Archive for the 'IHRG’s Work' Category

South Africa 2010 Final Report

South Africa 2010 Final Report 

David and I met with leaders in April.  Then, we continued to work with leaders during the actual outreach at the World Cup to monitor the situation and step in to help should the situation require our attention.  Fortunately, we were able to monitor only and did not need to intercede directly wtit legal action.
Thank you for your prayers and support!  Because of your faithfulness we were able to be there for these missionaries who were able in turn to share the Gospel message with literally tens of thousands of soccer fans from around the world.
This is some of the important work we are doing at the IHRG.    We helped with copyright and royalty issues.  We helped TUG, the outreach overseers, to protect themselves from liability.  We helped everyone understand the South African law on gatherings in public places and the number restrictions requiring permits.  We helped with the general rules for outreach and public presentations of the Gospel.
Now, we are turning our attention back to Europe and the Middle East.  I am going on a short trip into Lebanon and Syria in October to see what we can do to help believers there.  We have an appeals court hearing in Europe coming up as well.
I will keep you informed.  In the meantime, pleasecontinue to pray for us!

Without your prayers and support we could not have been in South Africa standing with the missionaries who were ministering in public places everyday!  Thank you!  We will have an update on our upcoming work soon.
 

 

 

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Pray for the missionaries headed to the World Cup

            We are two weeks from the start of the most watched sporting event in the world.  In addition to being the most watched sporting event there is a huge mission movement that shows up at these major sporting events to share the Gospel on the streets.

            The International Human Rights Group works with these missionaries to make sure their legal rights are protected and they are able to participate in the outreach without threat of arrest.  I have done my work, there is a possibility that I will return to South Africa during the World Cup to monitor the outreach, but most likely, from here on out I will watch from home like you.

            I have met with the Ultimate Goal Committee.  I have answered their questions, helped them with legal documents, and provided whatever legal help I could.  Now, we must pray.  Pray that God will give wisdom to the missionaries who will be using the World Cup to create a divine moment for a lot of people.

            The World Cup starts on 11 June and continues until 11 July.  It will be help in ten cities.  So, now, let’s get down to the business of praying for protection and success.

First, Lasting Impressions of South Africa

We just arrived a few days ago, after a 15 hour flight from Atlanta.  From the minute we sat down on the plane I knew this trip would be different.  Sitting between David and me was a South African man.  As we began talking he knew everybody we were meeting with in South Africa.  Imagine, three hundred or so people on the plane and God puts the one person who is connected with our work here in South Africa next to us.

             The country is beautiful; the people are friendly and open.  One of the most unusual things about this trip for me is that we are staying in the same hotel every night.  In Europe we are always in four or five cities and move from hotel to hotel; often a new hotel every night.   When we arrived at the bed and breakfast where we are staying we found the doors locked.  We rang the bell and no one answered.  After about two or three minutes a man popped his head through the curtain that covered the locked metal gate that provides security.

             We identified ourselves and he found our name on the registry.  “I am a guest here, too.”  Come around and I will let you in.  We followed him in and waited on the owner to arrive.  As we talked to this man we learned that, like us, he had chosen this hotel at “random.”  We sat out on the patio, under a thatched hut and spent the next hour talking with him.

             We followed that up with breakfast the next morning.  During breakfast we learned that our new friend, Enock, was a young Christian from Zimbabwe.  He is working on developing a foundation to help young people learn the value of getting an education and working hard.

             By the time breakfast was over I felt like I had known Enock my whole life.  He gave us a tour of the neighborhood where we are staying.  The Lord used us to encourage him in matters of developing your vision into a viable business or ministry.

             Over the next few days we spent more and more time with Enock.  Talking about ministry and how to develop a foundation to help young people in Africa get more involved in the daily life of their country.  His concern was how to motivate young people to take control of their own lives, gain a vision for the future, and even get involved in the political process by voting and working to influence policy at the local level.

             Enock really helped us get into the local culture; we went for a ride using the Soweto taxi system.  This taxi system is a series of vans with five rows of seats in them.  You flag down the taxi with a series of hand signals that let the driver know where you are going.  If it is the right taxi he pulls over and you get in.  The cost is about a dollar.  Through a series of transfers we made it to Nelson Mandela Square where there is a huge statute of Mandela overseeing the entrance to a brand new upscale shopping mall in the most exclusive section of Johannesburg.  Near the Mandela statute is a serious of eight foot soccer balls set up to honor the World Cup and other championships of World Football.

