Am I qualified?

Not a "pregnancy center" worker, medical professional, pastor or other seemingly "qualified" professional? There is a place for you to travel with LIFE International!

A few years ago we were training a team of people who were committed to facilitating The Journey of a Life-Giver workshop in Zambia. None of the team members were familiar with the curriculum but were dedicated to learning it, including Kirsten Swanson, who declared that she was not a teacher! Despite her declaration, Kirsten agreed to take on facilitating a session with 12 women and we were amazed at how skillful she was! So much so that we recently invited her to facilitate a training in South Asia. 

Our intention in all our workshops is to make them replicable by participants, who generally include pastors, youth leaders, and lay people—both men and women. Most of the time they are not medical professionals. This is what Kirsten said about her experience as an International Training Specialist:

What did you feel like the first time you agreed to travel and facilitate for LIFE International? 

I was excited because it seemed like a great opportunity but I felt anxious about whether I was qualified! When I became a mom I left the business world, and I wondered, "Without any theology training, or medical training, how could I teach the material?"  

I learned many years ago that if we are F.A.T.—Faithful, Available, Trainable—that God would use us.

What was the process like for you?

The process was a lot of fun. The LIFE International staff was great—supportive and encouraging. Matthew [Zoller] and Anne [Nelson] were always willing to do one-on-one coaching to help me prepare for facilitating the sessions. I prepared to present by learning the material until I was confident I knew it, and by practicing presenting, as it had been some time since the last time I presented.

 Kirsten (left) with LIFE International Events Manager, Sarah Blocher, in South Asia! 

Kirsten (left) with LIFE International Events Manager, Sarah Blocher, in South Asia! 

You recently went to South Asia but were quite nervous a few weeks prior to the trip. Can you tell us about that and how you overcame that?

I felt that God was encouraging me to go, but I wanted assurance that I would have a female companion to travel with me, in addition to Matthew and our pastor, Mark. I spoke with Fran on the LIFE International staff and though she was not able to go she assured me that the team on the ground would be a great support to me. I spoke with Matthew about my concerns, and he understood and had the staff praying for me as well. I felt God was calling me to do this and I was reminded about the peace I felt when I accepted the invitation to go. I committed to go on the trip and was additionally blessed that Sarah from the LIFE International staff was able to join us, traveling together from Michigan.

What topics did you teach and how did you feel about facilitating them? 

I got to team-teach with a medical doctor from South Asia! I taught the opening sections in the Biblical Sexuality and Human Reproduction sessions, and she was really great at explaining the medical portions. She was fun to teach with and we had excellent translators who had prepared by studying the material ahead of the training.

As a relatively new facilitator, there is a lot of comfort in knowing that LIFE International staff and volunteers are there as support. There is always an experienced and available facilitator to team-teach if something comes up. 

How has traveling with LIFE International stretched you personally and spiritually?

I feel like it is always good to be stretched and keep growing. It was a good learning experience and fun to meet new people--people who would become a new group of friends.

Spiritually, you don't know what to expect when you go to a new place, so it caused me to rely on prayer and the Holy Spirit. I had a sense of comfort knowing that we were being bathed in prayer by the Global Prayer Shield recipients, the staff of LIFE International, and by our own prayer teams. I relied on those prayers and the truth that God would provide what was needed and carry the team through the event according to His will.

Thank you, Kirsten, for sharing your story with us!

Click here to learn more about our volunteer program!

To discover that I had not lived!

LIFE International partner A Bridge to Progress is based in North Central India, and for years, the men and women of this organization have ministered to the most vulnerable people in their community.

LIFE International has had the privilege of partnering with A Bridge to Progress by granting funds for equipment and other resources needed for optimum outreach, and by providing The Journey of a Life-Giver training to these Gospel leaders. We are pleased to share their story of a much needed service to children at risk of missing important years of education.

As a slum is dismantled and the residents move away, these families remain. 

[We are working in a] slum which is in transition. A few still stay there in uncertainty. We were met with the option to completely leave the area or pay attention to the few who are still staying. There is also a nearby slum, from where kids were coming to the school.

What about them? 

We decided to love the few remnants.

The question was where to put up the school. Luckily, one of the teachers spotted an abandoned hamlet—a lonely hut on the other side of the road. We occupied the hamlet, and called in the children, but then it wasn’t enough. There were the kids [from the other community], whose education was being obstructed by the relocation. We needed to build another shed to teach those students. That is when others were called for the help to build a new structure.

We had no other labourers. We were the labourers! The project manager, the supervisor, and the other teachers, braced themselves for hard manual work. I, who serves as the director, joined in to the joy.

They had already made measurements and brought in bamboo cuttings to build the structure. The elder students brought spades and other utensils to dig and clear the land. Then the teachers made holes in the ground deep enough to stabilize the standing bamboos. Six such poles were placed very soon. Then they cut out holders for the roof. They tilted the roof slightly towards the east.

Once the roof was set up, they have to now spread the tarpaulin over the bamboo cuttings. This is the work of the kids,—only kids can climb over the roofs—this is their ‘inheritance’. While the students were busy weaving the roof, the teachers built the side walls. In all this I was an active participant, enjoying every moment with the rugged kids, who playfully work to build their school. A door was put up, and…tada! The school is built!

As I looked at the well-formed structure built in just one day, I said to myself, “I am living my life! I had joined the chorus of teachers who enthusiastically built their own school.” I remembered Henry David Thoreau who lived in the wilderness to know whether he would not learn what Nature had to teach. In this little life of ours, I can’t but learn lessons perhaps many of you would never learn! I echo with Mr. Thoreau; “…and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.” 

