Her name was Mary. She was a young, pregnant teenager who left home to follow her boyfriend. She was poor and temporarily homeless. Her boyfriend had a tax issue to resolve, but she was unaware he planned to abandon her afterward. Where could she turn for help?
Mary could be one of more than 20,000 individuals who visited one of our 16 gospel justice centers in 12 states last year. She could represent the 58% of single moms with a child under the age of six who live in poverty in America. But that is not this Mary’s story. Her story is probably familiar to you:
“And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be taxed…And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city. And Joseph also went up from Galilee…To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child.” Luke 2:1,4,5 kjv.
Where did Mary turn for help? She and Joseph went to an inn, but there was no room for them. Bethlehem was crowded with the census, so maybe the inn was filled. But maybe there was no room for them – poor and very pregnant, she would likely require care and the innkeeper had other guest to attend to. Either way, Jesus was entering this world. Nothing could hold back God’s redemptive plan.
The question for us today is whether there is room in our inn for Jesus. He might have trouble in America. A little brown baby with unmarried parents named Jose and Maria. He came from the wrong part of town – Galilee. Those people spoke with funny accents. Worse they would look like Middle Eastern refugees. Would we offer help to such a family?
Sometimes we sanitize the Christmas story. The stable is a nice clean barn instead of a disgusting, messy cave. Into this cave, to this poor homeless couple, Jesus entered the world. He could have come in power but he left the riches of heaven to become poor. He identified with the lowly as he proclaimed good news to the poor, freedom to captives, recovery of sight to the blind and set at liberty the oppressed. He embodied the gospel and justice as he set about restoring all that sin broke in this world. He asked us to follow his example.
So we go and do likewise. We take up the cause of freeing people from legal burdens wrought by sin and its consequences in this world. We enter the dark places of oppression and we shine the light of Jesus. Every prayer offered by a lawyer, every card hand written by a volunteer, every call made to encourage makes a difference. More than 700 lawyers and 2,000 volunteers served this past year to help free people carrying heavy burdens because of entanglements with the law. Many came to faith in Christ while others had their faith restored. Each received a plan for moving forward. Each felt great burdens lifted as people prayed, encouraged, and provided specific guidance and counsel.
As we move into 2016 will you pray for the 14 groups considering opening a gospel justice center? Will you pray for business owners and leaders to join us on a new campaign to launch 30 centers next year? We are raising grant funding in the amount of $5,000 to launch new centers. Each $5,000 raised will help us open a new center providing training, travel to see a ministry in action, and seed funds for operations. The ministry becomes self-sustaining through small local donations and client administrative fees once in operation. As a member of GJI they receive all the support needed to sustain and grow.
Will you consider joining us in advancing God’s heart for the gospel and justice? Will you help make room at the inn by donating to open the doors of a new gospel justice center? Your gift makes a significant difference. So the poor have hope and injustice shuts her mouth. Job 5:16.
Have a blessed Christmas as you love, serve and
Go and Do Likewise.