Tuesday, June 07, 2011

By Ann Hight:

I wish everyone could have the experience of working in the environment of a healthy church. I love coming to work, love the variety of tasks, love the people I work with, and love the blessings that come my way every day. When people talk about the challenge of sharing their faith at work, I cannot enter in to that conversation because everyone I work with is a Christian and nearly everyone I meet with each week is living a life of committed faith.

But there is an underlying problem with all of that. It is easy to lose awareness of the needs in our community and world. It is so comfortable to sit in my office and talk Jesus stuff with people and leave the gritty rest of the world way out on the periphery of my life. It is easy to let the darkness creep in as I work in the Light.

From our earliest days on staff here we are encouraged to find ways to serve outside these walls. I had dabbled around with this, trying a few things, but never really connecting in the way I wanted to. I envied Pastor Nick having the opportunity to connect with kids as he coached; I kept looking around for ways I could connect in that way.

Then one day I happened to see a small ad in The Daily News offering training to become a Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA). I was not even sure what that was, but it piqued my interest. When I saw the same ad a couple of days later I picked up the phone and called. After an initial conversation followed by an interview, I knew I had finally found a place to serve outside East Hills.

A few months later, after successfully completing the training, I clutched the folder of my first case. I was ready to dive in to the world of dependency. As a CASA volunteer I investigate the issues and people surrounding the placement of children outside of their family home. When cases are brought before a judge for his or her decision, I have the opportunity to speak on behalf of that child, using the information I have gathered to seek the best resolution for those who otherwise have no voice in the system. During court proceedings parents have lawyers, the state has the attorney general, and the child has a CASA. Each case takes more than a year to complete, so I get to know the principle people involved and often get to speak about hope in the middle of distress.

It has been an interesting three years and the opportunity to learn more is never ending. The juxtaposition of my two "jobs" reminds me that everyone needs to experience the love of Jesus, no matter what their circumstances are. I have new appreciation for the verse in Proverbs 31 that says, "Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy.

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