For about two years, I (Leslie) felt the pull to go back to school. I had received my B.A .and M.A. degrees in education, (back to back) many years ago. Family, ministry and work intervened, so there was little time to think about more study until a couple of years ago. Researching several options, I was blessed to begin on-line studies at Fuller Seminary in California, where I have been working on a Master of Arts in Global Leadership. It is a fairly long and rigorous program, requiring nearly four years of classes, as well as a couple of two-week long campus visits over two years.
I recently returned back to Okinawa after a time of study at the Fuller campus. The trip back was certainly more restful than the trip there (no required texts to read!), and I was able to read a book just for pleasure. I downloaded Sue Monk Kidd’s new book, “The Invention of Wings” into my Kindle and finished the book during the 16 hour trip. Set in the pre-Civil War South, it follows the lives of two women; one an urban slave in Charleston, SC and the other, the slave owner’s daughter. What I love about the book is that it is the true story of Sarah Grimke, an early pioneer in women’s rights, and the abolition movement. As a Christian, she saw an injustice and gave her life for the cause she believed in so vehemently. Her heart was broken over the issue of slavery, and as a woman she was basically unable to do anything about it. As time went on, though, she became more and more convinced, and convicted to do something about both issues.
Her story resonated with me, as in one of my Fuller classes, we had studied the story of Nehemiah and his mission to rebuild the wall of Jerusalem after the exile.
Nehemiah 1: 1-4 (NIV) says, “The words of Nehemiah son of Hakaliah:
In the month of Kislev in the twentieth year, while I was in the citadel of Susa, Hanani, one of my brothers, came from Judah with some other men, and I 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. For some days I mourned and fasted and prayed before the God of heaven.”
Nehemiah’s heart was broken over the brokenness of the wall of Jerusalem. As a result, he mourned, fasted, and prayed; and then did something about it.
These two stories made me think about what breaks my heart in the world around me today. Many needs surround all of us. These are a few of the needs I see:
*In my local area here in Okinawa, and as a school principal, I see the needs my diverse students have for love, and for understanding of who they are as individuals.
*In Japan, I see the a people who need to know the love and forgiveness of Christ.
*In the larger world, I see needs that come from poverty, and that arise from the desire in some to have power over others.
Are there needs around you, and in your larger world that break your heart? My question is...what will we do about them? It is important to mourn, fast, and pray about these things because, therein we receive inspiration and understanding from God about what needs to be done. But taking it a step further, what do we need to do about it?
For each of us the answer is different. As I stood last year in the garbage dumps of Manila with students from Okinawa Christian School, I saw the injustice of a system that has power over their people. I was moved to tears over their plight, and my heart broke as a result. I am blessed to be able to go back again this year and help even a little bit to share the love of God with some of the children living in poverty. It is only a little, but this is what God has called me to do.
God called Sarah Grimke, Nehemiah, and others through their broken hearts. He then set them on a task, His task, to do something about the situations. I wonder what would happen if each of us were to be open to do God’s bidding in the things we see around us. There is so much more I can do..., that you can do..., and that God will do through our broken hearts.