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?Read More
This February, Director of Legal Services Brian Dunkel wrote a message to followers about what it really means to love your neighbor and how our new client intakes are the first step in that process for the Clinic. We then dug in deep with Ft. Wayne Director Desiree Koger-Gustafson, learning how she changed her path from a medical career to a legal career.Read More
But to Fatima, the Clinic isn’t just an excellent employer; she believes the work the Clinic does is absolutely pivotal to the community. “I think there’s a gap in the justice system. If you get in trouble and it’s a criminal issue, you’re entitled to a public defender,” she says. “If it’s a civil matter, you basically have no protection… It puts people in a vulnerable situation when they don’t have access to an attorney.” She stresses that these already-vulnerable situations are often compounded for people by their lack of specialized knowledge about issues like immigration law, paperwork, and unknown deadlines. She believes part of her purpose in life is to help walk people through this kind of information.Read More
“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.