While some members of Congress enjoy junkets to Paris or the Caribbean, Representatives Frank Wolf (R-Va.), Tony Hall (D-Ohio), and Chris Smith (R-N.J.) have chosen to visit political hot spots such as Sudan, Ethiopia, and Romania. The three are part of a small bipartisan congressional nucleus that has actively opposed religious persecution for more than a decade.

At a time when many religious-liberty advocates are calling for more effective U.S. government action for persecuted Christians, a small group of lawmakers has been successfully using different intervention methods.

Some believe high-profile press conferences and hearings work best. Others prefer a more diplomatic approach of letter-writing campaigns and raising specific cases. Some members have held high-level meetings with foreign leaders, urged U.S. embassies to investigate situations of repression, and lobbied the White House and State Department to address particular issues in bilateral discussions. Legislation, such as trade sanctions, also has been used to penalize nations that oppress religious believers.

Wolf says he became committed to the cause of religious freedom and human rights after visiting Romania with Hall and Smith during the heyday of communist oppression. They toured churches that had been bulldozed and met with pastors who had been imprisoned. Romanians kept passing them secret notes listing Christian prisoners and calling for help. In 1989, Wolf and Smith were the first Western leaders to visit the notorious Perm 35 Soviet labor camp. And in 1991, they witnessed prison laborers illegally manufacturing products for export in Beijing Prison Number 1.

Wolf says his inspiration comes from several biblical passages, including Ecclesiastes ...

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