May 2007

May 2007

Dear Friend,

You never know who may be in an audience, or what impact a concept or comment may have on a person's life. During a recent two-week visit to Asia, I spent four days at Handong International Law School inPohang , Korea . HILS is part of the 3,500-student Handong Global University , a Christian university founded in 1995, that has already become one of the most respected institutions in Korea . Lynn Buzzard, chairman of Advocates' Board of Directors, has served as the first Dean of the Law School .

A Unique Law School : HILS is unique in Asia. It embraces a Christian worldview and teaches an American law curriculum. Its international students come from six continents and are often connected with HILS through the various Advocates' networks in Africa, Asia, Europe and the Americas. Several HILS graduates have passed the bar in various states in the USA. Many return to their countries equipped with an American law degree that has great value in pursuing legal careers and serving Christ.

Ida Lee is the president of the Advocates International Student Chapter (AISC) at HILS. She is a charming young Korean who has a degree from a respected Korean law school and speaks English fluently. Ida organized my four-day visit at HILS that included two open forum and one morning chapel. In addition, I had an opportunity to meet one-on-one with many of the faculty - all CLS/USA members - and with more than 20 students who are wrestling with choosing career paths once they graduate.

Three Goals: In public speaking, I often begin by sharing three goals. First, I want to bear witness of Jesus Christ because that was Christ's last command to his disciples' moments before his ascension (Acts 1:8). Second, I challenge the audience to "think outside the box." It is easy to be seduced by the secular Time & Space tunnel of existence. We don't grasp the practical and incredible implications that "all things were created by [and for Jesus Christ]" and "he is before all things, and in him all things hold together" (Colossians 1:16-17). WOW! God is outside the box. He is outside Time & Space. Our vast Universe is no more than a mere box that God holds in his hand. He's got the whole world in his hands. My third goal is to impact one person in the audience. I'll point to several people and say, "I don't know who that one person may be, but you're here. It may be you, or you, or you, so watch out. I'm coming to get you!"

Perspectives: After my three-goal preface, I launched into my theme: Lessons from Trials on a Lawyer's Journey. I shared the perspectives that; 1) Life is His-Story; 2) We are "never owner, always steward" and 3) God is our Client: "Whether you eat or drink, [practice law or sell shoes], do all to the glory of God." The students were hooked.

An Unexpected Reunion ! After my talk, Ida came up to share a bit of His-Story in her life. She told me that when I mentioned "God is my Client" she realized she had heard me speak once before. Six years earlier in October 2001, Korea hosted the first Advocates Asia conference. The 25,000-member mega-church, Sarang [Love] Church in Seoul, was the host church. I spoke at three of their five Sunday morning services. At the time, Ida was a 19‑ year old college student wrestling with what major and career she should choose. After hearing my perspective that Sunday morning in 2001 - God is my Client - she decided to go to a Korean law school and to learn English. Six years later, with a Korean law degree in hand and fluent in English, she is learning American law at HILS while serving as AISC president! It was an unexpected reunion!

Golden Rule for Losers: Another perspective that I shared at HILS was "Paul's Golden Rule for Losers." The Apostle Paul wrote that we are to "give thanks in all circumstances, for this is the will for you in Christ Jesus" (I Thessalonians 5:18 NIV). I pointed out that everyone - Christians and non-Christians alike - celebrate victories, births, weddings and promotions. Likewise, nearly everyone - believers and nonbelievers - get angry, frustrated and discouraged when they lose. But Paul's Golden Rule for Losers teaches that we should give thanks in "all circumstances." We should therefore party when we win and party when we lose. A few days after my return to the USA, another Korean HILS student - who is a journalist - sent the following email:

Dear, Mr. Ericsson.

How are you doing? I hope your trip back to the States was good. This is Paul Shin who asked to help you in translating your book into Korean if you ever decide to do so. I am trying to have many parties these days. You said, have party when you win, and have party when you lose. To tell you the truth, it took me more than 12 hours to realize that it was about party time. We had our midterm on Monday evening. Party? Yes I did.

