September 2005

September 2005

Dear Friend,

It’s time for a change of pace. In July I discovered a walnut-size tumor on the lower part of my right lung. It appears to be an aggressive spot. Thus, I need to take time to focus on health and other priorities. Advocates’ Board has encouraged me to take a sabbatical. We are not worried for we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose (Romans 8:28).

I have served in ministry leadership virtually nonstop since 1973, including the past 25 years with Christian lawyer groups. Leading lawyers is challenging, even stressful at times, as has been my focus on religious freedom issues at home and abroad. It is time to pass the baton for a while and [b]e still and know that I am God (Psalm 46:10).

There was never a master plan for Advocates International except the one by The Master Planner. We are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do (Ephesians 2:10). We serve The Master!

After discovering my cancer in 1999, we began taking steps to give Advocates’ mission away. We have facilitated launching scores of national lawyer groups, as well as the regional networks in Africa, Asia, Europe, North and South America. Each region has its own leadership that coordinates regional programs. They will all hold conferences this year. We enable our regional coordinators to assist the regional leaders in their mission.

I will be available to “the best staff money can’t buy.” Advocates and CLS relocated to adjacent offices this week so that we can work closer together on our shared mission of mentoring the next generation of lawyers. CLS Executive Director, Sam Casey, is our Vice Chairman. The office move will save at least $18,000 in our annual budget.

The next chapter for me is to chronicle stories of “the God who is there.” All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be (Psalm 139:16.) Since my youth, O God, you have taught me, and to this day I declare your marvelous deeds. Even when I am old and gray, do not forsake me, O God, till I declare your power to the next generation, your might to all who are to come (Psalm 71: 17-18). I will not die but live and will proclaim what the Lord has done (Psalm 118:17).

We thank you for being partners on the journey. Your prayers and support have encouraged and enabled us. We hope you will stand with us in the months ahead. My life verse remains: I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me, as I continue...

Living in His-Story,

Samuel E. Ericsson
Founder & President

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

Lady Luck or Father God?
AN EXXON MOMENT

by Samuel E. Ericsson

Like most Americans, my wallet holds lots of plastic. There are cards for bank credit and debit, frequent flyer and car rentals, health and car insurance. All the cards are current except for an old worn Exxon card that expired years ago. It is a reminder of an event that changed my perspective on life.

The Freedom Council was an activist group founded by Pat Robertson, the host of The 700 Club, a daily television program. The Council focused on freedom, faith and related family issues. On April 28, 1982, it convened a large pastor’s conference in Virginia Beach. At the time, I was the director of the Center for Law and Religious Freedom of Christian Legal Society (CLS) and had been invited to speak at the conference. CLS was active in two major religious freedom issues. I served as lead counsel defending a church and four pastors who had been sued in the first-ever “clergy malpractice” case. The highly publicized lawsuit sent shockwaves among pastors and churches. CLS was also launching a major effort to establish “equal access” for student-initiated and student-led Bible clubs on public school campuses. It was an attempt to resolve the “school prayer” controversy that had been boiling for two decades.

Moments after getting on the south-bound Interstate 95 early Wednesday morning, April 28, en route to Virginia Beach, a light flashed showing that my gas tank was nearly empty. This was not a good way to start a 250-mile trip. I quickly went through a mental list of the 24-hour service stations in the area. I knew that an Exxon station at the Springfield off-ramp on Interstate 95 was open. It was directly en route so it was convenient, but Exxon is one of the more expensive brands. Exxon made the Rockefellers rich.

A Crown discount gas station was also open, but it was a few miles the other direction. Since I had some time, I opted for the discount station to save a dollar. When you raise your own support through gifts from friends, a dollar saved is a dollar earned. I filled the tank at 4:30am, drove to Virginia Beach, gave my speech and returned home that evening.

The next morning a front-page story in the Metro section of the Washington Post caught my eye. Three men and a woman had robbed the lone attendant at a gas station. When their getaway car failed to start, they went back into the station, shot and killed the attendant and fled on foot. The robbery had been at the Exxon station, Springfield off-ramp, at 4:30 Wednesday morning April 28, 1982.

Life as a gift took on a new meaning. Since my Exxon moment, the first thought most mornings is, “Thank you, God, for the gift of one more day. Let the adventure begin!”

Who wrote that story? Lady Luck or Father God? You decide.

All the days ordained for me were written in your book
before one of them came to be. Psalm 139:16

© Samuel E. Ericsson 2005