Now set your heart and your soul to seek the Lord your God. Therefore, arise and build the sanctuary of the Lord God, to bring the ark to the covenant of the Lord and the holy articles of God into the house that is to be built for the name of the Lord – 1Chr. 22:19.

The story of Prophet Nehemiah, with its pragmatic approach and call to arise and build, resonates with the current state of the church and our nations. Just as Jerusalem was a broken city, a spiritual devastation, our church orthodoxy is in ruins. This scripture is a powerful metaphor, urging us to create and release prophetic patterns and renewal for our church amid intense darkness. Nehemiah’s example and model call us to be serious with Divine truth and to overcome the ruins of our walls of moral and ethical standards. The global paganization of Christianity and the decline and divisions in Methodism globally all point to a church and Christianity that have a form of religion but lack power and unity.

The theme for the 2024 Methodist Church Nigeria Conference, ‘Arise and Build ‘, is a prophetic missional method and repositioning for Methodist renewal and revival and a direct call to action for Christ’s Great Commission. With Nigeria Methodism at 182 years and 62 years of autonomy, under the present leadership of His Eminence Dr Oliver Aba, this theme is a summons for us to Arise and reposition ourselves for compelling mission and evangelism. The reflection is that when we reposition ourselves, we will build the Methodist walls of theology, leadership, and moral and ethical standards. However, our positions and spiritual orientation would change, our work attitude, our strategy, and the enemy would be confused, and we would be united, effective, and successful.

Just as Nehemiah and his people faced the problems and opposition to arise and build walls around Jerusalem, the church, especially MCN, is not free from some challenges of a form of religion without power. To Arise and build in this context is not just a spiritual matter but a repositioning of our priority with the potential to shape other church matters, including its theology, leadership, finance, and physical buildings. The ‘Arise and Build’ theme is not just a slogan but a solution and methodology that we can use to overcome our opposition and challenges for revival and renewal.

The story about Nehemiah and his people reminds us that they had the funds needed, God was with them, and the work of the wall started with great enthusiasm. The reflection is the opposition that arose (Neh. 2:19). Jesus faced opposition; his disciples were not spared. Against spiritual and physical oppositions, John Wesley provides a model to arise and build as a missional method for Methodist revival. By 1738, the Church of England had already abandoned direct ministry to the masses, preferring to concentrate on a rather elite church for a generally privileged clientele.’ Wesley arose and wrote that he “consented to be more vile” when George Whitefield invited him to preach in the open air in Bristol. Beyond the church’s work, mainly within its walls, Wesley arose, built on field preaching, class meetings and other missional accompanying expressions that climaxed with the 18th-century reawakening. Faced with opposition, especially within the church, he declared the world as his parish. To Arise and break limitations, it indigenized to decolonize.

Nehemiah and his people started rebuilding the walls around Jerusalem. They had the funds they needed, God was with them, and the work of the wall started with great enthusiasm. Opposition also arose against Nehemiah’s readiness to build the wall (Neh. 2:19).

The solution and methodology Nehemiah and Wesley found and used to overcome their opposition was to ‘Arise and Build.’ The 2024 Methodist Church Nigeria Conference’s theme, Arise and Build, suggests a method for overcoming our problems and opposition to revival and renewal. The theme summons us to arise to our call, to arise by faith, to arise and build on Christ, and to arise in repositioning ourselves for Methodist revival.

The theme, Arise and Build, reminds us that we have a higher calling as a church and need to rise to the global and missional heights to which God has called us, especially in spreading scriptural holiness across the land.

We must rise above our localities, problems, and opposition to our missions at home and abroad. Just as God called Jonah with a calling and purpose, God’s call and purpose for Methodism is to spread scriptural holiness. The obedience and fulfilment of our calling and purpose would determine our poverty or prosperity numerically and financially. Jonah could not rise above the limitations of his mind; hence, against God’s call to ‘Arise, go to Nineveh, the great city, and cry against it, for their wickedness has come up before me,’ he took a ship to Tarshish.

Disobedience is always followed by destruction, just as Jonah’s ship to Tarshish is met with a violent storm. The storm facing Christianity in general today is about disobedience to God’s commands. When God asked us to go to Nineveh, we preferred to backslide and go to Tarshish, away from our calling and mission. To Arise and Build is a call to arise from spiritual slumber and come to our missional senses and practices. To Arise and Build as a church is our missional second chance and call to put off everything that weighs us down: “Wake up, sleeper. Rise from the dead. Then Christ will shine on you” (Eph. 5:14).

To Arise and Build is to arise by faith to the level God has for us. While Lot looked at the natural, beautiful green grass, Abraham looked by faith even amid barren land (Gen. 13). To arise and build is to build on Jesus Christ, the ONLY sure foundation now and in eternity (Matt 7:24-25).

To arise and build our home, marriage, church, and nations, we must reposition ourselves just as the Israelites repositioned themselves and built the same wall, but by repositioning their priorities – God first, second family, and the church, then others. Jesus said to Peter after an all-night failed fishing experience, “Have you not caught anything yet? You may have the right degree, boat, and waters at the right time and promise expectations, but you will still fail and be disappointed. A significant hindrance to arising and building is to be in the wrong place, partnership, and priorities. To arise and build successfully, God is saying to the church, cast your net on the other side. Do not change the Bible; do not move the boat, the ancient landmark. To arise and build calls for a shift, a change in our priorities –arising and building seeking first God’s kingdom.