February 2006

 

February 2006

Dear Friend,

As part of the January newsletter, I shared several messages from Asia including a letter by a Christian law student from Hanoi, Vietnam, signed by three Vietnamese. I assumed that they were all law students, but I was wrong. One of the signers was Dai, a practicing lawyer in Hanoi, who attended our 2000 and 2004 Global Convocations as well as several Advocates Asia conferences. The day after we sent the January newsletter to the printer, Dai called me. He was in Falls Church, Virginia! Unbeknownst to us, Dai was visiting Washington, DC, as a guest of several groups. A co/incident in His-Story!

During several meetings with Dai, he shared the exciting progress among the handful of Christian lawyers and law students in Vietnam , a country of nearly 80 million people. Dai attends a Christian & Missionary Alliance Church in Hanoi with 500 members. He is a leading advocate in Vietnam on behalf of ministries and persecuted believers. The Asia and AI networks are invaluable resources for Dai in encouraging him and his colleagues. The police tail Dai regularly, but his affiliation with us provides an important umbrella of protection. We have strengthened our ties with Dai and his colleagues to help them be salt and light in a culture that can be hostile.

A few days ago, I received year-end reports from Teresa Conradie, President of Advocates Africa, and Elizabeth de Larios, President of Advocates Latin America. Teresa is an acting judge in South Africa. Elizabeth is a lawyer in Guatemala whose husband is the former Chief Justice. We are thrilled at the progress and growing cooperation among the extensive networks in Africa and Latin America. As is true on all continents, our role is primarily to facilitate networking and communications. Each continent sets its own agenda and chooses its leadership. The overarching vision that links all of us is to bear witness of Jesus Christ through the legal profession. The specifics of how this is done are up to each region.

We thank God for the enthusiasm, professionalism and witness of our regional staff, Bayo Akinlade for Africa and Nina Balmaceda for Latin America. We could not ask for better servant leaders. Our role is to provide the resources Bayo and Nina need to effectively help their regions get the job done while…

Living in His-Story,

Samuel E. Ericsson
Founder & President

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REPORT OF 2005 ACTIVITIES AND FUTURE PLANS
OF
ADVOCATES AFRICA

24 January 2005

Samuel E Ericsson
President & CEO
Advocates International
8001 Braddock Road Suite 300
SpringfieldVirginia22151-2110
United States of America

Dear Sam –

On behalf of the board and all of the member countries of Advocates Africa, I would like to thank you once again for your commitment to the network of Christian lawyers in Africa. I am thrilled to report that 2005 was a landmark year for Advocates Africa. This is primarily due to the following:

  • The 6th Biennial Convocation of Advocates Africa was held in South Africa from 12 – 16 October. There were 21 African countries represented amongst the 162 delegates. (This represents almost half of the member countries of the African Union!) Several of these nations attended the Africa conference for the first time, including: Mozambique, Tanzania, Malawi, Swaziland, Mali, Cameroon and Botswana.
  • The delegates at the conference ratified and adopted the newly drafted constitution of Advocates Africa. This document provides the basis for future growth and development of the organization.
  • The first Board members and executives were elected. This consists of two persons from each region: Southern Africa, East Africa, West Africa and Francophone Africa, plus two from Kenya which is the host country for the 2007 conference. As yet no North African countries (most are Muslim) are represented in the continental network.
  • Conference papers included very significant presentations on religious freedom, legal ethics, legal aid for the poor and economic justice. Discussions were also held on constitutional development and judicial independence. The relevance of these issues to the realities of countries in Africa was raised and discussed.
  • The final outcome was that for the next two years the head office of Advocates Africa will be in Pretoria from where the operations of the fledgling organization will be run. Terms of reference for the CEO of Advocates Africa are currently being drafted, where after, subject to financial resources, an appointment will be made.
  • We are particularly pleased and proud that at least $40,000 (US) towards the cost of the conference was raised locally, dispelling the notion that Africa cannot support itself.
  • The new structure provides Christian legal professionals on the continent the opportunity to build a new civil society forum through which they can engage in those issues that are critical to the security, stability and development of Africa , both regionally and continentally.

Plans for the development of the Advocates Africa network are yet to be approved by the Board. However it is clear that the immediate priority will be to raise awareness of the network and its functions, and build capacity into the organization. Both are critical to any future relevance and impact on the continent. A proper survey is currently being undertaken to determine the status, strength and challenges of national fellowships across the continent.

To achieve this it has been proposed that the network drive just one major project in the next two-year period. This project will be entitled “Project Nehemiah” and its main focus is a challenge to the national networks of each of the member countries. We know that it took Nehemiah 52 days to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem. It has been proposed that we set aside a period of 52 days during early 2007 and challenge each member country to engage creatively in a single legal project in that period that will effectively “rebuild the walls of justice” in their nation. Reports on how this has been done will be presented at the 2007 Advocates Africa conference. We believe that through this it will be possible to achieve the necessary impetus to raise awareness and build capacity at every level of the network while impacting the nations at the same time. Subject to approval of the Board, details will be available on the project some time in the first quarter of 2006.

