Displaying items by tag: encouragement

Let the Sparks Fly!

by Amy Ford, Co-Founder and President of Embrace GraceSparks

Did you know that when a sperm meets an egg, sparks fly? Literally! (I actually didn’t know about this until Jor-El Godsey, President of Heartbeat International, told me this past January!)

In 2016, researchers at Northwestern University in Chicago captured the miraculous moment that a sperm fertilizes an egg at the microscopic level. An explosion of zinc fireworks occurs when a human egg is activated by a sperm enzyme. Scientists say the spark's intensity indicates the egg's potential to develop into a healthy embryo.1

Their discovery was nothing short of a breathtaking display of our Creator’s hand at work! 

We are a miracle! And we carry the Miracle-Maker inside of us everywhere we go: Jesus. 

Every year I ask God to download a focus for the year. Something to learn more about and set my heart on throughout the year. My word for this year is "spark."

Mark 5:21-34 describes the story of the woman with the issue of blood. She struggled for 12 years and spent all her money going from doctor to doctor. She was completely broke and the doctors could not help. She was depressed and had lost all hope...that is until she heard about someone named Jesus. When she heard about Him, she had just a spark of hope. That hope grew her faith to the size of a mustard seed. That spark gave her the courage to go find Jesus and reach for Him. 

I wonder how she heard. Did she hear the chatter of all the people surrounding Jesus in the town? Was she able to hear about His miracles before He even arrived or was that day the first time she had heard of Him? (She was likely treated as unclean by the community due to her condition and Levitical law at the time.) We don't know how she heard about Jesus, but when she did, she had a spark of hope!

The world desperately needs hope right now. Some men and women carry heavy burdens, have to make hard decisions and feel completely alone. There are women just finding out they are pregnant and are scared of their future with nowhere to turn; thinking about whether they feel the need to end the life of their child out of overwhelming hopelessness. But together we can light the world with hope.

If we allow the Holy Spirit to guide us, encouraging and speaking life into those around us, we have the potential to spark hope and inspire people to find Jesus and reach out to Him!

I read recently that the average person impacts around 10,000 people in their lifetime! That’s a lot of people! Are we influencing them in a good way or a bad way? Are we pointing them to Jesus? We all have a responsibility to carry the light inside of us and to shine. Being a spark isn’t just for pastors or leaders or just "other people" when the same Holy Spirit lives in all of us. We all have a responsibility to spark a flame that lights up the world! 

For those of you who need a little encouragement to step out of your comfort zone and spark those around you, just jump in! It’s such a fun adventure! We don’t have to just be spectators of the faith, but we can run the race God has for us and bring others along with us! 

Ways You Can Be a Spark: 

  • Encourage those around you—even strangers
  • Pay for someone’s groceries
  • Leave an encouraging note for someone
  • Reach out to an old friend
  • Invite your client to a local church with an Embrace Grace group

There are unlimited ways we can be a spark of hope in the world! Let’s link arms in the Kingdom—not just be spectators of faith but doers of God’s Word! Every conversation we have, every interaction we experience, and everywhere we go to love with intention, can have a ripple effect of changing lives, legacies, and the world. Whether you’re a man or woman, introvert or extrovert, young or old, we all can be the spark that gives people hope. We have the power to inspire a spark in the hearts of those around us so that a flame is ignited around the world for Jesus!


1. https://www.usnews.com/news/articles/2016-04-26/human-eggs-emit-zinc-sparks-at-moment-of-fertilization

Help Wanted: Men in the Movement

by Mark McDougal, Development Director of Ruth Harbor MinistriesMen Make an Impact

What would motivate a man to participate in the pregnancy help movement? What would motivate women to ask or encourage men to get involved?

Consider two key reasons and a few practical thoughts.

1. To Steward His Gifts

God uniquely designed us on purpose, male and female, to accomplish His purposes and the work we were called to complete (Genesis 1:27, 2:18-23). There are certainly circumstances, conversations, and tasks that are better suited for one gender over the other, but the work of the pregnancy help ministry is enormous! Thankfully, the body of Christ is diverse, and each individual is gifted to accomplish God’s work (1 Corinthians 12 and Romans 12:4-6a). We can have success utilizing less than our full potential, but why not take advantage of the entire body of Christ—His original design—when it is available to us? For instance, most single moms would suggest that parenting is more manageable and generally more successful when a dad is positively participating in their child’s life.

Biblically, the Lord has given men the role and responsibility of protection and covering for the family unit (1 Peter 3:7). The impact of a male presence should not be overlooked or underestimated. The presence of men can give a sense of safety, care, or protection. Though not exclusive to males, men make great coaches, consultants, mentors, and advisors. They round out, bring diversity, and give perspective in decision-making and to leadership staff or board.

2. To Model God’s Design

When we live out our ministry, our work, or our board life utilizing God’s design, we testify or model that design. It may seem passive, but it is an effective form of discipleship and an example for others. And since we care for more than just a decision for life, clients should see mature Christian men and how they interact with women with whom they are not romantically involved.

