NOGALES, Ariz. (BP)–When Jan Smith Florez served as county attorney, law officers who needed her on Sundays stopped by Nogales (Ariz.) Southern Baptist Church. They’d learned that Florez reserved that day for God and her church.
“I am a strong proponent of not being afraid of speaking about my Christian beliefs,” says Florez, now a judge on the Arizona Court of Appeals in Tucson.
Acknowledging her work makes her a “high-profile” person, Florez nevertheless contends, “I make no bones about my Christian walk.” Instead, she tries to integrate Christianity into her lifestyle in such a way that others notice — with measurable results.
Florez teaches a women’s Bible study on Saturday afternoons at her church, a bilingual congregation where she is a charter member.
The small group, averaging eight to 10 each week, consists mainly of women who are not church members and is an “outreach effort,” as Florez describes it. She has personally led about half of these women to the Lord, she says, while others have renewed their relationships with God.
In addition, her concern over juvenile crime a few years ago led her to found Mi Nueva Casa, a safe house for Mexican juveniles living in the sewers of Nogales.
Crimes committed by these young “throwaways,” who take refuge in the tunnels bordering Nogales, had increased. Challenged by a colleague, Florez called together many of her political friends, received state funding and established the safe house.
Now privately funded, Mi Nueva Casa provides education, clothing, food and medical attention for the kids.
Florez’s advice on witnessing is simple. “I believe in being sensitive to the Holy Spirit,” she explains. “When people say things you can use to open the door to the gospel, don’t pass those things by. Say something. If you’re faithful to the Holy Spirit, he’s faithful to his job description” and will bring people across a Christian’s path to witness to.
Writing notes is an effective means of witness for a busy person, Florez has found. She sends out five to 10 notes a week.
There are, she says, “a lot of misconceptions out there” about Christianity, and unbelievers usually have higher standards for Christians than they do for themselves.
“My philosophy is: Don’t be afraid to speak up and do your best to live a life that non-Christians expect,” Florez says.
Jude is a freelance writer and member of Mountain View Baptist Church, Tucson.