Seeking Shalom in Dallas: Alumna Lauren Hunskor Serving at Advocates for Community Transformation (Act)

hunskor alumna

"Over the past year, my own faith has grown watching how Christ equips and moves people towards shalom, towards the making right of all things in all ways in His eyes," says alumni Lauren Hunskor who serves as a program administrator with Advocates for Community Transformation (Act) in Dallas. "Trusting that God truly sees and hears our cries when we call out to Him is such a difficult thing in the light of suffering, but that is exactly what He asks us to believe. As I find myself trusting Him in this way more and more every day, it has benefited me to see the threads of glory that He has woven through seemingly impossible situations. The circumstances of our casework illuminate my own need daily, and it has been quite the uncomfortable joy to be confronted with that conviction in the workplace."

For over a decade, Act has been providing pro bono legal resources and equipping neighbors who live near drug houses in DFW to take legal action through the civil justice system. Lauren’s specific role is to provide support to attorneys by obtaining and synthesizing the case records while communicating with clients and partner law firms.

"By holding the owners of properties accountable for illegal, dangerous, and disruptive activities, it is our hope to disrupt the systemic underpinnings in neighborhoods that suffer the ill effects of drug trafficking," she says. "Many of our clients and their families live in fear because of the constant threat from the violence and drug activity as close as next door. Act provides tools directly into the hands of everyday people who are courageous enough to engage in the work of correcting the injustice and violence on their streets." 

Lauren’s connection to Act started years ago as a DBU student when a passion was ignited in her that years later became an opportune answer to prayer. "During my sophomore year at DBU, the founder and CEO of Act, Reid Porter, spoke during a chapel service on Act’s mission. I was inspired by his message of bringing hope into difficult places. I kept an Act business card on my desk for years as a reminder to think critically, love deeply, and equip myself to be an advocate for justice. As I transitioned from one job to another in my undergraduate career over a period of three years, the business card would transition with me as I continued to pray and learn about the tension in the believer of hungering for mercy and justice simultaneously."

Lauren graduated from DBU in 2022 with a major in Politics, Philosophy, and Economics and a minor in Biblical Studies. "Each course in the PPE program aligns the mystery of God’s goodness in a broken world and the call to action for those who walk with Him, both personally and civically. As Act’s work is both theologically motivated and practically focused, the alignment between what I had the opportunity to study at DBU and how that education has translated into my current work is a personal witness to how Jesus uses every detail for our good and his glory."

Lauren was also a founding leader of the service sorority Chi Theta Alpha, which focuses on serving the first responders of DFW, active duty military, and veterans. "Through the continued discipleship and encouragement from the women around me, we worked to serve, encourage, and pray for people in these roles, knowing that they would have access to some of the darkest moments of people’s lives. As chaplain for one year, and president for another, it was my joy to watch the women deeply care for the day to day living of others, and seek to follow Jesus in his exhortation to love God and love one’s neighbor. Now through my work at Act, bearing witness to our clients’ testimonials has assured me of the importance of praying for wisdom in moments of fear and darkness and equipping everyone we can to face these occasions with courage and care for their neighbors."

Prayer has sustained Act’s mission of justice through the day-to-day challenges of transforming that noble mission into a reality. "Legal casework is complicated and takes the alignment of many stakeholders working together. It takes pulling information and evidence from many people and various agencies, then synthesizing all those records to build a winning case. To successfully shut down a drug house, our team of community advocates must first develop relationships with potential clients, hearing their lived experiences, and encouraging them that they are not alone in the endeavor for peace. At the same time, our team of attorneys and program administrators work to walk alongside our clients and partner firms, building cases all to ultimately bring peace to the streets our clients reside on. While each resolution looks different depending on whether the property owner is involved in the illegal activity, merely a landlord, or a relative of the drug dealer, the effect on the neighborhood is the same - the criminal activity stops and there is peace."

With trust and patience, Act’s hope has certainly not been disappointed but has borne fruit in significant social transformation. Lauren shares that over the last 14 years, Act has shut down over 220 drug houses and represented over 375 residents! "Hope is catching, and seeing God move through the hands and lips of people committed to peace on earth, peace in our city, illuminates the optimistic ‘what ifs’ in residents minds and hearts when considering what justice looks like on their street. It takes a city hopeful to see a city healed, and it is our aim that every person involved in our casework gets to see and experience that hope." 

Lauren welcomes anyone with a similar interest or passion to come alongside Act and learn more about the city that DBU calls home. Opportunities include signing up for a drive-through neighborhood visit with Act staff in South Oak Cliff or South or in becoming a Justice Partner and aid in equipping staff to provide pro bono legal services through monthly donations.

"While our attorneys, advocates, and court systems do the best they can on earth, God has the final verdict of justice and mercy," she says, and as one of her coworkers has reminded her: "These are not our streets, these are Jesus’ streets."

Written by Dr. Michael Whiting

Dr. Michael Whiting is the Director of Written Content in University Communications at Dallas Baptist University.