Ministry

Much fine gold

When we give people the Gospel or teach them from the Bible ... when we live a godly life before them and demonstrate its benefits ... we're giving much fine gold.

God's word urges us to treat the disabled person as our neighbor, to watch out for them as a brother.

Oh hold them back!

With the stroke of a pen, California governor Jerry Brown on Monday approved assisted suicide in his state. With Oregon, Washington, Vermont, and Montana, 10% of the country now has the right to expect doctors to help them die.

This is not only a problem for doctors. Patients – especially the disabled – will be more vulnerable. They will feel a duty to die. This is why doctor groups and disability advocates oppose assisted suicide.

Death is insatiable. We know this as a spiritual reality, but it’s also a historical phenomenon. In Europe, the euthanasia slippery slope looks like this: It began with the legalization of assisted suicide for the terminally ill, and then involuntary euthanasia for the mentally incompetent was added. Later they allowed anyone age 12 and over who’s suffering to request “aid in dying,” and now a Dutch pediatrician wants to erase the age limit.

As we know, death is not the answer to suffering. We live by God’s grace; by His compassion, we assist those who are struggling.

This is why it’s so crucial that churches be equipped to offer support to the elderly and terminally ill. Through LIFT, Life Matters Worldwide offers a Christian response to suffering. LIFT is Living in Faith Together. Churches adopting the LIFT program help each other live out their days without fear and without succumbing to the world’s “wisdom.”

We've used the passage from Proverbs 24 to urge action on abortion. It fits here, too:

Deliver those who are being taken away to death,
And those who are staggering to slaughter, Oh hold them back.
If you say, “See, we did not know this,”
Does He not consider it who weighs the hearts?
And does He not know it who keeps your soul?

And will He not render to man according to his work?

Related reading:
Assisted suicide increases other suicides
What's really needed is access to palliative care sooner: here and here

The answer to that question is so relevant to this weekend's celebration of Resurrection Sunday, and to our proclamation of the Gospel every day, I hope you don't miss it. 

What does the sanctity of human life matter have to do with the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ? Our Savior perfectly reflected God’s image (Hebrews 1:3). Sinless himself, He bore our penalty of death and rose again so we could have eternal life. We who believe are created anew to bear His likeness! (Romans 8:29, Colossians 3:10)

As we saw in an earlier blog post, bearing the image of God is the key reason all human beings are special, and why we're given dominion over the rest of creation. Christians bear the added responsibility of showing the world what God is like in our character and behavior.

When we respect the sanctity of another person’s life—especially someone who is small, weak, despised, or under attack—we mirror His holiness and His compassion for people. We bring glory to Him (Proverbs 17:5, James 3:8-10). 

This is a message running through Scripture, and the reason Life Matters Worldwide exists. As we are confronted with old and new threats to the sanctity of human life, we hold them up to the mirror of God’s Word. And as we take pro-life ministries with us across the country and around the globe, we teach the biblical values that inform right attitudes and behavior.

  • We help churches teach the biblical pro-life ethic and train leaders to implement services like LIFT.
  • We help missionaries develop pro-life ministries to enhance church-planting efforts. 
  • We help establish and sustain pregnancy care centers as effective Gospel outreaches.

The Christian . . . must suffer and endure the brother. It is only when he is a burden that another person is really a brother and not merely an object to be manipulated. The burden of men was so heavy for God Himself that He had to endure the cross. God verily bore the burden of men in the body of Jesus Christ. . . . God took men upon Himself and they weighted Him to the ground, but God remained with them and they with God. In bearing with men God maintained fellowship with them. It is the law of Christ that was fulfilled in the Cross. [Gal.6:2]

Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Life Together

Related: Why Does Life Matter?

Christians are good givers. Amid the shopping frenzies of Black Friday and Cyber Monday, we give as we always have to our churches, to Christian ministries, and to the less fortunate. 

Giving Tuesday is about inviting friends to join you in support of favorite charities. Share this link so they can support biblical pro-life ministries that change lives.

