Hey friends, Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you all. It has been an incredible year, even in the midst of a global pandemic. We wanted to give you an idea of what we, Steps of Justice do as a non profit. Steps of Justice was founded on the belief that there is always something we can do in response to injustice, like poverty, homelessness and teen suicide to name a few.  We started by making awareness of some of these injustices, and then providing ways that regular people, like you and me, can bring change. 

One of the ways we do this is through trips. Phil has been taking teams over to Cambodia for the past 12 years, working alongside local Cambodians serving low income communities. We have been a part of house builds for the poor, water well projects and lots and lots of kids programs, talking about Jesus, sanitation and healthcare. We do this alongside local Cambodians, who are heavily invested in serving these communities. This year, through giving Tuesday, we were able to provide money for a Christmas party for the kids in one of the communities we work in, photo below. We will be taking a team back to Cambodia this June, you are welcome to join if you have interest. We will be working with local non profits, serving low income communities. Info is on our web site, www.stepsofjustice.org/go

Another thing we are a part of is serving the refugee community in San Diego, specifically the Syrian and Afghan communities. The injustice towards these communities from their own people is devastating, and many of them have come to the USA, specifically San Diego. Each year we have thrown a Christmas party for the refugee community, getting presents to all the kids, and gift cards for groceries to the moms and dads. This year, thanks to generous people like you, we were able to purchase gifts for Afghan kids for Christmas who have had to flee their country over the past months due to Taliban takeover. We do this to show Gods love to them, no strings attached. 

Finally, the kids and teens program. We are so honored to be able to serve teens and kiddos in Kalispell and Bigfork through this program. Some parents have asked how we have so much patience with all the kids that are coming. Well, in short, we feel invested in this program, and we see the value of it in the lives of kids, not just in the physical, but also in the emotional and mental. We see kids becoming strong leaders in the community, as they continue to grow in discipline, perseverance and the love of hard work. We see what will be, not just what is currently happening. This, and the fact that all of the kids coming are remarkable, which makes this program a success. 

Thank you for your investment in all of this, we pray you feel ownership in it. Your donations and prayers for us make all the above things possible, and your generosity goes far beyond what we can see with our own eyes. We pray you have a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. 

Merry Christmas,

Phil, Amy and the Steps of Justice Team. 

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Since quarantine began I have been running family fitness classes 2-3 days a week. I have been pursuing fitness for just over 15 months now, not because I like getting muscles (well, I kind of do), but because what I see it doing in my life and those around me who are pursuing fitness. Group fitness, specifically functional fitness, like CrossFit, produce vulnerability in people, which produces community.

This works because whey you are on the floor beside someone, trying to do your next push up, sweating and sore, it reveals a weakness. It reveals a weakness not that you are ashamed of, but that you want to overcome, without shame. When others see your weakness, or when you see theirs, it breaks down barriers and creates commonality. When this happens, I feel like I see in me, and others a place of connection, trust and community.

I have been running these family workouts, on Zoom, for the past two months, and love it. Three times a week we have 12-15 people on the screen, doing physical activity together. Kids, moms, dads all doing the same thing, and in many areas, the kids destroying the parents, which I love. I see this as a way of building strength (physically and socially) in families. I see it as a way of connection with kids and parents, and I see it as community building.

I would love to have you join us. We are on Zoom, Monday, Wednesday and Friday at 3:30pm- 4:15. Its free, it works and its fun, well not always fun, but worth it. Email me at phil@stepsofjustice.org to get in on it.


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In August of 2018 I started a journey with 120 (give or take) students from over 15 countries in the City Heights area of San Diego. City Heights is known for its diversity, poverty and culture. I have worked in this area of the city for the past three years, and I have learned more than I have ever taught. This community has formed me in my faith, my understanding of people and my belief in humanity.

Now, 10 months later, the year is coming to an end. Tonight, three students will graduate from the high school I am at, the first graduating class from City Heights Prep school. Yesterday we celebrated our 8th grade promotion, pictured above, which was also an amazing accomplishment for many of these students who come from broken, and disadvantaged homes.

I have seen students rise above their circumstances and achieve greatness. I have seen students push back on the cards that were dealt them, and win in so many areas of life. There is something special that happens when people believe in you and give you the motivation and the opportunity to succeed. Students in the worst of circumstances will rise up and become great when encouraged and pushed by someone who can see the other side and that getting there is possible.

