I will confess when Bryan asked me for a favor, I had no idea God was at work. Bryan was in the middle of a custody battle for his two children. He and his wife had been divorced for some time. Because I was Singles Minister at our church and Bryan was a leader in our Singles Ministry, Bryan assumed I could testify to the quality of his parenting skills.
So, at the appointed time, I traveled to the courthouse prepared to serve as a witness. But God was interested more in what I witnessed than what I shared. In fact, my testimony was never needed. Bryan won his hearing without me ever taking the witness stand. But what God did was have me sit in the hallways of the Family Courts for two entire days - on call - waiting to give testimony that was never requested. The Lord wanted me to mourn, not talk; grieve, not validate; question, not answer.
Family Court, sometimes call Civil or Divorce Court, is where the legal matters of families who decide they can no longer live under one roof are handled. Parties involved wait in the hallways of the Courthouse for their case to be brought before a judge. Attorneys pass through the hallways carrying brief cases and briefs, scuttling from client to client, bearing offerings of concessions from opposing attorneys or rulings from the court.
For litigants, much of the time in the courthouse, is spent in the hallways. It is there nerves are frazzled. It is there anger boils. It is there tears flow frequently and incessantly. Dreams are shattered. It is the home of hopelessness and of the ridiculous. The hallways are an emotional bloodletting. And it was to these hallways I was being called. To teach me to pray, this was the arena of brokenness the Lord was leading me towards.
While waiting to testify on Bryan’s behalf, I witnessed angry faces, heard nervous laughter, and saw anguish up close and personal. For years I had taught divorce recovery classes and hosted events for families in distress. I was not a rookie when it came to these matters. But never before had I sat in such a crucible of pain.
Later, I learned the rulings from these very courts affected about 1500 children a month. Something had to be done. Little did I know, but God was already doing it. He was changing me. Eventually, God opened doors so I could walk these very hallways offering hope. I was to be the Volunteer Chaplain in the Civil Courthouse. No other such position existed in the nation. Chaplains in hospitals, thankfully yes. In the military, absolutely. In our prisons, affirmative. But in the divorce courts? Never. God would humble me, then surprise me with the adventure of a lifetime.
For over 19 years, NewDay Services has continued to work in the hallways of the Tarrant County Family Law Center, Courts and the Tarrant County Juvenile Justice/Detention Center. Today, under the guidance of Don Mansfield, Family Law Center Senior Chaplain/Advocate, NewDay offers spiritual guidance and support for families with children at both the Family Law Center and Juvenile Justice Center. Judges, seeing families in distress, now have some alternatives and can either court order or recommend our classes.
NewDay services for children and families 6816 Camp bowie blvd w., ste 112, fort worth, tx 76116