Associated Churches first became acquainted with the Clinic through their mutual service. “Because we serve a diverse population, the Clinic was already doing ministry in the same places that we were,” says Roger. “We were providing emergency food relief for the food bank and the Clinic was providing intake at the same location.” This put the Legal Clinic on Associated Churches’ radar, and thus, a new relationship was borne.
Janet found the face-to-face meetings with clients during intake to be especially transformative, their needs frequently going beyond the scope of what legal assistance could provide. Although she was able to offer them her legal expertise, their stories were often filled with dark and difficult chapters. “In some cases, we met the face of profound despair,” Janet says. “This is the humanizing encounter and one where Jesus has called us to be present.”
While Neighborhood Christian Legal Clinic’s main office is located in Indianapolis, there is also a satellite office in Ft. Wayne. Desiree Koger-Gustafson serves as its Director and part-time attorney, while Cathy Warney serves as the only full-time employee. In addition to her paralegal duties, she also handles reception and coordinates volunteers. “My days are pretty crazy,” says Cathy. “I wear lots of hats.”
Sui Tlang* was first referred to the Clinic through several different partner agencies that were already working with her. As a young girl living in Burma, she was orphaned and grew up in a refugee camp near Thailand. While in the camp, she received little education and never learned to read or write in her native language. No one ever even tried to teach her English. When she got older, she was married and had two sons, but was soon widowed.
Natives of Chad, Wowe Nahor* and his wife Nya Nahor* were persecuted for their involvement with the National Council of Chadian Recovery (CNR). Wowe was imprisoned and tortured. Upon being freed, he knew his family must flee their country. And so he applied for and was granted asylum in the United States. At the time, his two sons also received derivative asylee status. The Nahor family was finally safe.
When asked why they chose a race, Desiree says, “There’s nobody else in legal aid doing that kind of an awareness campaign.” And moreover, she explains, it is simply a fun event. She says, “[Running] is such an electrifying experience; I’ve not had too many people that have walked it and been part of that and got to finish, and not said ‘I want to do this next year.’”