Posts Tagged 'Joel Thornton'

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.

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2008, A Quick Look Back

This has been a very busy year for me.  I have managed to work on a variety of cases, with very little expenses. 

 

Your prayers and your support made this possible.  So, let me begin by saying thank you!  Your partnership has made all the difference in the lives of a number of people in America and Europe.

 

That’s right!  We have worked on a variety of cases in America.  At the same time, we have done what no one else has been doing in Europe; we stood up for religious freedom across the Continent!

 

It is important to give praise for the success we have had.  That is part of how we prepare for moving forward.  2009 looks to be every bit as busy as 2008.  We will look to 2009 soon, for now I want to take a few minutes and review our work this year.

 

One easy, cost free way you can also help us is by using GoodSearch for your Internet searches. Go to www.goodsearch.com and enter International Human Rights Group as your charity to begin supporting the ministry through GoodSearch.

 

Battles won in America

 

In the States we worked on a number of different cases and issues.  I want to talk about a couple of them that you probably heard nothing about because we handled them quietly to protect the reputation of our clients.

 

In Atlanta we worked for over two years to resolve free speech issues in the areas surrounding the Georgia Dome, Centennial Park, and the Philips Arena.  There are a number of groups that provide security and they played off of each other to hinder free speech on public sidewalks.

 

Earlier this year I met with attorneys for one of those groups and finalized the negotiations whereby everyone has now agreed that evangelists have the right to share their faith on the sidewalks surrounding all of these public arenas.

 

It was a hard fought victory and required a lot of time and energy, but we persevered and won the rights that are guaranteed under the Constitution of the United States.

 

Thank you for standing with these evangelists through the IHRG!

 

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The Gentleman Evangelist, Bill Adams, sharing his faith at an Atlanta Falcons football game!

 

We also worked with a large church in a southern city.  For the sake of the church and the community I am not at liberty to share the name of the church or the city and state.  This church has an outreach that is changing the way Christians look at the arts.

 

The church was looking to erect a large cross on property they own in a rural area.  The property is used for sports outreach and special church programs.  County officials refused the church the building permit required to erect the cross because they said it violated their local sign ordinances.

 

I was invited down to meet with county officials.  We spent over an hour discussing the fact that the Constitution and other laws protect the right of the church to erect religious worship symbols on their property for the purpose of religious expression.

 

Then, our local attorney took the county attorney by the property and let him see for himself the rural nature of the property.

 

After several weeks, the county relented and the cross has been erected.

 

Our International Work

 

I made six trips to Europe this year working on cases involving religious freedom.  While this may sound like nothing but fun it means that I was away from my family for over 70 days this year.  It means that I missed some of those moments that make up our private lives. 

 

Don’t get me wrong, this is what I am called to do and I do it gladly.  It does not, however, come without costs.

 

First case of 2008 filed in Strasbourg, France

 

My first trip to Europe in 2008 found me filing a case before the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, France.  This court is the equivalent of the Supreme Court of the United States for issues involving human rights and religious freedom.

 

This case involves Petar Keseljevic who is an evangelist from Oslo, Norway who was arrested for sharing his faith on public sidewalks in Oslo.  You might remember that in August of last year we were in Oslo at Petar’s trail.

 

In near record time, Petar’s case went through the entire system in Norway.  A ruling from the ECHR will set a precedent for the entirety of Europe.  Please pray that the court will accept this case and give us a chance to present Petar’s case for freedom of expression.

 

From Strasbourg, we traveled to a meeting with the Robinson family in Nürnberg, Germany where Clint Robinson is the English language pastor of a Baptist Church.  We spent a considerable amount of time last year working on the Robinson family’s case.  We were able to resolve their case so they remained in Germany ministering through the end of 2008.  Now, the Robinson family is back in the States on furlough preparing to return to Europe and plant a new church.

 

Your prayers and partnership helped in both of these cases.  Please continue to pray for Petar and the Robinson family.  Pray that they will be able to continue their ministries in Norway and Germany/Austria.

 

We also met with Mosaic and Samhol ministries in Iceland.  We have partnered with these ministries to support their outreach in Iceland.  These two dynamic ministries are making a huge difference in Reykjavik.  Mosaic is a local evangelical church that began this Easter.  Already they have one hundred members, many of them street people who have come to the Lord through the ministry of the church and Samhol.

