If you’re a current subscriber, log in below. If you would like to subscribe, please click the subscribe tab above.
Username and Password Help
In “Waking from the American Dream,” Don McCullough tells about how during World War II England needed to increase its production of coal. Winston Churchill called together labor leaders to enlist their support. At the end of his presentation, he asked them to picture in their minds a parade that he knew would be held in Piccadilly Circus after the war.
“First,” he said, “would come the sailors who had kept the vital sea lanes open. Then would come the soldiers who had come home from Dunkirk and then go on to defeat Rommel in Africa. Then would come the pilots who had driven the Luftwaffe from the sky.”
“Last of all,” he said, “would come a long line of sweat-stained, soot-streaked men in miner’s caps. Someone would cry from the crowd, ‘And where were you during the critical days of our struggle?’ And from ten thousand throats would come the answer, ‘We were deep in the earth with our faces to the coal.’”
Not all jobs in Christ’s service are prominent and glamorous. However, the people with their “faces to the coal” often help the church accomplish its mission, and the community is strengthened and made better.
Nehemiah 3 records a number of those people, this remnant of Israel, who fully engaged in the noble work of rebuilding the walls of the city of Jerusalem. Thirty-eight individuals are named in this chapter, many difficult to pronounce. Forty-two different groups are identified. Several people are not mentioned by name at all.
These individuals and groups came from all walks of life. Priests were working on the gate used to bring the sheep in for sacrifice in the temple; there were men and women, professional craftsmen and ordinary citizens. Collaboratively, they work together to rebuild the community.
Amid all these names or lack thereof, there is an essential lesson for all of us: whether you are part of a group, mentioned by name, or anonymous; whether others know you or not, each person has their assigned place and tasks to engage in in order for the community to be rebuilt.
However, I must mention one of those willing workers by name on this day. Mrs. Levelma Simmons was an active, willing worker in Coosa County for almost 80 years. She was an educator vocationally; however, beyond her time in the classroom, Mrs. Simmons was actively engaged civically and socially.
She stood in her place on the wall – in church, with the Morning Star Baptist District Association, in alumni associations associated with her college and the J. D. Thompson school, the American Legion, and more. She understood the need to give all she could, whenever she could, to build her community.
She further understood the need to work collaboratively and cooperatively to rebuild her community. Whether it was an advisory role or actively involved, Mrs. Simmons always had the mind to serve and see her neighborhood be its best.
My prayer is that we could all embody Mrs. Simmons’ heart of service. Even if no one mentions you by name, make an effort to devote your energy and effort to stand in your place along the wall, to rebuild our community.
Mrs. Simmons will be sorely missed, but I’m grateful for her love, life and legacy, which will always have an imprint on my life personally and the life of this community.
Christopher M. Todd is a Coosa County resident and the pastor of The New Home Missionary Baptist Church near Rockford.