God is Just: A Message from Executive Director Chris Purnell

At the Clinic, we say we “promote justice” through the work that God has called us to do. And as we celebrate our 25th year of service to the community this January, I’ve been contemplating what this actually means. Superheroes continue to clean up at the box office and issues of social justice fill our newsfeed—but true justice is so much fuller than our humanly conception. So what, then, is the biblical core of justice?

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The Greatest of These Is Love

At the Clinic, we have a lot to love! Our last Justice For All Gala was our most successful ever--raising $152,440.09 thanks to all of our supporters! We also welcomed four new Board Members in the past few weeks, like Todd Fisher, Carol Hartman, John Gurchiek, and Lori Torres! And we got to participate in the Spirit & Place Festival for the first time this past fall, helping more people in our community understand the needs of ex-offenders!

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Recognizing God's Provision

Recognizing God’s provision is often pivotal to the work that Michael does—most especially when that work is messy. “[At times, I find myself] working with some pretty broken situations and still not being able to fix them,” he says. On occasion, there are no good options for our clients; a foreclosure cannot be prevented and Michael finds himself in the position of having to deliver bad news. “I don’t like it when things don’t work,” he says. “My hope is that we can offer assistance of some sort often, yet it sometimes doesn’t take the shape that people are hoping for.” But even when things don’t work precisely as his clients would like, Michael is there to walk through the process alongside them.

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A Message from Volunteer Attorney Stephanie Pickens: Use Your Gifts

"Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards ofGod’s grace in its various forms."  1 Peter 4:10

After moving to Indianapolis in 2011, I found myself staring down the end of ten years of staying at home with my children.  My youngest was getting ready for kindergarten and I was getting ready for a mid-life crisis.   After staying at home that long, I wasn’t sure that I could function in a work environment.  My kids didn’t even believe that I had a college degree, much less a law degree and I had a difficult time believing it myself.  To maintain flexibility and determine if I “had it in me” I decided to look around for volunteer opportunities and came across the Neighborhood Christian Legal Clinic web site.

In the beginning, I wasn’t sure what I could help with.  My law license was only valid in Iowa so Erin (awesome volunteer coordinator) and I decided to look at the federal issues where my license would be valid.  Tax or Immigration.   I hate numbers, but love people so immigration it was.  I took a few Dream Act cases (DACA) and then started helping with the immigration intake clinic every Wednesday.   Rachel (awesome immigration attorney) was patient in training me and answering all my questions.  The front office staff was patient in showing me everything from how to work the copier to the mail stamper.   The Clinic helped me get my work groove back.  My immigrant clients gave me a new passion.

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I recently received a letter from one of my Dream Act clients.  She will be heading to college this fall with a scholarship.  Is there anything more rewarding than knowing you made a difference in someone’s life?  We recently moved back to Iowa and I am hoping to take what I learned at the Clinic meet the needs of the immigrant population in Iowa.

My point is this: If you want to be a part of a community of believers that is more about doing than talking, more about helping than judging, take your gifts and head straight to Neighborhood Christian Legal Clinic.  I am so thankful that I did!

A Message from the Staff: Matt Gaudin on Compassion

 “The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases;his mercies never come to an end.” - Lamentations 3:22

I never thought my occupation could aid my walk with Christ.  However, when I examine my time at the Neighborhood Christian Legal Clinic I cannot deny that God has used this job to grow me spiritually.  I would like to take some time to discuss one area that demonstrates this growth.

Feelings and compassion have never been dominant attributes of mine.  When problems arise I tend toward cold logic rather than warm comfort.  My wife, Shannon, can surely attest to this!  I often ignore or fail to “pick up on” others’ feelings.  When others show emotion I can become uncomfortable and retreat to my logically controlled mind.  Rational thought is not a negative.  It is almost always a positive.  When stressful situations arise, I normally remain cool and collected.  I normally am able to see all angles of a problem and craft the best solution.  A logical mind, however, without a compassionate heart leads to an unhappy life and unfulfilled relationships.  An individual needs both.  In fact God requires that we love him with our heart and our mind.  See Mark 12:30 (“And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.”).

God’s compassion is evident throughout the Bible.  Psalm 78:38-39 says, “Yet he, being compassionate, atoned for their iniquity and did not destroy them; he restrained his anger often and did not stir up all his wrath. He remembered that they were but flesh, a wind that passes and comes not again.”  Lamentations 3:22 states, “The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases;his mercies never come to an end.”  The greatest and ultimate demonstration of compassion was when God sent his son Jesus to save us from our sins.  See John 3:16 (“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”).

Working at the Clinic, I am constantly bombarded by injustice and heartbreak.  It may be a tenant whose landlord refuses to provide legally required necessities, like heat and water.  It may be a man without health insurance who was struck by medical tragedy and now has no money to pay creditors.  These individuals need legal advice.  They need me to use my rational mind to fashion a legal solution.  However, they often need more. They need me to listen with open ears and a caring heart.

The Clinic has forced me to develop more compassion in my life.  I now more clearly see suffering in the world.  I now try to use a rational mind and a compassionate heart to serve clients holistically.  I truly work at an awesome place.

Matthew Gaudin
Staff Attorney
mgaudin@nclegalclinic.org