This then is a short overview of the highlights of the past year and our plan to develop the network in the next term. Thank you once again for your commitment to our efforts. We sincerely appreciate all that has been done through Advocates International to bring us thus far.

Yours sincerely,

Teresa Conradie
Chairman, Advocates Africa

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REPORT ON 2005 ACTIVITIES AND FUTURE PLANS
OF
ADVOCATES LATIN AMERICA (RLAAC)

Guatemala City, Guatemala

January 2006

Dear Sam,

I hope this report will be an encouragement to you, your Board and staff and the global network of lawyers, judges and students who seek to follow Christ within our profession.

THE BOARD: The Board of Directors was elected at our 4th Annual Convention held in Guatemala City on August 20, 2004. We adopted our Constitution on the same day.

The Latin Network worked hard in many areas in 2005. The most important thing is that all of us, brothers and sisters from every Latin American country, have developed a sense of teamwork. The leaders have become close friends and love one another. This makes our work much easier since we have prayers and cooperation from everybody.

The Board of Directors meets through a chat system on the Internet almost every two weeks. We try to keep this time as our service to the Lord focusing on our network issues. In 2005 a lot of time was spent organizing our 5th Annual Convention in Punta del Este, Uruguay. The calls seem simple, but it demands much discipline to keep the meetings going. Sometimes we need to sacrifice family or work in order to participate, but we have experienced how the Lord is glorified with this small gift of time to be together in His name. We had the opportunity to meet in person in October 2004 in Virginia, during the Global Convocation, and later in Punta del Este, Uruguay, during our 5th Convention. It was our largest conference ever with nearly 189 attending from 21 nations.

WEBSITE: Last year we started our website www.rlaac.org, which is still under construction. We expect to launch it in February 2006.

INTEGRATION OF NEW COUNTRIES: The past year we welcomed Paraguay and Puerto Rico into our Network. We have strengthened our contacts with a few Christian lawyers in Panama and expect several of them to attend our 6th Annual Convention in the Dominican Republic. We are committed to see all Latin American countries active in the Network.

CHRISTIAN LAWYERS DIRECTORY: We are working on a Latin American Christian Lawyers Directory, which will be very useful for professional references. Only those lawyers endorsed by leaders of the national organizations will be included. We need to be very careful since we do not want to risk the credibility of the Network. We have had several good professional experiences in referring clients and working with lawyers in the Network. We are very satisfied with the level of professional services of our colleagues.

ANNUAL CONVENTIONS: Preparation of our Annual Conventions takes a lot of time, but we consider this the most important event of the year. We work hard to make every year better. We enjoy them, learn from God’s Word, make new friends, gain professional contacts, have the opportunity to hear good speakers and see beautiful places. But the most important thing is that we receive the blessings from our Lord. We know that we are a young network, but each year we are improving. Each year brings new challenges that encourage us to move ahead. We expect to be better persons, better Christians, better professionals, better friends and better colleagues through these annual meetings.

PEACEMAKING TRAINING: In 2005 we had 30 participate in the advanced Peacemaker Training. We enjoy strong ties with Peacemaker Ministries. They have been with us since our beginning in 2001. We are sure this cooperation will last for a long time. We hope to establish Christian Mediation Centers in Honduras and Guatemala. Please pray for this.

STRATEGIC PLANNING: We have started to work on our Strategic Plan. Three of our leaders (not only Board Members but also national leaders) are working on a draft receiving input from all our organizations. We hope to approve the Strategic Plan at the 6th Convention in Santo Domingo .

BY-LAWS: We are also working on a useful set of By-Laws in order to implement the Constitution. We hope they also will be adopted at the 6th Conference.

INTERNATIONAL MASTERS PROGRAM: We are working on a Pilot Project for a Distant Learning International Masters Program. AI Board Chairman Lynn Buzzard and our own Nina Balmaceda are working on this. We have high expectations for this project. Three days before the beginning of the 6th Conference, a group of 25 to 30 students will participate in pilot courses. We’d appreciate your prayers concerning this project too.

PRAYER CALENDAR: A weekly prayer calendar is sent to all Network members sharing requests from Latin America and around the globe.

PUBLIC STATEMENTS: The Network made several public statements through our electronic network and by other means, addressing different issues, such as the legalization and liberalization of abortion on demand, preservation of the family and the protection of children. The Network also made public statements in support of specific persecuted persons. Last October, in Punta del Este, the Network issued a statement against corruption that was sent to the Vice President of Uruguay, at his request.

IMPROVING NATIONAL ORGANIZATIONS: National organizations have strengthened the effectiveness of their local groups by hearing what others are doing in the region.

Sam, this report shares last year’s highlights and our major current challenges. We hope to improve year by year as you see us grow. We have missed your presence and hope to see you at the Convention. God bless you for all the support that AI and you personally have given to the Latin American Network. May the Lord, in His mercy, reward all who support this ministry. You are examples for us to follow in our daily walk with Jesus Christ.

En Jesus Christ,


Elizabeth de Larios
President
Board of Directors, Latin American Network