 

One hundred members doesn’t sound like a big church by American standards.  You have to realize that the largest evangelical, non-state church in Iceland has only four hundred members to see what a huge start this is.  This country is like the rest of Europe, hardened to the Gospel in many ways.  Yet, in Reykjavik Christian men have dedicated their lives and ministries to seeing revival in the Icelandic people.

 

Samhol is a ministry to the street people and addicts of Iceland.  They work to not only bring these hurting souls to the Christian faith; they are also working at the street level to free them from the chains of addiction.  Their program is simple.  They help them physically defeat the addiction and then they counsel them through the emotion and mental difficulties of returning to normal, productive lives.

 

Mosaic and Samhol are changing Iceland, one soul at a time.  We are proud to be partnered with such dynamic ministries.

 

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An inside look at the work of Samhol in Iceland

 

Please continue to pray for these two dynamic ministries to have greater influence in Iceland and beyond!

 

This is a different fight for the IHRG.  Religious freedom is currently strong in Iceland.  Here we will support the local work of these two ministries and others.  We will support their leadership with legal counsel as they grow and have a greater reach into the cities and villages of Iceland. 

 

Second and Third Case of 2008 Filed Before ECHR in Strasbourg

 

We filed our second and third applications of 2008 before the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, France on behalf of the Plett and the Pauls families.  (To understand why I consider religious freedom in Europe so important please see a recent article of mine that was published in The Voice Magazine.  You can see the article by clicking here.

 

The Plett and the Pauls familes are home schooling their children for religious reasons.  Their right to control the education of their children is protected by the German Constitution and the European Convention on Human Rights.  Unfortunately, the German school authorities have refused to grant these rights to the parents and have persecuted the parents for home schooling their children.  And the German courts agreed with the school officials.

 

This persecution included removing the custody of the children on questions of where the children live from the parents and giving it to the Youth Welfare Office.  They levied fines against the parents of thousands of Euros, they showed up at the family home unannounced to take the children from the parents. 

 

One family eventually fled to Canada to try and stay together while they continue home schooling.  The other family fled in part to Austria to continue home schooling.  The European Court of Human Rights is these families’ last hope for justice and we are there to help fight for justice.

 

Please pray for these families and their cases!  Pray that the court will grant justice in instances where they have refused to enforce the law on behalf of parents and their children who are seeking to raise their children according to the dictates of their faith.

 

Criminal Trial in Oslo, Norway

 

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Norwegian attorney, Joel, and Petar Keseljevic after criminal trial in Oslo in July

 

In July I was in Oslo, Norway.  For the second time in a year police officers in Oslo arrested an evangelist for sharing his Christian faith in public.  This time, Petar Keseljevic was joined by Larry Keffer, an American evangelist.  These two men were in public areas of Oslo on May 17, 2008 sharing their faith when they were arrested.  The criminal hearing was in July and I was there representing Larry Keffer.

 

I read Larry’s fact statement into the record.  Then I cross examined a police officer.  Then I presented a closing argument based on the international law that protected the rights of Petar and Larry.

 

The prosecuting attorney told me after the trial that she believed this was the first time in Norway’s history that an American had participated in a criminal trial.  That seems a bit much to me, however, it was certainly an honor to be able to represent such an important case before the court in Oslo.

 

Both Petar and Larry were found guilty.  We appealed Larry’s case to the Norwegian Court of Appeals.  They denied the appeal and Larry’s appeal is currently pending before the Norwegian Supreme Court.

 

Please continue to pray for Larry.  We are prepared to file the final appeal in Strasbourg, if the Norwegian Supreme Court does not rule in Larry’s favor.  This is a critical case on free speech issues that could affect all of Europe and ultimately America.

 

We were also able to work with German lawyers to protect the rights of parents to choose the education of their children.  We spent time in the Czech Republic where we made key contacts that will be very important in the coming year.

 

There is more we have done, but time and space concerns need to keep this shorter. 

 

Please continue to pray for our work!  Please continue to pray for those we represent and their families!  They are the true heroes of our faith!

 

Thanks for standing with us!

Great News! My novel is now available in audio CD!

I have to share it with you, because it seems pretty amazing to me–Southern Justice, my novel is now available on audio CD.  You can get a copy directly from my publisher by following this link: 

 http://www.tatepublishing.com/bookstore/book.php?w=978-1-60696-154-4

After you listen to it, or read it, I would love to hear what you think.

