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The dark clouds of war weigh heavy. We are deeply concerned about events as they move toward a possible war in the Middle East. Our colleagues in the region - as well as those within the greater 10/40 Window - often serve as advocates for many of the most vulnerable. Some fear the consequences that may flow once the shooting starts.
We ask for your prayers on behalf of these advocates and their families. They pray daily for one another. Each week Advocates International e-mails a Prayer Calendar reaching hundreds of colleagues in nearly 100 nations with their requests. In addition, each regional network - Africa, Asia, Europe and Latin America - has its own Prayer Calendar sharing the needs within the region. We know that God answers prayer and that "the gates of hell will not prevail against the building of My Church." These truths keep our small band of advocates pressing on to the goal "to win the prize for which God has called" us.
The Global Network Report gives an overview of the challenges we face and our strategy. I hope it will encourage you. On the last page is the global leadership team, including our current Board and staff. I believe that we have "the best team money can't buy."
Fifty years ago this month, our family moved from Sweden to the United States. I was eight years old. It was the beginning of a wonderful adventure. Day by Day was the farewell song the small congregation sang at the train station in Stockholm. It's been a favorite ever since:
Day by day and with each passing moment,
Strength I find to meet my trials here.
Trusting in my Father's wise bestowment,
I've no cause for worry or for fear.
I cling to those words at this pivotal time, as we continue...
Living in His-Story,
Samuel E. Ericsson
Founder & President
P.S. Advocates in Action shares some recent network highlights. Thank you for enabling us to encourage and equip this network to be salt and light at this key moment in His-Story.
The Global Network Report
Developing Leadership to Strengthen the Rule of Law,
Civil Society, Religious Freedom and Professional Ethics
THE THREE-FOLD CHALLENGE: Advocates International was launched in 1991 envisioning a global network of law professionals and national leaders committed to strengthening the rule of law, civil society, religious freedom and the integration of faith and profession. By 2003 the network linked 30,000 lawyers on six continents engaged in issues ranging from religious persecution, judicial independence and prison reform to orphanages, street children and legal aid. Three major challenges make this network a necessity:
1. The Collapse of Communism: When the Berlin Wall fell in 1989 and the Soviet Union collapsed two years later, many leaders proclaimed "the window is open" for religious freedom and democracy. But they warned "the window may close again." The window was simply a metaphor for law. What had been illegal under decades of communism had suddenly become legal. The fear that societies might be closed again through law demanded a response.
2. The Clash of Civilizations: Scholars foresaw what was later called a "clash of civilizations" as one of the great challenges facing the world in the 21st Century. Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, Judaism, Secularism and other traditions appeared to be on a collision course with Christianity and each other. Hardening fault lines among the world's major religions created a need for networking among law professionals. The "clash" is rooted in religious intolerance. It may lead to the next global world war and poses as great a threat to Western civilization in the 21st Century as totalitarianism and the Cold War did in the 20th. This war will not be won with bullets, bombs or ballistic missiles, but the rule of law and networking will play a crucial role.
3. The Corrosion of Ethics: The corrosion of ethical and moral norms on all continents and the embrace of secular relativism and materialism had become endemic. The unbridled corruption permeating all spheres of society and the breakdown of the family calls for lawyers to be salt and light and to use law as a tool to strengthen ethical and moral standards on every continent.
THE THREE-PRONGED STRATEGY: Ongoing religious persecution, terrorism and rampant corruption demonstrate that Advocates' mission is as relevant today as it was in 1991. To achieve its mission, Advocates seeks the practical application in public policy and individual practice of the Golden Rule - also called the Good Neighbor Rule - a principle embraced by most major faith traditions. The Rule often provides the crucial common ground and first step in dialogue with government officials and religious leaders. Advocates strategy has been to:
1. Identify Local "Innkeepers": The Good Samaritan parable by Jesus provides a powerful practical illustration of the Golden Rule in a cross-cultural and interfaith setting. In that story, the Samaritan, a member of a group despised by the Jews in Jesus' day, brought the robbed and battered victim, presumably a Jew, to a local innkeeper for care. Advocates identifies as its "innkeepers" within any nation those lawyers who have the licenses, languages, and contacts to advance religious freedom, justice and reconciliation. They are positioned to serve those in need, whether presidents, pastors or prisoners. Unlike foreign advocates, who inevitably must return home - and may not even be welcome - local "innkeepers" can't "go back home" because they are home.