             From there it was off to another series of Soweto taxis so that we could go to the Rosebank African Market.  Stall after stall of native Africa crafts.  A huge sign hung from the roof.  “This is Africa—We bargain.”  And the games began. The crafts were awesome; the prices were fluid.  David was enjoying himself, I was a little nervous because I am not big on the bargaining.

             The next day we headed out to meet the Ultimate Goal Committee so that I could give them legal advice on outreach during the World Cup.  Here was a room full of brothers and sisters from South Africa and around the world.  They were working together with one common goal—how to turn the World Cup Soccer Tournament into a valuable outreach for the Kingdom and the Church.

             I have worked with some of these folks since the Olympic Games in Athens, Greece in 2004.  They are becoming old friends.  They always inspire me as they are working hard to finish strong.  They are giving up their homes to come to a foreign land and see the Kingdom built.  What a great calling!

             We left these two days of meetings with a mandate for preparing information for the Committee—something I am doing now that we are back.

             The greatest news of all, however, is what happened after these meetings.  David and I were spending a few more days before heading home.  On Thursday we were resting at the guesthouse when the owner told us that we had a couple of friends here to see us.

             Earlier in the week David had shared the Gospel with an African man named Josiah.  He left the first meeting telling us that he wanted to talk more about God and asking if he could come back on Thursday.  In the excitement we had forgotten.

             Here was Josiah, with his cousin Tich, looking to hear more about the Gospel message.  David sat down with them while I showered.  I was locked in our room as David took the key with him promising to return in fifteen minutes.  Over an hour later I was in a panic, not knowing if something had happened to David. 

             When I finally got out of the room by calling the owner on his cell, using my computer, I found David circled up under our thatch hut, holding hands with these two African men as he prayed for their salvation.

             Josiah told us that after he prayed he “felt like ice cream!”

             That was a fitting end to our time in South Africa.  Now we are preparing to make sure that all the missionaries and evangelists who show up for the World Cup are protected as they share their faith with others like Josiah and Tich.

             Thank you for your prayers and your support of our work!

South Africa and the World Cup, IHRG is getting ready

            We are getting ready to head to Johannesburg, South Africa to meet with some of the ministry leaders who are preparing for a huge outreach during the World Cup Soccer Tournament this June and July.

            Since the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta we have been providing religious freedom legal help at many of the major sporting events around the world.  This year we are personally working with ministry leaders and FIFA officials to make sure that the free speech and religious freedom rights of the missionaries who will come from around the world are respected by local and tournament officials.

            At the same time, I am working, even now, to establish meetings with other ministry leaders in South Africa and local Christian attorneys.  These meetings will allow us to have an even greater effect during our time in South Africa.

            There is a lot of preparation that goes into these meetings.  We have to do all the normal travel arrangements, determine where is the most strategic location to set up as our camp in Johannesburg.  We have to prepare legal documents and then we have to get those legal documents to the key mission people and the key people with FIFA and the local law enforcement.  We have to make sure they understand their rights and this involves some training before and during the tournament.

            Our job is to make sure everyone understands the protected speech rights.  Our job is to make sure that police officials do not overstep their bounds during the tournament.  Our job is to make sure the missionaries do not get too aggressive on their part as well.

            So, we are preparing to leave in just over two weeks for our first on the ground meetings in Johannesburg, South Africa.  Please continue to pray for our team.  We have a lot of work in the next few months, and a lot of travel as well.

Why The German Response To Home Schooling Confuses Me

            I have some trouble understanding just what troubles German juvenile officials so much when it comes to the issue of parents taking an active, daily role in the education of their children.  They are fighting too hard for it to merely be something that they are uncomfortable allowing to happen.

            If they merely were uncomfortable it would not make sense to insist that parents do not have the right to control the education of their children to the point of moving from a position of discrimination to a position of persecution against these parents and their children.

            I do not use the word persecution lightly and I know that there are many who will take exception to its use here.  When parents face heavy fines it is discrimination in my book.  When parents are in court defending their right to control the education of their children it is discrimination to me.

            When, however, parents are serving short sentences in the local jails without the benefit of a hearing and without legal appeal it becomes persecution in my book.  When those same parents have their children taken into state custody just because they are home schooling their children it goes from discrimination to persecution.

            That is what is happening in Germany.

