March 2008

March 2008

Dear Friend,

Life can take radical turns in just one day. Mine did on Monday, March 31, 1980, when I received phone calls from reporters with the Los Angeles Times and ABC News. At the time I was a partner with a Los Angeles law firm representing Fortune 500 companies in antitrust cases. I was also wearing the hat of Executive Pastor for Grace Community Church with a congregation of 15,000. The reporters asked for comments about a "clergy malpractice" lawsuit filed that day by the parents of a 23-year-old seminary student who had committed suicide a year earlier. The suit tried to hold the church and four pastors responsible. It was my first religious freedom case.

The case would take nine years before ending when California 's Supreme Court ruled that the church and its pastors had done everything possible to help the young man. Just as important, the Supreme Court closed the door on the theory of church and clergy counseling malpractice. Courts in every other state have followed that ruling.

Since that eventful Monday 28 years ago, I can't recall a single week when religious freedom issues have not crossed my desk either in the US or globally. As a result of that suit, our family moved to the Washington , DC , area in 1980 to plant the flag for Christian Legal Society and direct its Center for Law & Religious Freedom.

Life took another radical turn the weekend of January 24-26, 1991, on my first visit to Moscow. I met a Russian Orthodox lawyer, Natalya, who had just registered the first prison ministry/legal aid foundation in the history of the Soviet Union. When I asked whether this might be dangerous, she replied, "All they can do is kill me." I saw that advocates like Natalya needed to be encouraged, enabled and equipped. That same weekend in Moscow I attended a Baptist church service and saw the great need for lawyers to be mobilized and trained in promoting religious freedom. Some months later, I left CLS to launch Advocates International.

NEW THREATS: The threats facing the Church in the 21st Century are as troubling as those it faced in the 20th Century when communism was the major threat. But the fault lines of the new conflicts are not the same as those during the Cold War. The new fault lines are summed up in the term "the clash of civilizations" where religious traditions play the central role. The four major challenges to freedom today include:

1) The rise of radical and aggressive Islam in Africa, Asia and Europe ;

2) The global onslaught of secularism seeking to erase Judeo-Christian values, particularly in Europe, North and South America and Australia;

3) The growing intolerance of Christians, particularly evangelicals, by Buddhists and Hindus in Asia , and by some priests in former Communist nations; and

4) The unrelenting persecution of believers in Communist nations such as Burma, China, Cuba, North Korea and Vietnam.

A GLOBAL MOVEMENT: Advocates International was launched in 1991 in response to the collapse of Communism. It is now a global Christian lawyer movement with networks that link 151 nations and territories on six continents that address the threats flowing from the clash of civilizations. The network prepares the ground through law so that church planting, evangelism, missions and ministries can take root, be nurtured and grow. As seen in The History of a Growing Global Christian Lawyer Movement, the number of formally organized Christian lawyer groups has grown from 10 in 1991 to over 100 today. That does not include 175 law school groups, over 60 legal aid ministries and at least 75 local lawyer fellowships.

THE STRATEGY: A core premise of Advocates' strategy is to rely on local lawyers to do the work. They have the licenses, languages and contacts. They also have a far greater stake in the outcome than "outsiders" who can provide counsel or training. Local lawyers go to court, meet face-to-face with officials and give input on legislation.

THE IMPACT: Today, in perhaps 90% of the cases where evangelicals face religious liberty issues, if a lawyer is involved, that lawyer is most likely part of a national group linked to Advocates' regional network on their continent.

THE GATHERINGS: We are now planning our 5th Global Convocation for October 6-12, 2008. Every four years, Advocates hosts Global Convocations bringing lawyers together for networking, training and fellowship. Nothing has contributed more to the growth, strength and dynamism of the global network than putting Hebrews 10:23-24 into practice by gathering together and encouraging and spurring one another on to love and good deeds. The majority of national Christian lawyer groups and the regional networks were the fruit of the Convocations.

THE PRICE TAG FOR A GLOBAL MOVEMENT: The current costs of US Presidential elections are mind-boggling. With eight months to go, the major parties and their candidates have already spent more than $500 million. The eventual price tag will exceed $1 billion - not counting any contest for the US Congress.

In contrast, I've calculated the financial cost to US donors over the past 17 years to build Advocates' global Christian lawyer movement that links 151 nations and territories. My computation is seen in the enclosed Financial Summary. The bottom line in building an effective global lawyers movement impacting religious freedom, justice, rule of law, ethics and peacemaking is just $1.75 per hour per nation!

THE FRUIT: Who can deny that the Lord has blessed your generous investments with 30-, 60- and 100-fold returns over the past 17 years? The battle for religious freedom and justice are as intense in 2008 as they were on those life-changing days in 1980 and 1991. We will not quit. And we thank you for your prayers and support, while...

Living in His-Story,

Samuel E. Ericsson
Founder & President

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THE HISTORY OF A GROWING GLOBAL CHRISTIAN LAWYER MOVEMENT
(Listed by year group was formally organized. In addition, there are
over 175 law school groups, over 60 legal aid ministries and over 50 local lawyer groups.)

