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Christian Union

Harvard Law, Kennedy School Students Study Nehemiah

by catherine elvy, staff writer

The account of Nehemiah offers timeless lessons in spiritual and practical leadership. God raised up the Jewish official for a strategic mission, pointing to the role of providence in the form of human managers.

Those were some of the themes that emerged during a recent series from Christian Union’s ministry at Harvard Law School. During the spring term, the ministry offered an in-depth study on the book of Nehemiah to students from Harvard Law School (HLS) and the John F. Kennedy School of Government. “These young adults are in a position to become our leaders in the next generation,” said Justin Yim, Christian Union’s ministry director at Harvard Law School. 


The account of Nehemiah reflects how God elevates individuals for specific assignments and moves in the hearts of kings, insights that resonated with law students.


Julian Nunally, Harvard ’17, Harvard Law ’20, is among a group of Harvard Law students who are participating in a Christian Union Bible Course on the leadership lessons of Nehemiah.

“Nehemiah is a great study of the principles of Christian leadership,” said Yi He, Columbia ’16, Harvard Law ’21. “We have learned a lot about God’s work and grace in the Old Testament and how it can be applied in our daily lives, whether it is as students at the law school, in our personal relationships, or in our future careers.”

The students gathered on Wednesday nights in February for the Bible course, which also featured time for dinner and prayer. The experience left Yim excited about watching God transform the lives of some of the nation’s sharpest legal minds and making inroads among graduate students in the prestigious Kennedy School of Government. 

Given the transformative leadership themes woven throughout Nehemiah, Yim asked the law and graduate students to think about how bold faith and the Gospel can impact some of their future initiatives.

Likewise, the first chapter of Nehemiah prompted a discussion on the heart of a leader and the power of the favor of God. “We see how Nehemiah makes the big ‘asks’ at the right time,” said Yim. 

The second chapter showcased Nehemiah’s grateful heart for divine intervention. The Old Testament figure “constantly gives God the glory,” said Yim. Nehemiah was also well familiar with the sacred texts of his faith. “What he asked was aligned with God’s Word,” said Yim. 


As such, Yim told law and government students to embrace the instructions and themes of both the Old and New Testaments throughout their personal and professional endeavors. “Our job is to be obedient and to be in the Word,” he said.

Faithfulness paid off for Nehemiah, who overcame opposition and led his people into their mission of rebuilding the wall that protected Jerusalem in just 52 days. 

Such messages resonated with Julian Nunally, Harvard ’17, Harvard Law ’20. “Staying engaged in a deep study of the Word in community is vital,” said Nunally, who was also involved with Christian Union’s ministry to undergraduates at Harvard. 

The Tennessee native expressed gratitude for Yim’s discipleship. “Justin is fantastic, and he is a huge blessing to the HLS community,” said Nunally.

Yi He echoed those comments, describing Yim as a mentor who is “always rooted in the Word of God” and readily provides historical and exegetical background. “What I appreciate the most is that he takes time weekly to meet up, pray with me, and check in with my spiritual walk with Christ,” said He. 

Yim is looking forward to overseeing additional intellectually rigorous Bible courses, arranging guest speakers, and hosting fellowship opportunities.

As he works with law and graduate students, he is reminded of the powerful lessons of favor throughout the Old Testament, including the book of Nehemiah. “It’s totally a God thing,” he said. “I have students who are passionate. We want to be all about studying the Word and discipleship.” 

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