July 01

July 23, 2001

Dear Friends,

 

Launching our Second Decade
Let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds.
Let us not give up meeting together. . . but let us encourage one another.
Hebrews 10:24-25

 

Advocates International has just celebrated its 10th Anniversary. As you will see from The Salt Report: Summarizing our First Decade, it has been an active and fulfilling time informally linking 7,000 Christian law professionals from nearly 100 nations, including 28 present and former communist countries and 21 nations where Islam is a major factor.

By the end of our second decade in 2011, we hope to see a network of more than 100 self-sustaining national law fellowships promoting religious freedom, biblical conflict resolution and the integration of faith and practice. Our regional alliances, such as Advocates Europe, Advocates Asia, AdvocatesLatin America, and the African Christian Lawyers Network, will work with us alongside like-minded groups such as Christian Legal Society, Peacemaker Ministries, International Justice Mission, Institute for Global Engagement, Religious Liberty Commission and the Center for Religion & Diplomacy.

To launch our second decade, this year we will conduct Leadership Conferences in Africa, Asia, Europe and Latin America with about 650 attendees from 80 nations compared to the 175 from 75 nations who attended our 2000 Convocation in Washington, DC. Peacemaker Ministries will present their excellent Biblical conflict resolution materials at each one. We will also bring key leaders to the CLS conference in October. The dates and locations for the regional conferences are:

Africa Kampala, Uganda August 9-12 125 attendees anticipated

Latin America Lima, Peru August 29-Sept 2 100 attendees anticipated

Europe Lisbon, Portugal September 7-12 125 attendees anticipated

Asia Seoul, Korea October 17-21 300 attendees anticipated

Please be in prayer for each of these conferences. There is much work yet to be done and funds are still needed to underwrite the costs of the conferences as we continue...

Living in His-story,

Samuel E. Ericsson,
President

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The Salt Report:
Summarizing our First Decade

By Samuel E. Ericsson

Advocates International began June 1, 1991. Exactly a decade later to the day, syndicated columnist Clarence Page wrote in the Washington Times about two "unlikely allies," Ken Starr and Johnnie Cochran, representing protestors at the Sudanese embassy, noting:

This is the Ken Starr few people know. Among other church and civic activities, he's a board member of Advocates International, "a small, quiet human rights organization working for religious freedom around the world."

The above column was only the second time in ten years that Advocates International has been mentioned in the main Washington media. In an image-driven culture, Advocates is an oxymoron --- small and quiet, but globally engaged in religious freedom, human rights and reconciliation with an incalculable impact. Jesus taught that his followers should be salt. When salt is at work it disappears and is no longer visible. Thus, Advocates does not seek publicity. Salt enhances flavor, acts as a preservative, serves as a healing agent and melts ice. Likewise, we seek to enhance justice, preserve freedom, heal conflicts and melt hatred. What follows is a Salt Report to those whose hard work, prayers and gifts have enabled Advocates International to have an impact in its first decade:

* Advocates International was launched in response to the fall of the Berlin Wall and the collapse of the Soviet Union. We wanted to help the Church in the former Soviet bloc by preparing the ground through law so that religious freedom, reconciliation, and the integration of faith and practice could take root, be nurtured, and grow. Our approach has been to work relationally, professionally, and spiritually with law professionals and national leaders. As of June 2001, the network reached 28 former or present communist countries: Albania*, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Bulgaria*, China, Czech Republic, Estonia, Georgia, Hungary, Kazakhstan*, Kyrgyzstan*, Kosovo, Latvia, Lithuania, Macedonia, Moldova, Mongolia*, Nepal, Poland, Romania, Russia*, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Ukraine, Uzbekistan, and Vietnam. (*offices in place)
* The two greatest challenges the Church must address in the 21st Century are secularization, driven by the secular media everywhere, and Islam. Advocates' network now includes lawyers in 21 countries where Islam is a major factor: Albania, Azerbaijan, Cote d'Ivoire, Egypt, Eritrea, Ethiopia, India, Indonesia, Israel, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Kosovo, Malaysia, Nigeria, Pakistan, Philippines, Senegal, Sudan, Turkey, and Uzbekistan.
* Advocates opened an office in 1999 at the U.N. Commission on Human Rights in Geneva. In 2000, we hired the former U.N. Ambassador from Bulgaria to serve as our full-time liaison at the U.N. As far as we know, we are the only human rights or religious group that has a former Ambassador on staff at the U.N. In recent weeks, we have met with three U.N. Undersecretaries to discuss ways of working together. In May, our Rule of Law Forum held its first luncheon for diplomats from 54 nations who heard board member Ken Starr speak about "The Rule of Law in Building Democratic Societies." I spoke on the practical application of the Good Samaritan parable in life and work. The diplomats told us the meeting was "refreshing" and want the Forum to become a place to raise issues not addressed elsewhere at the U.N.
* Advocates' network provided input on drafts to constitutions and "laws on religion" in several former communist countries, including Albania, Bulgaria, Estonia, Georgia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Mongolia, Romania, Russia, Serbia, and Slovakia.
* We provided training by Peacemaker Ministries for over 400 lawyers, judges, pastors, and national leaders from 75 nations.
* Advocates has informally linked together Christian law fellowships and launched several new ones connecting nearly 7,000 law professionals from 100 countries.
* In cooperation with Johan Candelin of World Evangelical Fellowship's Religious Liberty Commission, we provide a monthly series called Global Voice reaching 2,500 parliamentarians.
* Our network helped restore scores (perhaps hundreds) of church properties valued at untold millions of dollars that had been confiscated during communist times.
* We participated in conferences addressing religious freedom, human rights, conflict resolution, ethics, or judicial independence in 26 nations, plus addressing the United Nations Commission on Human Rights on three occasions on the plight of persecuted believers.
* Advocates enabled many international ministries and agencies to address legal challenges they or their constituents were facing.
* The "market value" for more than 70,000 hours of professional time over the past decade is well over $15 million. The actual cost for 70,000 hours of "professional services" has been less than $1 million over ten years - less than $15/hr. The "bang for the buck" is incalculable when one considers the value in drafting constitutions, or laws on religion, or strengthening independent judiciaries in countries where the goal is simply a "level playing field" for believers.
* Advocates accomplished all of this while spending nothing on buildings. All rent paid over ten years for our 1,000 square-foot offices have been returned as gifts to Advocates. Our fundraising costs averaged less than 4% of budget per year.
* Finally, by October 2001 there will be five lawyers on staff, including a former U.N. Ambassador and law professor, the former Assistant Director and General Counsel of the Federal Bureau of Prisons and the former Executive Director of Christian Legal Society. As a group, they are fluent in eight languages: Bulgarian, English, Finnish, French, Ga (Ghanaian), Japanese, Russian and Swedish. It is unlikely that there is another human rights staff in the world with those credentials. It is "the best staff money can't buy." Small. Quiet. Salty.
* Thank you!