Twenty six years ago, a group of Christian business owners put their heads together and had a conversation about how they might combine their resources to impact Springfield and Clark County for the Kingdom of God.
They began praying about it and talking to others, and God blessed their desires by creating the Nehemiah Foundation. From that, several faith-based nonprofits were birthed, leaders who felt called by God were trained and boards were formed. Today, Nehemiah continues to partner with 30 faith-based organizations that serve some of the greatest needs in Springfield.
These organizations, of different denominations and theological backgrounds, have focused on the advancement of the Kingdom of God and the good of the city. What they do together produces results that far outweigh what any one organization could do alone.
Over the years, the leaders of these organizations have received training, financial assistance and encouragement, and they have had the opportunity to rub shoulders with one another, which has allowed for friendship, accountability, ideas and partnerships that have blessed many individuals.
This is what The Nehemiah Foundation has been about for over two decades.
Over the past year that I have served with Nehemiah, we have faced some challenges and questions that are normal for a 20-year-old organization. We’ve come to realize that some of the things we started doing 20 years ago need to be re-evaluated to see if the same goals are relevant. For instance, much of what Nehemiah did in the beginning – such as birthing new ministries and supporting them financially – aren’t as needed today. Many of the ministries that began through Nehemiah have now been around for 20 years and have strong leadership and a foundation of financial support, so they don’t need the same things from us.
That realization has led us to the question of “What are the needs of the community today?”
There are still several fledgling organizations that need the traditional financial support we have offered in the past, but we’ve realized that we also have the opportunity to pivot and help in other ways.
Over the past year, our Board has done a lot of praying and talking and planning, and we feel God is leading us in an exciting direction. We’ve come to the realization that much of what God has allowed us to do in the past is to play the role of convener. We have pulled faith-based nonprofits and Christian leaders together, and that has facilitated friendships, partnerships, accountability and encouragement that has had enormous benefits for our community.
We have felt God telling us that there is a great need for this same thing to happen for the Body of Christ in Springfield. God has blessed Clark County with innumerable resources through the Church, but those resources are so spread out and segregated that they are unrecognizable. We all know that God wants us to work together, and yet, very rarely do we see this happening in an impactful way among our churches.
In John 17:20-23, Jesus asked the Father to allow His future followers (that is us) to be one. He wanted our unity to be like that of His and God the Father’s. And He went on to explain in verse 23 that the reason He wanted us to be united was that the world (would) know that the Father sent Him and that the Father loves them even as He loved Jesus. Our love for one another and our unity is so important that Jesus prayed about it and said that our behavior in this regard would impact whether the world would believe that Jesus is the Messiah and whether or not they would believe that God loves them!
With this in mind, over the past year, our Board has come to believe that The Nehemiah Foundation is uniquely situated to play a role for the body of Christ in our community. Since we are not a church there’s no fear of competition. And since we don’t lean toward any specific denomination, there’s no fear of “theological cooties.” Also, our focus has always been on advancing the Kingdom of God in the community, so what better entity to gather all of the churches and host conversations about how we can strategize and work together?
This is where we feel like God is calling us as we move forward.
Our vision is that Clark County would become a community where all people know of God’s love for them. Our mission is to provide a network for Christian churches and ministries to amplify their positive impact to build God’s Kingdom in Springfield and Clark County.
Our community is working on a strategic plan to “build a vibrant community,” but what are we, as the Body of Christ, doing? We cannot continue to be satisfied with working in silos. We cannot continue to be content with adding a few more members to our church roster each year. The mission we have been given is too great to go it alone. It is time to unite and it’s time for the church to be strategic in how we spread the Gospel in our community.