In Nehemiah 3, we see the rebuilding of the walls of Jerusalem. In this chapter, the phrase ‘next to him’ or ‘next to them’ appears 20 times. The picture is that of many different people, all with different roles, different backgrounds (and probably different personalities!) together building a section of the wall next to each other. Each one was doing their part, but not alone – they all had someone ‘next to them’. Sometimes we can feel very alone when we are standing for Christ in our workplaces, in our families, in our neighbourhoods. It is really important that we know we are part of something bigger, and that we have people ‘next to us’.
     For some of us we are hugely blessed to have other Christians where we work. I am so grateful to God for my Christian colleagues, and it makes a big difference. But for many of us in the veterinary profession, that isn’t the case. VCF is a way in which folk can know that they have other Christians ‘next to them’. The regional groups are just a part of this. There are so many other ways we can encourage people, and stand together as we build God’s Kingdom. Just an email/card/phone call/offer to meet for a coffee – all these are ways in which we can encourage people, stand with them, support them, and let them know that they’re not alone. I’m sure we all want to echo the prayer that Jesus taught us “Your Kingdom come, your will be done, on earth, as it is on heaven.” Let’s work together to build God’s Kingdom. As we do this, we will not only encourage and build each other up, but we will also speak volumes about God’s love to a watching world. ‘By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.’ John 13:35.
     My challenge to all of us (starting with myself) is firstly to think about who it is that we already have standing ‘next to us’ – and to thank God for these people. Secondly, we should think and pray about who God is calling us to get alongside. Is there somebody in our church, our workplace, within VCF, either in the UK or overseas, who needs us to stand ‘next to them’, to work with them as they play their part in building God’s Kingdom? Why not contact that person today, and let them know you are there for them and you are praying for them. How about asking them what you can do to support them better. If we all play our part, and all stand next to each other as we seek to bring God’s Kingdom here on earth, then I truly believe we will be amazed at what we see.