When God calls you to action
By Cheryl Bursh
When God Calls us to action and we respond we can turn any situation around. Our county is in decay. Our neighborhoods are falling apart. Violence, drugs, teen pregnancy, and illiteracy are rampant among our youth. The magnitude of the work needed to address these problems requires Holy Spirit-filled men and women committed to building the Kingdom of God. We need the insight of God, the power of God, the protection of God, the resources of God, the wisdom of God, and especially the love of God for these vast challenges.
Nearly twenty-nine years ago, God burdened my heart concerning the drug problem that was destroying my childhood neighborhood. God called me — one of the most timid people to ever grow up in the Rose Garden/Davenport Town neighborhood to make a difference, and provided everything I needed to accomplish the work.
The prophet Nehemiah was grieved about the walls of Jerusalem remaining in disrepair, leaving the city of defenseless and vulnerable: “They said to me, those who survive the exile and are back in the provinces 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 God of heaven.” (Nehemiah 1:3–4). Just like Nehemiah, we will know what God is calling us to do relative to situations because God burdens hearts with deep concern and we are compelled to act. The story of Nehemiah also exemplifies how God supports us when we step out in faith to do what we’ve been called to do.
In 1987, when I saw so many in my neighborhood becoming addicted to drugs, I and grieved to the point that I ultimately became completely driven and led to help. Just as God supported Nehemiah in rebuilding the walls around Jerusalem from 445 to 432 BCE, God has supported for me from 1988 to the present day.
You may be thinking, “I feel as though God has called me, but you do not understand my situation. I have children and no extra money or time to do anything.” Be assured that God knows everyone’s situation and will make provisions for those who are inspired to do mission. God knew Nehemiah had a job; that he did not have building materials; that building was not his forte. In 1988, I was a busy full-time information technical professional with a very demanding career. I did not own any buildings or have funds to start an after school program. We do not have to wait until circumstances are right, or until we are professionally equipped to step out in faith to start a mission. God will make the necessary provisions. God provided everything Nehemiah required, from building materials to safe passage to Jerusalem:
I also said to him, If it pleases the king, may I have letters to the governors of Trans-Euphrates, so that they will provide me safe conduct until I arrive in Judah? And may I have a letter to Asaph, keeper of the king’s forest, so he will give me timber to make beams for the gates of the citadel by the temple and for the city wall and for the residence I will occupy? And because the gracious hand of the Lord was upon me, the king granted my request. (Nehemiah 2:7–8)
God touches the hearts of people whose help or guidance is needed — family, friends, coworkers, skilled professionals and others. In my situation, the call of God resulted in my mobilizing the Rose Garden/Davenport Town neighborhood to organize around its youth and established Hands, Feet & Mouth, Inc. God made provisions for an old school building for a neighborhood after school program. He moved in the hearts of professional educators and retired school administrators to design the content for the program. My corporate colleagues were moved to volunteer to be tutors. Established on January 3, 1989, this neighborhood after school program serves to enhance the skills, abilities, health and overall character of neighborhood youth. The Rose Garden/Davenport Town Community Study Hall now serves as a model for what neighborhood residents in conjunction with the broader community, can accomplish in significantly improving the academic outcomes of community youth.
In 2004, God’s call to a greater level of commitment brought about the founding of Neighborhoods Focused On African-American Youth, Inc. Through this project we work in partnership with other neighborhoods that are facing similar challenges to help them establish and operate their own neighborhood after school programs to insure that young people remain in school, receive high school diplomas, and go on to college.
Cheryl Bursh is executive director at Neighborhoods Focused on African-American Youth, Inc., which works with neighborhoods to insure youth remain in school, graduate from high school, and continue on to college.
The views expressed are those of the author or authors alone, and not those of the American Baptist Home Mission Societies.