June 2008

June 2008

Dear Friend,

Sitting behind an empty desk on June 1, 1991, I had no plans to launch a global movement of Christian lawyers. I simply wanted to encourage a few lawyers in present and former communist nations to use their law degrees for Christ's Kingdom; as Natalya Vyssotskaya was trying to do for Russian prisoners through her Faith, Hope and Love ministry that she had launched two days before we met on my first visit to Moscow. Seeing Natalya's passion for Russian prisoners in January 1991 and attending a small Baptist service two days later changed my life. I felt the Call to do something.

ON THE ROAD: My 17-year adventure has covered over a million miles with stops in 60 nations. I've met many of God's choice lawyers, judges and law students around the globe who want to promote religious freedom, reconciliation, the rule of law, life, family and ethics. In the 1990s it was rare to find Christian lawyers anywhere meeting to encourage one another to love and good deeds as Hebrews 10:23‑25 exhorts. By 1998 it became clear that my meetings worldwide with a few lawyers here and there was not an effective or efficient way to mobilize a growing network. When I discovered my massive bladder cancer, I saw God's travel advisory: "Sam, stay home! It's time to bring committed and competent advocates together to share the vision and strategies." We got the message.

GETTING ENERGIZED: In 1998 we held our first Global Convocation with 45 delegates from 26 nations coming to WashingtonDC for training, strategizing, networking and fellowship. The impact of that Convocation and later ones in energizing the attendees was astounding. Delegates went home committed to put legs to Acts 1:8 in bearing witness of Christ to the uttermost part of the earth by meeting locally and organizing nationally. By the 3rd Global Convocation in 2000, with 175 attending from 60 nations, it had become too expensive to meet annually. Thus, regional networks were launched in Africa, Asia, Europe and Latin America - later in the Caribbean, Middle East and North America - that hold annual regional conferences bringing together as many as 1,500 attendees each year. The 4th Global Convocation in 2004 brought 245 national and regional leaders from 80 nations joining 650 CLS members. Now we're hoping to see 600 delegates from 100 nations join 800 CLS members at the 5th Global Convocation in Washington, DC during the week of October 6-12, 2008. The following examples illustrate the impact the Convocations have had on seven "world changers."

IMPACTING EUROPE! In April 1994 I first met Latcho Popov, 40, in Sofia, Bulgaria. He and I bonded in about three minutes. I challenged him to disciple and mentor the four young Bulgarian lawyers I had been meeting on prior visits to Sofia. I also invited Latcho to be our guest at the CLS annual conference at Snowbird, Utah in October 1994. It was his first visit to the West. At the Saturday evening session, Latcho was called to the stage where a group of CLS members prayed for him and his work in Bulgaria. Until the CLS conference with 300 lawyers, Latcho had never been with a group of more than seven Christian lawyers. Latcho went home energized, began discipling lawyers, judges and law students and launched the Rule of Law Institute. The US Ambassador to Bulgaria told me that Latcho's Institute was the most effective of any group in the Balkans. The Institute now networks 225 lawyers with meetings in nine towns. Latcho has also served as President of the 37-nation Advocates Europe since 2002 and has attended all the Convocations since 1998.

IMPACTING ASIA! Godfrey Yogarajah is a pastor in Sri Lanka who has served as the General Secretary of the Evangelical Fellowship of Asia for 20 years. Sri Lanka has suffered through a civil war with many Christians brutally persecuted. Sri Lankan pastors have been murdered and their churches torched. After Godfrey attended our 1st Global Convocation in 1998, he returned to Sri Lanka to help start a national Christian lawyer group. In addition, he spread the word about Advocates' mission to church leaders and lawyers throughout Asia. A few weeks ago, Godfrey wrote me the enclosed letter sharing the impact Advocates has had in Asia since 1998.

IMPACTING INDIA! Dr. Richard Howell is the General Secretary of the Evangelical Fellowship of India. He heard Godfrey's appeal. Among the one billion Indians in "the world's largest democracy" are 30 million who embrace Christian traditions. In the past decade, Christians have faced the worst persecution since India received her independence in 1947. As Richard shares in the enclosed email, after attending our 3rd Global Convocation in 2000, he organized the Christian Lawyers Association of India (CLAI) that now has over 500 very active members. CLAI hopes to send 20 leaders from various states, including two Supreme Court Justices, to our 5th Global Convocation.

