This is my first trip to Namibia and I am not sure what to expect. Africa is a country of contrasts—some of the friendliest people in the world, beautiful scenery, vast wealth, and vast poverty. They live behind walls with barbed wire running across the top. It creates a bit of fear in the foreigner who is traveling here. Yet, the people are smiling, they are happy to talk, they are helpful. In a meeting, or a church service, they welcome you into their lives with open arms.
We have partnered with History Makers Academy for a number of ministry goals. Ones of the values we bring to the relationship is my years working with CBN and TBN on Christian television. I have produced a number of programs for television and working with my niece, Caroline Clonts, who is a Hollywood-based television and movie producer, we have begun to help Derek Schneider develop a cutting edge television program for Canadian Christian television.
This trip to Bulgaria was the most interesting one so far. First, we were in three cities. Usually when we travel we are in one or two cities. We were working with local ministers in Sliven where there is a thriving Christian community. One of the things I learned in Sliven is that homeschooling is considered illegal in Bulgaria. Also, Christian private schools are not allowed, except for Orthodox schools. This is not unusual in an Orthodox country. In these countries it is considered normal for the church to have much greater influence than is typical in America and Western Europe. This is a two-edged sword. It means that there is teaching regarding Christian principles in the schools. At the same time, there is less tolerance for evangelical beliefs in public. It is one of the ideals our founding fathers did not want when they envisioned a church that was free from state influence and a world where the state was free from denominational church influence.
I am traveling all around Bulgaria with the History Makers Academy. We are filming Pastor Derek Schneider’s television program, Beyond the Four Walls. It is exciting to be a part of this team, this partnership! We are meeting pastors and others who are learning how to be history makers. They are learning how to move in the seven mountains of culture, how to find what they were created for and then become excellent in that area.
We have recently partnered with the History Makers Academy to help train leaders around the world. We are training them how to be better leaders and we are providing them with the legal information they need in these troubled times to navigate the issues that face people of faith everywhere.
Pastor Derek Schneider, from the Toronto region of Canada, has become a trusted friend and colleague during the past two years. I have been with him in Canada, the U.S., Ukraine, and Bulgaria. Soon we will be together in Namibia, Africa as well. I am working with Pastor Derek to help him set his ministry up for greater effectiveness, we are working together to create processes and departments so that he can be freed up to do the things that only he can do. This will make the work of History Makers even more efficient and effective as we expand the countries in which he works.
For the past few years I have been working on a number of different projects. I spent four years as the Chief of Staff for the Georgia Department of Education, working directly with Dr. John Barge, the State School Superintendent. I also headed up John’s campaign when he challenged the Governor of Georgia for his job. It was a great experience!
During all of this time I have continued to work in the area of international human rights, but not as a fulltime position. I worked to protect freedom of speech at the London Olympics. I have worked with pastors to help them set up their churches properly in light of the ever changing atmosphere we find these days.
We have recently partnered with Canadian pastor, Derek Schneider, and his ministry—History Makers Academy. I have been participating in their training program, talking about working in the religious freedom legal arena and motivating pastors, other ministry leaders, and lay people to get outside the four walls of the church and change the world—one community at a time. I have participated in this training in Canada, Bulgaria, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and we are setting up meetings in Georgia.
As you know, we recently returned from Kiev, Ukraine. We were there to meet with pastors from around the world and establish relationships and offer ways to help them with their legal needs in their local communities or when they are on outreach around the world. We meet with pastors from Nigeria, the US, Ukraine, Canada, England, and South Africa to name a few. I believe we established key relationships that will prove to help further our work for years to come.
Our next trip will take the IHRG team to Kiev, Ukraine. This currently war-torn country has a long storied history. Part of the former Soviet Union, it is now in the sights of Vladimir Putin to become part of the new Russian Empire. At the same time, the country is working hard to be added to the European Union’s free travel zone. This would help to increase the economic relationship between Ukraine and the rest of Europe. It would make it easier for Europeans to travel there and especially for Ukrainians to travel to countries in the European Union.