Here is an overview of the novel:

“Murder in small town Georgia leads to a trial where the only victim, other than Bobby Lee Jones, is the truth. In Southern Justice, author Joel Thornton presents the last of the old southern lawyers: an aristocratic lawyer everyone calls T.J.—an icon in Rome, Georgia. In a moment of weakness, T.J. puts everything he has built on the line by agreeing to represent Bobby Lee Jones, an African American, considered by many to be retarded, who stands accused of killing three white boys. In cold blood. The problems? Bobby Lee can’t remember anything. The evidence, although sparse, is incriminating. And the town has already decided that Bobby Lee, and everyone who helps him, should be hanged. Will T.J. be able to save this simple man? Can T.J. salvage his reputation? Will the defense fall victim to Southern Justice? Watch the courtroom drama unfold as T.J. works his way through the lies, pulling at the thread of truth only he believes is there—the thread of truth every good lawyer knows runs through every courtroom. ”

Happy listening!

The Task Before Us

In December of 2007 I found myself in Hamburg, Germany with three pastors.  I like traveling with pastors because they are the heart of the solution to the issues that are before us.  While in Hamburg we had the chance to visit the apartment complex where Muhamed Atta led a terrorist cell that spent a lot of time planning attacks against the west.  Out of this cell came Atta and several other men who flew planes on September 11th in America.

 

This nondescript apartment on Marienstrasse in Hamburg, has become ground zero for the global war that we are in the midst of right now.  I am not talking about the war on terror.  I am talking about the religious war that is facing the west.  This war is not a war of guns and bombs, at least not from the Christian standpoint.  God has not won a battle in church history through the use of violence.  The early church was careful to lay down their lives when faced with choices.  They were brave and they realized that our side of this war is only spiritual.

 

Politics will not save us.  The military will not save us.  American democracy will not save us.  Our salvation comes from the Lord.

 

That does not mean that we are to do nothing.  We have been called to walk by faith and perform works in keeping with the calling we have been given.

 

What this does mean is that we must learn to fight in this war through spiritual weapons.  Weapons formed in heaven are our only hope.  We have to move forward in love, loving not our lives even unto death.  I am not eager to die.  I am not saying you should be eager to die.  I do not think that is what the scripture is talking about.  What it is talking about is a mentality of not seeking after our own gain.  It is talking about seeing others through the eyes of God and loving others the same way we would be like to be loved.

 

The real way to win this war is with boots on the ground, just like the military in an invasion scenario.  The army cannot win a war simply by sending in bombs, there have to be soldiers to win and maintain the peace.

 

What does this mean to the church?  It means it is time for us to move back into Europe.  For too long we have been drawn to other continents where the fields were easier to find the harvest.

 

Europe has become the spiritual dark continent.  It is a place where there is still a remnant of the Christian faith.  In some places the Catholic Church is strong, in other areas the Orthodox Church is strong, and in other places the Lutheran Church is strong.  We need to see an Evangelical presence that is strong.  We need to be planting churches that have a vision to reach their community with the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  Churches that are supported by American Christians, but churches that are European at their heart. 

 

We have to get to the place that we want to use the church to transplant our culture.  American culture is one culture among hundreds of cultures around the world.  Some things we do better; some things we do worse.  We have to give up the need to control what we create or what we support.  We need to get to the place where we are willing to be used to create something new, evangelical churches with their own vision to make a difference in their own cultures.

 

At the IHRG we are working with churches to get involved with local churches in Europe.  We are encouraging pastors to get the vision and start planting churches in Europe.  These churches will be American by necessity in the first generation.  Our plan is to plant churches that plant churches.  The second generation churches will be European with little influence from American churches.

 

At the same time, we are continuing to fight for religious freedom.  Where religious freedom exists open societies can thrive.  Where there is no religious freedom there is little hope for freedom.  When governments and churches believe in the right of everyone to believe as he sees fit, including the right to not believe, then they inherently respect the other rights that make freedom so dear.

 

The combination of planting new churches, shoring up existing churches, and keeping the door open for the proclamation of the Gospel is a way for us to bring lasting change to Europe—change that will see a new Reformation in Europe.

 

This is the only hope for the Continent.

