October 06

 

October 2006

Dear Friend,

Can you change the world for a mere $2.50 per hour? You might say it would take a God-size miracle to do so. I agree. And He has done it - time and time again.

Miracles: I believe in miracles. There are different types of miracles. There are "zap miracles," such as when Jesus told the crippled man, "Take up your bed and walk." I've seen and experienced zap miracles in my life and heard reports of many others. I suspect you've seen some zap miracles as well. They are evidence of the amazing grace of our awesome God.

But there are also "miracles in slow motion." These are more common but often overlooked. These miracles take time. They unfold slowly until you see their intricate design and beauty. The miracle of birth takes 9 months from conception. It is a miracle, not just DNA - which is another God-designed miracle. Time plus chance does not create a beautiful baby. There is far more to it. It is a miracle by God, our Father!

A Miracle in Slow Motion: Advocates International is a miracle in slow motion. There is no other way to explain it. There was no master plan in 1991 when I sat behind an empty desk wondering what I had just done in leaving my ten-year tenure at Christian Legal Society to help believers overseas living under oppressive regimes. Although there was no master plan in my mind, there is no doubt that The Master Planner had planted a seed of an idea that would take root, be nurtured, grow and blossom into an amazing movement that continues to grow and spread globally daily.

Since 1991, Advocates International has linked 130 nations. Some links are strong, vibrant and fruitful. Others have great potential but need to be encouraged and enabled by someone who pulls alongside. Our key role is to facilitate those who can encourage and enable Christian lawyers to meet locally, organize nationally, cooperate regionally and link globally.

What $2.50 per hour can do: If you take our current budget and spread it evenly over an 8-hour day, 5-day week across the 130 nations within the network, the cost to change the world is less than $2.50 per hour, $20 per day, $100 per week per nation. I consider that a bargain. I also consider it a God-size miracle.

Miracles in Africa: I will never forget a conversation at a US Embassy in a poor eastAfrica nation in 1998 where the director of the embassy's democracy-building program complained that he had an annual budget of only $13 million. I was stunned. In 1998, our total investment in Africa was less than $20,000, with most of it going to bringing 10 African lawyers from 6 African nations to our first Global Convocation. These lawyers launched the African Christian Lawyers Network, now called Advocates Africa. Fruit of that initial investment is seen in the enclosed Advocates Africa report prepared by Bayo Akinlade, our Liaison with Advocates Africa. Over the past 18 months, Bayo has visited 17 African nations and scores of cities, helped launch local meetings and seen at least 9 nations get organized. At the moment, Advocates Africa links 33 nations but has no paid staff. Advocates Africa is a miracle in slow motion. It is gaining speed. They will hold their 7th Regional Conference in Nairobi, Kenya, during September 3-5, 2007. I have not visited Africa since 2002 and hope to go to Nairobi.

Miracles in Latin America: Advocates Latin America is another miracle in slow motion. Organized in 2001, the Latin network is the first continent to link all its nations. They will hold their 6th Regional Conference during October 19-22 in the Dominican Republic. They expect over 200 to attend, with 100 coming 4 days early for a special law seminar conducted by South Korea's Handong International Law School (where Advocates Board Chairman, Lynn Buzzard, is the Dean) and Regent University Law School in Virginia. We enable Peru's Law Professor Nina Balmaceda to facilitate the Latin network. I plan to attend this month's conference - my first Latin visit since 2002.

Miracles in Asia: Advocates Asia is also a miracle in slow motion. During October 26-29, Asia will hold its 6th Regional Conference in New Delhi , India , hosted by the 300-member Christian Lawyers Association of India. CLAI was organized after our 2000 Global Convocation and is very active in helping the Church address growing persecution in the world's largest democracy. Advocates Asia links about 35 nations but has no full-time staff. The 600-member Advocates Korea provides administrative support. My last visit to Asia was in 2003 to attend the launch of Advocates Korea. Five of our Board members will be in New Delhi for the conference that hopes to draw well over 200 Asians.

Miracles in Europe: Advocates Europe is another miracle. The ground in Europe is tough for seed to take root, but about 30 nations are linked through their Prayer Calendar. One miracle in Europe is the Rule of Law Institute in Bulgaria that has grown from 5 to over 200 lawyers under the leadership of Latcho Popov. Bulgaria was called the "16th Soviet Republic" during the Soviet era because of its harsh Marxist policies. Recently, the President of the European Evangelical Alliance (who is a past President of the Bulgarian Evangelical Alliance) told me that on a scale of 1-10, religious freedom in Bulgaria is now a 9, especially in the major cities. This is a miracle and a tribute to the work of Latcho and the Rule of Law Institute, which Advocates has funded since 1995.

