people were just making ends meet if they were lucky.
He knew all of this.
Yet, what could have been a simple question instead becomes a life changing moment. For some reason, this day was the time when the reality of his homeland would crush his soul. The pain of the people would finally become his pains. The cries of the broken finally made him cry. The daily struggles of their lives finally became a struggle between him and His Creator.
He couldn’t go on as if he had never asked the questions. He was broken over the reality of their lives. He must do something, even if it would cost him everything.
So, he risked it all.
Literally putting his life in jeopardy, he went before the King who happened to also ask him a simple question. (Go read it now in Nehemiah 2)
And life in Jerusalem was changed.
One man, in the right place, at the right time, willing to do the right thing, asking simple questions, allowing his heart to be broken and then responding to God, changed the course of an entire nation. One man’s questions and willingness to respond changed the course of history for the nation of Israel and made a significant impact for good in his generation.
Could a few simple questions from normal people willing to acknowledge the reality of their communities and begging God to use them to do something about it change our cities today? I have to believe and hope so.
Living in this region near D.C. and Baltimore, it should be easy to see the brokenness of our cities. Poverty is a significant issue. Crime continues rampantly. The family seems to be disintegrating. Jobs can be tough to find and our personal security often seems threatened. And let’s be honest, our government really can’t provide answers to the issues.
But our God can! And He can use us to play a part.
The biblical record is clear. God loves to work through His people to accomplish His purpose in each generation. He could do it in spite of us, but He seems to enjoy working in and through us.
So what could we do today?
What questions do we need to be asking about our cities or communities that we have not recently asked? How do we look at or understand something that might seem very familiar, in a whole new perspective? In what ways will we allow our hearts to be broken for our communities as we understand them from a new perspective? Will we allow God to let us see what He sees? Broken people and communities, desperate for a Savior, even if they do not know He is the answer to all their questions.
Maybe I am the right leader at this right time in history to ask the right questions and see my community the way God sees it. Maybe I am the one He wants to send to do something about it for His glory. It might be a history-changer. In fact, I am sure it will be. But first, I have to see my “ordinary” world with a whole new perspective.
So, ask new questions. Allow God to work in your soul. Be willing to respond when God asks you to. And get involved in Baltimore or in Washington, “our” cities, as God sends you or your church to join Him in the work of city transformation.
You can be used to make a difference. The only ability you need is availability. “Here, I am, LORD, send me!” (Isaiah 6:8)
Kevin Marsico is the Northeast Regional Mobilizer for the North American Mission Board and the founding pastor of Northstar Community Church in Monrovia, Md. Contact him at email@example.com or (301) 748-6113.