June is National Reunification Month where we pause to acknowledge the unique and important needs of families that are coming back together after a period of separation. The reunification process can be a delicate time for family members, as they seek to reconnect and rebuild. It is important for each person to feel understood, valued, and most importantly safe.
There is a story in the Bible about rebuilding. God asked Nehemiah to oversee the rebuilding of the wall that once surrounded Jerusalem. Without the wall, the people were unprotected and vulnerable.
Rebuilding the wall was of great importance to the Jewish people – both in the practical sense (for physical protection), as well as at a deeply personal level. It represented their community regaining a lost identity. It strengthened them as people to have an acknowledged place of belonging.
Similarly, when families reunify it holds deep meaning – protection, identity, and belonging. This process often requires support from others, just like the rebuilding of the wall did.
Nehemiah instructed individuals, groups, and families to take their place and focus on building a section of the wall.
All those who participated are listed by name in the book of Nehemiah. Everyone built their assigned section of the wall until it reached that of their neighbor’s.
Eventually, the wall was united as one.
Many of us wonder how we can help strengthen families or help them rebuild, so children can be safe. Where do we even begin?
One wall builder has always stood out to me. His name is Hananiah. He is described in the book of Nehemiah with 5 words – “one of the perfume makers.”
It seems reasonable to ponder that as a perfume maker, Hananiah may not have had much training as a wall builder. Yet, he said yes, took his place, probably learned from those around him, and likely did the best he could.
Hananiah’s “yes” offers me encouragement. Maybe helping children and families rebuild is more about a community of people saying yes to their small part of the wall.
Maybe it’s not always about special training or an invitation. Maybe simply showing up and using the tools we have is enough.
Sometimes all a family needs is a perfume maker to come along. It might look like encouraging an exhausted mom with a phone call, picking up a child from summer camp for a single parent who can’t leave work early, volunteering to tutor, offering to cook a foster family a meal, or supporting an organization doing good work.
So this month, in light of all that our nation’s children and families are facing, will you join us in asking God, “What part of the wall is mine to work on?”