What will YOU do to Open the Gates of Justice?

open the gates

Do you believe Micah 6:8?  “He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to DO JUSTICE, LOVE KINDNESS, and to WALK HUMBLY with your God.”  On Friday, October 19, 564 registered guest gathered at STRONGER to live out Micah 6:8.  Here’s how you can join them.

To Open the Gates of Justice, DO JUSTICE

STRONGER was the Administer Justice event celebrating the merger with Gospel Justice Initiative.  Those present were encouraged by the music of concert pianist Huntley Brown and keynote address by Illinois Supreme Court Justice Robert Thomas.  Justice Thomas spoke powerfully about the divisions confronting our nation.  You can hear the powerful address here.

I cast a STRONGER vision for Administer Justice’s future with Gospel Justice Initiative.  You can hear my address here.  I encouraged us to do justice together, because we must not turn a blind eye to neighbors in need.  Watch this powerful video that opened our night.

The video correctly identifies the problem that threatens our democracy – a lack of access to justice.  When 1 in 3 Americans cannot afford an attorney and every second a neighbor is turned away from help, we fail in our pledge of justice for all.  The United States ranks 97th out of 113 nations for providing affordable access to justice.  We tie with Afghanistan!  That should not be.

As Christ followers, the Bible cries out for justice for the poor and yet with over 350,000 churches in America less than 300 are involved in legal aid ministry for poor neighbors in need.  Today’s church and Christ followers ARE modern day Priests and Levites walking past their neighbor on the Jericho Road.  We must do better.  We must DO JUSTICE.

To Open the Gates of Justice we must LOVE KINDNESS.

Justice Thomas’s remarks emphasized the lack of kindness which exist in our public discourse.  We are a House Divided.  We must stop judging others.  Some translations of Micah 6:8 use the word mercy in place of loving kindness.  James strongly reminds us:

“judgment without mercy will be shown to anyone who has not been merciful. Mercy triumphs over judgment.” James 2:13.

Christ followers are to be kind and merciful because of the kindness and mercy shown us.  We deserve judgment but God in His great love for us took our sin upon himself that we might receive forgiveness.  We are to extend this same loving kindness toward others.  I believe there is no better example of this than legal aid ministry.

The power of legal aid ministry

Lawyers possess power and privilege.  When a lawyer chooses to set aside that power and privilege to enter into the life of a neighbor in need, they represent Jesus.  Jesus possessed all the power and privilege of the universe, but willingly emptied himself to enter our world, walk alongside us, and die for us.  When a lawyer sacrifices his or her time to lovingly serve their neighbor, the gospel is demonstrated in word and deed.

I shared two stories from the last two weeks at Administer Justice.  I’ll share one and encourage you to listen to the other.  Karen walked into the doors of the church to meet a lawyer.  She never would have entered the church otherwise.  She was in great stress because her husband left her, her home was in foreclosure and she had three children under the age of six.  Try to imagine her fear.

Karen’s story

open the gates

The sad truth is we tend to run away from high stress individuals.  Karen felt alone and terrified.  When volunteers moved toward her in compassion she was surprised.  When the volunteer lawyer asked if she could pray with Karen, she was shocked.  No one seemed to care and a lawyer was praying for her!

The lawyer did an assessment.  She cut through all the clutter.  Legally she recognized the home was eligible for a loan modification which would prevent foreclosure.  She referred Karen to a helpful legal education course on family law issues so she would know what to expect.  The lawyer also referred her to a conflict coach to help her work through the overwhelming stress and anxiety that was destroying her.  When Karen met with that conflict coach she was already calmer as hope was returning.  Karen was open to a conversation on why everyone was so compassionate.  When she learned about Jesus and his love for her, she eagerly prayed to accept Christ as her savior.  Praise God!  What a demonstration of loving kindness.

To open the gates of justice, we must walk humbly

Every week across America in 78 different neighborhoods, Karen’s are receiving the help of a lawyer and the hope of the gospel.  Lawyers demonstrate the humility of Jesus as they join a team of non-lawyer servants loving neighbors.  But we must enter more neighborhoods.

In Chicago, I cast a vision of doubling impact.  Doubling local sites from six to twelve.  We also want to double national sites from 78 to 156 by the end of next year.  We can’t do that alone.  Friday night I encouraged people to give time and money.  We want to double our volunteers and resources.  Last year Administer Justice raised $52,000 in donations.  We prayed to begin this doubling of resources (Mt. 25) to serve the least of these, that evening by raising $104,000.

God did abundantly more than we could ask or imagine.  He provided $135,760 in donations, plus $64,500 in sponsor support for a total of $200,260!  We also cast a vision of six new site locations locally which required six $5,000 gifts to launch.  We received exactly six, $5,000 gifts!  Praise God!

Open the Gates

open the gates

We also announced a major campaign we will launch next year called Open the Gates.  The purpose is to explode impact through 1,000 gospel justice centers transforming lives in the name of Christ.  We announced Dr. Tony Evans will join us on Friday, October 4 to officially launch the campaign.

We must begin now to lay in the stronger foundation God has for us.  We need volunteers, we need donors, and we need individuals who will give $5,000 to open the gates of access to justice and Jesus in more neighborhoods.  One gift launches a ministry that will continue forever into the future as it is sustained by client dignity fees of only $30.

Join us in praying for the future.  Follow us on Facebook, encourage friends to join our e-mail distribution list, volunteer, and pray about launching a new ministry or giving to expand eternal impact for neighbors in need.  What a great way to walk humbly with our God.