God blesses those who follow his will; of this I do not and indeed cannot doubt. The older I get the more I realize and learn that God also constantly works on his people by paring away more and more layers of one’s reliance on oneself so that ultimately one is completely reliant upon God and God alone. I believe my experience with the Christian Legal Clinics of Philadelphia has revealed this truth to me more than ever.
I am on the Board of Directors for the Clinic and when we met in the summer 2014 we were facing very serious challenges. First, our primary benefactor, who has enabled us to become more than just a loose collection of volunteers and turned us into what we are today, not to mention provided us with the necessary financial stability, may soon have to cut back on his support. Second, our money reserves were running dry. We were in danger of not making basic payroll. We literally may not have had the money to – as the saying goes -“keep the lights on.”
We were concerned. We were worried. What would become of this ministry? What was God doing? The Clinic serves hundreds of people per year. We are sharing the Gospel. We are helping the poor. We are bringing justice to those who would otherwise have to suffer injustice. Aren’t these things God’s will? Aren’t these things what God wants us to do?
Look again at the paragraph above. Look at how much the word “we” is used. Look at what “we” were doing. Apparently, as I mentioned in the introduction above, more than anything else the Clinic needed, God needed to pare away some of our layers of self-reliance. If you look to God’s Word, what does St. Paul have to say about this? St. Paul says “[s]o neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth. (see I Corinthians 3:7). The Clinic is planting. The Clinic is watering. The Clinic is not giving the growth. God showed us that starkly as we approached the exhaustion of our resources. We were on the doorstep of not being able to plant or water. Our own efforts and resources and strengths could not provide sufficient, indeed any, growth. What were we to do?
The answer was deceptively simple: pray and rely on God, and not on ourselves, to do what he promised to do: give growth.
Over the last couple of months the Clinic held two banquets, one in Doylestown and one in Philadelphia; I wrote about the Philadelphia Banquet here. What did God do for us? The Doylestown banquet precisely closed our budget gap and ensured our solvency through the end of the year. The Philadelphia banquet allowed us to meet our budget requirements two months early. Both Banquets introduced us to many new people who just learned about the Clinic and secured more annual and periodic donors to keep a steady stream of support going for us into the future. We made relationships that may last into the future to assist this ministry. What else? We may have finally made inroads to the “big firms” of Philadelphia which have been, thus far, a near impossible nut to crack for support and assistance.
God did not just met our needs; God gave growth. God showed us that self-reliance is not what he wants. He wants reliance on him and him alone regardless of our efforts in doing the ministry; indeed, his ministry. We had to learn that our ministry thrives not because of what we do but because of what he does. We received unexpected blessings that, as the Psalmist says, did not just fill our cup, but made our cup run over in ways that only God could do.
Below is the latest video presentation of our ministry. It is an amazing piece of work given to us by the talented filmmaker Timothy Fryett. Please check it out; you will be inspired!
If, after reading and seeing the above, you feel called to give to our ministry, please look here. Otherwise, please pray for us and help us in any way you can so that we can continue this ministry, serve God, and bring justice and mercy to those who cannot get it through the legal system.
Thanks and God bless.