By Justin Barker – Take a walk downtown Martinez on any weekday morning, and you will see firsthand the American justice system at work. Attorney’s briskly walking from one meeting to the next; citizens reporting for jury duty; Sheriff’s deputies escorting inmates and securing the courthouses; and perhaps a couple of news vans to report the latest developments of a high-profile case.
But one sight that may be overlooked is a small booth with a banner that reads a simple message: “Need Prayer?” The booth is operated by “Courtside Ministries”- Martinez Chapter, a prayer focused ministry, wherein volunteers offer prayer to anyone who is in some way involved in the court system.
Mind you, in law, the term “prayer” is defined as the specific request for judgment, relief and/or damages at the conclusion of a complaint or petition. A typical prayer would read: “The plaintiff prays for 1) special damages in the sum of $17,500; 2) general damages according to proof [proved in trial]; 3) reasonable attorney’s fees; 4) costs of suit; and 5) such other and further relief as the court shall deem proper.” A prayer gives the judge an idea of what is sought and may become the basis of a judgment if the defendant defaults.
However, Courtside Ministries prayers is spiritual. It is spearheaded by Martinez resident Ronald “Ronnie” Redmond, who started the Martinez Chapter in February 2017. Redmond is not a professional Pastor, as one would imagine. Rather, his full-time job is in the custodial services industry. “No, I am not a Pastor. I’m a servant for God and I serve everywhere I go,” he explained.
The goal of this ministry is to provide those individuals who find themselves involved in the court system with spiritual comfort, and to provide them with a sense of hope during whatever challenges they may be facing. Redmond was inspired to start the Martinez chapter after learning of the Richmond, CA chapter. By coincidence, the organization was founded and is based in Chicago, Illinois- Redmond’s hometown.
“We have Courtside Prayer on every-other Tuesday of the month from 8:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. The people who come out and are a part of Courtside Prayer consist of different churches in Martinez: Morello Hills Christian Church; Creekside Church; First Baptist Church, The Father’s House; and other people who want to pray for people who need, or want, or allow us to pray for them.” Redmond shared.
Although a Christian ministry, the ministry serves people of all faiths and cultural backgrounds.
Redmond explained his most rewarding moments are to see that the prayers he and his team provide offer hope to those who had none. When asked what his end goal was, Redmond replied, “I don’t have a goal set, but my desire is to be pleasing to God.”
Martin Cortez, a member of Morello Hills Christian Church -Martinez has participated in the ministry for the past three years.
“I liked the idea of praying with people who needed it. There are a wide variety of people we serve outside the courthouses. It’s predominantly people going in and out to meet with lawyer or judge, or to be part of a trial, but I have also prayed with police officers and lawyers,” Cortez told me. “Prayers outside the jail are often for someone visiting their loved one, so we tend to pray for the person in jail. Prayers outside the superior court are usually for people stressed out with a trial. Many times, people are being sued by their own family and we pray for their relationships. Prayers outside the family court are mostly for single parents fighting for custody of their children. I’ve found that these are usually the most distraught individuals, who really appreciate the prayer we provide. Over the years, I’ve prayed for many individuals going through a divorce. However, just a few weeks ago a couple came out of the courthouse who were having their restraining order removed, and who had reconciled. It was great to be able to lift up a thankful prayer and to see the joy in this couple.”
Emphasizing the true interdenominational spirit of this ministry, Cortez explained, “When people ask what church Courtside is from, it’s great to be able to tell them that we are almost all from different churches.”
To become involved or to learn more about Courtside Prayer, contact Ronald “Ronnie” Redmond at