Africa! Amazing!

Well, I have just arrived home from Africa, a little groggy and I could probably use a shave, but I’m very excited about what I saw there. I wanted to share with you the impact that you and the rest of the PassionLife community are doing for the cause of life and the gospel in Africa. So here are a few of the highlights from that trip.

First of all, there were pastors and pregnancy help center leaders from about 16 different countries that gathered together at a hotel in Kitwe, Zambia, under the banner of the Association for Life Africa or AFLA. They came from Zambia, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Malawi, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Kenya, Uganda, Burundi, Rwanda, Togo, Sierra Leone, Liberia, and a few others. So it was an extraordinary gathering of people that we were able to pour into. They will then go home and begin to create their own circles of influence within all these countries throughout Africa. So this was a very strategic gathering point in Zambia. That’s number one.

We met some remarkable leaders, people who are considered leaders of the church within the entire country, not just their own church. One man there was the president of the Association of Evangelicals for his country. There were several of those. There’s one brother I met that traveled six days by bus in order to get to this conference. Six days of travel. Now that’s even more than my three days of travel and on a bus to boot. In one case I met a pastor and his daughter. The pastor is helping, leading and overseeing a number of other churches and training other pastors. His daughter was leading the community area in the pregnancy help ministry in his town. The conference was wonderful and was like nothing else I’ve ever seen. Half of the people present were directly working in a pregnancy help clinic or center in a country in Africa. The others were pastors and leaders of churches and networks of churches within their country. It was almost a 50-50 breakout. So this father-daughter couple really represents the entire conference.

The interview I did at the APLA conference with Pastor Mugale, his daughter, Chalutia and with a couple of friends from Zambia really reflects the beauty, the sweetness, the power and the glory of our movement in which they get to stand for life in a way that they are bringing people from death to life. They’re helping others choose life over death, and helping people in crisis learn to trust in the Lord for their daily bread, as well as their eternal life. They have an amazing story. Chalutia grew up in the church and was following the Lord for a while. Then she got pregnant outside of marriage. It was a terrible day to have to come home to Papa, but God’s grace was at work. Now she has a beautiful baby and is married. She is a testimony that her story is always God’s glory. So today she is running a program at a pregnancy crisis center in Capirimpoche, which is in the central province of Zambia. They’ve conducted at least 500 pregnancy tests and 97 babies have been born in her center. They target teenage girls and girls from the church to make them feel accepted and that the grace of God and His mercies are sufficient for them as well. Amen.

Now Pastor Mugale is the pastor leading the church in the stand for life. He told us what he has been doing. This work has taught them all a lot, and especially himself, on how to change, how he can speak to pastors. He spent some time talking to pastors about how they can see the unborn children, how they can help their family if they fall into these things. Pastor Mugale is always with his daughter trying to see what he can do at the center and talking to people. So there are many pastors that have joined him and he is praying that he can open up more crisis centers. It was a privilege to meet them and see God’s glory in their remarkable story. It was one of the sweetest moments of my time in Kenya.

Another great highlight for me was the opportunity to talk to a pastor that we actually met two years ago when Mark Nicholson and I traveled to Uganda, Kenya and Ethiopia together. One of the sweet things that we saw last week was that some of these same leaders that we first met and trained in Kenya are continuing to develop relations with other people in Africa, planning and strategizing together, how they can teach the gospel of life throughout more networks of churches, and how those churches can then begin to rescue the innocent by starting pregnancy help clinics in their area. One of these key leaders is Pastor Fred from Kenya, and he’s such a delightful man and has been so faithful. He shared with me what he’s doing today as a result of you all sending us to Africa in December 2022 to teach the Four Questions. Pastor Fred shared how powerful it was to have this training conference at his church. He had PassionLife come and it was a blessed moment for them to be together with us. Since then, after having the Four Questions training, he and the pastors continue to equip many pastors. It is so tremendous to them when they see people responding. In their churches, pastors used to be afraid to talk about sex, but today they are speaking about it. And that’s one way they are reducing the number of abortion cases. Pastor Fred and his wife were struggling with how to respond to God’s call. But after the PassionLife training, they were able to start a center. Right now they have 100 children in their center and have rescued many single mothers. They are using the Four Questions and it has yielded a great impact. They are so grateful to us for coming to train them. They need our prayers to continue for them and their work. Our prayer support is key to them and they are thankful for it. Their story is part of God’s glory. It was an honor for Mark and I to come and meet them, and now we have a long-term relationship. Thank God and to Him be the glory! Bless the Lord.