Miracles don't just happen. Faith is required. Faith is obedience to the Miracle Worker. When Jesus healed the sick, he often required the person to do something as simple as stretching forth a withered hand. Likewise, the miracles we have witnessed throughout Advocates' networks over 15 years would not have happened without the commitment of thousands of people praying and investing time, talent and treasure. It has been an exciting 15-year journey. We look forward to another 15 years of miracles of all types - zap and slow motion - while investing $2.50 per hour cheerfully and...

Living in His-Story,

Sam Ericsson
Founder & President - and a grateful reporter of miracles

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ADVOCATES AFRICA
Country-by-Country Overview of Christian Lawyer Activities
in 33 African Nations, Compiled by Bayo Akinlade,
Liaison for Advocates International
September 2006

When Advocates International began in 1991 there were two African nations with national Christian lawyer groups. Advocates Africa, launched in 1998, now links Christian lawyers in at least 33 nations, including 25 nations with active or emerging national lawyer groups.

BENIN

Jean-Marc Kodja coordinates the Christian Lawyers Fellowship of Benin. He is presently mobilizing law students to engage in human rights and related activities and to implement the vision of Advocates Africa and Advocates International to bear witness of Jesus Christ through the legal profession. He has launched a small group and engaged several senior magistrates and lawyers in their activities. (Estimated members: 15)

BOTSWANA

Law Professor Kwame Frimpong and Edward F. Luke II lead the Christian Lawyers Fellowship of Botswana, which was launched in February 2004. They have an active fellowship of about 10 members in the capital city of Gaborone. They are reorganizing the fellowship structure and developing programs focused on practicable and relevant community-based projects. (Estimated members: 25)

BURKINA FASO

Although Christian lawyers from Burkina Faso have participated in several regional and global convocations since 2000, there have been no reports of activities in 2006. (Estimated members: 15)

BURUNDI

The Christian Lawyers Fellowship of Burundi led by Jonathan Nahimana is still in the process of securing registration. However, a committee meets for prayers and discussions. It is hoped that the Christian Lawyers Fellowship of Burundi will embark on a campaign for the independence of the judiciary and seek to bring peace and stability to its fragile polity. (Estimated members: 35)

CAMEROON

Justice Rose Mbah Acha leads Advocates Cameroon. The main fellowship activities are held in Douala. Recently, the fellowship opened another chapter in Yaounde, the capital city, which is predominantly French speaking. Main fellowship activities include legal aid and anti-corruption campaigns. The organization needs financial assistance in order to run their program and execute legal aid projects. (Estimated members: 40)

CENTRALAFRICANREPUBLIC

Although Christian advocates from the Central African Republic have participated in several regional and global convocations since 2000, there have been no reports of activities in the Central African Republic during 2006.

COTE D'IVOIRE (IVORY COAST)

In this war-torn country, the Christian lawyers have come together to advocate for human rights, peace and good governance. Advocates Côte D'Ivoire seeks to organize legal and biblical training for law professionals, law students and police focusing on ways to empower the body of Christ to be salt and light. (Estimated members: 15)

DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO

Jean-Alain Kasonga presently coordinates the Christian lawyer group in DRC, but they are not yet legally registered. Christian Lawyers Fellowship of DRC had the largest contingent of magistrates and judges at the 2005 Advocates Africa conference. There is no doubt that CLF/DRC has great potential. (Estimated members: 35)

EGYPT

Although Christian lawyers from Egypt have participated in several regional and global convocations since 1998, there have been no reports of any activities in Egypt in 2006.

ERITREA

Selam Kidane is presently building up a base for the Christian Lawyer Fellowship in his war-torn nation. He is currently involved in exposing violence against the church and lack of religious freedom in Eritrea through a website he co-created.

ETHIOPIA

Nardos Lemma coordinates the Christian Lawyers Fellowship of Ethiopia with about 20 lawyers in the capital city of Addis Ababa. They are in the process of securing legal recognition. The Christian lawyers continue to meet for prayer and are involved in providing legal aid in their personal capacities. (Estimated members: 40)

GABON

Advocates Africa recently made contact with a Christian Senior Magistrate in Gabon . Our hope is that by the next Advocates Africa conference in Kenya , Gabon will be an organized, active group.

