Family & Community

Awake, Repent, Rebuild, Celebrate

  • Author Name: Zoe Bell
  • Author Role: Foster Carer and Church Leader
  • Author Image:

In Ashwood, we have started 2021 by digging into the story of Nehemiah as we unfold our vision for this year. As we looked at what this amazing story has to say to us, we noticed a cycle of 4 key principles that can lead to flourishing:



Nehemiah was exiled at the beginning of the story: cut off from his people and his natural place of worship. Sound familiar? Yet he was not cut off from God, and he did not cut himself off from what was happening in the world. He asked the right questions: 


Nehemiah was curious, inquisitive. He wanted to know what was happening in the world, in his community, to his people. He was AWAKE to the plight of his people.

We need to get in a position where we are asking the right questions, and really hearing the response, being AWAKE to the real issues facing those around us. Let’s not assume we know what is needed to make things better, let us not even assume we know what the problems are. Let us have eyes to see, ears to hear, and awaken our souls to the plight of our people.



Nehemiah’s response to hearing the situation of his people was to weep. Are we weeping for our communities? Does the plight of our people, God’s people, disturb us so much that our hearts break? Or are our hearts hard, accepting of the trouble that is before us? Are we so overwhelmed by the need that we are frozen, disabled by our inability to help? Or are we so used to the troubles facing our society that we have become apathetic?

After he wept, Nehemiah repented. The act of repentance is one of the greatest gifts the church can give to society in this moment. 

Repentance is more than just a mumbled ‘sorry’ for our personal sin, but an owning up to the fact that our society has got it wrong. To call out the fact that there is a problem. Nehemiah’s prayer acknowledged both the sin of the nation and the role of himself and his family. 

Repentance is also saying: NO MORE. It is turning away, rejecting what has been, and walking, with faith and hope, towards what can be.

As Christians, we have a vital part to play in acknowledging and bringing to the plight of our people to the attention of those who need to hear about it and getting on our knees before God on behalf of our nation, and saying no more! We have the hope and certainty of a better future to declare!



Nehemiah is a man of action. He doesn’t stay on his knees but gets up and goes to the King. With incredible boldness he asks to be released to go and do the thing he knows he is called to. And not only that, he has the tenacity to ask for every resource he needs while he is at it. When he encounters opposition, he steadfastly faces up to it without compromise. Maybe we have something to learn from his boldness in our approach to secular authorities. When we are doing a good thing, appointed by God, let’s believe for resource and blessing to be poured out from every arena!

When he encounters opposition, he steadfastly faces up to it without compromise – so often we fail at the first hurdle.

Nehemiah fully immerses himself in the building project. He brings the people with him, working together to rebuild the city. For those of us involved in mission in any sphere, this is so key. Doing WITH, not TO is something we have so often missed as Church. We have something to offer, but so has every member of our community. Every single one, made in the image of God and blessed with Kingdom assets. As we look to rebuild our cities, our communities, let’s not storm in with our solutions, but rather assess the land, listen and take people with us. This earns the authority to speak into people’s lives, When the people were tempted to give up, or fell into sin, Nehemiah’s people were willing to listen to him: he was able to lead them to repentance too. 




The Jewish people certainly knew how to party! Celebrations full of food, wine, worship and praise were a regular occurrence throughout the Old Testament and Nehemiah was no exception. If we allow ourselves to always focus on the problem, or our dedicated hard work which we are called to, there is a danger we can be overwhelmed. Let’s make sure we pause to celebrate, thank God, to worship, to have fun together along the way!

Leaders are dealers in hope

  • Author Name: Hannah Miller
  • Author Role: Coach
  • Author Image:

Over the last twelve months, workplaces of all shapes and sizes have had to handle the biggest onslaught of change, uncertainty, lack of connection and instability that we have ever experienced. On a micro level, teams and organisations suffer periods of pain, unwanted change and insecurity all the time, but what singles out this last year, is that nearly all of us, in almost any sector you can think of, has been thrown in at the deep end. At the same time.

I’m a Strengths-based coach and speaker for a living, which basically means I support organisations in their development of people and teams, and I have the privilege of working alongside individuals who are in the process of discovering their purpose. I have witnessed both incredible resilience and innovation from my clients, and also (here’s that word) unprecedented levels of stress and anxiety.

Gallup, a research and data company based in the US, have been tracking measures of happiness and employee engagement since 2009. They noticed some interesting things this last year. Usually, they find that well-being and engagement are connected. That is, the higher our personal wellbeing, the higher our engagement at work (and, the opposite). This year, however, has not followed that trend. Engagement has stayed unexpectedly high (many people are so grateful for work, glad to back from furlough, appreciative of all leaders have done to be supportive), but their wellbeing, in the majority of cases, has plummeted. For some of us, wellbeing is at frighteningly low point, with chronically high levels of stress and anxiety being reported.

As part of our post covid rebuild in the workplace, as leaders we need to be aware that many of our team members have hit or are approaching a breaking point, and these breaking points lead to burnout and suffering with long-term consequences.