I was one of the final four members in the negotiation competition that took place last night. But, I was not one of the first two, not even three which they will choose two out of the three. However, I think I will have a party because it is far more clearer than ever that God is in control.

Thank you for your wonderful message. I know that God has a good reason and explanation for everything, even if it is something that I don't understand now. This morning, I was reading Proverbs 21. It says "you can get horses ready for battle, but it is the Lord who gives you victory." (Proverbs 21:31) "AMEN." Plus, I can't really complain since I could not even train my horses ready for battle due to the physical condition in the morning. (It sounds like I am still trying to find some excuses and justification for the loss.) Nevertheless, I will try to take the words of God wholeheartedly. No matter how well I trained my horses and soldiers, it is the Lord who gives me victory. Amen, Amen, Amennnnnnnnnnnnnn.

I hope this letter can make your day a bit happier since your message is planted in people's heart and is now growing. Have a great day Mr. Ericsson.

Sincerely, Bong-Hyun (Paul) Shin
from Handong International Law School

W-H-Y: Like law students everywhere, HILS students worry about their job opportunities after graduation. Over the past 30 years, in hundreds of sessions with lawyers and others who are at a career crossroad, I have often shared the W-H-Y principles. Viktor Frankl wrote, "He who has the why to living can bear almost any how."

W = What is your life's vocational mission statement? Looking back on your life, your training and your aptitudes what has God prepared you to do vocationally? "For we are God's workmanship [work of art!!] created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God has prepared in advance for us to do" Ephesians 2:10.

H = How would you describe your dream job? Looking ahead, if you were independently wealthy and money was no issue, how would you describe your dream job? "Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart" Psalm 37:4.

Y = Your legacy is up to you. As you look to the end of life's journey, what would you want to reflect back on vocationally, professionally and relationally? "What would it profit a man if he gained the whole world but missed God's will for his life?" Ericsson's paraphrase of Matthew 16:26.

A few days ago, a HILS student from French-speaking Cameroon sent an email:

Dear Sir,

Thank you for your venue. Thank you for your sharing in Handong International Law School these two days. You came at the right time in my life, and met my real need. In fact, as a student graduating in a few months, accomplishing God's mission had become a big mountain on my path. The vision in my heart was so burdening, and I was asking myself: Where shall I start? How shall I fulfill this commitment? Through you, I understood the W-H-Y: my life statement, and the description of my dream.

You revealed to me an awesome God working outside of the box, making all things happening at each season of our lives, in a chronological order, and extraordinary coincidences. As never before, I saw my life as His-Story written, and the unique responsibility which is mine : Make myself available and surrender completely in His hands. Neither with a frustrated mind nor a lovesilver one; but seeking His Kingdom first, choosing to be brave rather than to be safe. Therefore, I could rest on His Truth, and His action will be anticipated: He will write the history, which is His story.

Equipped with such an assurance, who can now stand against me? What are you, O mighty mountain? Before me you will become level ground.

Thanks for the answer, Sir!

Best Regards,

Caroline Joelle Dzukou
Second Year Master Program
Handong International Law School< p>

Global Council Meeting: Prior to the Korea visit, I spent five days in Kuala Lumpur , Malaysia with Advocates International's Global Council. The Global Council consists of 22 leaders representing the regional networks in Africa, Asia, Europe, Latin America, North America and Oceania .

It was 16 years ago, June 1, 1991, that I stepped down from my 10-year tenure with Christian Legal Society to begin this global adventure. At the start of this journey there was no plan to launch a global network of Christian lawyers. My initial motivation was simply to help a Christian lawyer I had met in Moscow and possibly in other countries in Eastern Europe where communism had collapsed in the fall of 1989. I knew that lawyers would play a strategic role in establishing the rule of law and in promoting religious freedom and justice. My goal was to encourage and enable them to do that.

Planning Ahead: Sixteen years and millions of miles later, Advocates International has become a global movement informally linking 30,000 lawyers, law students, judges and law professors. The regional networks have contacts in over 135 nations and there are about 100 nations with active or emerging national Christian lawyer groups compared to a small handful in 1991. We praise God for the progress we have seen.