Something else to keep in mind: Opponents of life use Giving Tuesday as a major fundraising tool. Let your giving and/or social-media sharing on December 2 make a difference for life!

Reading Erwin Lutzer's Hitler's Cross (Moody Publishers, 1995) over the past week, I came across a passage that underscores the reason Life Matters Worldwide has always focused on the primacy of evangelism in pro-life ministry:

For years evangelicals have cooperated with a broad spectrum of religious groups to fight such scourges as abortion, pornography, and the imposition of special laws that favor homosexuals. They have worked together to form crisis pregnancy centers and provide food for the hungry. That work is of course commendable since in a democracy we must join forces with all those who hold to family values, regardless of their religious commitment or lack of it.

We can organize a moral crusade, raise a flag, and work with anyone who will salute it. But let us not be so naive as to think that this is America's great hope. Darkness can only be dispelled by light, and light comers through the gospel of God's grace. Let us never forget that the world's greatest need is always to see Jesus, to understand why He alone can reconcile us to God.

Even when we engage in our cultural and political battles our primary objective should be that the world might see Christ. Yes, we can be grateful for our political and legal victories, but what have we won if people are not introduced to a Savior who can reconcile them to God? That does not mean that we preach a sermon every time we attend the PTA or help a young woman choose to give her unborn child life. It does mean, however, that we conduct ourselves in such a way that we have credibility in sharing the Good News.

And if the choice should be between winning our "cultural war" and maintaining our commitment to a pure gospel, we must let the cultural battles take second place so that the Cross gets a hearing in the hearts of men and women. Of course the choice is never that clear-cut, but we must remember that God did not put us on this earth to save America but to save Americans.

When eighteenth-century England was decadent, with alcoholism, the exploitation of children, and rampant immorality raging, God graciously sent a spiritual awakening through the preaching of George Whitefield and John Wesley. Some historians believe this revival spared the nation from a fate similar to the French revolution.

While we pray and wait for a revival we can do nothing better than to revive our confidence in the power of the Cross to do what moral reform cannot. Let us remember that the reentry of evangelicals into politics is commendable, but it is not the answer; it is only a means to the answer. Whether evangelicals act as lawyers in a court of law, protesters in a pro-life demonstration, or politicians, every vocation if s bridge to witness to the saving grace of God in Christ. (pp. 202-203)

Related: What is the Gospel?

Maybe you heard that Google is attacking the free speech of pregnancy care centers by dropping their ads. This may be a case of more smoke than fire, since we are aware of no centers who’ve suffered this loss. But it is one more attempt by NARAL Pro-Choice America to do what they love to do -- portray all PCCs as “deceptive.”

Here's how the story played out --


Another way to look at this challenge is to see it as proof PCCs are succeeding. Their effectiveness and very existence cause trouble for abortion clinics, whose numbers are steadily decreasing in the face of pro-life laws and their own shoddy practices. Let’s not forget who the real deceivers are! (Read this article for examples of what abortion providers are really like and how major media cover up for them.)  

And let’s not forget that PCCs are non-profits that do their work with limited resources and (for the most part) volunteer labor. Centers do face the perennial challenges of securing funds and recruiting volunteers. These tasks become more difficult during the summer vacation months. 

This month we host our annual Summit to strengthen and encourage them. For two days (the 15th and 16th) we bring together directors, staff, volunteers, and board members for workshops, plenary sessions, and discussion groups. They enjoy fellowship, networking, and consultation with experts in the field. 

Please pray with us for this event, and for our faithful partner centers. They need to be both "wise as serpents and harmless as doves." Wise in their use of advertising and wary about the tactics of our opponents. PCCs are, by nature, harmless but perhaps they need to be more assertive about defending the integrity they do maintain. 

