February 2002

 

Who Needs An Advocate?

Advocates International's global network has been active since 1991 in promoting religious freedom and human rights, reconciliation and justice, ethics and the integration of faith and practice. Advocates' network links thousands of law professionals in over 100 nations, including those in 30 former or current communist nations and in over 80 nations where religious freedom and fundamental values are under attack. The following is a sampling of the countless ways Advocates' staff, Board and national colleagues are engaged globally. With few exceptions, the services were provided free of charge.

Religious Freedom Advocacy

  • When churches, orphanages, seminaries, church schools and radio stations in Albania, Bulgaria, Eritrea, France, Kazakhstan, Latvia, Mongolia, Nepal, Pakistan, Romania, South Africa, and Turkey faced closure, advocates intervened to keep them open.
  • When churches in Russia faced possible liquidation for failing to register properly, advocates intervened by preparing a CD kit with advice on how to register and keep their doors open.
  • When hundreds of Jesus film videos were confiscated at Mongolia's main airport, advocates successfully intervened with the customs officials for their release.
  • When churches and ministries sought to recover properties that had been confiscated during the communist era, advocates intervened in almost all affected nations.
  • When Albania's Constitutional Drafting Commission asked for assistance in drafting the provisions on religious freedom and the judiciary, advocates intervened.
  • When missionaries needed visas or were threatened with deportation, advocates intervened.
  • When the Union Bible Training Center in Ulan Bator, Mongolia, was shut down and fined $39,000, advocates successfully re-registered it and had the fine cancelled.
  • When the pastor of the Evangelical Congregational Church in Sophia, Bulgaria, after serving several years in prison, sought to get church properties back that had been confiscated under communism, advocates intervened and all the properties were eventually returned.
  • When the U.N. embargo on Haiti grounded all flights to the island, advocates intervened to get medical missionary planes back in the air.
  • When advocacy at the U.N. was needed on behalf of persecuted believers to protect their right to speak at the U.N. Commission on Human Rights in Geneva, advocates provided that voice.

Helping Persecuted Believers

  • When a Pakistani Christian was sentenced to be hanged in for violating the "Blasphemy Law," advocates intervened by meeting directly with the Chief Justice to discuss the general applicability of the law to believers. Some months later, the man was freed.
  • When meeting with the General Secretary of China's Religious Affairs Bureau, advocates obtained a helpful clarification - that was published - that home bible studies need not register.
  • When 15 Greek Pentecostals were indicted for "proselytizing," advocates intervened successfully as lead defense counsel and expert witness.
  • When Bartholomew II, the Ecumenical Patriarch of the Eastern Orthodox Church, asked for help to reopen a seminary closed by the Turkish government in 1973, advocates intervened.
  • When Saudi Arabia threatened to decapitate two Filipino Christians for holding home Bible studies and services, advocates joined others in persuading the Saudis to send them home.
  • When Israeli officials threatened to deport three Messianic Jewish sisters back to Ethiopia a network of advocates intervened to prevent the deportations.
  • When persecuted believers needed their stories told at the U.N. Human Rights Commission, advocates spoke for them.

    Training and Equipping Lawyers, Judges and Law Schools

  • When the Supreme Courts of Albania, Armenia and Mongolia wanted to hold judicial conferences, advocates intervened. Albanian judges received their first-ever robes when advocates "converted" 180 Presbyterian choir robes hanging in U.S. closets to judicial robes.
  • When the Rule of Law Institutes in Bulgaria and Mongolia needed office space, advocates help them acquire facilities. The Mongolian move also benefited a clinic for the blind poor.
  • When lawyers in several nations wanted to launch national Christian fellowship groups, advocates encouraged the efforts and often provided seed money. Advocates provided funds for nearly 1,000 lawyers worldwide to attend global and regional conferences on religious liberty, conflict resolution, and the integration of faith and practice.
  • When law schools in several former and current communist nations needed law books, advocates intervened.

Helping the Most Vulnerable

  • When street children in Kenya were denied education and jobs because they did not have the necessary identity cards, advocates acted to insure that all children could have the cards.
  • When the first unrestricted abortion-on-demand challenges in South Africa and South America surfaced, advocates intervened and derailed the initial efforts.
  • When an AIDS babies' hospice in South Africa was about to be evicted and closed, advocates intervened and got the lease extended on even better terms.
  • When thousands of Russian prisoners needed legal aid, medicines, chapels and religious materials, advocates intervened. Advocates helped reduce over 900 years in sentences.
  • When the Bulgarian Ministry of Justice planned to bar all adoptions of orphans by Americans, advocates intervened and kept the door open for hundreds of adoptions.
  • When individuals without representation were convicted in death penalty cases, advocates in Kenya, Pakistan, Russia and Uganda provided legal aid. In Russia, several advocates helped get a moratorium on all executions because of the lack of representation in many cases.
  • When two Albanian Supreme Court Justices from Muslim traditions needed laser surgery in the U.S. to cure their blindness, advocates intervened in helping restore their sight.
  • When the President of Albania in 1995 planned to jail the Chief Justice for promoting the rule of law, advocates helped the Chief Justice and his family immigrate to the U.S. and later employed him to help draft provisions to a proposed Constitution.
  • When Nepal's Prime Minister asked for medical assistance to help 8,000 refugees, advocates provided the legal work needed to enable the visit of 110 U.S. doctors and nurses.
  • When a young Mongolian Christian lawyer needed $3,000 for serious dental and medical care to prevent irreparable heart damage, advocates intervened by finding a benefactor.
  • When an Albanian diplomat needed major dental care that had caused two-year's constant pain - which would cost $7,000 - advocates intervened and the dental work was done free.