Fishers of Men Cast a Prayer Net

Many pastors have told me that their favorite ministry times are not Sunday morning services, but rather funerals and weddings, because when someone has died or two people wed, the congregation is more likely to be full of backsliders, nonbelievers, seekers and re-examiners of the faith—who often sob with regret or cry with joy. The fishing is good when hearts are soft. Tyler Makepeace is one of the humblest lawyers I have ever met. At age 55, twice divorced, and, in his words, “going down for the third time,” this family law practitioner met the Man from Nazareth. He started life anew, forgiven and with a much softened heart for those experiencing divorce and other legal traumas. So changed was Tyler that he began to pray for and with litigants, lawyers, court personnel and judges during his frequent trips to the county courthouse in Colorado Springs. So receptive to prayer were those he prayed with that he and other believers set up a table on public property near the courthouse entrance and hung across it a banner reading “Need Prayer?” It’s a simple model that has yielded profound results. They called it “Courtside Ministries.”

Do you know, or are you, a pastor or evangelist who has fished diligently but has caught little in the past few months or years? Well, Jesus has a word for you to receive or relay to discouraged fishers of men: Throw your net on the right side of the boat and you will find some. When they did, they were unable to haul the net in because of the large number of fish (John 21:6). Between eight and eleven o’clock in the morning most weekdays and at countless courthouses across the world, the fish are ready. Who are they?

Tamara, a desperate mother who, like Tyler Makepeace, is facing her third divorce. Due to her drinking problem, she faces the loss of custody of her beloved six-year-old daughter. Her husband is not only seeking divorce, but also wants to drastically restrict the amount that Tamara can visit her daughter. In turn, her daughter also faces loss: the presence of her mother. Alex and Jill, a childless couple in their late thirties. Full of joy and thanksgiving, they have arrived to complete the adoption of a special-needs infant who has fulfilled their long-frustrated hope to become parents. Sadly, they know not whom to thank or how to express the gratitude stirring deeply in their souls. A quavering twenty-three-year-old first-time juror. Sandra Jane is returning to vote in the death penalty phase for a homeless man who stabbed to death another homeless man to steal $50. An embittered fifty-year-old businessman. Mr. Lewinski harbors a dream of vengeance towards a former friend who accidently slammed a cab door on his hand, leading to the amputation of four fingers. His lawyer is pressing him to settle for the $50,000 insurance limit because the friend has few assets, but Mr. Lewinski wants blood. Who else? Brothers at odds over an inheritance. An elderly couple seeking a thirty-day extension before the Sheriff puts their meager belongings on the street. Thousands upon thousands are the poignant stories, the pregnant opportunities for Jesus to minister to those with open and seeking hearts. Do you think any of these people would welcome prayer and be open to the gospel message, to repentance, to forgiveness, to referral to a Bible-teaching church or to Christian counseling? If you answered “yes,” I suspect you may have John 4:35 in your heart: “Do you not say, ‘There are still four months until the harvest comes’? I tell you to lift up your eyes and look at the fields – they are white for harvest already!”

Whether fishing or harvesting wheat, the biblical metaphor is consistent: God wants His fishermen and harvest workers where they can fish and reap bountifully. Often, that is not within the four walls of the church. Could the Courtside move of God be one of the ways He is bringing into being another fulfillment of 2 Chronicles 7:14— “If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land”? Jesus sought to impact the legal system to reach Israel for the kingdom of God. In following the example He lived out for us, Courtside Ministries is impacting litigants, lawyers, and the legal system to reach the world for God’s kingdom. And God is using non-lawyers to do so, to bring justice and mercy where it is needed!

This is an excerpt from the book Jesus in the Courtroom by John Mauck, set to be released on July 4. You can pre-order your copy by clicking here.