            The Germans gave us the Reformation.  They have long been on the forefront of cultural changes in a positive way.  There are many things we must be grateful to the Germans for, including their incredible engineering skills and their scientific work that lead to some of the greatest breakthroughs in technology and medicine that we have ever seen.

            Something has happened though.  I have a couple of photos that sum up the confusion I am experiencing much better than words ever could.

            The first photo is one I personally took during the 2009 Octoberfest in Munich, Germany.  I was there just a few days after I had experienced a moving meal with the Schimidt family in nearby Otting, Germany.  Just before we ate they offered a family prayer to bless the food and our time.

Oktoberfest in Munich, Germany

Schmidt family praying before lunch

            The confusion comes from the fact that one of these activities is highly acceptable in modern Germany.  The other has begun to lead to many problems for families in Germany—particularly those families who are trying to control the education of their children.

            Maybe the problem is that God is okay as long as we do not take Him too seriously.  That is a problem in American as well as Germany.

Preparing For The New Year

This has been a very tough year for the IHRG and me.  We have fought hard in the battles we had, but it has been a struggle to keep everything going forward.  The economic crisis has meant that we have to do more on less.  It meant that we had to move some activities to next year that we wanted to do this year.

I am not discouraged however.  Already we have ended the year strong.  We have a couple of cases that are being developed, one in Norway and one in Germany.  We are working on a case in Greece that is still not ready for public discussion.  We are working to protect the rights of missionaries at the Winter Olympics in Vancouver, British Columbia and at the World Cup Soccer Tournament in South Africa. 

I also have the opportunity to go to Lebanon and Syria to meet with key Christian leaders there.  Please start praying now for the team as we prepare for this trip.  There are many issues facing believers in the Middle East and we want to be able to protect them as much as possible.

We are also preparing to meet with two groups of church planters in Europe in January.  We want to meet these men and women, let them know that the IHRG is there to help them if they have issues regarding their religious freedom and the right to set up and operate in Eastern and Western Europe.  This is what we do.

This is just what is before me sitting here at Christmas.  It does not include what will happen as we move into the new year and other issues unfold.  We must continue to be there.

In addition to everything listed above, we are planning to host a conference in Germany for lawyers and other Christian leaders to develop a strategic plan for moving forward protecting religious freedom in Europe. 

We are also continuing to move forward with planning for developing a jail chaplains program for the Czech Republic.

All in all you can see that the IHRG has a very ambitious agenda for the coming year.  We hope that you will be a part of our support team.  You can pray and you can help support our work through tax deductible donations made at www.ihrg.org/Donate.html.  You can also join our mailing list by requesting to be added.  Send me an email at jt1217@aol.com.

International Human Rights Group’s Tribute To The Life Of Chris Klicka

            Long before I met Chris I knew who he was.  Chris has always been a legend in home school circles.  People speak of him with a reverence I have seen given to few people in ministry—other than those who run large ministries with large followings.  Chris lived with a passion.  He had a passion for ministry that is seldom matched.  He worked with home school families because he believed in the human rights issues underlying the idea of a parent teaching their children.  Unlike many in our modern world, Chris practiced what he preached—just as tirelessly as he preached, he practiced.  There was no conflict in Chris.

             I first really spent time with Chris around 2000 in the ACLJ’s offices at Regent University.  Chris was there for the national convention, and he was there to see what could be done to help the home school families of Germany.  At the time those home school families were going from the touch of discrimination to the grip of persecution.  Chris was one of those people who saw the problem long before everyone else did.  He was not one to take a problem sitting down; he was passionately looking for a fight.

             Even then Chris was reluctantly using a wheel chair in the large lobby of the Founders’ Inn.  He insisted on walking to the podium to share his expertise.  He insisted on standing as long as he could.  That was the fight Chris brought to life; that was the fight Chris brought to the home school movement.

             Families in Germany are still home schooling because of the work of Chris.  We miss him, but the ultimate victory there—like the victory in America—will stand as a tribute to the life and work of Chris Klicka.

             We need more leaders like Chris; selfless, pushing beyond human limits, concerned only that they do everything in their power to help the helpless find justice.  That is the testimony of Chris’ life.  It is a testimony that will inspire home school families and those of us working to protect them for generations to come

             Chris’ passion for life will always be there as an inspiration for the IHRG.  We will continue to build on ministry on the same passion—driven by the memory of Chris.  I am better for having known Chris.  The IHRG is stronger because of Chris.  That is part of eternal life; beginning in the present.

             God speed brother, we will do our best to honor your life and your memory.


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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