Introduction from my new book which is out soon

Introduction to the Work of the IHRG

“Helping the helpless find justice—with you”

 

            Our work began from a bigger work that makes a huge difference in America.  While working for the American Center for Law and Justice (“ACLJ”) I realized that we needed to create a Christian religious freedom organization that concentrated primarily on Europe.  No one else was doing this; no one was giving the same standard of care to protecting religious freedom in Europe.

             I worked for 15 years with the ACLJ, working on cases from student-led Bible clubs on public school campuses in America, to pro-life cases, to the use of public buildings by religious organizations, and a number of other religious freedom issues.  During those years I was blessed to work with some of the most gifted attorneys in America and the world.  I was able to learn how to protect religious freedom through the legal systems of America and a variety of other avenues.  This included using the media to make sure that the discrimination and ultimately the persecution does not occur in darkness. Often the best solution to a problem involving religious freedom is simply to make the problem known.  No one wants to be considered a bigot.

             Pursuing my vision for Europe, the ACLJ set up the European Centre for Law and Justice (“ECLJ”).  I headed up their office in Strasbourg, France for over a year.  The ECLJ continues to concentrate primarily on political solutions to the problems facing religious people and institutions in Europe.  It is a valuable work, but it seemed to me that there was also a need for legal strategy along the lines that exists in America.

             So we stepped up and began to use the model we had learned and developed in America in Europe.  In these pages you will see the effects of this work.  You will see how we are working with some incredible people to do incredible things.

             I have had the pleasure of working with some of the greatest attorneys in the western world—both in America and around Europe.  It is always amazing to me that there are men and women who will take their vocation and make it their calling.

             I have made friendships and developed relationships that have changed how I view the world.  I have been given the honor of working with Christian lawyers from Russia, England, Norway, France, Germany, Greece, and a variety of other countries around Europe.  I have been permitted to look into these cultures in ways a tourist never gets to see.  Often they have invited me into their homes to share time with their families.  We have committed to pray for each other.  We are committed to work together to bring change to Europe where it is so vitally needed.

             After over twenty years in ministry, as a church planter, an associate pastor, and an attorney working for ministries, I have learned that it is not always the big things that make the biggest difference.  It is often the small things that make the biggest difference.  It is often a young girl standing firm in the face of great persecution.  It is just as likely to be someone you have never heard of doing nothing more than continuing to do what God has put before them.

             I am not called to proclaim the Gospel message in foreign lands.  I understand that we are all called to share our faith in the places where God leads us, but I am talking about going to a foreign land for the sole purpose of serving as a missionary.

             At the same time, I am called to be a door keeper.  Our ministry keeps the door open in various places so that missionaries, pastors, and church planters can proclaim the Gospel message without fear of being arrested.

             There is a time coming when our work will not be able to keep the doors open for the proclamation of the Gospel.  There is a time coming when men and women will again be asked to pay the ultimate price for their faith in the western world.

             My calling is to hold that day off for as long as we can so that as many as can are able to easily hear the word that Jesus, God become man, has come to set them free from the futility of modern life.

             The same Jesus who turned the world upside down two thousand years ago is still working to turn the world upside down again.  It is not ours to judge the work; it is only our responsibility to do what God has called us to do.  It is our responsibility to use the talents He has given us to bring about whatever He wants it to bring about.

             It is an honor for me to serve in this ministry.  I never would have believed that God would use me in such a dynamic way to bring change to such a large area.  When I first decided to attend law school I had no idea it would lead here.

             Placing one foot in front of the other, I have arrived here.  Being as faithful as I knew how to be at what was placed before me, I have arrived here.  I am not the right one to judge the work of our ministry.  I do believe, however, that we serve as a great encouragement to a large number of people in America and Europe.  I believe we are making a difference, keeping the door open for the proclamation of the Gospel in America and Europe.

             Whether or not we ever bring the change we are fighting to bring about, we are doing what we believe we are called to do.  The victory is not ours, it is the Lord’s.  We will leave the heavy lifting to Him.

             It would be easy to take the judgment of man and decide that some of these matters are not important enough to make a difference.  It is more difficult to see the real impressiveness of the smallest obedience which leads to great breaks in the most difficult lands.  There are countries in Europe where Christians are beginning to experience more than discrimination.  There are places where these simple people of the ancient faith are facing persecution—the loss of their freedom, the loss of their families, the loss of great amounts of money—for nothing more than being true to their Christian faith.

             These people are our clients, and some of the people who work along side us at the IHRG.  These people really are modern heroes of the faith.  Faithful like the saints whose commitment is recounted in Hebrews 11—men and women of whom the world is not worthy.  They have counted the cost and stood when many of us would have found the price to stand too high.

             In many cases, they have laid aside their own dreams and ambitions and done the hard work the Lord has asked of them.  They are struggling forward without the benefit of seeing the end of their labors.  Many of them will find the day ends without seeing the objects of their faith.

             Yet, everyday they stand in the face of persecution.  I know there are many more standing than just those mentioned here.  Their courage is a source of strength for us as well.  These reports are meant to encourage you; to let you know about men, women, and children who are standing for their faith without regard to the price that has to be paid.

             These stories are not the end of the battle we are fighting around the world for religious freedom.  These examples are merely the beginning.  We need to see hundreds more standing strong for their faith without concern for their own wellbeing.  It is time we returned to New Testament Christianity.  A Christianity where believers are more concerned with the wellbeing of the church than they are with their own wellbeing.

             These are by no means the only ones out there fighting for the faith in Europe.  These friends of mine are not the only fighters.  There are many we have not met yet.  There are many we have yet to connect with in the ministry.  Their work is just as valuable as those whose stories are retold here.  These are the ones we have seen first hand.

             This is their story.  Without them our work would be meaningless.

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Books Worth Reading

C.S. LEWIS--Mere Christianity; CLAIRE BERLINSKI--Menace in Europe: Why the Continent's Crisis is America's Crisis, Too; BRUCE BAWER--While Europe Slept: How Radical islam is Destroying the West from Within; DAVID LEVERING LEWIS--God's Crucible: Islam and the Making of Europe, 570-1215; THOMAS SCHIRRMACHER--The Persecution of Christians Concerns Us All; PHILIP JENKINS--God's Continent: Christianity, Islam, and Europe's Religious Crisis

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