IMPACTING SOUTHEAST ASIA! Min Choon Lee, a Malaysian of Chinese descent, is one of the most competent and committed Christian lawyers on Planet Earth. He is a godly leader. Min Choon is a highly respected religious liberty advocate in Malaysia and Southeast Asia. He has authored a book on religious freedom. The 3rd Global Convocation in 2000 triggered his interest and he has been a strategic leader in organizing and leading Advocates Asia that now links about 35 Asian nations.

IMPACTING AFRICA! Teresa Conradie of South Africa came to our 2nd Global Convocation in 1999. Teresa is one of the most remarkable and godly people I have ever met. Soon after the fall of apartheid in 1994, Teresa opened the first bi-racial law firm in her country. She was instrumental in launching the Christian Lawyers Association of South Africa and has served as its President for several years. She has been in the forefront of the battle for family and life, and is frequently invited to be a reconciler in some of Africa's hot spots. While serving as the President of the 43-nation Advocates Africa, she has put on hold a judicial appointment. Considering the history of South Africa, it is significant that a white Afrikaner South African woman has been unanimously elected by Advocates Africa's members to serve as their President - twice!! She will address our 5th Global Convocation in October. I've enclosed her update on the Convocation plans for Africa's delegation.

IMPACTING LATIN AMERICA! After attending our 3rd Global Convocation in 2000, Peruvian Human Rights Law Professor Nina Balmaceda returned to Lima to launch the Christian Legal Society of Peru with four other colleagues. Shortly thereafter, Nina visited my office in Virginia where I challenged her to organize Advocates Latin America (RLAAC). CLS/Peru hosted the first Latin conference of RLAAC in 2001 and Nina served as its President for two terms. She has served as our staff facilitator for RLAAC since 2003 and has been instrumental in making Latin America the first region with links to all the nations within its region. Latin America is the model regional network. Today, 18 of 20 Latin nations have officially registered national Christian lawyer groups compared to two in 2001. Nina is a potential Margaret Thatcher in Latin America. She was a Fulbright Scholar in the 1990s at Notre DameUniversity in Indiana. On June 4, 2008, Nina received an "Excellent!" on her Ph.D. dissertation in International Political Science at Notre Dame. Nina will address our 5th Global Convocation.

IMPACTING OCEANIA! Mark Mudri was born in Serbia but moved with his family to Australia while in his teens. After attending our 4th Global Convocation in 2004, Mark returned home energized to challenge Christian lawyers in Australia and the South Pacific to be engaged in reconciliation, promoting religious freedom and ethics, mentoring law students and sharing their faith with their colleagues. Mark is a dedicated man of prayer. When he starts praying it's as if a 747 is revving its engines nearby. Mark serves on Advocates' Global Council and leads the Prayer Team for the Steering Committee and for our 5th Global Convocation. Like all the others, Mark is bearing great fruit as the result of our quadrennial Convocations.

We invite you to enable future "world changers" to attend the 5th Global Convocation, while...

Living in His-Story,
Sam Ericsson
Founder & President

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STATUS REPORT ON ADVOCATES AFRICA
CONVOCATION DELEGATION

By Teresa Conradie, President
Email sent on June 4, 2008

Dear Sam,

I add my voice to Mike's in saying thank you for your continued commitment and dedication to this Convocation!

I will be part of a radio talk show tomorrow on the following theme: "Newspapers report on extreme pessimism, fear and uncertainty concerning the future of South Africa. How does God feel about this country?"

The first thing that came to mind when they asked me to take part was to revisit the scriptures on the "Right card" and I remembered the many times you have displayed an amazingly positive attitude: "sometimes disappointed, never discouraged" "never a bad day only good days and great days".

My dear friend, as I was thinking about it, I realized more and more what a huge influence you have had on my life and I am certain that the same goes for many lawyers across the globe.

Denise's cousin, Kevin Woods, was a political prisoner in Zimbabwe for 20 years and was released the year before last. In his book which was released a while ago he says that the one lesson he learnt sitting in solitary confinement all those years, was that we continuously fail to express our appreciation to the people we care about while we have the opportunity.

So let me not rely on the hope that I will have another opportunity later and say to you now that I appreciate your investment in my life more than you would ever know and that you are most probably the one person who has shaped my thinking more than anyone else! Words are not sufficient to express my gratitude!

