…where to begin?
I’m not much for blogging. Not that I don’t like reading informative material in whatever form, but it took me long enough to care about what a blog was…and this major life change to even consider writing one.
Add to it the fact that I’m starting a blog so far into this journey, and the title may become self-explanatory. I am truly at a loss where to begin. So maybe an introduction…
I’m Marcus Campbell. I practiced law for 12 years, then left the practice for preaching school, where I met Priestley Nkhonjera. He was a brother from Malawi focused on starting a preaching school back home, and after finishing preaching school he did just that. In school though, we had the chance to preach together, exchange feedback, and occasionally minister together. Preaching often gets confused with ministry, but when I say minister I mean going beyond words to actually meet someone’s immediate needs.
Anyway, as we generally exchanged advice, he would drop hints as to how I could take a style of preaching that was more “courtroom”, and make it “village.” He was helping me to shore up a blind spot.
See, in speaking to juries I had already let go of one layer of crippling academic jargon. Juries don’t go to law school; thus they don’t speak lawyer. (Of course an occasional lawyer finds their way onto a jury. But I tried cases before juries for a good 6 of my 12 years in litigation, and might have seated 3 lawyers on a jury…ever.) Most of my first year in the practice was spent in the comforts of motion practice though, winning a fair amount by speaking lawyer to judges—and avoiding deep water: jury bias. My second year, on the other hand, was generally spent drowning.
I learned to swim when a group of older defense lawyers – who had learned how to win – helped me understand how to speak to “normal” people again. They helped me lose the subtle swagger I had picked up around “college” egos even more inflated than my own. Even as I hated much of what higher education represented, it exposed the foul parts of me that resembled it. You don’t generally pick up lawyer speak unless, on some level, it appeals to you. So on some level it appealed to me; higher ed simply magnified it. The old saying was true: you lie down with dogs, you get fleas. I brought my own to college, where they simply got worse.
In my second year out of law school they landed me in the school of hard knocks. However the veterans at my second trial school gave me hope, because they had something that higher ed simply hasn’t effectively replicated: battle scars.
I think that I was always relatively eager to listen. But by the end of my second year I had enough scars of my own that I was now desperate to hear…and there’s a difference.
Years of seeing lives broken by the fiction that jury trials often become tends to scrape away pretense. It provokes a sort of fight or flight response. Some run to the comfort of excuses—simply lamenting the impossibility of the criminal justice system. Others dig in and find a way to win. Just after my second year, the “others” found me…and thank God they did.
How is a story for a different time, but it’s enough to say that they found me at a time when I was scarred and desperate to hear—then they helped me learn to speak to Americans of every background. Priestley, however, was reminding me that the world extends far beyond America’s diversity.
Speaking to the village would stretch me even further than speaking to the streets. At the time I had no interest in speaking to the village, but I believe that he saw the possibilities—and now, so do I…
So there it is: your introduction. Over time I hope to overcome my technological struggles—and make this a place where people interested in this journey can get updates, give feedback, and generally follow the progress of my efforts to teach at Malawi’s International Bible Institute (MIBI).
So if you’ve got any tips, please don’t be shy, and hopefully you’ll enjoy following our progress…