The great challenge facing Advocates' leaders at the regional and global levels is how to prepare for the future. We need to clarify our vision, mission and statement of faith, commitment and practice. We must also define the core role of the global network, as opposed to the functions at the regional and national levels. And, of course, there are financial realities. It is the mission of the Global Council to work on these crucial issues.

Our 2nd Global Council meeting in Kuala Lumpur was a powerful demonstration of what God can do through available servants. It is hard to describe the dynamics in a meeting of highly competent, committed Christian lawyers and judges who are sold out to bearing witness of Jesus Christ through their profession. Lawyers have a reputation for being opinionated, argumentative, strong-willed and ambitious - often self-serving and self-centered. It borders on the miraculous that a group of lawyers will put all self-interest aside, listen to one another, and pray with and for each other - many weeping.

The Global Council meetings have followed the apostle Paul's call to be: "like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility, consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look out not only for your own interests, but also to the interests of others. Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus..." (Philippians 2:2-5).

Your prayers and support enable this unique movement, while...

Living in His-Story,

Sam Ericsson
Founder & President

----------------------------

An Invitation to Attend a 2007 Advocates Conference
While also Being a Good Samaritan

Dear Advocates,

The 2007 Conference Schedule is now finalized and attached.

We encourage you to attend your national and regional conferences in 2007, if possible. I have no doubt that each one will be the best ever. My plan is to attend all of them, if the Lord gives me the health and strength to do so.

In 2008, we hope to hold the 5th Global Convocation at the Washington Hilton Hotel during October 26 to November 2, 2008. Please save that time on your schedule. We hope to see 1,500 lawyers from 150 nations (See list of nations we hope to see there.)I hope to see many of you there!

Advocates Europe
Regional leadership meeting; May 19-20, London, England

Advocates Caribbean
1st Advocates Caribbean Conference; July 27-29, Tobago
Theme: Uniting to Impact
"Father, make them one as we are one... that the world may believe..." John 17:21
Contact: Alice Soohon (ladyash45@hotmail.com)

Advocates Middle East
August 23-25, Amman, Jordan
Contact: Botrus Mansour (botrus@zahav.net.il)

Advocates Africa
7th Regional Conference; September 3-7, Mombasa, Kenya
Theme: Time to Fly: Unleashing Africa's Potential: "Let us go up at once and take possession, for we are well able to overcome it." Numbers 13:30
Contact: Bayo Akinlade (bayo@advocatesinternational.org)

Canada
Annual Christian Lawyers Fellowship National Conference; September 27-30, Mississauga, Ontario
Theme: Above All, To Stand
Contact: Ruth Ross (ross.clf@primus.ca)

Advocates Asia
7th Regional Conference; October 18-20, Sri Lanka
Contact: Roshini Wickremesinhe (efa@sltnet.lk)

Advocates Latin America
7th Regional Conference; October 25-28, Guayaquil, Ecuador
Theme: The Challenge of Social Justice in Latin America
Master's module pre-conference: October 22-25, Guayaquil, Ecuador
Contact: Vilma Balmaceda (vbalmaceda@advocatesinternational.org)

CLS/USA
Annual CLS National Conference; November 1-4, Destin, Florida
Theme: In God We Trust
Contact: clshq@clsnet.org

--------------------

ADVOCATES INTERNATIONAL
5th Global Convocation
October 26 - November 2, 2008
List of 150 nations to send delegates

AFRICA (42 nations and growing)

 

š Angola

š Egypt

š Malawi

š Sierra Leone

š Benin

š Equatorial Guinea

š Mali

š South Africa

š Botswana

š Eritrea

š Mauritania

š Sudan

š Burkina Faso

š Ethiopia

š Morocco

š Swaziland

š Burundi

š Gabon

š Mozambique

š Tanzania

š Cameroon

š Gambia

š Namibia

š Togo

š Central African Rep.

