The FLAG 2016 conference was awesome! Too much happened to squeeze into one newsletter, so I’ll give you some highlights and, hopefully, follow up with a few stories in the months to come.
God’s incredible creation in South Africa and the dynamic praise and worship helped us to draw near to Him and set the tone. Our housing units were duplexes scattered among the trees. We had monkeys on the patios and zebras in the front yard. Louis Brittz and band commenced our sessions every morning with a multi-cultural, multi-lingual worship time for about 160 delegates from 23 countries.
There were challenges to overcome. The Friday before the conference, we learned that two of our speakers could not come due to a political crisis in their country. Rev. Shay, our FLAG team member from French West Africa, stepped in to give a gospel presentation that was incredibly dynamic. The other speaker sent his excellent presentation which was read by a representative. Then Wednesday afternoon, we learned that our opening devotional speaker on Friday morning would be late. Henri Aoun, an Arabic specialist, had given a devotional on integrity and humility the week before and was going to ask if there was a time he could give it at our conference. With a little tweaking, the presentation was the perfect kickoff, setting the atmosphere for our time together. Although it was obvious from comparing the speakers with the program book that there were substitutions, the event flowed seamlessly, even better than what we planned.
Our theme was “Walking with Integrity.” The four days were filled with teaching on spiritual truths as well as practical approaches to day-to-day problems that confront legal professionals in their work. Well-known and respected lawyers and jurists from around the world, including magistrates and judges, appellate court justices, and the Chief Justice of South Africa’s highest court, shared not only their wisdom as legal professionals but also insights on integrating their faith into the practice of law. During the discussions and tea breaks, participants discussed relevant topics such as how to end corruption in the legal system.
Two South African high officials, Public Protector Thuli Madonsela and Chief Justice Mogoeng, accepted our invitation over a year ago. No one anticipated that at the time of the conference they would have just won a showdown against President Zuma for his misuse of public funds. They were great examples of integrity in action in a difficult situation.
At the final banquet, the Chief Justice focused on being a true disciple of Jesus – taking daily time in the word, praying, walking with integrity before God, and doing His will. He concluded by praying for us. After the prayer, a group of attorneys from the Congo took over the stage, began singing and dancing and the rest of the evening went down African style. Louis Brittz and his band even played a new song that he wrote just for our conference.
Once an international conference like FLAG 2016 ends, the question is always, “Did we succeed in providing an experience that drew the delegates closer to Christ and helped them integrate their faith into their legal practice? One-word descriptions from our comment cards included indescribable, extraordinary, revolutionary, everlasting, unbelievable, and brilliant.
The more important question is how were the attendees influenced? One person was captivated by the “amazing power that our God has to touch the hearts of every person all over the world.” Another was impacted by “the humility and integrity portrayed by the speakers.” Many others found “new hope that they could live out their faith in their legal careers.” For others, just knowing that “they were not alone in the struggle to bring integrity to the legal profession” made the whole trip worthwhile.
Thank you so much for all your prayers and support. You really made a difference.