THE GAMBIA

It is hoped that the lawyers in The Gambia will be organized in time for the 2007 Advocates Africa regional conference.

GHANA

The president, Emmanuel S. Goka, and 4 other executive members lead the Christian Lawyers Fellowship of Ghana. The main chapter is located in the capital of Accra, but there are members scattered throughout the country. There is also a student chapter located in Accra. Fellowship activities include prayer meetings, talks, Bible studies and outreaches. The students meet every Wednesday during lunch while the lawyers have a prayer meeting fortnightly. Talks and Bible studies are held on the first Thursday of every month. (Estimated members: 150)

KENYA

The Kenyan Christian Lawyers Fellowship (KCLF) is led by Paul Ndemo, who serves as chairman. There are eight KCLF chapters in the following towns: Nairobi, Mombasa, Nakuru, Machakos, Meru, Kitale, Kisumu and Eldoret. The fellowship works with law student fellowships at the two universities that offer law degrees: the University of Nairobi and Moi University in Eldoret. The main fellowship activities vary from chapter to chapter, but they focus on Bible studies, fellowship and prayer meetings. In Nairobi and Mombasa, the chapters operate legal aid offices representing indigent clients in prison and also provide legal and civic education to the community. In some of the more established branches like Kisumu, Mombasa, Nakuru and Nairobi, carol services are held in December as a means of spreading the gospel to their law colleagues.

KCLF stands out as Advocates Africa's leading example in the area of legal aid programs and legal representation for those in prison without trial. The fellowship's partnership with LCF/UK in the Christian Legal Education Aid and Research (CLEAR) project continues to have a great impact in Kenya. (Estimated members: 185)

LESOTHO

Advocates Africa's President, Teresa Conradie, is presently in contact with a Christian judge in Lesotho who has expressed interest in setting up a Christian lawyer group.

LIBERIA

Although Christian lawyers from Liberia have participated in several regional and global convocations since 2000, there have been no reports of any activities in Liberia in 2006. Othello Payman leads the group. (Estimated members: 25)

MALI

Daniel Thera and Alison Diarra, among others, help lead the Malian Christian Lawyers Fellowship. The fellowship meets in the capital city of Bamako and was recently registered with the government. Their main activities include Bible studies, prayer, a membership drive and creating an awareness of regional networking in French-speaking Africa. (Estimated members: 30)

MOZAMBIQUE

Advocates Africa is nurturing its contact in Mozambique who is yet to set a date for starting any activities in that nation.

NAMIBIA

Advocates Africa's key Namibian contact, Shakespeare Masiza, in conjunction with the CLA, South Africa (CLASA) and Advocates Africa, hosted a breakfast meeting in July 2006 in Windhoek, Namibia, to introduce the Advocates International and Advocates Africa networks to the Namibian lawyers. Teresa Conradie (President of Advocates Africa) was the keynote speaker at the breakfast. Accompanying her to Namibia were Denise Woods (CLASA Executive Director) and Bayo Akinlade (AI Liaison to Africa). The Christian lawyers in Namibia have been granted membership status by CLASA until they can start their own national fellowship.

NIGER

Christian lawyers in the Republic of Niger were visited by members of the Christian Lawyers Fellowship of Nigeria (CLASFON), resulting in the birth of a Christian lawyer group in Niger. The fellowship has a pending application to be registered. They hold regular prayer meetings and now have an executive committee that runs the affairs of the fellowship. (Estimated members: 25)

NIGERIA

The Christian Lawyers Fellowship of Nigeria (CLASFON) led by its President, Jonathan Kish Adamu, is the oldest Christian lawyer fellowship in Africa, having been formed in 1979. Today CLASFON has over 2,000 members including judges, magistrates, law students and lawyers. CLASFON has played a major role in helping define church/state relationships, promoting Christian mediation as an alternative dispute mechanism and addressing issues that affect the public and government. CLASFON has been a reconciling voice in the recent violence motivated by religion and is an advocate against the implementation of Sharia in the northern states.