As I talk to many of our friends, I encourage them to come and live with us for a few days. I have hardly found a person, whose eyes were not opened or being inspired by the lives of these people.  Some of them then discover that they had not lived their lives! 

LIFE International is partnering with Gospel leaders across the globe who are concerned with the violations they see of the sacredness of human life. Click the link to learn how you can stand with them: www.lifeinternational.com/pray.

True Words

Vinita Shaw, Executive Director of DISHA Foundation, shared the following testimony of a man who found his Heavenly Father through the medium of radio!

At the age of 35, Manu was unmarried, unemployed, and lonely. Because he didn’t have a job, no one in his community would allow him to marry their daughter. As he got older, the stigma grew stronger, and people began to avoid him. His mother grew frustrated with Manu being at home with nothing to do, and would ask the local temple priest to perform rituals intended to reverse Manu’s bad luck. Nothing seemed to help, and he sunk deeper into self-pity and depression.

Manu’s one friend was his radio. He would spend long days wandering the fields listening to his favorite stations, passing the time and keeping his mind off his circumstances.

One day, as Manu was tuning the radio, he heard a soft song playing and knew it was a devotional program. He thought of all the prayers his mother offered in their home which he had grown so disgusted by, and was tempted to change the station. But he enjoyed the music, and so kept listening. This was his first exposure to Satya Vachan (Hindi for “True Words”) on FM Rainbow. The content struck a chord in his heart, and Manu listened to the program often.

Eventually, Manu hesitantly called in to the station. The woman who answered was warm and compassionate, and after Manu shared his struggles, she prayed with him on the phone.

Within a week, he got a job.

After this, Manu continued to talk to the radio counselor and listen to the Word of God through the program as often as he could. His faith in Christ began to grow, and soon he asked for prayer for marriage.

Not long after, Manu got married. He has been able to share Christ with his wife and they have grown in their faith together.

Recently, Manu called in to the radio station again. His wife was pregnant, and due to complications the doctor had suggested an abortion. Not sure what to do, Manu again asked the counselor for prayer and help. She sent him material on life in the womb, and shortly after, Manu heard a broadcast teaching about the consequences of abortion. He and his wife decided to choose life, and to pray for their child instead of abort. It hasn’t been an easy journey, but now both mother and baby are doing well.

 NW INDIA: a father allows a LIFE International volunteer to take a photo of his beautiful baby.

NW INDIA: a father allows a LIFE International volunteer to take a photo of his beautiful baby.

Vinita’s radio program is able to reach more than 80 million people across India! Manu and his wife received materials from LIFE International through the ministry of Vinita and her team. Praise God for a life saved!

If you would like to participate financially in God’s global life movement, click this link to go to learn about our giving opportunities: www.lifeinternational.com/donate.

Taking a Leap of Faith

We interviewed volunteer International Training Specialists, Bill and Nancy Paltzer, about their experiences serving with LIFE International for more than four years!

Why do you give your time to volunteering with LIFE International?

We volunteer with LIFE International because this ongoing ministry reaches out with life-affirming, Gospel-based help. It also gives us the opportunity to use the specific ministry experience God has given us here, close to home, to further His work throughout the world.

How does LIFE International prepare you for ministry?

Their International Training Specialist (ITS) training and our experiences on teams has been helpful. The cross-cultural training has taught us to be flexible and ready to encounter people who may be very different than what we are used to. This is valuable not only as we travel, but as we encounter those in our home town who come from different backgrounds and have different beliefs. Learning to evaluate our own attitudes towards others and replacing them with Christ’s love opens doors rather that building barriers.

 Bill and Nancy with fellow volunteer ITS and ministry partner Carmen (center) in Bolivia, 2015

Bill and Nancy with fellow volunteer ITS and ministry partner Carmen (center) in Bolivia, 2015

What did you learn on your recent trip to Nepal with LIFE International?

Before the trip, we were concerned about communication and unity on the team since we were coming from four different countries, and three continents. But the Lord does great things in His people. We were inspired and humbled by our teammates and the participants in Nepal. They do truly amazing work in their home countries. We had diverse backgrounds, temperaments, and gifts which God wove together into a cohesive, productive team. It was a privilege to work with these Christian brothers and sisters from other parts of the world.

What would you say to someone considering volunteering?

If you are feeling God’s leading, please take the training. It will prepare you and give you a better idea of the needs and your role. When you volunteer, you will need to be praying and have others praying for you. This is vital.
But at some point you just have to take a leap of faith because you know this is what the Lord is asking of you.

Are you ready to take the leap? Check out our volunteer opportunities!

Healing Hearts at Pal's Junction

Contributed by Bramuel Musya, Founder & CEO of SPEAR Africa Foundation

Yesterday was a special day as SPEAR Africa Foundation was able to journey with 35 individuals from PAL'S JUNCTION Nairobi chapter as we took them through the healing retreat called “Restoring Wounded Hearts” with material developed by LIFE International.

We thank God for a successful and beautiful day. We give Him praise for these dear brothers and sisters who are now embarking on their journey of freedom.

Our ministry still believes that the message of the sanctity of human life cannot be separated from Jesus’ command to make disciples of all nations.

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SPEAR Africa Foundation is a ministry partner of LIFE International, equipping and empowering pastors, evangelists, church planters and disciple-makers with training and resources. 

Click here to learn more about LIFE International's mission to partner with Gospel leaders.