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On the Frontlines of Global Justice and Human Rights

“Lawyers have ins, in just ways that others don't. And to be able to be an advocate, right, to be trained in the law to advocate for rights for people, uh it's-it's an incredible opportunity and means to serve and be that voice for-for the voiceless.” Ernie says.

Ernie Walton always knew God had plans for his life, becoming a lawyer wasn’t one of them.  Growing up in a Christian home he respected his father’s heart for business, Jesus, and passion for a sports outreach ministry called Push the Rock.

“This was a sort of a dream for our family, to use a passion that we had, a love of sports, combining it with-with the first love of the Lord and spreading the gospel.” Ernie continues, “When I was 15, I went with my dad and my brothers; we went to Japan on a missions' trip. We took a soccer team, and it was a turning point in my life. I came back and said, "Lord, all right, I-I give you my life. I surrender to what your call for me is. I'm thinking, ‘What could be better for the kingdom than to be a full-time missionary and go overseas, spread the gospel, play soccer, you know, maybe I could play professionally…’”

His father on the other hand, saw something different—Ernie’s aptitude for justice.

Ernie recalls, “But my dad, for whatever reason, he always would say to me, ‘Ernie, you know, we need more Christian lawyers in the world; we need more lawyers who are committed to bringing the gospel to the public square, and who understand the law to advocate and-and advise nonprofits like Push the Rock.’"

Still, Ernie dismissed his dad’s prodding, unable to see how being a lawyer could combine with his passion for missionary work.

“When I was in 11th grade I went to a concert, and all the funding for this concert was going to a group called International Justice Mission. ‘We need Christian lawyers who would be willing to go overseas to rescue sex trafficking victims, to advocate for the poor, the oppressed, the enslaved, and-and we needed more of them,’ is what they said to me. And I remember hearing that as an 11th grade student thinking, "That's interesting.”

Apparently not interesting enough. Still set on serving at Push the Rock one day, Ernie went on to Houghton College in New York, where he studied Business Management and played soccer.  Then on a mission’s trip to Costa Rica his Junior year, Ernie began to doubt his plans for the future.  

“I think I have this plan to work for Push the Rock, is that really what I should be doing? And I'm just crying out to the Lord; Lord, what do you want me to do?” Ernie continues, “I remember sitting in my room in Costa Rica and-and the Lord just saying, ‘Ernie, I've told you, you know, for many years what you're supposed to do. Your dad has spoken your calling to you, to be a Christian lawyer, you've heard about it through IJM to be a Christian lawyer who's going to advocate for the poor and the oppressed.’”

“So I called my dad, I said, ‘Dad, you're right. I need to go to law school.’ And he said, ‘Okay! I figured.’”

The only thing left to do now, was choose a school.

He says, “Began to research and talk to people and, of course, found out that Regent academically was solid, was outstanding, was excellent. But it was a school committed to teaching students from a Christian world view and it exceeded by far my expectations about the quality of legal education. I remember after that first year, my mind was just transformed.”

Ernie also found that perfect pairing between his aptitude for justice and his passion for sharing the love of Christ.

“Regent Law started something called The Center for Global Justice, and it was specifically designed for students like me who were coming to law school feeling they were called not to be necessarily a traditional attorney, but an attorney who wanted to do human rights work. I had the opportunity to serve as one of the first ever interns with The Center for Global Justice.”

Ernie met his wife, Lindsay through Regent Law school, and shortly after graduation they moved to California where they both passed the Bar and started working at a Christian firm.

“But there was still something in my heart that said, ‘The Lord's brought me here, but this isn't long term,’” he says, “I remember getting an email from Regent, ‘There's a position now to-to serve as the Administrative Director of Regent Law Center for Global Justice. So, I applied for the position, and we just began to pray and pray, ‘Lord, what do you have for us?’ I interviewed via Skype, and then a few days later was offered the job. We both came to the conclusion that this is a job that we absolutely felt called to take.”

Since then Ernie has become a mentor to interns and students. He’s also been instrumental in forging partnerships between Regent’s Center for Global Justice and organizations like, International Justice Mission, The National Institute of Family and Life Advocates, and the European Center for Law and Justice.

“Our mission is always to work alongside other Christian human rights organizations that are doing this work on the frontlines. Being a missionary and being a lawyer…there’s not even division they marry together so well and  that’s what I’ve learned at Regent Law School and of course doing this work. God provides funding every year for students to go to Uganda to fight child sacrifice, to go to France to fight uh with the European Center for Law and Justice and advocate for persecuted uh Christians throughout Europe and the Middle East. Some stay right here in the states in D.C. working to fight child sex trafficking. It’s so incredible that the Lord would use us to do justice for some of these victims.”

Ernie continues, “He's the God of justice. And so reinforcing that here at Regent with our students is just one of the greatest joys I have, is discipling our students to think – to think biblically about these human rights issues that we have a responsibility, we will work and we will not stop until justice is done.”

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