š Ghana

š Niger

š Uganda

š Chad

š Guinea

š Nigeria

š Zambia

š Cote D'Ivoire

š Kenya

š Rwanda

š Zanzibar

š Dem. Rep. of Congo

š Lesotho

š Senegal

š Zimbabwe

š Djibouti

š Liberia

 

 

ASIA (34 nations and growing)

 

š Azerbaijan

š Jordan

š Palestine

š Thailand

š Burma

š Kazakhstan

š Papua New Guinea

š Tonga

š Cambodia

š Kyrgyzstan

š Philippines

š Turkmenistan

š China

š Laos

š Singapore

š Uzbekistan

š Hong Kong (China )

š Lebanon

š South Korea

š Vietnam

š India

š Malaysia

š Sri Lanka

 

š Indonesia

š Mongolia

š Syria

 

š Israel

š Nepal

š Taiwan

š Australia

š Japan

š Pakistan

š Tajikistan

š New Zealand

EUROPE (42 nations and growing)

 

š Albania

š England

š Kosova

š Russia

š Armenia

š Estonia

š Latvia

š Scotland

š Austria

š Finland

š Lithuania

š Serbia

š Belarus

š France

š Macedonia

š Slovakia

š Belgium

š Georgia

š Moldova

š Slovenia

š Bosnia & Herzegovina

š Germany

š Montenegro

š Spain

š Bulgaria

š Greece

š Netherlands

š Sweden

š Croatia

š Hungary

š Norway

š Switzerland

š Cyprus

š Iceland

š Poland

š Turkey

š Czech Republic

š Ireland

š Portugal

š Ukraine

š Denmark

š Italy

š Romania

 

NORTH & LATIN AMERICA (32 nations and growing)

 

š Antigua

š Chile

š Guatemala

š Peru

š Argentina

š Colombia

š Haiti

š Puerto Rico

š Barbados

š Costa Rica

š Honduras

š Trinidad

š Belize

š Cuba

š Jamaica

š United States

š Bermuda

š Dominica

š Mexico

š Uruguay

š Bolivia

š Dominican Republic

š Nicaragua

š Venezuela

š Brazil

š Ecuador

š Panama

š Virgin Islands

š Canada

š El Salvador

š Paraguay

š United Nations

--------------------

PRISON TIME IN VIETNAM

Until May 11, 2007, Advocates International's global network linking thousands of lawyers in 135 nations had not seen one of its own sentenced to prison. The 16 years have come to an end. The Hanoi People's Court have sentenced two Christian lawyers - Nguyen Van Dai and Le Thi Cong Nhan - to five and four year prison terms, respectively, for expressing unpopular views. The following report is from the World Evangelical Alliance Religious Freedom Commission. Advocates International and its regional networks are working on how to be the most effective voice for Dai and Nhan at this time. A beginning point is to pray. Prayer is talking to God about what we are doing together with him. After prayer, we need to be about "doing justice, loving mercy and walking humbly with God" while living in His-Story!

Sam Ericsson

From: "WEA Religious Liberty Commission" religious-liberty@hub.xc.org
To: religious-liberty@hub.xc.org
Sent: Tuesday, May 15, 2007 7:29 AM
Subject: Vietnamjails its 'extremists'

VIETNAM CONDEMNS AND JAILS ITS "EXTREMISTS"

On Friday 11 May, the Hanoi People's Court sentenced Christian religious liberty advocate and human rights lawyer Nguyen Van Dai (38) to five years imprisonment to be followed by four years of house arrest. Dai's colleague, lawyer Le Thi Cong Nhan (28), was sentenced to four years imprisonment to be followed by three years of house arrest.

Both lawyers were arrested on 6 March and charged with propagandizing against the state of Vietnam. According to official Vietnamese media, the court found Dai and Nhan guilty of using Dai's Thien An law office since 2006 for the purpose of spreading libelous propaganda against the state of Vietnam in violation of Article 88 of the Criminal Code. (Link 1, includes photos.)

Ben Stocking (in Hanoi for Associated Press) reports that Dai denied he had broken any laws, saying he had merely exercised his right to free expression and association.

