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Bible study: Nehemiah, the development worker

Nehemiah is one of the men of the Bible whose working methods must inspire every Christian development worker

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From: Sustainable healthcare – Footsteps 37

Working together to establish health priorities and improve local healthcare provision

Nehemiah, the development worker

Nehemiah is one of the men of the Bible whose working methods must inspire every Christian development worker. As we read the book of Nehemiah, we can learn much to improve our own work strategy to obtain better results. If possible, try to read the whole book before making this study.

Chapter 1:1-11 Prayer. We must ask for God's help before undertaking any development work (Proverbs 16:1-3, Psalms 127:1)

Chapter 2:1-8 Nehemiah sought permission from the King before beginning work. The development worker must not disregard people in authority such as the chief, community leaders or local government of the State.

Chapter 2:11-15 Listen to and observe the situation before taking action. Nehemiah began by looking and he certainly listened to his fellow countrymen before doing anything. It takes time for a development worker to be accepted by the community.

Chapter 2:16-18 Make use of meetings. The development worker doesn't see problems in the same way as local people. Nehemiah brought his fellow countrymen together so that they could understand what he saw. A meeting helps all those concerned to identify their problems and to recommend solutions.

Chapter 3 The community must participate. Sound development must eventually become truly self-supporting and independent. This is the aim of community development. People who are confronted by misery organise themselves and set to work.

Chapter 4:7-15 Even when confronted by the attacks of his enemies, Nehemiah didn't stop work. He worked on with courage, perseverance and self-control. Development work must not be abandoned unfinished, no matter what price has to be paid. Development work is difficult and long-term.

Chapter 7:1-2 The work must be followed up. Measures were taken for the protection of the walls. If we do not think about the follow up or maintenance, some time later the work will collapse.

Chapter 7:73-8:8 We should plan for a time of prayer and praise at the end of the project, in order to thank the Lord for his working with us in our task.

Dangako Wango is Director of BDC/CBZN, Bangassou, Central African Republic, and teaches at FATEB on the Church and development.

Some development guidelines

by Dangako Wango

In order to achieve a sound approach to development, we need to bring together the following elements…


  • Needs must be expressed by those concerned. Don't do anything either on behalf of or instead of local people without being asked.
  • Those concerned must participate themselves at every stage of the project.
  • Take into account the capabilities of the local population when looking for solutions to the problems which have been raised. We make a serious mistake in our development work if we do not believe in the ability of local people to bring about the change they want to see.
  • Take into account whatever local resources may be available. The solutions to the problems which have been raised must not come from elsewhere. But if a little help is given from outside we should simply thank God for it.
  • Take into account past experiences. It is said that there is nothing new under the sun (Ecclesiastes 1:9-10).
  • We must learn how to evaluate our work.

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