Why did you get into international ministry?
It's a question I get fairly often. After all, we are essentially a traditional pregnancy center doing traditional pregnancy center things. We have medical services, a parenting program, an abstinence program, and a grief support program for mothers who have experienced an abortion or a miscarriage. All of those are completely typical for pregnancy help. There are variations, of course, and each pregnancy help center is unique. However, I would hazard a guess that 90% of pregnancy centers have services similar to what I just listed.
And then, one day we thought "Wow, we are seeing a huge rise in at-home abortions. Somebody should do something about that!" I even jotted something down about it on our strategic plan. When I did, though, I thought that someone else would surely get to it before we did.
So, we wrote a website. This new website, athomeabortionfacts.com, is truly one-of-a-kind. It was put together by some incredible volunteers and was built by a pretty awesome web developer. It is designed to reach women considering an at-home abortion and encourage them to explore other options - options that would save the life of their unborn child.
Along with the website, we started some social media pages. That's when things really became interesting.
We discovered that individuals in developing nations use social media like an American would use a search engine. Instead of opening a web browser and inputting search terms, they use social media platforms to find the services or information they need.
Initially, a few contacts from overseas (mostly Africa) trickled in. By the end of the first year, our team had chatted with about fifty women overseas. While chatting with the mothers was amazing, the other very cool piece were the connections we made with believers in other nations. When there was no pregnancy center available, we reached out to churches. In some nations, those churches decided to start up pregnancy help ministries of their own.
Pastor Newton (pictured above) started a pregnancy help ministry in Malawi with the help of his wife, Vanessa. Vanessa and one of her friends drove four hours to help a young woman considering an abortion. This young woman chose life for her baby and Pastor Newton and Vanessa continue to be involved in their lives. Since then, we have referred other young women in need to them for help and guidance. They are a tremendous resource in an underserved community.
As 2020 began, contacts continued to flood in. Each month, we had more initial contacts and more individuals in continuing conversations. There were also new countries each month. By the end of 2020, we had nearly 3,000 individuals in over thirty countries reach out to the helpline.
When I say "3,000" I don't mean we had 3,000 messages. I also don't mean that we had 3,000 conversations. I mean that we had nearly 3,000 individual people (mostly women, but with a few men mixed in) message us asking for help. Of those 3,000 individuals the vast majority of them were asking us how to have an at-home abortion or asking how to recover after an at-home abortion. We chatted with each individual as much as they wanted. We talked about their families, their situations, their relationships, and most importantly their pregnancies. Their stories are in some ways very similar and in other ways completely unique. Many of them are young and unmarried. They're afraid that a pregnancy will bring shame upon their family, make it impossible for them to complete their education, and condemn them to a lifetime of poverty.
Some conversations were just a few messages back and forth, while others went on for days or even weeks. To the best of our ability, each woman was referred to a life-affirming resource in her community. Most of the time that resource was a pregnancy center, sometimes it was a Christian hospital or clinic, and occasionally it was a church or individual.
By chatting with these young women, finding them help, and giving them information, hundreds of lives were saved. Based on responses to follow up messages, we estimate that 84% of the mothers who messaged us asking about abortion have chosen life.
This ministry has quickly grown from a few messages here and there to a volunteer team dedicated to answering messages whenever they happen to come in. As of today (and it could go up again at any moment) we have been contacted by individuals in 43 nations. Eight of these nations are so hostile towards Christianity that we aren't able to list them publicly.
So, to answer the initial question, we "got into" international ministry because God dropped it in our laps. We didn't set out to serve other nations, or chat with women overseas, but when God issued the call we answered.
I need you to answer that call as well.
Simply put, the need is far beyond our ability to meet it. We're not able to keep the chat up and running 24/7 (which means women who search during our "down" hours are likely finding an abortionist) and we don't have the funds to promote the website and our other material as we should. Our staff are stretched as thin as possible, and the need continues to outpace our ability to meet it. Beyond the international chat we're building relationships with new pregnancy centers overseas, developing educational material for pregnancy centers worldwide, building a chatbot to focus on an American audience, and working to get the website to perform well in searches. The need is tremendous.
However, I firmly believe that if God called us to this incredible ministry He can also call you.
Can you help? We are in need of:
Funds. We have one (very talented) individual managing everything international right now. Even at our current level, she is doing the work of at least three people. Adding two or more full time staff members would increase our reach and result in more lives saved and changed. Your gift, of any size, makes a difference.
Volunteers. Our goal is to staff the chatline with volunteers and use paid staff to oversee, handle chats originating in sensitive countries, contact pregnancy centers overseas on behalf of clients, and advise on difficult conversations. Volunteer work can be done from anywhere with an internet connection - we will train you! You can apply online to get started.
Pray. This is hard work. Some of the stories we encounter are graphic and difficult. Some of the women we work with are angry and cold. We need people who can pray for our team and pray for our clients. You can sign up by emailing our prayer coordinator, Jan, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
God's work through us in this ministry is incredible, and we are working on a booklet to help us share these stories with you! The booklets are free, but if you would like to cover our costs you can make a $5 donation. To reserve a booklet email email@example.com with your name and address (for addresses outside of the continental United States will will send you an e-version).
Stay tuned! God is moving in incredible ways, and we want you to be part of it.
To get involved head over to promiseoflifenetwork.org. You can donate, learn more, and apply to volunteer.