Indeed, Chapter Five, Article 69 of the Constitution of Vietnam states: "The citizen shall enjoy freedom of opinion and speech, freedom of the press, the right to be informed, and the right to assemble, form associations and hold demonstrations in accordance with the provisions of the law." (See Link 2 for the Constitution of Vietnam.)

As this trial demonstrates, however, the law, specifically Article 88 of the Criminal Code which makes it illegal to 'conduct propaganda against the Socialist Republic of Viet Nam,' can be wielded to severely restrict these Constitutional rights, rendering them illusory.

According to Stocking, when the trial was over Western diplomats decried the outcome. As Stocking notes: "Before their March 6 arrests, Dai and Nhan provided human rights training to Vietnamese students. Dai also represented ethnic minorities who were members of Protestant faiths." (Link 3)

DEMONISATION

The Vietnamese regime has done a thorough job of demonizing religious liberty advocate and human rights lawyer Nguyen van Dai. The day before Lawyer Dai's trial, a press release was issued from "Le Quoc Minh, deputy chief of Vietnam News Agency's News for Foreign Service Department," that condemned Dai as an extremist, a radical, and an associate of terrorists, whose "slanderous and libelous information" [that Vietnam is violating its religious liberty obligations] threatened Vietnam's socio-economic progress and development. Further to that, the day after the trial the authorities published condemnations of Dai procured from local Vietnamese Christian leaders.

PRE-TRIAL OFFICIAL CONDEMNATION

A 10 May press release from the deputy chief of Vietnam News Agency's News for Foreign Service Department, Le Quoc Minh, opens with the words: "Foreign investors have been flocking to Viet Nam en masse armed with big ideas on how to tap into Southeast Asia's fastest growing economy." He comments that it is Vietnam's "social and political stability that allows investments to mature in a low risk environment," and adds that it is Vietnam's domestic unity that has enabled it to overcome its great challenges. (Link 4)

Upon this foundation Le Quoc Minh then decries: "Viet Nam, although by and large a peaceful country, has fallen victim to a group of radicals that seem driven to fracture the unity we commonly share and revive painful divisions long since healed. [This doubtless refers to Vietnam and US relations.] "This group has allegedly conspired with criminals and even terrorist organizations responsible for kidnappings, bombings and assassinations to undo much of the progress the country has made in building a strong, secure and democratic society.

"Apart from notorious opponents of the government, there recently emerged Nguyen Van Dai, Tran Khai Thanh Thuy and Le Thi Cong Nhan, all of whom have allegedly shown themselves to be the loudest of extreme elements in the nation."

From here Le Quoc Minh launches into a lengthy attack on the integrity and work of lawyer Nguyen van Dai. He says, "[Dai is] alleged to have abused the right to freedom of speech by posting information on the internet and giving interviews to overseas Vietnamese-owned radio stations where he painted a biased and distorted picture of the country and its internal affairs."

The press release details Dai's advocacy work and adds: "Authorities said Dai also had an ongoing relationship with an outlawed terrorist group, the Viet Nam Reform Party [see link 5]. They said he was found to be active in establishing training courses using his Thien An Law Office in Ha Noi as a base."

After commenting that Dai is alleged to have receive funds from "reactionary organizations in the US," the press release goes on to allege that "the money, in large part, was used to fund a scam where the 'Viet Nam Committee for Human Rights' group offered law school students scholarships to study in Bangkok, Thailand. There, they attended 'education' workshops run by anti-Government elements operating inside the country."

Le Quoc Minh also claims: "Dai had instructed staff from his Thien An law office to travel to northwestern, Central Highlands and southern provinces to contact Protestant clergymen and their followers who have shown hatred towards the Government, according to the source.

"Together they compiled 'evidence of Viet Nam's suppression of the Protestant religion' and gave it to the US-based Committee for Religious Freedom in Viet Nam and to the US Embassy in Viet Nam. Officials said their findings were doctored, distorted or fabricated to further the aims of Dai and his organization."

