It’s no hidden mystery, the spiritual landscape of New England at large is in shambles. Reviving New England by New Hampshirite pastor Nate Pickowickz captures the essence of the irony of America’s biggest mission field: where America Christianity started is where it now needs it the most. The homeland of Jonathan Edwards, of the original ivy league seminaries, the Pilgrims and Puritans! The cradle of Christianity in America! In some ways, New England is the New Jerusalem for Christian Americans.
Today’s Christians can never know what Jerusalem felt like for Jews. Jerusalem was the presence of God, and thus the sum, seat, totality, gravitational center of all things religious for Jews. It’s where pilgrimages were made to, where sacrifices were made, where God was truly worshiped. And through trial, turmoil, war and the like, Jerusalem was abandoned.
Nehemiah was working in exile, perhaps in blissful ignorance, when he heard about Jerusalem. “The remnant in the province, who survived the exile, are in great trouble and disgrace. Jerusalem’s wall has been broken down, and its gates have been burned down.” (Nehemiah 1:3 HCSB).
I remember the day my heart sunk when I started realizing that I could actually Google towns in Vermont and look for true Gospel witnesses and find none! Towns of people without Gospel witness! We war against the spiritual forces of the world, and there has been a spiritual exile in Vermont and New England. The walls in areas have been broken down, and gates have been burned.
Nehemiah writes when hearing about Jerusalem, “When I heard these words, I sat down and wept. I mourned for a number of days, fasting and praying before the God of heaven,” (Neh 1:4, HCSB). What we read in Nehemiah is what was happening for Nehemiah, but what we can only surmise is what’s happening from God’s perspective.
What is happening from God’s perspective for you? Are you reading these words? How did you get here? Have you prayed and fasted for the dilapidated spiritual landscape of Vermont? Those who are surviving the exile are parched for Living Water, and hungering for the Bread of Life. Is God moving in the background to bring His disciples to fulfill the Great Commission in the ruins of America’s Jerusalem? What does that look like for you?
Kevin Davis is pastor of a small rural church in another Gospel-parched part of the continent, the Pacific Northwest. He is humbly blessed by his wife Christy, his son Calvin, and their two dogs Rocket and Tess, and his gracious congregation.