ST. CHARLES TOWNSHIP – When litigants, lawyers and defendants stream into the Kane County Judicial Center, if their court cases happen to be on a Wednesday morning, members of the Courtside Prayer Ministries stand on either side of the steps, quietly offering a moment of prayer.
The T in Courtside is drawn as a Christian cross.
The banner on their table asks, “Need Prayer?” in English and “Necesitas Oracion?” in Spanish and the table top is filled with Christian books such as “Jesus in the Courtroom,” pamphlets and devotionals – even a large print New Testament.
Mike and Celeste Lake of Glendale Heights and David Rak of Geneva, affiliated with the Trinity Vineyard Christian Fellowship in St. Charles, were among those on duty Oct. 23. They stood in the bright, cool autumn sunshine, smiling and friendly to all those who passed by – both coming and going.
“Will you have a word of prayer?” team leader Rak asked a man leaving the courthouse.
After a slight hesitation, the man said, “Sure, why not?”
The man asked that this would be his last time in court, so that is what Rak prayed for. It only took a few moments, and then he was on his way.
They don’t ask specifics or personal information, but a general topic that a person might want prayer support for – such as favor in the justice system, protection.
“My heart goes out to people that might need prayer because I need prayer,” Celeste Lake said. “When there is a special need like in a courtroom situation, where wisdom, and peace and understanding – we need the Lord so desperately that I am glad to be here to be able to pray with other people who might need it.”
Celeste Lake said sometimes an abused woman is coming in and the prayers are for justice, for the abuse to stop “and for the Lord’s protection. It’s simple.”
Three people came up to them this morning to ask for prayer support before they went in, Mike Lake said.
“People are going to this place because they’re in trouble,” Mike Lake said. “And they need help. And it’s God that helps them. And all we do is pray for them and ask God’s help for whatever their situation is. … They’re in kind of desperate situations.”
Rak said he is there to show God’s love in a practical way.
“In front of a courthouse, praying for people, is a very practical way to love them,” Rak said.
Court Side Ministries, which began in Colorado, now has prayer volunteers at more than 125 locations in 21 states, according to its website, courtsideministries.org.
In addition to the Kane County Judicial Center in St. Charles Township, prayer volunteers also go to courthouses in Belvidere, Bridgeview, Chicago, Decatur, DeKalb, Joliet, Freeport, Markham, Maywood, Mount Carroll, Oregon, Peoria Rockford, Rolling Meadows, Skokie, Waukegan and Wheaton.
“Every year, 30 million people are impacted by the legal system, many whom are facing financial, relational and spiritual ruin,” its website states. “ We believe the most important thing we can do is pray with and for people entering the courts, offering them the peace and wisdom that comes from being in the presence of the Lord.”