What does that even mean? It is a cumbersome name for an organization and it doesn’t say much about what we do. As a concept, JUSTICE has many possible interpretations ranging from the sacred to the secular. As a word, it conveys presumed political affiliations and worldviews. Add social to it and you would be placed in a box to the left.
And what about NEIGHBORS…are we talking about the people we see taking their recycling curbside (pardon the middle-class bias) as we wave half-heartedly. Do these people make up our community or are they just those we live near? Waxing philosophically, we ask ourselves who is our neighbor as we reflect on Dr. King’s admonition that injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere (for everyone).
OUR is another fine word and begs further exploration. It cannot be a reference to the staff and volunteers and not even to the social location in which the offices reside. It must be broader than that because we seek to serve people from way beyond that orbit. When we say “our” it feels like it should be both all CAPS and all-encompassing.
Nothing about this name is small and FOR is no exception. In fact, FOR may be the most critical word. It suggests the outward focus of our ministry. We seek justice understood as right-relationship for those who have known only wrong relationship. Whether with their government, with trans-national criminal organizations, with their families or with economic and environmental forces beyond their control…the people we serve as clients have not enjoyed life-giving right-relationship from any imaginable institution that many of us take for granted.
The fact that there are people who are FOR them, unconditionally, is the first balm of healing for many. In fact, as tragic as many of their stories are–and they really are tragic compared to the comfortable lives many of us take for granted–many will not find relief through our fragmented immigration system. San Antonio Region Justice For Our Neighbors seeks relief for all those who entrust themselves to our care, but many simply are not eligible. They are all eligible to enjoy right-relationship defined as unconditional positive regard (aka agape love) as they pursue immigration relief. This may seem like the consolation prize, but in fact, consolation in the midst of desolation is the very essence MINISTRY in the way of Jesus.