Nancy Cogar leads the Gospel Justice Initiative Chapter in Chattanooga, Tennessee. Meeting at White Oak United Methodist Church, Nancy and her team seek to help the 1 in 3 Tennesseans who need legal help but would be denied access to a lawyer due to lack of funds. Early on, even as a Brownie and Girl Scout, she had a sense of civic duty to community and country; yet, it wasn’t until later in her “divinely-appointed education” that the Holy Spirit used the events of 911 to call her to actively engage in the fight against injustice. Leaving her career as a radio and television reporter, law school was the preparation she needed; but becoming a lawyer led her to a life of grueling work and busyness. God, once again, began to lead Nancy deeper into His call. In hindsight, Nancy clearly sees God guided her to this moment. She continues to trust Him to lead her to higher ground and to bless and prosper her for His glory as she seeks to do justice, love mercy and walk humbly with Him (Micah 6:8).
GJI: Tell us about your journey to Justice Champion. How did you find Gospel Justice Initiative?
NC: I had gone to law school with a strong conviction to prepare myself to make a difference and do justice as a Christian lawyer. Was I serious about my calling? Would I be willing to surrender, so that God could use me?
And then this time-challenged lawyer learned something else…I was too busy…focused on me, my short-comings and the challenge of injustice. I repented and shifted my focus to where it should be: Jesus. He was on the throne. He had the ability to do all, and I learned that He loved justice. He would fully equip me for every good purpose according to His will. He would show me a way, and I would rely on His understanding and not my own.
That’s when I met Bruce. Of course, God’s timing is always perfect. Sometimes the Lord reveals simple things to you as undisputable proof that you are not alone; He knows your heart and is guiding you for His purposes. My introduction to Gospel Justice Initiative was and is this kind of gift from the Lord.
Not only was I connected with great leadership and teaching, but I was also connected with like-minded lawyers across America and even in other countries. We were all points of light seeking gospel justice.
I love the map in the GJI office with pins marking the location of justice centers. I was not alone. He had brought GJI attorney members together to encourage and celebrate His work which He wants to do in and through us. I learned that only God provides true justice. He provides the restoration and the redemption. It was my job to find a place where hurting people will come, to listen, to pray and point them to Him. The real answer to brokenness would come from Him. That’s why the church is a perfect place to develop a justice center.
GJI: What was the biggest fear/challenge you faced before deciding to jump in and the greatest misconception?
NC: I think that my New England Yankee self-reliance and over-achiever attitude towards life posed one of the biggest challenges for me getting started. I am generally not afraid to take on a challenge, but I needed to stop and recognize who was leading this effort. God wanted me involved, but He was in charge. I also feared not being able to answer/address all the legal issues that might come before me. I think this is a fear that prevents a lot of attorneys from doing pro bono work in general. I’ve had some difficult issues come up during the GJI clinics, but there is always an opportunity to provide some measure of good counsel. When I don’t know…I simply say I don’t know. I don’t have all the answers…but I know someone who does and that’s the Lord. People simply appreciate someone who is willing to listen to them. I can also always pray with the clients who come into the clinics.
GJI: Do you have a Bible verse or quote that really resonated with you while seeking to start and now operating Chattanooga Gospel Justice Center?
NC: I was asking God repeatedly, in my prayer time, to show me what He wanted me to do. He really impressed the scripture from Micah 6:8 on my heart. It is so clear. “He has told you, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? But to do justice, to love kindness and to walk humbly with your God.” (Micah 6:8 NASB) This is very specific instruction from the Lord. It’s no coincidence that GJI sent me a banner with that very same scripture.
I also love Isaiah. There are so many great promises in Isaiah about justice and Jesus. They speak to God’s love of justice and His character as a God of justice.
Isaiah 51:4-4 NIV “Listen to me, my people; hear me, my nation. The law will go out from me; My justice will become a light to the nations.”
Isaiah 1:17 and Isaiah 30:18 in the AMP are also favorites.
GJI: How can we pray for you as you serve as God’s hands and feet bringing Good News and justice to Chattanooga?
NC: I would love your prayers. Please pray that my focus will stay fixed on Him and I will not grow weary in doing good. Pray that I will know that He loves me, sees me and His Spirit goes before me always…that God will continue to bring people and transform lives through the Gospel Justice Initiative clinics in Chattanooga. Pray that we can be a light in our country and speak to the hope that can be found only in Jesus Christ. Pray for my practice and my ministry. I hope my commitment to the ministry and the success of my practice will serve as a great testimony to the faithfulness of God. Please pray for more workers. I am praying fervently that God will raise up more attorney volunteers who are willing to become involved in Gospel Justice. Pray that I have the courage to continue to move forward in faith. Pray for the churches here in Chattanooga. That other churches would recognize the opportunity and call to be a Gospel Justice Center.
GJI: What greatest joys can you share from the Chattanooga Gospel Justice Center?
NC: Since July 2017, we have seen a wide range of legal issues including, but not limited to, family law matters, neighborhood zoning and building permit issues. Regardless of the issue, we begin each consultation with a warm smile and prayer pointing everyone to the one who has all the answers: Jesus.
Amy Nutt, a wonderful support to the ministry, is the Pastor at White Oak United Methodist Church. She loves Jesus and radiates His compassion. Amy has shared that she has never had a ministry effort that has produced such an immediate and tangible result in such a short time. Not only are people being helped at the clinics, but they are coming to the church and becoming part of the local church body! This is the work of the Holy Spirit!
For more information, like and follow Chattanooga Gospel Justice Initiative on Facebook, watch this powerful video testifying to the transformative work of gospel justice taking place in Chattanooga and listen to Nancy’s message to other attorneys.