I am proud of our students, and excited to see our three seniors walk the stage tonight to receive their high school graduation diploma.

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Last week someone asked me about the ministry I am involved in, meaning the non profit that I run. I spent the next few minutes telling her everything that I do, trying to make it sound as interesting and full as possible. I found myself getting lost in what I do, and not talking about who I am.

I have been a bit haunted by this over the past three days. It has caused me to really think about who I am as a person. I know what I do, because I do it every day, but what I do is not fully who I am, its just an outward reflection of who Philip Cunningham is.

So who am I? This is what I need to dig deep into again, because when I am no longer doing what I do, I want to still be ok with who I am. The things I know about myself are the basics. I am:

  • A husband
  • A father
  • A follower of Jesus

What I do is connected to these things, but somehow takes on its own identity, an identity that I have tried to promote for the past 25 years as a staff member with Youth With A Mission (YWAM) and Steps of Justice. When I write newsletters, I write to communicate to others what is happening in our lives. I also write to seek prayer and communicate the need for continued financial support, as that is how we raise funds. I rarely write about who we are, and so I find myself focussing more on what I do, and missing who I am.

Many of you have been following me for years, and you see what I do, which matters greatly, but here is who I am, outside of all the work I do with refugees, the poor and the vulnerable.

  • I love 80’s hair bands. I don’t buy the music anymore, but when Guns N Roses or AC/DC come on the radio, I turn it up to 11. I also like worship music, specifically old hymns done in new ways.
  • I love laughter and laughing with friends. A good friend is someone who can laugh with you when you are at your worst, helping you focus on the joy of life.
  • I cry easily when someone has a victory, or is unjustly treated.
  • I like making coffee. I like the process, the art and the feeling of turning a brown bean into a tasty drink in my cup.
  • I like exercise, and feeling like I am in control of my fitness.
  • I love getting up early (not sure when this happened, but it wasn’t when I was a teenager).
  • I love road trips.
  • I am a fixer. I am a 2 on Enneagram (the helper). I love helping others and being with others when they are hurting.
  • I am empathetic, and a man of faith. I have always had an extremely strong faith in Jesus, His provision, His word and his protection.
  • I am old, 47 to be exact.
  • I like being different, and not going with the flow. It’s not that I try to be this way, it’s just that trends seem to turn me off, and always have.
  • I like a clean/orderly house. I am slightly OCD about this, sorry Amy and kids.
  • I am anxious and slightly insecure (working on this or sure).
  • I am…

I don’t want to forget who I am, because if I do, one day I will wake up not doing what I do, and not knowing who I am. I want to laugh more, rest more, live more, love more, care more and be less anxious. I want to live the way God made me, and in that, I do the things I do, but also rest in the person that I am.

Last year I read “Kill The Spider” by Carlos Whittaker. I am realizing that the spider I need to kill is the finding my identity in what I do, and not in who I am. This spider is literally taking me down, as it is growing and growing, and I am having to do more and more to find satisfaction in who Phil Cunningham is, and this is not the fullness of life that God promised.

Today is a new day, a day where I get back to who I am. I am not going to change what I do, because it comes out of who I am, but I am no longer going to find my identity in it.

Here we go.

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In two days we will enter 2019, uhhhh, where did the year go? This year, I am not running into the new year with resolutions and start overs, but walking into it with the goal of continuing to be a better husband, dad, friend and follower.

Don’t get me wrong, I have goals, just not ones that are starting January 1st. Instead, I am going to continue being more faithful to the goals I currently have in my life. Goals like being more patient with my children, more kind to my wife, more committed to exercise and diet, and more faithful in my work.

I have noticed over the years that when I set goals that begin January 1, they usually fizzle out quickly. But, when I set goals to stay faithful to a good rhythm of life I usually hit those goals and stay true to them. Why, because I am not adding something that is not already there, but refining something that is already in my life.

I read, but I want to read more. I work out, but I want to be more consistent. I have kids, but I want to be a better dad, I have a wife, but I want to be a more loving husband, etc. I’m not saying that big, new goals are bad, I’m just pointing out that they do not work well for me.

See you in 2019.

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