Collaboration Overseas

I have been back from my latest mission trip for about 48 hours now and am feeling pretty good. I think the jet lag will pass in another couple of days. I slept until 4 a.m. today which was better than what I have been sleeping. This trip was to three countries. I was in Medellin, Colombia, teaching at a pastoral conference there. Then I went from Medellin to Kathmandu, Nepal. I was in Kathmandu for almost a week. And from Kathmandu, I went to Delhi in India. I want to share with you a little bit about what happened in each of those places, just to give you a brief update.

In Medellin, I was teaching at a pastoral conference that was sort of a conference on pro-life counseling. We were one of two organizations that were invited to come and speak. It was Herbie Newell of Lifeline and I was there with Passion Life teaching with my colleague, Anderson Ocampo, who lives very close to Medellín, Colombia. He is Colombian. Herbie had some of his staff there. I was teaching with Anderson. What Lifeline does, if you’re not familiar with their ministry, is they help adoption and foster parenting situations in the United States and they do it in several countries around the world.

If you haven’t made this connection, pro-life ministry fits hand-in-hand with adoption and fostering because, in this world, some girls who get pregnant are simply not ready or in a position to be a mother at that time. In those instances, fostering and adoption become a really attractive option for the girl who is really not able to be present as a parent for her child.

Lifeline does a great job of connecting people and churches who have a pro-life mindedness waking them up to the beauty of adoption and fostering and how that fits into pro-life ministry in general. It was great to be able to teach with Herbie, our Passion Life material, laying the biblical foundation for life and ethics. Lifeline builds on top of that foundation and extends it into adoption.

One of the themes that I have will emerge from this particular recording is how much, on this particular trip, I saw synergy with other organizations in a way that I really haven’t seen in the past. And I think that that speaks to a growing focus in international pro-life work. When we started doing this 10 or 12 years ago, there really wasn’t a lot of focus on overseas work as far as pro-life ministry goes.

Even the international organizations in the United States like Heartbeat International are well connected to pregnancy help centers in various countries, but not a whole lot of their work is actually in those countries. They invite people who are working in those countries to affiliate with Heartbeat International so that they can be resourced. It is so they can have access to all kinds of conferences and things like that. But Heartbeat is not necessarily sending out teams to go start pregnancy help centers overseas.

Passion Life, on the other hand, is teaching biblical ethics as a foundation. On top of that, we are calling people to start pro-life ministries, whether it be pregnancy help centers or maternal homes for girls who need a place to hide for a couple of months because of an abusive relationship or hotlines or fostering and adoption, whatever it is that they get called as a church to do in response to the foundation that we teach in biblical ethics.

It was a great time to partner with Lifeline on the trip to Medellin, Colombia. I flew from Medellin to Kathmandu, Nepal. It was my first time in Nepal. It makes, I think, our 36th country that we’re working in now as Passion Life Ministries taught at two different locations, two different churches. One was a church that’s affiliated with a Bible school, so it’s a church/ministry training center, if you will and the other was just a large church on another part of Kathmandu. It was really great to be there and meet these two different pastors and all the ministry leaders that they were able to bring in to hear the four questions.

The Nepali leaders were very humbled. They said no one really is talking about this kind of stuff there in Nepal. This is something that we need. It’s all around us. We realize that and we, as pastors, realize we’re not leading well on the issue because we have treated it like a women’s issue that is not really related to the church or to the gospel in any specific way. It’s very encouraging.

While I was there, I made contact with pastors who have made contact with other international pro-life organizations. For instance, Life Equipped Global, which is led by Raul Reyes who is a friend of Passion Life, has made connections with some of these Nepali pastors and some of the leaders that were at the conference that I was at.

Bethany Jansen of Pro-Life Global really focuses on training and equipping young people for pro-life youth programs. She sometimes will use the four questions training material that Passion Life has developed when she is working overseas. In fact, Bethany was in Kenya training youth from high school to college age on how to carry on pro-life ministry and live a pro-life ethic. She was training with some of the Passion Life four questions while she was in Kenya. She reached out to me while I was in Kathmandu. I was able to say, “Hey, here I am in Kathmandu working with pastors that you’ve made connections with.” So there may be partnership and collaborative efforts with Bethany and her group as a result of the Kathmandu trip. We definitely expect to go back into Nepal and to travel more widely into rural areas in Nepal and continue the work that we started there. So it was very encouraging. And I thank you for praying us through that.

