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There is a table on the sidewalk outside the Coconino County (AZ) Superior Courthouse. A gentle man softly asks folks going into the Courthouse, “Do you need prayer?” Some ignore him, some mumble, “I’m good,” and some stop to talk and often pray.
Only a few people going to the Courthouse are going for happy reasons, to get a passport or a marriage license. But, aside from adoption hearings which are joyous, most people would really prefer to not be in the Courthouse, be it as a defendant in a criminal matter, or a divorce, or civil litigation. (Even if you a plaintiff in civil litigation, you have rather to have not needed to sue.) The goal of Courtside Ministries to be there for people, and to help them see God in their current situation, whatever it is.
I spoke to Tom today. I asked him to describe what they do. He said, “People come to us to get healed; people come to us to get saved and people come to us to get set free.” All good goals. (While I am not an evangelical, I was “saved” when I visited with relatives in Texas when I was in high school.) Tom shared with me that a man came by recently who said that he had been hooked on heroin and had prayed with them and had stayed clean for six months since praying with them. Courtside Ministries reminds me of AA — deeply spiritual, God-based, and out there in the world.
Courtside Ministries used to be at the Coconino County Courthouse on just Mondays and Fridays. However, our DUI/Drug Recovery Court has about 60 people coming to Court on every Wednesday, so Courtside Ministries was asked to expand to Wednesdays. (A big part of DUI/Drug Recovery Court is weekly attendance at AA, which is a profoundly spiritual program.)
While they have bibles on hand and are certainly willing to speak about being saved, I found that there is no evangelizing going on. Instead, they just want to pray with you and ask God to guide you and the Court and to have the right solution occur. I have stopped by for prayer a couple of times. Once to ask for more cases when my practice was slow; two new cases showed up within a few days. A couple of months ago was a case where I was facing a big hearing. Today was to ask for divine guidance and intervention in a case of mine which is troubling me. (A 12-year-old had seen his father one time in 10 years, but after his mother died of COVID-19, the father removed the child from his stable home with his maternal aunt. This child’s life has been turned upside down.) [Editor note: See Comment #8 as to what happened.]
Courtside Ministries is active in 116 locations in 19 states. Their website says that they have prayed with 450,000 people and have referred people to local churches and faith-based human services including food banks, shelters, job training, legal aid, and counseling services. They now have a 24-hour prayer line. They are there to serve.
Courtside Ministries is God in action in the world, reaching out to people who are in need. God bless them.Published in