CLASFON holds an annual conference, and each of its 13 regional chapters holds special seminars and programs. The law student component of CLASFON is very well organized and a dynamic group that spawns Christian law students every year into the profession. While CLASFON has a lot going for it, it continues to face challenges common to all national groups, such as inadequate funding and minimal commitment by its members. CLASFON seeks to find new ways of being relevant in helping Nigeria. (Estimated members: 2,000+)

RWANDA

The Rwandan Lawyers of Hope (RLH) led by Jean Musafiri is an organization of Christian lawyers seeking to defend the rights of Rwandan women and children, many of whom suffered in the 1994 genocide. There are an estimated one million orphans and widows who were displaced and denied their rights due to the murder of their husbands,

fathers and family members. RLH recently obtained legal status, and they expect to start operations soon. Like many other groups, RLH needs help from the international donor community as they are only a 15 member organisation trying to serve over 5 million Rwandans. (Estimated members: 15)

SENEGAL

Advocates Africa recently reestablished contact with lawyers in Senegal. Our French Communications liaison, Alison Diarra, continues to be in touch with them.

SIERRA LEONE

Situated in West Africa and ravaged by many years of civil war that ended only four years ago, the recently established Advocates Sierra Leone (ASL) seeks to heal wounds, promote justice and protect human rights. Recent reports indicate that more and more lawyers and law students are becoming interested in being part of ASL. One pastor mentioned recently in his sermon that ASL is "the new phenomenon likely to turn things round for this country." ASL is planning to hold an organizational seminar and outreach program soon. They request support and prayers for the seminar and outreach. Justice Patrick O. Hamilton is the President, and Ibrahim Koroma is the General Secretary of ASL. (Estimated members: 45)

SOUTH AFRICA

The Christian Lawyers Association of South Africa (CLASA) is a proactive group dedicated to protecting biblical values in South Africa . CLASA often appears in the courts and in Parliament engaging in pro-life and related issues. Recently CLASA took an active role in trying to derail efforts by powerful forces from outside Africa to redefine marriage.

CLASA holds meetings where major issues that affect the Christian community in South Africa are discussed. Members are encouraged to be shining lights in their profession and society. Led by Chairperson Teresa Conradie, Vice Chair Rufus Malatji and Executive Director Denise Woods, CLASA also has five student chapters. In addition to its recent role in mobilizing the church to oppose same-sex marriages in South Africa, CLASA has been active protecting the rights of AIDS babies and the unborn. (Estimated members: 350)

SWAZILAND

Buhle Dube and Advocate Percy Mngomezulu are the two key contacts in Swaziland who are still working on setting up a CLF. They appreciate our prayers as they get organized.

TANZANIA

Although Advocates Africa has sponsored two visits to Tanzania, the lawyers have not yet organized themselves. However, we remain hopeful that they will be formally organized as a fellowship of Christian lawyers and judges in 2006.

TOGO

Although Christian lawyers from Togo have participated in several regional and global convocations since 1998, there have been no reports of any recent activities in Togo.

UGANDA

The Uganda Christian Lawyers Fraternity (UCLF) continues to make progress in the area of legal aid and legal education. In May of 2006, they had a one-day conference focusing on "Integrity in the Legal Profession." Among the guest speakers was Justice Rose Mbah Acha, the Vice President of Advocates Africa, who stood in for Teresa Conradie, the President of Advocates Africa.

Led by Edward Sekabanja, UCLF has one lawyer chapter and three student chapters in Makerere University, Mukono University, and the Law Development Center (Law School). The main fellowship activities include an annual conference, monthly fellowships and quarterly committee meetings. UCLF runs a Legal Resource Center and is involved in Community Legal Education, prison outreach and legal aid. Each of the student groups has a weekly fellowship and Bible study. (Estimated members: 100)

ZAMBIA

The Zambian Christian Lawyers Foundation (ZCLF) meets in the capital city of Lusaka and is led by Col. Clement Mudenda (Ret.), Mulilo Kabesha, Likando Kalaluka and Pamela Sibanda Mumbi. The ZCLF was revived in February 2005 after about 5 years of inactivity. The fellowship continues to face challenges, but the members are very involved in legal aid and justice issues. The fellowship plans an annual meeting at the end of the year to review its program and strategies. (Estimated members: 30)

ZANZIBAR

Advocates Africa continues to nurture its contact in Zanzibar, but there has not yet been an active fellowship launched in that area. Our hope is that by the Advocates Africa conference in Kenya in 2007, there will be a local fellowship in Zanzibar.

ZIMBABWE

Davison Kanokanga, who serves as national chairman, leads Zimbabwe's Christian Lawyers Fellowship. C. Masango leads the Harare chapter. Gerald Matiba facilitates the chapter in Bulawayo. ZCLF has a strong student chapter. Apart from regular fellowships, ZCLF partners with churches and other groups in formulating and executing various community projects and programs. (Estimated members: 80)