Hanging From The Wall Of Life

I know we all have days like this, when we feel like a tree growing out of a stone wall, fifteen or twenty feet above the ground with no hope of every standing on solid ground.

 

I am going through one of those times.  I know I am doing the right thing.  I know am doing it the right way.  I know I am answering the call on my life.  Yet, here I am hanging above the ground afraid to fall, afraid to hang on.

 

One of the greatest lessons we can learn is that life is often like this.  This is the proving ground.  Here is where we find out what we are made of.  It is easy to serve and work when everything is level ground.  The only problem with a life like that is that we never get refined in the fire.

 

I heard a preacher one time say that if you are walking down the track of life and never run into the devil perhaps you are walking in the wrong direction.  In other words, we should expect difficulties.  We should expect hard times.  Hard times make for hard people.  

 

The question is what kind of hard person are we going to be.  Are we going to be hard people who close themselves off from the world around them?  People who become cold and nonresponsive to the pain of others around us.  These people cannot experience life because they cannot see past their own pain.

 

We all have pain.  In the words of Jim Morrison of the Doors, “no one here gets out alive.”  We are a people bound by a common fate—we are all going to die and stand before our Maker.

 

The right kind of hard is the hard that led the pioneers to head out into the wilderness and build a nation.  This hard is one that makes us hard to the agonies of life, but not hard to the people around us.  These are the people we often turn to for guidance.  When we have trouble we want to talk to someone who has been hanging on the wall.  We want the voice of experience.

 

It is no fun to get help from someone who has heard of the wall but never been there.  Experience is sometimes the only way to grow.  Lessons learned the hard way are often the best lessons we ever learn.

 

So, here I am, hanging on the wall, looking down, longing for better days.  The question is: am I going to learn from this experience or am I going to merely hang on until better days come, blindly living through the pain with no real gain.

 

The greatest harm I could do for myself is to endure the hard times and learn nothing from the experience.  I have determined to endure the hard times with the strength of looking to the future and the joy that comes from learning to trust God when the times are hardest.

 

Rather than wishing away the hard times, I am determined to live through the hard times finding the silver lining of God’s wisdom in the midst of impossible situations.

 

What will the outcome be?  I do not have any promises that I will not be harmed.  I only have the promise that I will be a better person if I let God teach me what He wants to teach me in these hard times.

 

I will survive.  And I am going to be a better person because of the hardships.

 

That is a promise I can live with.  Join me on the wall!

Europe’s Secte Reports: A Post Christian Response To Faith

In the 1980s Europe began to fight back against religious groups, particularly those coming from America.  The main recipient of the angst from Europe was Scientology.  Now, I will begin by saying that I do not believe Scientology is a religious movement.  At best it is what even Americans would label a cult.  Were it not for people like John Travolta and Tom Cruise and other Hollywood types we would never have heard of Scientology.  It would be a small fringe group with a sad following.  The Hollywood types have taken this group from a small fringe group to a large fringe group.  It is hard to pin down just what Scientology is, but it is clearly not a well defined religion.

 

The pressure began to grow from the mid-80s into the 1990s.  Then several countries, France in 1996, Belgium in 1997, and Germany in 1998, created Parliamentary groups to look into new religious movements and determine what should be done to “protect” their citizens from these groups.  Of course, the German commission was a secret commission that never officially released its findings.  The findings of the German commission managed to be made public nonetheless.

 

The theory behind these reports was that the government needed to protect the people from religious groups.  The idea was that people cannot make a proper decision about their religious beliefs and need someone to protect them.  This thought flies in the face of religious freedom.

 

In France the Parliamentary Report, which was not officially adopted by Parliament, was the precursor of what was originally called “The Law Against Mental Manipulation.”  After a long fight, led by the Catholic Bishops of France, the language of the law was changed and it became known as the “Anti-Cult Law.”  This law was another step in the completing the original goals of the French Revolution, the eradication of religion from public life.

 

The French Parliament followed up this report by passing their anti-cult law that made it a crime, punishable by a huge fine and time in jail, to even give literature to a minor, an older person, a sick person, and a pregnant lady.

 

There were 172 organizations listed on the French report.  Most of them were extremist organizations that many of us would agree were dangerous or at the very least sects or cults.  Then, sprinkled throughout the list were legitimate Christian organizations.  Organizations like, the Church at Besancon, a Southern Baptist accredited Bible College, and a Charismatic Catholic Nuns organization.  Some of these organizations began to experience real problems following their inclusion on the list.

