There are few moments in recent American history that are more indelibly etched in our memories than the explosion at the Federal Office Building in Oklahoma City in April of 1995. We've all got mental images of the twisted rubble, the terror and grief on victim's faces, and the heroic efforts of the rescuers to get into that building and save the survivors. There were also heroes behind the scenes as well. For example, there was a convention of restaurateurs taking place in a downtown hotel that day. Like so many people in Oklahoma City that day, as soon as they heard about the explosion and the rescue efforts, their plans changed. Suddenly, they set aside their convention schedule and commandeered the hotel kitchen - and dedicated themselves to supplying meals to the rescuers so the rescue work could continue uninterrupted.
Well, I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Life-Saving Teamwork."
When there's a life-or-death rescue situation, it's that kind of teamwork that saves lives - the rescuers on the front lines and the people who keep them on the front lines by caring for their needs. That is, in fact, exactly the same kind of teamwork that is so desperately needed in the greatest rescue mission in history - rescuing spiritually dying people by getting the Good News about Jesus to them. People will die without Christ unless both parts of the team do whatever it takes - the front lines rescuers and the people whose support keeps them on the front lines.
There's a picture of this in Nehemiah 4:16, our word for today from the Word of God. God has raised up Nehemiah to lead the rebuilding of His holy city, Jerusalem - and, in so doing, to restore God's central place in the lives of His people. They are surrounded by enemies who are closing in on their efforts and threatening to stop them.
So, "from that day on, half of my men did the work, while the other half were equipped with spears, shields, bows and armor...Those who carried materials did their work with one hand and held a weapon in the other, and each of the builders wore his sword at his side as he worked." Amazingly, God's mission was accomplished in 52 days - because everyone had a significant share in the mission. Just like that desperate day in Oklahoma City, you were either a rescuer or someone who served the rescuers. In Nehemiah's Project Jerusalem, if those who kept supplying the materials didn't do their job, the people building the wall couldn't do theirs. They could have never finished the wall as they did if they had to keep coming down for what they needed.
Tragically, that is exactly what is happening way too often in the rescue mission of Jesus - the front-line workers are having a terrible time getting what they need to do their life-saving work. It's taking missionaries three or four years to raise their support to even start their rescue work. Churches are struggling with part-time pastors, sometimes because the people are not providing adequate support. The percentage of Christian income given to the work of God continues to drop steadily. The later it gets on God's clock, the greater the opportunities become to rescue many more dying people, the less we're giving! Something is very wrong here.
God has made each of us who know Him both rescuers and the enablers of rescuers. There are some lost people God has positioned you to help go to Heaven. And He has given you resources to enable some of those He's called to put their whole life into His rescue mission. According to Philippians 4:17, when you give to keep them on the front lines, their fruit will be "credited to your account" in Heaven.
There is a rescue emergency. Lives are at stake. And they can only be rescued by that life-saving teamwork, where everyone has a significant share in the mission. Wherever God has placed you, do all you can as if it's life-or-death. It is.