As people of peace, as leaders that follow Jesus, how can we best navigate our people through this transition season? How can we step in before breaking point?

1. Have eyes to see

We can be so busy with stuff to do, work to complete, goals to meet, that we forget to see the person right in front of us. Leaders do have so much to contend with right now, and rightly so there is a need to focus on growth in order to protect as many jobs as possible, but sometimes we get so focused on the job in hand that we forget to look. We forget to see the person. We neglect to think about how they are doing, what might be going on for them. In the midst of our busyness, we need to be asking the Lord to speak to us about the people that we lead, giving us divine wisdom and revelation as to how to best support each individual. Scan for signs of burnout, listening to that still small voice that prompts you to investigate a little deeper.

2. Create space to talk

As well as having eyes to see the impact on the people that we are leading, leaders need to create room for people to talk and to process. Of course, everybody is different and not everyone wants or needs to talk. But we cannot just ‘press play’ and return to work without processing some of the impact, pain, grief and uncertainty that has hit most homes across this country. We need to work harder on our questioning, keeping our door open, giving opportunities for colleagues to connect and converse, to recognise the impact on their wellbeing in order to begin to move on.

3. Be a dealer in hope

Hebrews 6 verse 19 reminds us that, ‘We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure.’ Our most significant responsibility in this season of resetting and rebuilding is to lead from a place of Hope. We have a hope that is firm and secure and sits outside of any earthly experience. As leaders who are followers of Jesus, we are not called to pretend that everything is okay, but we are called to anchor ourselves in a Hope that is beyond our circumstances. What an opportunity we have in this moment to reflect the Hope of our faith, strong and secure, firmly rooted both in and out of season.

So as leaders that are in the process of rebuilding and reconnecting, I’d love to encourage you to have eyes that are open to the prompting of the Holy Spirit, room in your diary to listen and give counsel, and a heart of hope that changes the narrative in the culture around you.

Find out more about Hannah, @hannahloumiller on all platforms or check out her website

Ready, Steady, Reset

  • Author Name: Joy Blundell
  • Author Role: GLX Team Leader
  • Author Image:

As we watched the events unfold on our tv screens this time last year, the low grade discomfort I sometimes feel when I see something out of line or unjust turned into a strong ache in my body for the peace, shalom of heaven, for a world with no more pain, or sickness or hunger, for the stability and security of home, not my home in Lincoln, but the place I really belong, which is the kingdom of heaven, here in part but promised to us in all its fullness - one day.

Lockdown has felt uncomfortable and disorientating, a bit like a sort of exile. Exiled into our houses yet feeling not quite at home in this socially distanced world. We were just not created for this restricted way of life. It feels foreign and uncomfortable.

As the government announced the new road map to unlock the nation, it feels like we are beginning a transition into a new season - like the start of spring and new beginnings

We are at a hinge point of history and the history books will record how our generation rebuilt after this covid season.

Looking back at the story of the biblical exile and the subsequent return of God’s people to the ruined, broken down city of Jerusalem, it strikes me that there are one or two things we can learn from this great rebuilding project in the Old Testament.

In order to get the job done, God raised up Nehemiah, a marketplace leader. He was a Hebrew but also a high official in the Persian empire, serving the Persian king, he had a huge amount of influence.

Nehemiah had some prophetic imagination and was inspired to leave his status and safety to go back to the rubble of his people’s land and begin a rebuilding effort to restore the walls around the city.

Nehemiah inspired and mobilised an army of fix-it people, to begin to work on plugging the holes in the walls in front of their houses, to create the kind of home their hearts were longing for, a home with a culture of worship and where righteousness and justice was the plumbline.

As we transition into this post covid season, we need to live and pray the kingdom of our heavenly home to earth, to administer peace and justice to the streets and cities that we live in.

It’s my belief that God has been preparing an army of sacrificial and compassionate people for this moment and He will be speaking to each one of us, showing us what it could look like for us to begin to repair the gaps in the walls of communities, our society and our nation.

I want to invite you to ask God to show you the holes in the walls in your community and what partnering with Him to rebuild might look like.

Maybe it's a friend whose marriage broke down over lockdown or a neighbour who lost a loved one, rebuilding the walls could just look like kindness, empathy and friendship.

Maybe it’s the sense of groundhog day in your work team, repairing the walls might look like arranging something different or fun to build a bit of relationships and connection.

Perhaps its other wider issues like unemployment or mental health problems in your community. As God highlights the gaps that need repairing, we can be certain that He will equip us and guide us in the rebuilding.

As a means of sparking our imagination for what our contribution could be to the rebuilding, we are running a series called “Reset” on the GLX social media platforms.

We are excited about this opportunity to dig into ideas from practitioners and servant leaders in their workplaces on what the nation will need to do to reset and rebuild and how as Christians with a contribution to make, we can get ourselves ready to rebuild.

Join us on the journey as we share the stories of people preparing to reset and rebuild, to advance the kingdom everywhere.

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