LAW BY CHOICE FOR FREEDOM
Gerry Mahn-He grew up in North Idaho and had an idealistic childhood. His parents were both raised in church, and Gerry always believed in God, but did not attend church regularly as a child. When he was 7, his neighbors invited him to go to Trinity Lutheran Church in Coeur d’Alene, ID, with them and he gladly went every Sunday for a year, and made a decision to believe in God. During Sunday School one morning, the teacher was saying everyone receives a call on his life. One of the students asked,” how will you know what God’s call is”, the teacher was quiet for a time and then said, you will just know. This conversation would come into play later in Gerry’s life.
At 17, he joined the Army to be a cryptologist. Through a series of events, he ended up in Berlin, Germany at the Brandenburg Gate on the very day they began to build the wall, August 13, 1961. East Germany had been hemorrhaging refugees, about 2,000 per day by this time, mostly skilled laborers, professionals, and intellectuals. As he rode his new motorcycle into the traffic circle, he noticed police arriving on motorcycles and in water trucks with water guns. He instinctively knew something was not right. He went back to his barracks where they were in lock down and grabbed his fatigues and weapon and went to the Com Center. This was in a secure location in an old Gestapo headquarters. As the days passed, the wall continued to go up. He and his buddies would ride their motorcycles up to the wall that was made of brick with small holes in it for the VoPo’s, the East German police, to watch what was going on. On the West Germany side there was a ramp he and his buddies used to walk up and look at the East German soldiers to harass them.
There were stories of those who tried to escape, some made it, and some didn’t. One, in particular, would affect him for the rest of his life. There were two young men, both about 18 yrs. old, who ran for the wall. The first one made it over, but the second, Peter Fechter, stopped to see what a dog was barking at and the VoPo’s shot him. He didn’t die right away but fell down at the fence line where anyone on either side could have reached him. The East German’s decided to make an example of him and left him lying there for all to see. For 3 hours he moaned and asked for help and no one on the West would help, out of fear for what the Russians and East Germans would do. The picture of Peter Fechter dying near the wall would show up on the cover of LOOK magazine. Gerry and his fellow soldiers were very upset, feeling like they should do something, but didn’t. The injustice of the killing of innocent people made the West German people angry and they rioted in the streets. One night, Gerry found himself in the middle of one of these riots. He had to get off his motorcycle and walk it through the crowds in the street, hoping no one would recognize his license plate because they were angry with the Americans also. Thankfully, no one did. The unrest and anger raged on, and the issue of Peter Fechter continued to bother Gerry. He was unsettled and unhappy. He and his buddies would go down to the French Sector and go drinking, parking their motorcycles far away so they would not be sabotaged. Gerry got a pass and decided to go down there by himself one night. He got into an altercation with another patron of the bar and they went outside to settle the argument. As Gerry walked out the door the man punched him in the mouth putting his teeth through his lip. Gerry chased him, but the man ran into the street, and Gerry found himself in the midst of a huge crowd of people. Being half drunk and still festering about Peter, he started yelling about the wall. Every time he would say something, the crowd would respond with Yah!! The crowd energized Gerry and his thoughts kept turning to the wall, “I’m going to take this mob to the wall and tear a hole in it”. The sense of mob control was intoxicating. As he was preparing to go to the wall, a voice spoke to him very clearly, “Gerry, not tonight, not like this, the day will come to correct these injustices”. This was so powerful, it weakened him. He had no more drive and no more sense of purpose. He didn’t know what to do now. At that moment, the police showed up and broke up the crowd. Gerry was relieved God had intervened. He only told one person what had happened, but never forgot what God told him. His experiences from this event, coupled with the training films of executions during his military time served, had driven him with a strong desire to get rid of communism and correct the injustices.
He returned home from the service and met his wife, Jeanette at The Rock, a popular hang-out for young people, where she was working as a pizza girl. They were married in 1965 and lived in Coeur d’Alene, ID. Gerry was drinking and coming home sick so often, his mother-in-law was concerned about him, and invited a Pastor over to talk to him. Gerry reluctantly let him come in and they sat at the table where they discussed political issues and he shared the scriptures in Daniel 2 about the rise and fall of the kingdoms and nations. That sparked Gerry’s interest that God could predict future events. It took time and difficult circumstances for him to one day realize he wanted to give his heart to Christ and understand the meaning of the voice in Berlin about correcting the injustices in the world. God’s timing is perfect, his plan is perfect. Even though Gerry was making the correlation that the events of the 1960’s were all part of the rise and fall of the nations, he was still unclear what he could do about it.