Ok, now back to the cold, hard statistics re the African delegation:

During our meeting in Addis Ababa [Ethiopia] earlier this year, the board identified 6 countries which we call 'the Advocates Africa back bone fellowships'. They are fellowships that have substantial membership, play an important role in influencing their regions and have the capacity to host or have hosted a continental conference. They are South Africa, Kenya, Uganda, Ghana, Nigeria and Ethiopia. We decided that these fellowships would be allowed, provided the finances were available, to nominate more delegates than the other emerging fellowships.

It was agreed that these fellowships would be allowed to initially nominate not more than 12 delegates. (This was at the time when we were still hoping to have sponsorship for 150 African delegates) This will explain the size of the delegations from Ethiopia, Kenya and Uganda. It is of course still possible that these numbers will be diluted by the visa and travel cost challenges.

Now Nigeria is another story! As a backbone country and given their huge population of over 150 million, the AA board was happy to also give them the opportunity to nominate 12 subsidized delegates. I made the enquiries on their behalf regarding the day delegate option and they then indicated that they would like to make use of it as well. In other words, 12 Nigerian delegates stay in the hotel and the rest (all selected by CLASFON) stay elsewhere, pay the US$495 and only attend the program. In order to prevent any confusion, I have suggested to Bayo that once there is more clarity
regarding the Nigerian delegates' success with visas, we ask Kish to indicate clearly who the 12 delegates staying in the hotel would be. So to summarize: for the purposes of fundraising, a maximum of 12 Nigerians have to be catered for.

Sam, the proviso to all of this is that should Advocates International not be able to raise sufficient funding over the next two months, this number as well as the number of the other large delegations will need to be reduced accordingly.

The delegates from Burundi, Guinea, Sierra Leone and Togo would in my opinion struggle to pay their own traveling costs should they be able to get over the visa hurdle. Bayo and I both are banking on one delegate from each of these countries.

As far as Zimbabwe goes, both Davison Kanokanga and Gerald Matiba have been faithful in the ministry and we would like to enable them to come. I am not sure that either of them would be nearly able to pay their own flight expenses. Zimbabwe is an economic tragedy at the moment. So I think the maximum from Zim will be two.

In other words, of the 73 delegates on your list below, my guess will be that not more than 40 would be at the Convocation and staying in the hotel.

Bless you lots,
Teresa

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EVANGELICAL FELLOWSHIP OF INDIA

May 26, 2008

Dear Sam,

Greetings in the Lord.

When I first participated in Advocates International's global conference in WashingtonDC in 2000 at your invitation, I was introduced to the concept of a Christian lawyer. In light of the wave of persecution we were facing back home in India, it was without doubt that this was the need of the hour. There was no network of Christian lawyers in India. Christian lawyers needed to recognize their calling.

I shared the vision with the executive committee of the Evangelical Fellowship of India, and the Christian Legal Association of India (CLA) was born. Today, CLA links over 500 lawyers across India. The CLA annually assists over 200 pastors in legal training, providing legal assistance, verifying persecution reports and promoting minority rights. They are among a small minority of professionals who are giving their time freely to equip the church.

Since 2005, CLA has been sharing its vision with Christian legal professionals at annual conferences specifically designed to meet the needs of the legal fraternity. Over 250 lawyers have pledged to do pro bono work on issues such as minority rights, legal aid and the persecuted church in particular.

CLA has been able to provide critical legal inputs into specific situations facing the church. For example, in 2006, EFI through the CLA filed a petition before the Supreme Court asking for Christians across India to be granted equal rights to adopt children, challenging the existing law that only allowed Hindus to be adoptive parents and all other minority communities to be granted only guardianship rights. The law was amended in 2007 with all communities being granted equal rights to adopt children.

And this is only the tip of the iceberg. There is so much yet to be done and so many Christian legal professionals yet to be reached. I encourage you to continue the work Advocates International is doing in creating this global community of Christian legal professionals. The Church needs lawyers to stand up and speak out.

Yours in Christ,

Rev Dr Richard Howell
General Secretary
Evangelical Fellowship of India

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EVANGELICAL FELLOWSHIP OF ASIA

May 13, 2008

Dear Sam,

Warm greetings in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.

