Archive for the 'Olympics and other Major Sporting Events' 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.

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.

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.

The International Human Rights Group at Germany 2006 and What That Means for 2008 and Beyond

I was not prepared for what I saw in Germany during the 2006 World Cup outreach.  I have been to Olympic outreaches in Atlanta and Athens.  I have helped missionaries at Olympic outreaches in Salt Lake City, Sidney, Torino.  I have helped missionaries at major sporting events in the US and beyond.

 

I thought I had seen what these outreaches were all about.  I have seen big screen televisions projecting both sporting events and Christian ministry.  I have seen concerts in public plazas.  I have seen individual outreach going on throughout the cities where these events occurred.

 

So naturally, when David and I flew into Germany I thought I would see more of the same.  Don’t get me wrong; more of the same is quite impressive—and more important than that, these outreaches are extremely effective.  Local mission leaders help link up those who respond to the Gospel message and local churches who are prepared to disciple these folks.  This means that those who respond to the Gospel message are not left to find their own way.  They are given the opportunity to grow into mature Christians within a local Church community.

 

I was shocked when we arrived in the small German town of Altenkirchen of some 6,700 souls.  Altenkirchen is about thirty or forty minutes from Cologne.  You can walk from one end of town to the other in a little over fifteen minutes.  This was the headquarters for Kickoff 2006.  I thought this would be a place where no outreach occurred.

 

Yet, as we were getting over our jetlag David and I walked through town.  In the center square of the city we found a pavilion that had been set up to house outreach during the entire month long World Cup Soccer Tournament.  This pavilion had an area where missionaries could purchase t-shirts and caps and other tools for outreach.  The far right corner of the pavilion had a small grill and drink area where people coming in to watch the games on the huge screen television could purchase snacks, sausages and drinks to unknowingly support the outreach they were partaking in.  While all this was going on the soccer games were being broadcast live on the largest television screen in the city.

 

During halftime, instead of running the secular halftime show, a national Christian station had lent its studio to produce a live Christian halftime program complete with an accounting of what we believe.  I watched as hundreds of people in this village in Germany were ministered to at a time when they were more than willing to sit and listen.

 

What a remarkable moment this was!

 

That is not the end of the story, however.  The outreach at the pavilion was only the beginning.  As we walked through town over the next week David and I found outreach going on in the public park just down from the pavilion.  In a separate area of Altenkirchen the outreach team had set up a small portable enclosed soccer field.  Here they were having a three on three soccer tournament.  This outreach was so dynamic that the local schools had a field day where the local school children were brought during school hours to participate in the festivities. 

 

During the soccer tournament there was a parade of Christian missionaries who played Christian music and danced and waved flags celebrating Christianity.  At the same time there was a clown who was making animal balloons.  There was a kicking contest and a variety of other events going on simultaneously around this square.

 

It was a remarkable outreach in this small town.

 

I began asking questions and learned that these types of outreaches were going on all around Germany.  Outreaches were being set up and participated in that would reach the people who were coming from around the world to attend the world’s largest soccer tournament. 

 

I had the chance to see further outreaches in cities like Stuttgart and Cologne.  In these larger cities the outreach was broader.  People were distributing literature on the streets, they were preaching to those in public places around these cities.  Literally thousands of people were being ministered to by missionaries who were so passionate about their opportunity to reach the world while the world was in Germany.

 

We were there because a part of what we do is monitor these events to make sure that missionaries were able to present the Gospel without threat of arrest. 

 

I am happy to say that because of the great work of groups that prepare the missionaries and our work to educate the organizers of the event as to the rights of Christians to share their faith in public places.

 

These types of outreach inspire me.  The creativity that goes into putting together outreach that can attract the attention of people who are coming to an incredibly dynamic sporting event is more than I can imagine.

 

I admire the workers and the work that goes into making these outreaches successful.  For one thing, the expense is greater because hotels and local restaurants often jack up their prices in anticipation of the huge crowds of tourists that will come to the event.  And many of the people who come to share at these events are taking their vacation time to come share their faith.  They are not going to the beach.  They are not headed to the mountains.  They are vacationing with purpose.

 

We will take the expertise we continue to gain at these events and refine our abilities.  We are committed to standing with these men and women who are giving everything to minister to those who are lost and dying in this world.

 

We will be there for them—after all, they are there for us and they are there for Him.


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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