 

And then there were the changes in attitude that followed the list being publicly released.  Pastors, mainly from America, who had been in France for decades as missionaries, suddenly had their visas not renewed.  Even though they owned property in France and had served France for a long time, they were being forced to leave because of immigration problems.

 

One final note on the French report, the French approach to religion was so inspiring Communist China sent a group to meet with the Parliamentarians who sponsored the study hoping to implement the law in China.

 

Then comes the Belgians, following in the French shadow they went a step further and labeled some very mainstream organizations—not just individual ministries—as dangerous sects.

 

The Belgians labeled Youth With a Mission, Operation Mobilization, and the Young Women’s Christian Association as dangerous sects.  This again creates a spirit of suspicion that these organizations must battle against everyday.  It makes it more difficult for those who work with these organizations to do their jobs because people naturally trust their government.

 

Then the Belgian Parliament began to look at following the French Parliament and adding a law that protected people from religious groups as a general principle.

 

Then come the Germans.  True to the government of Germany’s nature, they formed a secret commission.  The Enquiry Commission met in private, their findings were kept private, and they never officially did anything.  Yet, they produced a list with over 170 dangerous sects.  These sects included a non-denominational church in Cologne that experience a variety of legal problems from the time of the Enquiry Commission until today.

 

This approach to religious freedom is outrageous.  Nonreligious practitioners met together to determine what religious groups will be permitted to meet.  Often these leaders are anti-Christian in their worldview.  Yet they are considered appropriate people to head up committees whose sole purpose is to protect us from religion and its negative affects.

 

This is the new world we live in.  It is a world where religion is treated with suspicion and a low level of tolerance.

 

What this means is that it is now an uphill battle for religious freedom in Europe.  Like what America will be in another generation, Europe is already a completely post-Christian world with little tolerance for anything Christian other than the state church which is tolerated partly because it is as much political as it is spiritual.

Our European Strategy Begins In Germany

            There are places where we have begun laying out our strategy for Europe as a Continent.  There is no need to do that again here.  Now, it is time to share why Germany is such an integral part of our strategy.

             As one of the most vibrant economies in the world, Germany is an economic leader in Europe.  Furthermore, Germany has long led Europe on religious freedom issues.  After all, it was the Germans who brought us the Reformation. 

             Equally true, Germany has led Europe down dark paths in the past.  We do not need to enumerate those paths here for that is not the purpose.  The purpose is to understand that Germany is a powerful place, both in the natural world and in the supernatural world.

             Since this is true, we have to recognize that we must target Germany for spiritual help.  This help comes in a variety of forms, but must have a spiritual element to it.  We have to work to protect the rights that already exist in Germany.  We must work to bring a spiritual revival to Germany.  A revival that is strong enough to catapult the Church throughout the Continent and beyond.

             There are actions we can take now that will help bring this change.

             There are actions we can take that will keep the door open for the proclamation of the Gospel in Germany.

             At the IHRG we are committed to working to see that pastors, missionaries, and their organizations are free to proclaim their Christian message without fear in Germany and Europe.  We are currently standing with a number of leaders to see that the door is kept open for the proclamation of the Gospel.  That is our task.  It is our purpose!  Our commitment is unwavering in this matter.

             We cannot only fight the battles we know we can win.  We have to fight the battles that matter.  We know that the battle is the Lord’s.  We are only called to fight, the outcome is determined by one greater than us.

             How do we go about keeping the door open for the proclamation of the Gospel in Germany?  There are a number of actions we can take.  We are taking them now and we will continue to take them as we move forward.

 Protecting religious liberties in key cases:  First we must continue to protect religious liberties in key cases in Germany.  This means that we will represent clients like a nondenominational church in Cologne, Germany whose pastors were falsely accused of tax evasion, the Plett and Pauls families who are fighting at the European Court of Human Rights for the right to determine the education of their children, the Robinson family who are Americans being denied a residence visa in Germany because they are homeschooling, and battling a new federal law that makes it easier for German government officials to take children from their parents.

