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As you reflect back on your life, how many specific church services can you recall? What about Sunday school classes, or Bible studies, prayer meetings, concerts, seminars, camps, retreats or Board meetings? How many stand out? Who spoke? What was the theme of the talk? What songs were sung? Where did you sit? Who sat next to you? Who was in the audience? What impact did the meeting have on you?
In my 62 years - 3,343 weeks and 22,401 days - I've sat in over 12,000 meetings with "religious content." But only one impacted me enough so that I can recall the specifics. It was a very cold winter morning, Sunday, January 26, 1991, at a small Baptist church on the outskirts ofMoscow. It was my first church service in a communist country. My friend and mentor, Professor Lynn Buzzard (who preceded me as Executive Director of Christian Legal Society) gave a message of encouragement to the 300, mostly Russian grandmothers - babushkas - telling them what a great inspiration they have been to the Church around the world.
We sang What a Friend We Have in Jesus and How Great Thou Art. I repeated the few verses I had committed to memory while they sang in Russian all the verses in beautiful harmony. I sat next to Lynn on the platform and gave a brief greeting. It was a very moving service.
No meeting of any kind has had a greater impact on my life than the one that morning in Moscow . It hit me how blessed we are in the West with countless freedoms, resources and opportunities that we take for granted while those believers in totalitarian societies suffer with many "counting it all joy." I came home with a passion to challenge and mobilize Christian lawyers to bear witness of Jesus Christ by serving believers and being salt and light in their profession and their societies.
Sixteen years later, Lynn is the Chairman of Advocates' Board. He is also the Dean of the first law school in Asia with a Christian worldview, Handong International Law School (HILS) in Korea . Most of their international students come from Advocates' network. In recent days I received emails from two young French-speaking African lawyers, Caroline of Cameroon, working on her Masters at HILS, and Jean-Marc, practicing law in Benin , West Africa , who dreams of furthering his education at HILS. Their testimonies underscore the great challenge to prepare the next generation to serve the Church.
Thank you for your prayers and support that enable Advocates to bear witness of Jesus Christ worldwide through the legal profession, while...
Living in His-Story,
Founder & President
January 7, 2007, email from Cameroon law student, Caroline Dzukou, studying at Handong International Law School
in South Korea, to HILS Dean Lynn Buzzard, Chairman of Advocates International Board of Directors
It's almost one year that I have been in Handong International Law School , one year of blessed teachings and equipment in my faith. Now, my heart is turning towards my people whom I will meet in the coming months.
How can they get access to such training as they really need to bring the light of God in the law profession in Africa? How can the French-speaking States, which are unable to manage even with the reading materials, be reached?
A journey from Africa to South Korea is burdening at three levels:
1 - The cost of the flight ticket and the different fees (enough to provide for a piece of land to build a school on the continent!).
2 - The hardships due to separation from the family.
3 - The severance with the law profession and unexpected damages.
I was thinking about the global vision of Handong University and the mission of Advocates International in Africa. How can these goals be achieved if most of the Christian lawyers in Africa cannot be reached through training on the biblical view of law?
The equipping of African students in Handong is of course, very powerful. But the number is not enough to meet the needs of transformation over the continent. On another side, the local conferences organized by Advocates Africa are sure bringing thirst in their hearts. But how many will stand up? The obstacles I shared at the beginning of my mail are big mountains on their paths.
I can take my example: it was after the Advocates Africa Conference in Johannesburg that I felt that need and was able to be trained in Handong with your help and by God's Grace. It has been His miracle in my life.
The translations of Advocates' prayer calendars, that Mrs. Alison Diarra of Advocates Africa and I are providing for the French-speaking lawyers, are blessings for them. They have sent many mails of thanks. This is showing the need to go deeply in their lives, for a change in truth.
I was thinking about the structure of Advocates Africa organized in different regions of the continent, and the global vision of education provided by HandongUniversity.
Is there any possibility to make a bridge, and allow the training to be made in those different regions on the continent?
Is there any possibility of having distance learning training on the continent by satellite?
Is there a way to offer a short period of training at the end of each Advocates Africa Conference, provided by the professors who will attend the Conference?
I will take again my example during Advocates Asia. We had marvelous teachings on oral advocacy and religious freedom by 3 lawyers assisting the moot competition in India. I am a Doctorate Student in a Cameroonian university, but have never been exposed to this! Now, I feel technically stronger than before.
I would like to meet the body of Advocates France during my internship in Europe this month, in order to find by God's Grace a strategy to meet the needs of the French-speaking part in Africa.
As I will be in Africa at the end of this semester to present my research writing, I would also like to meet Mrs. Teresa C. and Bayo to discuss those issues with them.
Dear Sir, I would like to have your advice for these issues.
Handong Global University
Reply from Lynn Buzzard
What wonderful dreams and visions you have - and we share them. The fields are indeed "white unto harvest" but our resources are so small. We share the concern to find ways to not only train a few leaders like yourself, but find means of encouraging and equipping the larger community of Christian lawyers. Actually one of your suggestions is just what we are doing now in Latin America. Handong and Regent are joining together to provide some mini-courses and regular courses in connection with the Latin American Annual Conference. That conference runs Thursday night through Sunday, but on Sunday night through Thursday noon we have two courses we offer to those who can come for the whole week. They focus on some limited areas: Int'l Business Law, Int'l Public Law, Christian Integration and skills. We are also doing some things like this in Mongolia in the summer.
Actually if the local Christian lawyers had a sufficient commitment to give a week or two a year to efforts like this, I think some models might be developed to help meet that need. But someone, maybe you, will have to help light the fire, kindle the blaze and direct it in a fruitful way. Maybe we could try something at the Advocates Africa conference this year.
Thanks for your heart and vision - such is always the prerequisite for any ministry. Keep thinking, praying and acting!
What you are imagining is what Handong is all about!
January 12, 2007, email from Jean-Marc Kodja of Benin, West Africa, to Sam Ericsson
It's a great pleasure receiving this feedback from you; I'm deeply honoured. I would like to give all glory to God for everything He has performed in my life since 2002, when I connected with the Advocates International Network. Truly, this connection changed my mind and my vision, and I want to give you thanks because through you and Advocates' network, I have experienced wonderful things.
1 - Thank you for my invitation to Advocates' Global Conference in Washington , DC . It was very exciting. I appreciated the organisation and all of the meeting.
2 - Thank you for Handong School . You are a first person who told me about this faculty. I have had many exchanges with Dean Buzzard and his staff. I was eager and determined to continue my training there, but unfortunately I didn't attend this year. This is the last mail I received from the school.
3 - Thanks for the books you gave me when I attended to the Global Conference in US:
- Spiritual Leadership
- What Does the Lord Require of You?
- No Higher Calling
These literatures allow me to learn more about the aim of a Christian lawyer in his society. You give me more than gold. Once again, Thanks a lot.
4 - Thanks for the white cards "Quand tout mal / when things go wrong." It's a wonderful means to spread the gospel.
5 - Thanks for the frequent testimony about how God's healing delivers you from illness.
Now Glory be to GOD alone for everything he always performs in our life.