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Flowers’ father, a renowned singer and organist, spent only sparse time with his son after he and Flowers’ mother divorced. In his father’s absence, Flowers faced poverty, hunger, and instability, moving 12 times in 14 years. Flowers’ mother, Debra Sargent, laments the lack of support she received as a young mother in the city. In those times, she leaned on her faith.
“If it hadn’t been for my belief in God, I don’t think we would have survived Detroit,” says Sargent, who became a single parent at 15.
In high school, Flowers saw increasing levels of violence and incarceration among his peers. Seeking a different path, he signed up for deferred entry to the U.S. Navy at the age of 17. As he finished his duty as a naval radioman, Flowers had a life-changing experience.
“At the end of the tour I found myself at the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem, and there I had a divine experience with Jesus Christ,” says Flowers, 45. “He transformed my life, saved me on that day, and He called me into ministry.”
Flowers wasted no time following God’s call after returning to the U.S. Within months, he began helping plant a church in Charleston, South Carolina. Over the next 22 years, Flowers assisted with several other church plants, managed media and technology for a church, and mentored young people.
Despite having found a place in ministry, guilt from the past nagged at Flowers. He felt unworthy because he paid for a woman’s abortion just three months before his salvation experience.
“I dropped her off at the abortion mill,” he recalls. “Even though I knew that Christ had forgiven me, there was still that burden.”
Because of his sorrow, Flowers leapt at the opportunity to prevent others from carrying the same weight. Flowers joined a ministry mentoring men at pregnancy care centers. When women walk into a pregnancy care center, they often leave a man in the waiting room or car. Flowers took this opportunity to provide men with life coaching. Flowers used his story, and the regret of helping his girlfriend procure an abortion, to counsel young men not to go down the same road.
Unknown to Flowers at the time, his history with abortion went back much further. He subsequently learned that his mother attempted to abort him, but failed.
“Henry came to me one day and told me that he knew and that he had found out from his auntie,” Sargent, remembers. “He said that he understood and that he forgave me. I thank the Lord that he was born. He has been a good son.”
This personal experience adds urgency to his pro-life work. He asks listeners at his talks to imagine the feeling “when you survived an abortion, but your child didn’t survive one.”
Flowers moved into a national ministry and works with predominantly African-American churches to prevent abortion. Today, Flowers continues to lend his story to preventing abortion, speaking at pregnancy care center events about how his mother unsuccessfully tried to abort him. He harbors no ill-will toward his mother, and often ministers alongside her. He believes his presence in pro-life work is crucial as abortion is often seen as a white, politically conservative issue. He reframes it as a moral issue that impacts all.
“People don’t have abortions because they just want to kill their baby,” says Flowers, who has a YouTube channel. “People have abortions because they are engulfed in the struggle. Many of them are like my mom: already divorced, poor, broke and hungry. She had two little girls.”
Flowers is also lending his skills to an Assemblies of God church plant in Cincinnati.
“Henry’s wholehearted investment in Peoples East has helped our church begin with strength and depth,” says Pastor Thomas P. Baxter. “He contributes his many gifts to the church with open hands.”
Flowers is working on becoming a credentialed AG minister.
“I really appreciate the AG for their heart and what they’re doing for racial reconciliation and their supporting of black leadership,” Flowers says.