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It's hard for me to recall a Thanksgiving season when we had more to be thankful for than this one! Let me share a few thanksgivings that come to mind:
Thankful for a Sovereign God and our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
Thankful that "all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be" Psalm 139:16. Life is His-Story. It has drama, mystery and adventure!
Thankful that "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me" Phil 4:13.
Thankful for the gift of health and the recent cancer marker blood test that showed my "active cancer" level at 1.2 on a 1 to 7 scale - the best in 7 years!
Thankful for the thousands who have prayed for our family, staff and me.
Thankful for the thousands of men and women who faithfully bear witness of Jesus Christ through the legal profession globally.
Thankful for "the best staff money can't buy" and a remarkable global team.
Thankful for a dedicated Board of Directors living lives with open hands, open hearts and open homes who serve as my encouragers - and help keep things on track!
Thankful for the donors and prayer partners who make this ministry possible.
Thankful for the Thanksgiving weekend in 1980 when Bobby, Monica, 6, Ryan, 4, and I began the 3,200-mile drive from Los Angeles to Northern Virginia to plant the flag for Christian Legal Society in our nation's capital and begin an incredible adventure.
Thankful for Lynn Buzzard, CLS Executive Director from 1971 to 1985, who hired me in 1980 to be the first Director of the Center for Law & Religious Freedom. It was the start.
Thankful that Lynn and I visited Moscow in 1991 - a visit that changed our lives.
Thankful for Lynn, founding Dean of Handong International Law School in South Korea, who has served as my boss for the past 5 years as chairman of Advocates' Board.
Thankful for England's Lawyers Christian Fellowship founded in 1848 as the first national Christian lawyer fellowship. LCF planted a seed. Today there are over 100 active or emerging national Christian lawyer fellowships globally.
Thankful for the Christian Legal Society chartered in 1961 and for its 45 years of faithful witness through its 3,200 active members.
Thankful for the 7,000 lawyers, law students, judges and professors who gathered together from over 100 nations on six continents for local, national, regional and global functions in 2006 - compared to about 400 in 1980! Some specifics follow.
Thankful for the 2,200 law students active in the 170 CLS law school chapters and the 500 who attended regional and national law student conferences in 2006.
Thankful for the 2,000 law students in Nigeria's CLASFON and the 1,000 who attended their Law Student Conference in October 2006.
Thankful for the law schools in the US with a Christian worldview, including Regent, Trinity, Liberty, and Mississippi College of Law, as well as many other schools with faculties embracing a strong commitment to following Christ in the profession.
Thankful for the new law schools in Asia with a Christian worldview, including Handong Int'l Law School in South Korea and Trinity College of Law in Lahore , Pakistan .
Thankful for the nearly 5,000 law students informally linked through Advocates' global network, plus the hundreds of undergraduates at Christian colleges and universities where CLS resources pre-law clubs.
Thankful for the Institute for Christian Legal Studies (ICLS) launched in 2001 byCLS and Regent Law School as a vehicle for scholars to address legal issues globally.
Thankful for the 300 law professors that CLS communicates with regularly through the Christian Legal Scholars Symposium and Law Professors' Christian Law Fellowship.
Thankful for the organizations committed to freedom, faith and family advocacy. In 1980 the Center for Law & Religious Freedom (CLRF) was the only interdenominational group addressing religious freedom issues. Today groups such as Alliance Defense Fund, American Center for Law & Justice, Liberty Counsel, International Justice Mission, Americans United for Life and The Becket Fund train over 1,000 lawyers annually. Several of these groups work closely with lawyers in Advocates' regional networks.
Thankful for CLS' Legal Aid Ministries and the 54 programs in 26 states and 46 cities that have trained over 1,000 volunteer lawyers and paralegals. Over 7,200 individuals and families were helped this year with the aggregate pro bono hours exceeded 31,000 hours.
Thankful for the Legal Aid provided by thousands of lawyers globally totaling over 75,000 hours of donated services in 2005 helping the poor and needy on six continents.
Thankful for the Christian Conciliation Service (CCS) concept launched by CLS in 1980 which has matured in Peacemaker Ministries (PM) www.hispeace.org, the primary global facilitator of conflict resolution programs for Advocates International. PM has trained tens of thousands in biblical conflict resolution including hundreds of lawyers and has helped mediate over 1,000 cases. PM has conducted training seminars at many Advocates conferences since 1998 and currently networks in 120 nations.
Thankful for the hundreds of meetings in cities and towns around the globe of Christians called to the legal profession, including meetings with over 5,000 law students at 200 law schools on five continents. In the US , CLS attorney members are scattered over all 50 states in 1,100 cities. There are at least 31 local attorney chapters, with many others that are not chartered. Globally, there are active or emerging national Christian lawyer groups in about 100 countries. Most national groups report local meetings of Christian lawyers in several cities within their nations.
Thankful for the 100 nations with active or emerging national Christian lawyer groups compared to only three known national groups in 1980. At least half of the groups held national meetings in 2006 bringing together about 2,000 law professionals.
Thankful for active regional networks in Africa, Asia, Europe, Latin America and North America linking Christian lawyers in over 130 nations.
Thankful for Advocates Africa , the first regional network. Advocates Africa now links about 35 nations. This year over 2,000 African Christian lawyers, law students, judges and professors participated in national conferences - the most of any region.
Thankful for the Advocates Europe network that has linked about 35 nations. Its 4th Regional Conference in Montenegro brought delegates from 15 nations. Advocates Europe has taken the initiative in several major regional religious freedom and human rights challenges, especially in the Balkans.
Thankful for Advocates Latin America with 16 of its 20 nations having registered national groups with hopes to have all 20 registered in 2007. ALA hosted about 200 delegates from 21 nations at its 6th Regional Conference in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. In addition, ALA co-sponsored two Continuing Legal Education seminars with Regent and Handong Law School faculties with almost 200 participants.
Thankful for the Advocates Asia network that has linked 35 nations and hosted its 6th Regional Conference in New Delhi , India , with over 225 participants from 31 nations.
Thankful for the successful Advocates Law Student Moot Court Competition that Advocates Asia held at their 6th Regional Conference providing a model for similar competitions elsewhere and a global competition at the our Global Convocation in 2008.
Thankful to God for your friendship, prayers and support, while...
Living in His-Story with great thanksgiving,
Samuel E. Ericsson
Founder & President