GLOBAL NETWORK

Advocates International (1991)

REGIONAL NETWORKS (7)
Advocates Africa
(35 nations - 150 delegates) (1998)
Advocates Asia
(35 nations including the Middle East - 150 delegates) (2001)
Advocates Europe
(35 nations - 150 delegates) (2001)
Advocates Latin America
(20 nations - 150 delegates) (2001)
Advocates Caribbean
(10 nations - 50 delegates) (2007)
Advocates Middle East
(6 nations - 10 delegates) (2007)
Advocates North America
(12 nations includes English-speaking Caribbean)

NATIONAL ORGANIZATIONS (98)

1852
Lawyers Christian Fellowship/UK

1950s
New South Wales Lawyers Christian Fellowship - Australia

1961
Christian Legal Society/USA

1975
Christian Legal Fellowship of Canada
Christian Legal Society/Victoria - Australia

1977
Double Love Club (South Korea)

1982
Christian Lawyers Association for Nigeria

1985
Center for Legal Aid Assistance & Settlement of Pakistan

1988
Christian Lawyers Fellowship of Jamaica

1989
Lawyers for Jesus of Trinidad & Tobago

1991
ADVOCATES INTERNATIONAL BEGINS

1992
Christian Lawyers Fellowship of Ghana

1993
Uganda Christian Lawyers Fraternity

1994
Christian Lawyers Association of South Africa
Kenyan Christian Lawyers Fellowship
Institute for Law & Religion (Russia)
ChristianLegalCenter (Russia)

1995
Rule of Law Institute of Bulgaria
Christian Lawyers Fellowship of Singapore

1ST GLOBAL CONVOCATION (1998)
(46 delegates from 26 nations participated)

1998
Rule of Law Institute of Mongolia
Christian Lawyers Association of Pakistan
EstherInformationCenter (Russia)
EuropeanCenter for Law & Justice
Guatemalan Association of Christian Lawyers and Notaries
SlavicCenter for Law & Justice (Russia)
Zambian Christian Lawyers Foundation

2ND GLOBAL CONVOCATION (1999)
(110 delegates from 46 nations participated)

1999
Advocates Romania
Advocates Spain
Christian Jurists Association of Finland
Christian Lawyers Fellowship of Ethiopia

3RD GLOBAL CONVOCATION (2000)
(175 delegates from 66 nations participated)

2000
Advocates Albania
Advocates Papua New Guinea
Christian Lawyers fellowship of Zimbabwe
Lawyers Fellowship of Israel
Queensland Christian Lawyers Association - Australia

REGIONAL CONFERENCES BEGIN

2001
Advocates Portugal
Bethesda: Christian Lawyers Association of Colombia
Christian Lawyers Association of India
Christian Lawyers Association of Vietnam
Christian Lawyers Fellowship of Mongolia
Christian Legal Society of Peru (Lima)
Honduran Fellowship of Christian Lawyers (San Pedro Sula)
Honduran Fellowship of Christian Lawyers (Tegucigalpa)
Sociedad Juridica Cristiana de Chile (San Jose)

2002
Advocates France
Argentine Association of Christian Lawyers
Association of Christian Lawyers and Law Students of El Salvador
Association of Christian Lawyers of El Salvador (Acercamiento Cristiano)
Christian Lawyers Fellowship of Benin
Christian Legal Society of Nicaragua
Christian Legal Society of Peru (Huanuco)
Lawyers Christian Fellowship (SA) of Southern Australia
Liberian Christian Lawyers Fellowship
Rwanda Lawyers of Hope
Rule of Law Institute of Romania
Sociedad Juridica Cristiana de Chile (Santiago )

2003
Advocates Jordan
Advocates Kazakhstan
Advocates Korea
Christian Jurists Association of Germany
Christian Lawyers Assoc. of Sucre, Bolivia
Christian Jurists Association of Sweden
Christian Lawyers Fellowship of Botswana
Christian Lawyers Fellowship of New Zealand
Christian Lawyers Fellowship for the Democratic Republic of Congo
Christian Legal Society of Peru (Ayacucho)
Ecuadorian Foundation of Christian Lawyers
Instituto dos Advogados Cristaos do Brasil

4TH GLOBAL CONVOCATION (2004)
(245 delegates from 80 nations participated)

2004
Advocates Cameroon
Christian Jurists Association of Denmark
Christian Jurists Association of Lithuania
Christian Lawyers Association of Oruro, Bolivia
Christian Lawyers Fellowship of South Korea
Christian Lawyers Fellowship of Niger
Christian Legal Fraternity of Cuba
Christian Legal Institute of Uruguay (Montevideo)
Christian Legal Institute of Uruguay (Rivera)
Costa Rican Network of Christian Lawyers
Dialogar: Christian Lawyers Association - Sincelejo, Colombia
Dominican Network of Christian Lawyers
Malian Christian Lawyers Fellowship
Nicaraguan Association of Christian Lawyers

2005
Advocates Cote D'Ivoire
Advocates Sierra Leone
Christian Jurists Association of the Ukraine
Christian Lawyers Fellowship of Burundi
Mexico Network of Christian Lawyers

2006
AdvocatesCzechRepublic
Advocates Nepal
Christian Jurists Association of Holland
Christian Lawyers Association of Puerto Rico

2007
Advocates Philippines
Christian Lawyers Association of Bolivia (Santa Cruz de la Sierra)
Christian Jurists Association of Norway
Christian Lawyers Association of the Philippines
Tonga Christian Lawyer Fellowship

2008
Christian Lawyers Association of Panama
Christian Lawyers Association of Paraguay
Fiji Christian Lawyer Fellowship