Follow-up 8/8/14: We're highlighting this post from over a year ago as a response to columnist Ann Coulter's diatribe against American missionaries going to other lands (see Ebola Doc's Condition Downgraded to 'Idiotic' c/o Townhall.com). All the points we made then apply now.
Indeed, would any of us have heard the Gospel if it weren't for the missionary journeys of Paul, Dr. Luke, Silas, Timothy, Titus, etc.? Were they wrong to risk their lives in the cause of Christ? Did they "waste" resources, or was the salvation of souls worth it? Didn't Christ say, "whoever loses his life for My sake will save it?" (Luke 9:24)
Another worthy response: Are Christian Missionaries Narcissistic Idiots? by Albert Mohler
This week Tom Lothamer, president of Life Matters Worldwide, will fly to the Philippines with Ray Paget, our former executive director, and John McCastle, a new board member and the president of Ultrasounds for Life.
They'll be meeting with our partners in pro-life ministry, including Melisa Serata (who does abstinence education in schools) and Dr. Mae Corvera (who leads LIFT ministries at her church and others in Manila).
The trip will be costly -- both in terms of time and money. Some might wonder, why not concentrate on needs here in the U.S. Aren't they pressing enough? Why be "worldwide"?
Indeed the need for pro-life ministry in the U.S. is great, and we must continue to develop and promote alternatives to abortion and euthanasia. Many resources are already devoted to this cause.
In fact, Kurt Dillinger of LIFE International has said that something like 90 percent of U.S. pro-life dollars are spent in this country while 90 percent of the world's abortions occur elsewhere.
That's a sobering thought. Even more difficult to swallow is the responsibility America bears, because we have exported abortion to the world.
How is that possible? Consider two countries: Romania and South Africa. They both achieved new levels of democratic freedoms in the 1990s, and both looked to the U.S. for a model to follow. What did they see? Among other things, legalized abortion on demand. Sadly, as they threw off an old bondage they replaced it with a new one. Today Romania has one of the world's highest rates of abortion.
Life Matters Worldwide has been to both countries to help missionaries and nationals respond to the crises created by sexual immorality and its consequences: abortion and sexually transmitted diseases. In Romania, we helped establish the Clinica ProVita group of pregnancy care centers; in South Africa we trained church members to offer LIFT services to people dying of AIDS.
If you think passing pro-life laws is an uphill battle in the U.S., consider that the task of pro-life ministry in other countries is even more Sisyphean. Depending on the administration in power, the U.S. often ties foreign aid to a recipient country's liberalization of abortion laws. We Christians, therefore, owe an even greater debt to Christians in other countries to help them fight abortion.
Pro-lifers in other countries face added challenges, such as:
- A lack of biblical teaching on the sanctity of human life, even in churches
- A lack of understanding about human development and what abortion does to the unborn
- A lack of respect for women
- A lack of resources*
Life Matters Worldwide is positioned to help people overseas overcome the first three hurdles, but the last is most difficult. We want to avoid making Third World ministries dependent on the so-called First World for support. Nevertheless, many people in other parts of the world who have a great desire to do pro-life ministry must spend a good share of their day simply surviving.
I think of Bentina Alusi who runs the Kibera Community Counselling and Pregnancy Crisis Centre in the world's largest slum (outside Nairobi, Kenya). By our standards she has very little but, like the poor woman of Luke 21:1-4, she gives all she has.
At one point soon after the center opened in 2009, Bentina was counseling with 15 girls a day, two days a week. Missionaries reported that the church that her husband pastors grew because of her ministry through the center. From a small seed comes great harvest! Similar results have been had through PCC ministry in Lima, Peru.
Volunteering at a pregnancy center or AIDS hospice is a luxury that few in developing nations can afford, therefore ministries in these parts of the world are well served if we help them devise strategies for sustaining pro-life work. A few years ago, for instance, we were blessed to be able to give one center in South Asia a grant toward the establishment of a pharmacy to generate income.
God has given Life Matters both the desire and the opportunity to join with others in pro-life ministry overseas. So far He's also supplied resources to enable us to help in small but significant ways. Please pray for Tom, Ray, and John as they make this trip, for Mae and Melisa as they organize the visit, and for the people in the Philippines who will be trained.
We receive new requests every week. Today there was one from a person in Kenya. Ask God to give us wisdom and grace as we steward both funds and opportunities, and as we respond to people.
Truly, life matters worldwide.
*Read about a fifth challenge here.