October 03

October 2003

Dear Friend,

What do you do when things go wrong?

We are sending you a practical tool to help keep the right perspective when things go wrong. "The Five Questions to Ask: True or False?" may not give specific answers to your problem. But they help you stay grounded in the Word of God that remains true regardless of circumstances.

The enclosed "When Things Go Wrong" newsletter share personal His-Stories to encourage you of the fact that God's Word never fails even when things go wrong.

Advocates' mission is to encourage, enable and equip lawyers, judges and national leaders around the globe. We are now distributing these cards to our advocates in nations where the major language is English, Spanish or Korean. You can imagine what an encouraging tool this can be for advocates in countries - such as Sri Lanka, Pakistan or India - where injustice and persecution may be daily realities. This is a cost-effective way to equip the "innkeepers" in our network. We hope to have versions in Russian, French, Portuguese and German soon.

We invite you to ask for additional cards for your friends or family, law firm or business, Bible study or Sunday School class. They fit nicely in your wallet, purse or Bible. I have a business card holder on my desk and one in our reception area with the cards readily available. If you want extra sets, please return the enclosed form.

Next month I will send you "When Things Go Right!" sharing reports on the six regional conferences that our networks sponsored this summer and fall. Nearly 70 nations participated in the 2003 conferences. In order to reduce the stress from the travels, I was unable to attend any conference this year. But the reports we received from nearly every conference was that they were "the best ever". I thank our Client, the Lord Jesus Christ, for his strength as we continue...

Living in His-Story,

Samuel E. Ericsson
Founder & President

P.S. Thank you for the $15,000 that we received for the pump for the pool for God Loves Albania, the only ministry in that nation for people with disabilities!

When Things Go Wrong

Five Questions to Ask: True or False?

by Samuel E. Ericsson

What do you do when things go wrong? How do you react to bad news? What do you do when you're told you have cancer? How do you feel when money runs out? What do you do when The System turns against you? How do you react when a close friend betrays you? It's easy to get angry, frustrated and discouraged. But it's best to step back and ask five true or false questions.

Accepting Christ does not shield us from problems. In fact, our decision for Christ will often bring along a new set of issues. Many of the old problems - health, finances, careers and relationships - may continue. But as a follower of Christ, you can ground your response to life's big challenges by focusing on the Word of God that remains true regardless of circumstances. There are five verses that have been very helpful to me over the years. The core issue is whether these truths are as relevant when things go wrong as they are when things go right.

Question #1: True or False - And 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 (NIV)

Cancer is the most feared word in the English language. I know. Doctors have told me twice in four years: "You've got cancer!" In August 1999, 48 hours before leaving for conferences in Romania, Bulgaria and Albania, I passed out in a restaurant after dinner with Bobby. We had been told by three doctors that there was nothing wrong, but I knew something was amiss so I cancelled my trip. A week later we discovered that I had the largest mass of bladder cancer that my urologist had ever seen. Even more serious were the tumors preventing my left kidney from draining properly. If I had traveled to Eastern Europe, the kidney might have burst and I would have come home in a box. There was no physiological connection at all between passing out and my cancer! God intervened!

Four years later, I slipped and fell on the wooden steps in our home puncturing my right lung and breaking seven ribs. Chest x-rays soon revealed some other news: a malignant cancerous "hot spot" was found in my left lung. It would have gone unnoticed but for the fall.

The oft-quoted Romans 8:28 promise has two prerequisites: 1) we must love God, and 2) we must walk according to His will. It is never a blank check for everyone. But it is true at all times!

Question #2: True or False - Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus. I Thessalonians 5:18 (NIV)

On March 31, 1980, reporters with the The Los Angeles Times and ABC News called our home for my comments on the first-ever "clergy malpractice" lawsuit. It was filed against our church, Grace Community, and four pastors. I was on leave from my L.A. law firm serving as legal counsel and executive pastor for the Church at the time. The suit involved the suicide of a 23-year old friend who had been counseled by the pastoral staff. The case was built on falsehoods. We won two trial court decisions, including a dismissal after a five-week trial. The appellate courts reversed both our wins. The California Supreme Court finally held that the church and pastors had done everything possible to help the young seminarian. Equally important, they held that "clergy malpractice" suits - as well as all suits against "non-licensed therapists" - have no place in California law. The U.S. Supreme Court let the decision stand.

The case took over nine years and about 2,000 hours out of my life. But it was worth it. By 2003, no state in the U.S. had strayed from this landmark state-court decision. In fact, because of its broad national sweep, several constitutional scholars consider it to be the most significant state-court decision in U.S. history! After the calls from the two reporters on that Monday evening in 1980, I called Pastor-Teacher John MacArthur at Grace Church to inform him of the lawsuit and told him, "I'm glad we're first! We are ready for this issue!" He agreed. In everything give thanks...

Question #3: True or False - But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness and all these things will be given to you as well. Matthew 6:33 (NIV)

In April 2000, Peter Waiyaki, the assistant general counsel for Kenyan Airlines in Nairobi, Kenya, sent an e-mail reporting on plans for an August 2000 conference for 80 Christian lawyers and pastors from six eastern African nations. He mentioned that they were praying for $33,000 that they still lacked. I told our general counsel, Wally Cheney, that if Peter would send us a detailed budget then Bobby and I would draw down $10,000 on our home equity line to help their conference.

The next day Advocates received a $10,000 gift from a "total stranger" in Phoenix, Arizona. It was the largest gift we have ever received from a stranger. I called the benefactor to find out who he was and why he had sent this gift. He told me that he first heard me speak when he was a law student at UCLA in 1981 - 19 years earlier! He heard me speak a second time in April 2000 at the Arizona Governor's Prayer Breakfast. My talk was Living Beyond Belief - it's not enough to believe something, we must act on it. His gift came in response to those two "sowings" of my life into his.

As it turned out, Peter and the Africans did not need our $10,000 gift. But we learned once again that all these things will be given to you as well if we are available and continue seeking Him!

Question #4: True or False - You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world. I John 4:4 (NIV)

Every day we receive stories about religious persecution around the globe. Evil is on the loose on every continent. We also receive His-Stories of God's intervention - often through his local advocates - in ways that none of us could ever plan. A common thread among these "overcomers" is perseverance. They trust God. They never quit. For example, in several countries Christians prayed that their Parliaments would not pass laws making all evangelism a crime. They got their answer. In one nation a military coup dissolved the Parliament. In another a new election was held where none of the co-sponsors of the proposed laws were re-elected! Greater is the one in you...

Question #5: True or False - I can do everything through him who gives me strength. Philippians 4:13 (NIV)

The Body of Christ is a Reality! Within the Church are lawyers, judges and national leaders. Our mission is to encourage, enable and equip these advocates to live out the Good Samaritan parable in their practice. They are the parable's "innkeepers" with the languages, law licenses, contacts and commitment needed to promote religious freedom, human rights, conflict resolution and ethics. Our home office has three full-time staff to facilitate linking lawyers reaching over 135 nations. My life verse is, "I can do everything through him who gives me strength." After God's unmerited gifts to me of 21,575 days, 517,800 hours and over three billion heartbeats, I know this verse is true when things go right and when things go wrong! God's Word never fails! We can bank on it!!