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The Lord’s Gym

December 28, 2014

Let me share with you a letter I recently received from Peter Hileman, Esq. Pete is the Executive Director of Christian Legal Clinics of Philadelphia, a volunteer organization near and dear to my heart.

“Dear Anna,

I thought you might enjoy hearing a story about ‘The Lord’s Gym’, a court case I handled last month…

It was pouring rain. Cars flew by, splashing me with water. I had taken the subway to Center City and was hurrying the four blocks to make sure I arrived early for the 2pm hearing before the Zoning Hearing Board. I found the courtroom, went in, and waited…

Twenty years ago, [the Kensington Community Church] purchased a rundown row house across the street and fixed it up as an outreach for men in the community. For two decades it has been a refuge for those who struggled with addiction, a place they could go to stay straight and find a Christian mentor. It was known simply as ‘The Lord’s Gym.’ In an area that has so many bad things happening, I wondered why the officer [who had issued a citation against the gym] would choose to shut down one of the good things.

[Pastor] Ruben did the best he could to solve this legal problem himself, as the church couldn’t afford an attorney. He had fought the citation and lost. He applied for a variance, which had been denied, and he appealed. He went to a hearing unrepresented in this same courtroom a month earlier and they told him to come back with an attorney. Ruben heard about the legal clinic and called us. People at the church and in the community were praying that the gym would stay open. Ruben brought a petition with hundreds of names on it [and Hector who is confined to a wheelchair].

Hector made a compelling witness. He described the gym, how it worked, and the men they had helped. A local official told the board that the church was a beacon of light in that broken community. The judges were moved. So was I. We won the appeal!”

This is poverty law. Many have never even heard of it. But lawyers in this field are the last resort for those with no other place to turn.

We seldom make much money, relying on the reduced salaries of government funded legal aid positions, donations and a few meager grants (if we work at non-profits), and the occasional private case to make ends meet.

Not exactly the picture the public has of lawyers, is it?

Yet Christian lawyers have even more to offer clients. We have the Word and the love of God. We have hope eternal.

At this festive season and throughout the New Year, please, remember Christian legal clinics across the country, and poverty lawyers of every stripe in your prayers. And, please, remember Pete.

Donations to Christian Legal Clinics of Philadelphia are always welcome. These can be made at

More about The Lord’s Gym can be found on Facebook at



  1. God bless you in 2015 for the good work you’re doing, Anna 🙂 ♥ ❤
    I've pinned this noteworthy post @

    • Thank you so much, Jackie! I hardly deserve the compliment, but definitely appreciate it. Thank you for pinning the post to Pinterest. I am, as they say, technologically challenged. A toaster can intimidate me. Just one of many shortcomings (LOL). Thank you again. And have a blessed New Year!

      • And a blessed New Year to you too, Anna!
        Some toasters can be tricky, though 😉 And any post with a picture can be pinned. I’ve pinned this to my board + 2 community boards, where it’s been re-pinned 10 times 😀 ♥ ❤

      • Wow!! I’ll have to call you when I need help w/ my toaster, too. :O)

  2. heehee… okay, but I’ve been known to have burnt a slice or two of toast 😉 ♥ ❤

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