Use this lesson to introduce a mission trip or mission projects.
Pray and brainstorm ways your youth feel God leading them to places and people who are broken.
-Nick Diliberto, Ministry to Youth
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YOUTH GROUP LESSON ON NEHEMIAH
Bible: Nehemiah 1:1-4
Bottom Line: We are called to care for and help others when they suffer.
Jenga games (you can also make inexpensive ‘Jenga’ games by getting small pieces of wood to use)
Current newspapers (Or print current stories from the Internet about suffering in the world the students might not be aware of happening.)
Double stick tape or masking tape
OPENING GAMES – JENGA WALLS
Play this game in a large room and divide the room into 4 equal spaces.
Divide the group into 4 teams of equal size.
Give each team a designated space in the room.
Place building supplies (Jenga blocks or blocks of wood) in the middle of the room and explain that each team will race to see who can build the tallest wall.
Give them hints that it would be ‘wise’ to build their wall close to the back of their space because other teams will try to break their wall down.
But, here’s the other challenge: Each team will also be given balloons that they will try to throw at the other teams’ wall to break it down.
Team members must stay within their space and cannot cross over into another teams space to throw the balloons.
Set a time limit and at the end of the time, the team with the tallest wall still standing – wins!
You just experienced a very tiny bit of what the Israelites experienced in the book of Nehemiah.
To make a long story short, the Israelites used to have this amazing protective wall around Jerusalem and it was broken.
Nehemiah heard about his people and the wall and felt God call him to go and rebuild the wall.
Ask a youth to read Nehemiah 1:1-4
Nehemiah wasn’t even living in Jerusalem, but was serving in the palace for the King of Persia.
When he heard about the terrible condition in Jerusalem, with a wall that was in ruins, he cried.
It is very easy to sit in comfort while others suffer.
Think about places in our world today that are suffering.
Maybe they don’t have enough food…or there is war….or suffering.
There are newspapers spread all around this room.
I want you to choose a newspaper and find a story from the world in which people are suffering.
Then, tape those stories to the walls around us.
Give the youth 5-10 minutes to find stories.
Direct the students to walk around and and pray while they read the stories on the walls around them.
Have students return to their seats.
Ask: Which of these stories really struck you?
How did these stories make you feel?
Why do you think that we don’t know that this kind of suffering is going on around us?
Nehemiah could have stayed in the palace and just kept bringing the cup to the King.
He had it good.
But instead, when he heard about his fellow Israelites, he cried.
He left the palace and he went to rebuild the wall which kept Jerusalem and the people living there safe.
And it wasn’t easy.
Later on in Nehemiah, while they were busy rebuilding this massive wall, the enemies around them begin attacking.
They basically had to hold a tool in one hand and a weapon in the other.
They had to take shifts – a building shift and then a guarding shift to keep one another safe.
Times are different now, and yet, as you can see around the room, people still need us to help them.
To stand around them and protect them.
To help them build up what has been ruined.
What are some ways that we could help ___________? (choose one of the photos/stories posted around the room)
(Repeat this process with a few other stories)
And maybe you are thinking, what can I do?
We can start where Nehemiah started – he prayed.
And then he acted.
And he didn’t give up.
The world is honestly full of ‘walls that are falling down’ and sometimes it can be overwhelming to see all of the need around us, right?
But, what you cannot do is to do nothing.
This generation is one that loves to find a cause and fight for it.
You hear stories everywhere of teenagers who see a need and find a way to meet that need.
Maybe they see that kids need clothes and plan a clothing drive.
Or maybe there is a need that is tugging at your heart that you are the one who could build that wall to help.
Today we are going to take some more time in our small groups and then gather back together to share some ways you are feeling God calling you to build.
Each group will create a poster or some form of art to share with the group where they see a need.
Pray for the groups as they go to share and pray.
SMALL GROUP DISCUSSION QUESTIONS
What are the stories or the needs that tug at your heart?
Where do you look in your school or town or country or the world and want to weep?
Where do you think God could use us to bring healing and rebuilding of what is broken?
What are your fears in going to do this work?
Spend time praying as a group to know where God is calling them to serve.
LARGE GROUP – CLOSE
Give the groups a chance to share about the needs they see.
Then, have them post their poster around the room.
We can’t build all of this today, but today is a big start.
Walk around the room and take pictures of the posters and spend the next week praying and looking at these photos.
Post them on your social media and let’s see where God is leading us.
God lead us to where you need us.
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