Many women (and men) we serve have never experienced interactions with a male who honored them, set good boundaries, and honored the Lord. This is not just an introduction to a broader view of men, but an opportunity to help female and male clients see themselves the way their heavenly Father sees them: cherished, loved, accepted, and valued. On more than one occasion, new moms impacted by our ministry have said, “I want to find a husband like ______.” (Insert name of male staff member)

Male team members can have this impact, and female staff members who are married can also encourage their husbands to be around and volunteer in appropriate ways.

Over time, affirming and healthy relationships between men—individually or as a couple/family—often yield a very positive impact; even from short encounters such as helping deliver furniture, assisting in purchasing a vehicle, taking them to church, cooking a meal, job coaching, and discussing finances, maintenance, or repairs. As we “do life” and interact with clients, they observe our interactions and relationships and begin to make comments about how it is different than what they have experienced in the past. Voila! An open door to share God's redemptive story and how it can lead them to choose something different for their future!

When a woman in trauma or abuse is experiencing an unplanned pregnancy, seeing a godly, Christian man walk out his faith, and show love and affection for his wife (and children), while biblically serving vulnerable pregnant women and their children, can be life-changing and healing for her. It's supernatural and beautiful!

And finally, a few practical thoughts:

  • There are certainly some client conversations/activities that should come from women. However, if we wish to reach men, we specifically need male volunteers and staff for some conversations/activities.
  • When I hear “men should rise up and participate,” most often it’s voiced by women.
  • Men need to be invited to participate in the pregnancy help movement, by women AND by other men.
  • Men can encourage and challenge other men in ways women can't, by encouraging them to step up to their responsibility as fathers, boyfriends, husbands, or leaders. Men can get other men involved in the movement by encouraging them to use their gifts or finances to make a difference.
  • To quote some female colleagues in the pregnancy help movement, “We tend to fight less with each other when men are present.”

If you are a man who serves in pregnancy help, thank you for your commitment and impact! I encourage you to invite a male friend to your center to see the invaluable work you do.

If you are a woman who serves in pregnancy help, thank you for exercising your spiritual gifts for life! I encourage you to invite a man in your life to your center to share about the impact men can (and do) make in the pro-life movement.


Mark McDougal served Ruth Harbor Ministries in Iowa as Executive Director for over 20 years as well as the leadership teams of Heartbeat’s Maternity Housing Coalition (MHC) and National Christian Housing Conference (NCHC). He has hired male staff team members, and couples as house parents, and typically has 50% or more male board members. He recently took a new role in their ministry as Development Director to make more time for family and consulting with other maternity homes and pregnancy centers. Contact Mark by email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


We Are the Champions

by Mike Spencer, Project LifeVoiceMike’s wife, Barb, with Dani and her son, Samuel.

In May, I spoke at a large church in Indiana on the sacredness of human life. At one point in my message, I stated, “There are no disposable people. We are each a part of God’s plan to sanctify, or mature, one another. The unborn child diagnosed with Down syndrome and the aging parent whose mind has been ravaged by Alzheimer’s needs us, and we need them. God uses the imperfections and the neediness of others to mature us.”

Immediately after the worship service ended, a smiling young mother cradling an infant approached my wife and me and said, “Hi, my name is Dani, and I want to introduce you to my son. His name is Samuel. He has Down syndrome, and he is perfect.” It was a touching moment, and the warmth and pride with which she introduced us to her son expressed beautifully what I had just spent 35 minutes trying to convey. A Down syndrome diagnosis coupled with the often loud, intimidating voices of “enlightened” abortion activists could not suppress the maternal love of this proud mother. Dani understood what so many in our culture do not, namely that “every good and perfect gift is from above…” (James 1:17). Indeed, her little Samuel is a good and perfect gift!

This story powerfully illustrates the stark difference between the pro-life position and the “pro-choice” position. When pro-lifers gaze upon an ultrasound image of a developing child in utero, we see a fellow image-bearer who should be loved and protected, regardless of whether he or she has an extra chromosome. Conversely, abortion supporters look at that same child and see only “medical waste.” Pro-life political scientist Hadley Arkes sardonically describes these abortion enthusiasts as, “people of large natures, with sensitivities cultivated to the most exacting liberal temper, and so they are prepared to engage their sympathies for all species of hurts suffered by the mass of mankind.” (Arkes, 2022, p. 2) Unfortunately, however, their cultivated sympathies do not extend to the unborn. Although they have what Arkes describes as the “most generous reflexes” toward every politically approved victim group, they think nothing of injecting an unborn baby’s heart with a lethal dose of potassium chloride and calling it “reproductive justice.” They are to be pitied for such a morbidly defective worldview which robs them of the ability to value that which is most valuable.

Friends, contrary to the narrative that has been pressed onto us by pro-abortion politicians and Hollywood elites, we are the inclusive and tolerant ones—not them. We don’t discriminate against the weak and vulnerable or minority groups. Whether the children destroyed by abortion would have lived to become future inventors or future competitors in the Special Olympics is irrelevant. Einstein counts and so does the child with an extra chromosome.

We are the real champions of human worth and human equality. And we’ll keep on fighting to the end because like this young mother, we recognize the intrinsic and inestimable moral worth of every human being, and we consider it one of life’s greatest privileges to “speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves…” (Proverbs 31:8)



Hadley Arkes, Natural Rights and the Right to Choose, (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2002), p. 2