Over the next 10 years, God continued preparing Gerry for the work he had for him to do. He had periods of time when he didn’t feel close to God, and didn’t want to go to church. One evening on his way home from work, he had a panic attack. Even in his years in the service, he had not experienced anything like this. He felt overcome by fear, anxiety, and darkness. The light that had been coming into his life was going away. “I was going back into darkness because I was shutting God out.” As soon as he got home, he called for the Pastor to come over. Gerry told the Pastor he wanted to kneel down to Jesus, and follow him wherever he wanted him to go. On his way to work another morning, as he had been contemplating joining a multi-level marketing business opportunity, God showed him the contrast between being rich and having money to do all you want versus following Jesus and being fishers of men. It was clear to Gerry that God was calling him to follow Him, bringing back the memory of the Sunday School teachers’ words years ago. But what was the call? He needed to go door to door telling people about Christ, and selling Christian books. Some years later, came an article in a magazine about the lack of knowledge of The 10 Commandments. After reading that out of 55,000 young people in trouble with the law, only 9,000 had even heard of The 10 Commandments, Gerry knew God was calling him to get these words into the hands of those that wanted them. In thinking about all of this and getting excited about it, one day while driving out of Rathdrum, Gerry was thinking, what would be a simple slogan for this project? After making a list of all the words that were important to his call, the name Law by Choice for Freedom encompassed all he was looking for.
Gerry started The Law By Choice for Freedom organization to do just that in 1987. God provided through miraculous means for Gerry to follow through with the vision He gave him. Through friends and acquaintances, God made the connections and has opened many doors to allow Gerry to meet with and provide many leaders of many nations with copies of the The 10 Commandments, sharing the love of Christ with all. One such example is the way God provided for Gerry to visit Russia in 1993. Thirty years after God spoke to him in Germany, “Not tonight, not like this…”, Gerry stood in the Headquarters in Russia, where the Revolution began in 1917, presenting The 10 Commandments to Yuli Andropov Robokov. Mr. Robokov declared this will be the only thing that hangs on these walls.
We choose very few things in life, our physical make-up, what family we are born into, etc. What we do choose are our moral decisions. God expects us to be faithful with what he has given us. One of Gerry’s favorite stories in the Bible is the poor widow and the 2 mites, in Luke 21:1-2. She cast in all that she had, 2 mites, and Jesus said she gave more than all the others. Maybe not in monetary value, but in giving all that she had. When we are faithful to give what we have, we will be at peace. In 2 Corinthians 10:12, Paul tells us not to compare ourselves with others, but to be faithful in who God made us to be. Each person has a calling. Gerry is a shining example of how God uses those who are willing to be obedient and give their all to Christ for His glory. Gerry is still very active with Law by Choice for Freedom, traveling when and wherever the Lord leads and provides, sharing Christ and His 10 Commandments.
Eldon Poisel-Eldon was an original board member for Law by Choice for Freedom. He is from Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, where he owns a dental lab and works as a lab technician. Gerry met Eldon in the 1970’s and they have remained good friends over the years. They enjoyed traveling together, always having fun working for the Lord. Eldon was the one Gerry called when the opportunity arose to go to St. Petersburg, Russia in 1993. He enthusiastically embraced Gerry’s vision to get The 10 Commandments into the hands of every person. They traveled to several countries, including Ecuador, where they participated in a parade of 25,000 to 30,000 young people. Eldon continues to pursue the vision through other avenues even though he is no longer on the board.
May Chung-May’s home state was California, but she was living in Hawaii when her husband died in an airplane crash leaving her destitute with 6 children to care for. God brought her through that tragic event, and blessed her so much financially, that she was able to purchase hotels and apartments and donate $1 million to start a television station and network. Through a notice on the bulletin board at church, Gerry and Eldon found out about May’s visit to Spokane to advertise a downlink for the television network. Eldon urged Gerry that they needed to go and talk to her. Gerry was reluctant to go after receiving so many rejections for help. Eldon insisted they needed to see her and share their vision, and so they went. After sharing their story and how God had blessed up to this point with May, she eagerly jumped at the chance and said, “This is of God, I want to be a part of this”. At Gerry and May’s first meeting, she said, “we will go to the Philippines, I know President Ramos’ mother”. May made all the arrangements, and off to the Philippines they went. She was very active in El Salvador and over the next 11 years, from 1994 to 2005, they traveled all over the world sharing their vision and giving The 10 Commandments to leaders and anyone who wanted one. May was an inspiration and huge asset to Gerry and the ministry. She was a supporter, major contributor and financial backer of Law by Choice for Freedom until her death in 2010.
Dr. Alicia Robertson DDS-Alicia was a friend of May Chung who introduced her and Gerry. She was born and raised in Nicaragua and had connections with the President of Nicaragua and so arranged a meeting at the Assembly. The three, Gerry, May, and Alicia, were there 10 days, provided with a government car, met with President Alaman, a Supreme Court Justice, and all of the major business leaders individually, and handed out many copies of The 10 Commandments. They were the first non-political group to address the National Assembly. It was a very fruitful trip made possible by Alicia. Alicia was always 100% enthused when it came to supporting Law by Choice for Freedom and their goal of putting Christ with The 10 Commandments, just as May Chung was. While they seemed to be a strange team, Gerry, May and Alicia, traveled extensively over the next several years together and watched God open many doors of opportunity for them wherever they went. Alicia is still an active contributor to the Law by Choice for Freedom as well as a faithful supporter. She is a citizen of Nicaragua but currently lives in Silver Springs, Maryland, and runs two dental clinics there.
By Debi Jacobs