POSTSCRIPT 5/13/14 - Turns out centers are reporting their ads being "limited" or dropped by Google and Yahoo. Some have also been "warned" by Bing. Jim Sprague, executive director of the Pregnancy Resource Center in Grand Rapids, comments:

In practical terms, this determination from Google means if someone is considering an abortion they will have much more difficulty finding a place online that truly empowers a woman to make an informed decision and (most importantly) has no financial stake in her decision. 

The decision means now only the groups profiting from the procedure are allowed to purchase the ad word “abortion.” This clearly favors abortion providers and at the same time seriously restricts groups like PRC who offer life-giving alternatives to abortion.

A year ago, a team from Life Matters Worldwide ventured to the Philippines to conduct trainings for LIFT ministry. One of the participants was Lalaine Mirasol, a widowed mother with two sons. 

From that training, God lit a fire in her -- or as she would say -- LIFT became part of her DNA.

Working with Dr. Mae Corvera (in light blue), Lalaine (far left) helped start the Ruth Foundation for Palliative and Hospice Care in Manila. She serves as its Community Relations Officer. Now based in Baguio City, similar work is underway. 

She tells the story of helping an elderly cancer patient. "A month ago, I regularly visited her to share the Gospel, and she received Jesus as her Lord and Savior. During her last breath, I asked her, is there anything you want, or that you want to see? She smiled and said, 'I'm happy now. Thank you so much, Lalaine!'"

Even though she's not a singer, Lalaine sang for her:

"Because He lives, I can face tomorrow." Then, with a smile on her face and holding Lalaine's hand, the woman took her final breath. Tears of joy filled Lalaine's heart.

Is it any wonder that, with experiences like this, LIFT would become such a passion in her life? 

You can help Lalaine by praying for her. In addition to caring for her own mother (pictured with Lalaine at right), she has many hopes and dreams for LIFT to flourish in Baguio. As she waits for God to guide and provide, she prays He will lead her to "the right local church and people who are interested and have willing hearts to obey the Great Commission through LIFT training."

On social media over the past two weeks, we requested prayer for events taking place in two parts of the world: a pro-life conference in Peru, and a volunteer training seminar in Ukraine

During the conference February 6-8, a significant milestone was celebrated. The biblical pro-life movement in Peru -- and in most of Latin America -- began 15 years ago when the first evangelistic pregnancy care center was established in Lima. Feliz quinceañera! to everyone at Centro Prenatal Vida Nueva.

Volunteer training is a significant stepping-stone in the process of opening a PCC. Choose Life! Odessa in Ukraine took that exciting step February 13-18 when it hosted its first training seminar for over 50 volunteers.

Intertwining paths Reflecting on the concurrence of these two events can lead one to marvel at the hand of God. You see, years ago Holly Friesen, a missionary nurse, was working with Evelyn Stone in Lima, Peru, at the start of Centro Prenatal Vida Nueva. She saw how effective PCCs can be in reaching women. 

Flash forward a few years After the center in Lima was established, Evelyn Stone visited the states and led a workshop for missionaries about using PCC ministry on the mission field. That workshop was attended by Dr. Miriam Wheeler -- a missionary to Odessa, Ukraine. She recognized the potential for PCC ministry in a country where abortion is rampant. 

A few more steps When Holly arrived to work in medical missions in Odessa with Dr. Wheeler, the two put their heads together and began plotting the course of steps that, one day, will lead to another milestone. 

Organizations have a difficult time succinctly stating their mission. Ask any Executive Board Member and you will find that the phrase "Strategic Planning Meeting" is considered foul language. For christian ministries, consider the task of changing hearts, minds and circumstances, while sharing the Lord. Now articulate that process in a few short words. 

Individuals have their own personal ministry as well. Their life! In fact, God assures us that our ministry should be clearly identifiable to others.

"A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” John 13:34-35(NIV)

How much time have you taken to review your mission statement? Are your daily tasks aligning with His vision? Could others recognize your purpose? 

Alpha Women's Center of Grand Rapids made the following short promotional video describing their ministry. What an amazingly clear statement. 

What would your 4 minute commercial look like?  


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