The last place I went was India. I met up with a longtime ministry friend and partner, an Indian pastor by the name of Amit Paul, who is a p worker for the Lord in the pro-life realm. Amit has become a national leader for India in his own right. He has been working with Passion Life to the extent that he really is part of the Passion Life family. If you will, we consider him one of our regional partners in Asia I met in a church in Delhi.

I’ve been to India seven times. I’ve been to Delhi and taught there three times, but I’ve never been super encouraged by the response that I have gotten in Delhi. Sometimes I wonder if it’s the busyness of super urban centers like Delhi that gives pastors a busyness mindset that they don’t latch onto this right away, like they may in a more rural setting.

Sometimes I wonder if the spiritual climate of Hinduism and Islam in Delhi has made it very difficult to go up against the forces of death, if you will, as far as preaching from the Bible about abortion. But from Delhi, I’ve just never really gotten a solid response from leaders there. However, I felt much different about this particular training. Amit set this one up. It wasn’t me going through my connections to set it up. Amit knew some guys that he thought might be soft-hearted toward pro-life ministry. Those guys invited other pastors and leaders from around the city. So I really feel like on this particular trip, we got to the right people.

So often we go overseas and we train and it’s gratifying to see three to seven hundred people show up to hear what you have to say. But rarely, when you speak to a thousand people, do you have a whole lot of people who felt like they made a tight connection with what you were teaching. More often, it’s these groups of thirty and forty that you’re going to teach and see someone step forward and say, “I really want to connect with you and your ministry and do what I can to make myself available to the Lord to be used as a ministry leader.” So we often say it doesn’t really matter to us how many people come to hear the teaching that Passion Life has to offer.

We’re looking for the right people. We’re looking for the people that God has chosen and anointed and ordained to be there at our teachings. Those are the people that, whether the teaching has a thousand people or forty people in it, somebody who really connects with the material deeply and wants to take the next step to rescue the innocent in their context. It’s gratifying when there are large teachings. I don’t mind if it’s thirty or forty people. I would like not to fly all the way to Nepal and teach two people, but if I knew that those two people were the right two people, I would do that.

On the three trips, our smallest training was probably 40-45 people and our larger training was probably in the neighborhood of 140-160. We feel very good about the connections that we made, even in Delhi. I was hearing the same names of Raul Reyes and Bethany Jansen again. I had just been in Medellin teaching with Lifeline and Herbie Newell. Herbie has just written a new book called Image Bearers which is kind of a foundational book for pro life ministry. I have not read it yet, but I intend to. Amit was asking me as soon as I got to India, “Hey, do you know an organization called Lifeline? They’ve written a new book called Image Bearers and they have asked me to be the translator from English into Bengali. They already have the book translated into Hindi.” Amit is going to be working on translating the book into Bengali.

While I was in India, Amit was taking Herbie’s book and introducing the Hindi version to some of these pastors. I had just met Herbie and spent three days teaching with him and I got to know him a little bit. These synergistic network-type relationships that I have found on this trip are not common. My hope, if you’ll pray with me, is that they will become more common as you have these few organizations that are working in an international context in pro-life work now spreading their influence far enough that we’re really beginning to run into each other’s people no matter where we go on the planet.

If these people are saying, “Hey, I’m going to this pro-life thing and I’ve done something with Bethany. Now Passion Life is coming in and I know Passion Life through Bethany. Now I feel really good about inviting 15 pastors to come with me to the Passion Life training because I trust it. I know that it’s theologically sound. I’m not going to invite people and then get there and be embarrassed because Passion Life doesn’t have a good theological soundness to their teaching.” We are not seeing that because we are making very good connections.

If you will, as a wrap up and a final thought to this blog, pray with me for this collaboration that is beginning to show itself more in the international context. Pray for the international organizations that are doing very good work. It’s not just the other three that I’ve mentioned in this video. There are several others doing great international work. We just don’t always run into each other’s people, but now that these networks are growing, I think it’s going to help the international pro-life movement.

Please pray with me, if you will, that these organizations thrive and that they continue to focus well on the gospel and on the Bible. Pray that the network of relationships that we have continues to strengthen and we benefit one another as ministries as we travel so that we can be as much benefit as possible to those we minister to. Thanks for tuning in. Now to prayer.