2. Bloom Where You're Planted: Advocates encourages law professionals to hold meetings and get organized locally in the city or town where they live. From there, they can expand their circle of influence by linking with similar groups nationally, as well as across cultural and national borders. By 2003 law professionals have organized in at least 70 nations and have built relationships across cultural and national boundaries on every continent.
3. Multi-tiered Networking: Advocates has helped launch networks on each continent, as well as within regions on each continent and groups at the national and local levels.
THE IMPACT: Today Advocates network reaches 30,000 law professionals locally, nationally, regionally and globally linking 135 nations. There are "innkeepers" engaged in 30 former and present communist nations, as well as in more than 70 nations where religious freedom is a major concern.
ENABLING SIX CONTINENTAL NETWORKS: In 1998, Advocates held its first International Convocation bringing together 50 lawyers from five continents for ten days to build relationships and discuss how to be salt and light locally and globally. The impact on all participants was so powerful that Advocates chose to hold annual Convocations and now have over 300 Convocation alumni. In 1998, we also launched our first regional association, the African Christian Lawyers Network, which now links 10,000 lawyers and judges in 28 African nations. Similar networks have been established in Asia, Australia, Europe, North and South America. Each continent has a self-governing council that directs regional agendas. Advocates staff does not supervise or control regional activities but facilitate linking law professionals nationally, regionally and globally. In 2001, Advocates began holding conferences on each continent. In 2002 nearly 1,500 lawyers participated in six continental conferences. More than 70% of the costs for these conferences were funded from sources within the region.
ENCOURAGING 20 REGIONAL NETWORKS WITHIN THE CONTINENTS: Each continental network is organizing regional networks within the continent that will facilitate cooperation on issues impacting religious freedom, human rights, conflict resolution and the integration of faith and practice. The emerging regional networks include:
* AFRICA (10,000 lawyers linked through six networks): 1) West Africa; 2) East Africa; 3) Southern Africa; 4) Central French-speaking Africa; 5) Francophone West Africa; 6) Horn of Africa and North Africa.
* ASIA & AUSTRALASIA (2,500 lawyers linked through five networks): 1) East Asia; 2) Pacific Region; 3) South Asia; 4) Central Asia; 5) Middle East.
* EUROPE (2,500 lawyers linked through five networks): 1) Southern & Central Europe; 2) Northern Europe; 3) Western Europe; 4) Eastern Europe.
* THE AMERICA'S (18,000 lawyers linked through four networks): 1) Central America; 2) South America; 3) The Caribbean; 4) North America.
EQUIPPING 70 NATIONAL FELLOWSHIPS: In 1991 there were three countries - Canada, the United Kingdom and the United States - where lawyers from various Christian traditions were organized to address religious freedom and related issues in the courts, the legislatures and before government agencies. Today 70 nations (those highlighted below) have active or emerging groups addressing these issues. In most cases, Advocates was the catalyst to get these groups organized.
* AFRICA (20 National Fellowships): Benin, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Cote d'Ivoire, Democratic Republic of Congo, Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Gambia, Ghana, Kenya, Lesotho, Liberia, Mali, Namibia, Nigeria, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Sudan, Swaziland, Tanzania, Togo, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
* ASIA & AUSTRALIA (16 National Fellowships): Australia, Azerbaijan, Burma, Cambodia, China, India, Indonesia, Japan, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Malaysia, Marshall Islands, Mongolia, Nepal, New Zealand, Pakistan, Papua New Guinea, Philippines, South Korea, Sri Lanka, Taiwan, Tajikistan, Thailand, Tonga, Turkey and Vietnam.
* EUROPE (18 National Fellowships): Albania, Armenia, Belarus, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Holland, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Macedonia, Moldova, Norway, Poland,Portugal,Romania, Russia, Scotland, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Ukraine and United Kingdom.
* THE AMERICAS (20 National Fellowships): Antigua, Argentina, Barbados, Belize, Bolivia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Columbia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Jamaica, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Trinidad, United States, Uruguay, Venezuela.
By connecting advocates within a region and around the globe, Advocates helps innkeepers draw on each other's expertise. In 2002 the Advocates network was active in religious liberty challenges in over 70 nations, including 30 former and present communist nations.
THE PARTNERS: Advocates International works with several global networks including: Institute for Global Engagement, founded by the first U.S. Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom, Robert Seiple; Prison Fellowship International; International Justice Mission; International Center for Religion & Diplomacy; Jubilee Campaign; Peacemaker Ministries; World Evangelical Alliance's Religious Liberty Commission and First Step Forum, bothdirected by Advocates' Board member, Johan Candelin;U.S. Commission for International Religious Freedom; and the Helsinki Commission of the U.S. Congress.