Slovenia (MNN) — Eastern Europe has one of the highest abortion rates in the world. As of 2015, 38 percent of all pregnancies in Eastern Europe ended in abortion. That rate is second only to the Caribbean, where 39 percent of pregnancies are aborted.
Back in the early 90’s, that abortion rate in Eastern Europe was even higher, with women aborting 54 percent of their pregnancies. This was due in part to the fact that contraceptives had limited access under the Soviet regime.
While the abortion rate in Eastern Europe has gone down, it remains an epidemic, emotionally and physically scarring the women who chose or were forced to end the lives of their babies, and wiping out millions of infants in a generation.
But there is hope — both for the healing of women who’ve had an abortion, and for saving the lives of babies in jeopardy.
Tom Lothamer with Life Matters Worldwide recently conducted two workshops for a conference of ABWE missionaries in Portorož, Slovenia two weeks ago. Missionaries hailed from countries all over Eastern and Central Europe. They gathered together for a time to rest and refocus their vision for God’s Great Commission.
The two workshops led by Lothamer covered prayer for the ministry, and casting the vision for pro-life ministry on the field.
“One of the ways here and around the world where we can reach men and especially women is through this type of ministry — letting them know there’s people who care, who can help them, they can go through post-abortion recovery. It’s a real neat ministry that gives the missionaries an opportunity to share the Gospel. Many are coming to Christ because of this. And also on the front end of pregnancy, before they get an abortion, babies are being spared.”
For women who have undergone an abortion, often the last place they want to go to is the Church. However, Lothamer says pregnancy and post-abortion care services are great ways believers can reach out.
“This is a natural way of interacting with people in the community who maybe would never come over to their church plant, but they would come for that type of service and help…. A young woman who is afraid, who is alone, and then she hears about this ministry that will serve her and help her, guide her, and so she’ll come. There’s all different kinds of ways that women find it.”
Pro-life ministry opportunities don’t just focus on early life and pregnancy. Lothamer also spoke on ways missionaries can care for and involve the elderly in community.
“We talk about the whole idea of the Church first of all ministering to the Body within their church family; and to those who are elderly, those who are sick, purposefully and intentionally ministering to them, caring for them, connecting with them,” says Lothamer.
“Also, this can spill outside the Church where people in a community, in a neighborhood…have elderly neighbors [or] sick neighbors and they can then choose to minister to them…to create a relationship with them and possibly have an opportunity to share the Gospel with them.”
Congregations often have great programming for youth, teens, and families. But when it comes to reaching out to senior individuals, not all churches make it a priority.
“People in this time of life are very vulnerable. And even in this country in the United States, there are many people who are elderly, sick, and frankly, alone. It’s not generally the desire of the Church to leave them alone, they just need to learn of ways they can effectively do that and put it on the front burner, as it will, of the church ministry.”
Bottom line, pro-life ministry touches on several different subjects: pregnancy care, elderly ministry, healing for the sick, quality of life for the disabled, combating sexual slavery, fighting poverty. And above all — fullness of life in Christ.
“No matter what the situation is, our call is still to reach out to those in need who have very physical issues, very emotional issues, spiritual issues, and to share the Gospel.”
The missionaries have since left the conference and gone home to their mission fields across Central and Eastern Europe. But Lothamer asks for your prayers.
“Pray for those who are experiencing great trauma, but also for the Christians to be alert to opportunities to minister to people in unique ways, wonderful ways. And pray for the missionaries who are serving over there, not for their own needs, but they’re serving there because they’re called.”