Wednesday, May 7, 2014
Justice and the God of Justice who knows me as a friend
HTB member and conference participant, Senior Treasury Counsel Bobbie Cheema QC
Jesus said: “…I have called you friends…”
FROM WITNESSES yesterday, to another law court role, that of counsel. Monday was the first day of the HTB Leadership Conference, described in an article on the HTB website under the typically understated title Nicky and Pippa welcome thousands to LC14.
In the morning there was an interview with HTB member Bobbie Cheema QC who is a Senior Treasury Counsel specialising in cases of homicide, terrorism, fraud and corruption at the Central Criminal Court, Old Bailey.
Bobbie spoke of her childhood, brought up as a Sikh in Leeds, and how she became a Christian through a tent mission in a park near where she lived run by a local GP (family doctor) where she heard about a faith that was about a choice to be made, not a culturally-based religion. She chose Jesus.
She gained a place to read law at Kings College, London, and was called to the bar and worked her way up this male-dominated profession, part of a team specialising in both prosecuting and defending difficult and often high-profile cases. She cited as a personal influence the jurist and legal reformer Sir Matthew Hale, a Puritan Christian of the 17th century who was noted for his resistance to bribery and manipulation: “I serve under God”.
HTB vicar Nicky Gumbel, a former barrister himself, asked her how she upheld her faith and the demands of rigorous cross-examination in court.
She said: “I go to work early. And I pray. My prayer starts simply with: ‘Here I am’.”
She spoke of having a privileged life and role, and her desire to be a person full of truth and justice, cross examining to reveal the truth that allows justice. She pointed out that the court was a place where prayer was upheld – every jury, of whatever faith or none, must start its proceedings with a prayer, a declaration, making promises to carry out its duty before God.
She said that she set out to apply three principles: clarity of thought and expression, in the way that Jesus was really clear in what He said in just a few sentences; honouring others on the legal team and allowing them opportunities; and fearlessness in tackling really difficult cases. She had used these principles in a different call in past years, helping to lead a radical church plant based in Soho – she mentioned that some of those rescued at that time, who had found new life in Jesus, were now influential people in their own right, leading churches outside London.
“You are My friends if you do what I command you” (John 15:14) – Bobbie’s challenge and example to us was about being not simply a hearer, but a doer of the word, wherever God has placed us.