I want to interrupt our discussion on work to consider the recent floods. About a week ago, Dar was literally covered by water following several days of continuous rain. Sadly, lives were lost, homes destroyed, and bridges washed away. Many people have been picking up the pieces of their broken lives, well aware that the rainy season is not yet over and probably concerned that these recent events could repeat themselves. The situation is grave and I hope we feel a collective sense of ownership for our city, and for how we proceed through these difficult waters.

We need better infrastructure and we must improve the planning of our city. Furthermore, we need to strengthen our ability to respond effectively to crises. These shortcomings are to be addressed predominantly by our government. Where viable partnerships between the government and non-government players are possible, they should be pursued. The need to build is substantial and requires that we work together as residents of Dar. I have been praying that God would give our political leaders and the rest of us wisdom.

It is useful and necessary to identify the obvious problems and potential solutions. However, I believe there is a deeper issue. Following the floods, I have been thinking about the importance of having the right foundation. How we cope when a storm comes is linked directly to the quality of our foundation. Jesus said that a storm will cause a house built on sand to collapse, while a house built on the rock will remain standing (Matthew 7:24-29). This indicates that a crucial part of building is having a strong foundation. Our city needs to be built on the right foundation otherwise we will not be able to withstand the storms that come our way.

By now we are familiar with Nehemiah. His job was to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem. One of the most striking facts about Nehemiah’s story is that the walls were destroyed because of a spiritual problem. It is because the Israelites had strayed from God that their city was in a dismal state. The physical problem of broken walls had its root in the spiritual problem of not giving God his rightful place. This is captured by Nehemiah when he prays. Nehemiah 1:6-7 says: I confess the sins we Israelites, including myself and my father’s house, have committed against you. We have acted very wickedly toward you.

Is the brokenness we observe in Dar following the recent rains because we are acting wickedly toward God? If that is the case, we urgently need to turn to God, confess our sins, and ask him to show us the right foundation.  Jesus said his words are like the rock that will enable a house to stand when the storm comes. He made this remarkable statement after teaching on a wide range of issues including the use of courts, adultery and divorce, giving to the poor, money, and prayer. We give God first place in our lives by listening to his words and applying them to our lives. His words are the strong foundation we need to build Dar.