How significant is prayer in the planning of a ministry? How intentional and serious are we about putting prayer in its proper place in our ministries and daily decision-making? I believe and have experienced that following the Lord through prayer is our most effective and strategic planning tool. Let me share one of many stories that follow this process.
Let’s go to Guyana, June of 1997.
I was wondering if it was time for me to leave my role as the Executive Director of the Pregnancy Resource Center (PRC) and get back to my love of being a pastor. I had several opportunities knocking on my door but did not sense the release from the Lord to leave the PRC.
The struggle continued and my heart for reaching the lost increased. In June of ’97 the Lord impressed upon my heart a life-changing challenge. He told me: “Kurt, I want you to help set up PRCs wherever abortion is being provided around the world.” Specifically, “wherever Planned Parenthood is located.”
I thought this was one of those crazy moments that some of us have. I tried to get rid of the idea. It seemed way, way too big for a plate that was already overflowing. All during the month of June I struggled with this thought. I woke up with it on my mind and went to sleep thinking about it. Finally, I decided to tell my wife about this crazy idea. My thinking was, she is so level-headed and practical that she will kill this idea for sure, and I will be done with it. I shared with her what was on my heart and mind and she communicated just the opposite of what I expected…and had hoped for. “Kurt, this is who you are. You need to respond in obeying what God has put on your heart.” At first I didn’t accept her response. I thought something was wrong with my wife.
Throughout August, I struggled with my wife’s words. I finally decided to talk to my board president. He understands our very full plate at the PRC, I thought, and he is very steady and practical. For sure he will clear this idea out and I will be free from this crazy notion of becoming global in our efforts. He loved the idea and only affirmed that direction. At this point I thought that neither my wife nor board chairman were functioning like they should be.
I put a challenge to the Lord at this time. I didn’t trust myself and I sure didn’t want to make a mistake on a decision concerning this vision. I wanted to obey Him, but I didn’t trust myself concerning pride-filled ideas and selfish ambition. And so the challenge was this: Lord, if this is something that you want me to do, send me someone totally ignorant of this vision, someone who does not know me or the PRC, who will confirm this crazy idea. Then I will know it is you and not me that is behind this initiative.
In September, my board chairman and I were invited to tour Romania. I thought it possible that during this trip I would see the vision confirmed. If not, then I’d be off the hook. Not one encounter during this trip confirmed the vision. Our hearts were broken over the thousands of orphans, and thousands of children living in the sewers and subways, but no one confirmed the vision the way I requested. Finally, I thought, I’m free from this daily nag of an idea.
In October 1997, I was leading a team of 35 adults to Trinidad. After we landed and I began walking down the exit ramp from the plane, a man reached out his hand and said, “Hello, my name is Clarence Charles. I’m a physician from Guyana and I’m interested in starting pregnancy advisory centers internationally.” My jaw dropped. I had never met this man and he had never met me. I was so stunned. I asked him to repeat what he just said. He did, and I still couldn’t believe it. I asked him why he had said that to me and he said, “I believed God wanted me to.”
I then told him who I was. His response was, “Brother, you’re an answer to my prayers.”
We continued our discussion for the next hour and a half as we waited for our passports to be cleared. I asked if Planned Parenthood was in Georgetown. He affirmed that they were and that they were very active in forming government policy on abortion. This shook me, but I was still looking for a way out, so I decided to drop the big issue on Clarence. I said, “Clarence, the only reason I would be involved in such an endeavor would be to see people come to Christ.” He looked at me soberly and said, “Of course!” God had answered my prayer specifically and clearly, and I knew then that I had to obey Him!
I then prepared to communicate this vision to our board in November. In preparation for the meeting I felt I needed to have a clearer picture of where Planned Parenthood was located around the world. I had requested that several people check the Internet for this information. On the morning of the board meeting, one of our staff members landed on the International Planned Parenthood Federation site. She printed out each location around the world and delivered the list to me which helped with my presentation that night to the board. The board responded to the vision in complete unity, approving that evening the forming of PRC International as a formal ministry arm of the PRC.
In January of 1998, we made our first visit to Guyana, and on April 1 we opened the center in Georgetown, Guyana.
On October 1, 2001, PRC International became LIFE International, an independent organization. To date we have had the opportunity to impact over 72 countries for life. God has opened up every country first through prayer.
LIFE International began as a result of an earnest prayer to clearly know God’s heart and direction. God continues to lead us through prayer where He wants us to get involved, one country at a time. It is so reassuring to us to know clearly that He is leading the way. This is His ministry and He knows best where the next opportunity is for LIFE International. We wait on Him and He is always faithful in showing us His way!