At this conference, I had the opportunity to give three keynote addresses to the full crowd that was there, and then I had a chance to do a specialized workshop on how to do pregnancy crisis counseling for women in a pregnancy related crisis. So that was very helpful. We also got a chance to teach our Four Questions training to about 60 pastors after the conference. We had a full day of Four Questions training. So lots of busyness in the four or five days that I was there. I just wanted you to see that when I give a keynote, one of the things that I wanted to do is to help the people who are leaders today understand that what we’re doing, the challenges that we’re taking on, the call to rescue the innocent, is not new. It’s just their turn. It’s just our turn. It goes all the way back to the midwives in Egypt. There are examples throughout the Bible and church history in which God’s people have been called to rescue the innocent. They did so faithfully and at great risk and cost to themselves. One of the things I want to do is to highlight stories from Africa in which Christians were rescuing the innocent. At the end of the keynote we handed out a little badge that will remind people that what we’re doing today is not new. It’s just our turn. It’s not new in Africa. It’s just their turn. Many people were encouraged by this message.

The second keynote that I gave really emphasized some of the sacrifices and the hardships that you have to endure if you’re going to help a woman in a crisis. People seek abortion as salvation, as deliverance from their difficult situation. If we’re going to rescue them, that means that we are in effect making their problems our problems. That’s the whole essence of the Good Samaritan story which says that person’s going to die unless I intervene, and I’ve got to make their problem my problem. And then love begins to teach you what to do. So as I wanted to convey that challenge, not to run away from the hardship of what we’re doing, I wanted to give them a way to remember that. For me personally, for many years, I have tried to frame this mission as cross bearing for the child bearing. So we made another little badge on the second day that people were walking around wearing that says: “we’re cross bearing for the child bearing”. It’s a way of trying to build trust, endurance and long suffering that is required of us to answer God’s call and make sure that that’s part of the DNA of the pregnancy help movement as it spreads across Africa. So we created those badges.

I also took with me six ultrasound units. These are handheld units that connect to an iPad and we presented these to the pregnancy centers throughout Africa that are developed, organized and have a doctor or a nurse working with them. I was able to put six of them in my backpack and deliver them to the leader of the Association for Life Africa to redistribute them in Kenya, Uganda, Burundi, Togo, wherever the need and the opportunity is. I think we’re going to get some more of those over there as well. But this is a transformational moment because until recently, it’s been very difficult to equip centers in a place like Africa with ultrasound. They were big and bulky and the shipping cost was more than the machinery itself. But now I can throw them in my backpack and get them over there.

Before leaving, we had a fundraising dinner here in Atlanta, and we had one a couple months ago in California in which we were trying to raise the money to purchase all of the investments that we’re doing right now in Africa. So we are investing about $68,000 this year to promote the pro-life work, the pregnancy center work, outreach, and getting the Four Questions going throughout all the different countries in Africa. We’re investing and equipping them with fetal models and ultrasounds. We didn’t do as well as I had hoped we would do at the dinner here in my hometown. So if you’ve got any charity that you’re ready to give and you want to make a big difference where it can make a dramatic impact, I really just encourage you to go visit our website and become a monthly donor with us. We would like to purchase more of these to use in Cuba and a couple other places, and take more back with us to Africa. We also took 60 boxes of fetal models that we shipped from China where they were manufactured into Zambia. We’re just making a really big investment into Africa because we just see that the church is responding with pregnancy center workers in a way that we’re trying to spark in other places. It has been sparked in Africa and we want to see it multiply and spread and be equipped. So if you’ve got missions dollars that you haven’t committed yet, please think about your brothers and sisters in Africa and join in a partnership with us to help them stand up for life in Africa. We will continue to send out the videos and pictures in the future to make sure that you see directly the impact that you’re making. I think that you cannot pray enough for these key leaders in Africa: that God will pour out His Spirit and create little multiplication days in which 50 here and 60 there and 120 here and 15 there, that these pastors get a vision for training their people on how to stand for life and that little armies of good Samaritans emerge across all of these different countries.

It’s a very exciting thing. I want to thank all of you for sending me and these resources to PassionLife with your charity. I had several checkpoints where things did not go right at all, but through prayer and perseverance, we were able to complete all of the mission goals that we had for our trip to Africa. So in summary, thank you for being a cross bearer with us in this child bearing work, and to God be the glory for the amazing things that are unfolding in Africa today.