I am very pleased to send an endorsement for the 2008 Global Convocation.

The Global Convocation of Christian lawyers and key leaders, which I attended and first met in a very small way in 1998, has today expanded to a large network of Christian lawyers, impacting and transforming every continent, region and nation.

These conferences have encouraged and empowered Christian lawyers to be involved in the mission of the Church, challenging them to be salt and light in a decaying society. Christian lawyers who have attended these conferences have been confronted with the claims, values and ethics of Christ, enabling them to truly be Christians in the marketplace. As a result, lives of some eminent lawyers who were nominal Christians have been reached for Christ and their lives transformed through the love of our Lord Jesus Christ.

In countries such as Sri Lanka, where Christians are a minority and Christian lawyers are very few, Advocates International fulfills a vital need, where they share a sense of belonging, Christian identity, and the opportunity to network with like-minded Christian professionals who share the same passions and burden to fulfill the Great Commission.

The emphasis of these conferences on subjects such as Christian commitment, holiness, Christian ethics, the Great Commission and other relevant Biblical teaching and training have encouraged Christian lawyers worldwide to be faithful to the call of Christ.

One of the greatest contributions made by these conferences is encouraging and challenging Christian lawyers to be strategically involved in issues of religious freedom for the sake of furthering the Gospel of Christ. Personally I have been blessed by these conferences and have had my passion for evangelism, holy living and religious freedom rekindled.

The Advocates network enabled us to have an Asian Christian Advocates movement and also to strengthen Christian lawyer networks within each country. The last Asian Advocates conference hosted by the NCEASL of Sri Lanka in October 2007 was attended by lawyers, judges and law students from 19 countries. It was a great encouragement, especially to Christian legal professionals from South Asian countries, where they are a minority.

As we approach the 2008 Global Convocation, I look back at past conferences with gratitude to the Lord and to Advocates International for this unique ministry. I look forward to seeing many more lawyers from all over the world challenged to walk humbly, love mercy and act justly.

My best wishes and blessings.

In prayerful fellowship,

Godfrey Yogarajah
General Secretary
Evangelical Fellowship of Asia

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A Son's View of Water

Father and son
make ripples to flutter
feet dangling in the cool calm of water.
"Father,"
asks the son,
"What do you see in the water?"
"Well, son,"
he said,
"I see the image of trees overhead."
"No,"
said the son in a matter-of-fact,
"I mean what do you see that's deeper than that?"
"Well, son, I suppose
I see calm
I see pure
I see peace as in a psalm."
"I see life
and more life for others to take
I see good patterns and habits never to break."
"And, well, son, I suppose
I see love,
generosity,
Yes, yes! I see those."
"Why do you ask me,
and son,
what do you see?"
"Well, dad,
I see those things too.
And when I see them I also see you."

By: Ryan Paul Ericsson, age 14, to his dad,
Sam Ericsson on Fathers' Day June 17, 1990

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UPDATEON SAM'S HEALTH

It's 9 years since I discovered massive cancer in my bladder and 5 years since we found out that it had spread to my left lung. The great news is that I am doing very well. Thank God! I maintain my Hallelujah Diet lifestyle (see http://www.hacres.com/) of trusting God, vegan diet (no dairy or meat), no white sugar or white flour, rest, exercise, sun, and as little stress as I can bear.

Many friends and contacts are following the same lifestyle with great success. A 67-year old lawyer in Northern Virginia who had extremely serious prostate problems with a PSA of 50 ("5" signals problems) now has a PSA of .004 with no surgeries, drugs or medical treatment. His doctors call it a "miracle."

On a recent weeklong Vegan Cruise in the Caribbean given to Bobby and me as a Christmas gift by our Russian son Nick, we met many people who had had serious cancer and other diseases but had fully recovered by following the macrobiotic lifestyle that is very similar to the Hallelujah Diet lifestyle. I've read The Cancer Prevention Diet by Michio Kushi several times. For those wrestling with Type 2 diabetes, we've met many, many people who follow a vegan lifestyle and have been restored to full health within a few weeks.

One of the many blessings from my health challenge has been our opportunity to share with hundreds of people approaches that they won't hear elsewhere. Jesus taught that one distinctive of his disciples was, "I was sick and you cared for me."

Thanks for your prayers and concerns, while...

LIVING in His-Story,
Sam