 Public awareness to persecution and discrimination issues in Germany and Europe:  In addition to the legal battle, we must also continue to bring public awareness to the west through the media, particularly Christian media so that Christians in America and around the world can knowledgeably pray for their brothers and sisters suffering persecution in Germany.  While this might seem like a minor piece of the puzzle it is actually one of the most important factors.  Ignorance and silence are letting the secular leaders of Germany and Europe persecute and discriminate against Christians without recourse.

 Provide support for pastors[1] and missionaries: Another important component of our strategy is to work with pastors and missionaries to provide support in their ministries.  Many of these men and women have a great calling, but little knowledge in critical matters like the legal operations of religious institutions in Germany.  We have represented churches that have had problems because they were not properly organized based on the laws of the host country.  Many of these pastors simple assume the laws are the same and they set up their corporate structure according to American standards.  We are helping ministries function according to proper governing principles within the guidelines of European regulations.

 Visa help:  We will continue to do everything we can to raise awareness in the States of the proper procedure for missionaries to immigrate to Germany.  Some of the problems we are currently seeing are problems of improperly filing documents through a lack of understanding of the system.  Immigration is a complicated area of the law and many missionaries in Europe and in America preparing to go to Germany need help preparing the proper documentation.

 Provide support and training for Christian lawyers:  We currently work with a number of Christian lawyers in Germany.  As we identify them we will work with a larger group and help them understand how to use the law to protect religious freedom throughout Germany.  Part of the benefit of our relationship is to help these attorneys better understand the approach used by the Christian legal community in America to bring change through the use of the courts and the media.  We are able to coach and educate lawyers and then help them formulate key winning arguments in strategic cases in Germany.  We also help them understand the value of standing firm in the face of opposition, including the loss of cases where they need to continue to fight rather than giving up.  In the past, Christians in these socialist democracies have not understood how to challenge their government’s programs properly.  We spend a lot of time working with them on the value of properly administrated civil disobedience.

 Work to bring positive pressure on the political systems, country by country and European Union wide:  We also work within the political system to bring change.  Sometimes this takes the form of private negotiations with political leaders in local, national, or international Parliaments.  These negotiations include bypassing the penalties imposed by wayward government officials, including keeping homeschooled children from being taken away from their parents by the Youth Welfare Office and having fines waived when they have been improperly levied against Christian for matters of religious freedom.  We also work with legislatures to oppose laws or to support laws that affect religious liberties within Europe.  This work is intentionally broader than Germany because the nature of the European Union is that the larger bodies have greater effect on the local governments.

 Encouraging and empowering our clients:  Like any legal organization we spend a lot of time encouraging and empowering our clients.  Germany is hard on Christians, both native Europeans and foreigners alike.  We work with our clients to make sure they understand not only how the law effects them personally, but also how our work and their case effects the bigger picture of bringing change to Germany.  We also use our media contacts to encourage them that Christians around the world and particularly in America know what is happening to them and are praying for them.

 Planting churches and supporting networks of churches:  Our newest strategic initiative is the planting of churches in key cities within the Germany.  Until now we have worked on the triage areas of European religious liberties.  Now, we are committing time, energy, and resources to working on the problem at its root.  This means planting life-giving churches that will bring change to the heart and spiritual core of Europe, thus resolving some of the religious oppression that occurs in Europe.  To do this we have already begun to work with locals and with Americans to determine what are strategic cities within Germany, provide support for the churches and the teams that come to plant the churches, help them properly enter the country and set up their ministries legally, and other issues that are involved in planting a new work anywhere.  Additionally, we provide emotion and spiritual support to these churches through personal oversight and guidance, providing them with a network of help rather than leaving them alone to find their way.  Ultimately this will also include connecting these churches within Europe so that there is a local support network in addition to the international network.

             We will also work so that the second generation of churches planted in Europe is actually European churches with local pastors rather than American churches.

             We believe that this strategy, though time consuming, is the tested method for protecting religious freedom in America.  It has also worked to keep open avenues for the proclamation of the Gospel and helped to change the spiritual climate in America.

             There will be some adaptation needed as we continue to work in Germany.  There will need to be changes from north to south—even from the Catholic to the Luther areas of Germany.  We are prepared to adapt, learn, and change as the cultural situation calls for change while remaining true to the essentials of the Christian message and helping the helpless find justice.

 


[1] We have a domestic church rights project that provides legal advice, protects churches and pastors, provides advice on media campaigns, and a variety of other helps that is available to pastors in Europe.


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

Top Clicks

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