The pre-trial press release, issued specifically with regards to the 11 May trial of Dai and his colleagues Thuy and Nhan, ends with words of assurance, words that demonstrate the trial was actually over before it began: " . . . the law will not allow a tiny minority to harm the interests of what the vast majority believe in as a nation and as a people." (Link 4)

POST-TRIAL CHURCH CONDEMNATION

On the day after the trial, the government-run Vietnam News Agency was doubtless delighted to report that various Christian leaders were prepared to condemn religious liberty advocate and human rights lawyer Nguyen van Dai.

"Priest Thien Cam from the Mai Khoi parish in Ho Chi Minh City called the acts by Nguyen Van Dai and Le Thi Cong Nhan 'absurd acts of fake intellectuals.' He affirmed that it is not difficult for local people to recognize the true nature of the case, adding that persons like Dai and Nhan will never have a place in the community because their acts run counter to the community's interest. This will be an even 'heavier sentence' imposed on them, he said.

"Priest Tran Tha, head of the Board for Catholic Solidarity in Di Linh district, Central Highlands Lam Dong province, stressed that all citizens must abide by the law. 'Therefore, it is unacceptable to violate the law and regulations of the State of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam inciting rebellion and violent change,' he said.

"According to Father Tha, all parishioners in the Di Linh parish closely followed the trial and supported the strict punishment for law violation.

"A large number of people in the Central Highlands province of Gia Lai also strongly protested against the wrong action of Nguyen Van Dai and Le Thi Cong Nhan.

"K'Leng, a Protestant follower in Yun commune in Mang Yang district, said anybody who violates the law must be tried strictly regardless of his or her religion or race." (VNA) (Link 6)

----
Of course it is possible that the clergymen quoted above were approached for their opinion, and that had they failed to condemn Dai upon request they would have been detained and interrogated, stripped of 'privileges', put under surveillance and persecuted.

It must also be noted though, that hostile totalitarian regimes usually have compliant clergy at their disposal, clergy they can rely on to deliver the required pro-government propaganda in exchange for privileges such as non-interference, protection and promotion.

Elizabeth Kendal
rl-research@crossnet.org.au

Links

1) Dai and Nhan jailed for anti-State activities. 12 May 2007 http://www.nhandan.com.vn/english/news/120507/domestic_d.htm
(includes a photo of Nguyen van Dai in the dock)
ALSO: Vietnam dissident lawyers jailed. BBC 11 May 2007
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/asia-pacific/6645463.stm
(includes picture on Nhan in court, along with a call for reform from former PM Vo Van Kiet.)

2) The Constitution of Vietnam
http://home.vnn.vn/english/government/constitution/

3) Vietnamese Court Sentences Dissidents
11 May 2007. By BEN STOCKING, Associated Press Writer
http://www.guardian.co.uk/worldlatest/story/0,,-6624953,00.html

4) 'Democracy movement' creates unrest. 10 May 2007
Le Quoc Minh, deputy chief of Vietnam News Agency's News for Foreign Service Department
http://vietnamnews.vnagency.com.vn/showarticle.php?num=02COM100507

5) Background Briefing: Viet Tan. 5 May 2007
http://johnib.wordpress.com/2007/05/05/background-briefing-viet-tan/
By Professor Carlyle A. Thayer, School of Humanities and Social Sciences, UniversityCollege,
The University of New South Wales at the Australian Defence Force Academy, Canberra, ACT 2600 Australia

[Thayer writes that while the Viet Tan (Viet Nam Reform Party) was involved in armed actions through the 1980s, this era ended with the death of its leader Hoang Co Minh in 1987. The group subsequently renounced violence and now works through peaceful and political means with the goal of helping the Vietnamese people break free from Communist dictatorship, so that democracy and liberty might come to Vietnam.]

Official Web Site

Viet Nam Reform Party http://www.viettan.org (link in English in top right-hand corner)

6) Public opinions support jail sentences on Dai and Nhan. 12 May 2007
http://www.nhandan.com.vn/english/news/120507/domestic_pu.htm

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