Displaying items by tag: unity

Coming and Going Together in Unity

by Ellen Foell, International Program Specialist

And, that’s a wrap for Heartbeat International’s 2024 conference, held in Salt Lake City, Utah frompexels michaela st 3448542 19970150 April 23-26. What a conference it was! It was our most well-attended conference yet, with over 2,000 persons attending in person and virtually (and counting, as our virtual conference continues). We had 14 nations represented and 48 internationals attended. If you were not able to attend, we missed you and hope you will consider attending next year’s conference.* 

Fortunately, even though the Heartbeat staff and attendees are all back in their seats at life-affirming organizations across the globe, the thematic call, United for Life, continues. In case you were not able to attend either the in-person or virtual conference, our key verse was Philippians 2:2, "...then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being united in spirit and purpose." We recently published an issue of Heartbeat Around the World on the call and need for unity. However, as we know, God’s word is timeless and ever-fresh. At this conference, it really struck me afresh that we are called to unity in many aspects.

We are called to be united in our...

  • minds
  • hearts
  • spirits
  • souls—including the outward expression of our purpose

Unity is an intentional, wholehearted, and whole-life effort to love our God, our neighbors, our clients, and our fellow life-affirming co-laborers with all of our heart, soul, mind and strength.

Sometimes, we can focus so much on the mission that we forget that love is at the very heart of our mission, and without love, our mission may very well sound like a clanging cymbal. Let us have the same love. Or, we can hyperfocus on the specific aspect of the life-affirming movement that we think our hyperfocus should be everyone’s hyperfocus. The life-affirming movement is multifaceted, and each of us is called to know our specific calling and our place on the "wall." As we pursue like-mindedness, the same love, unity in spirit and purpose, we will see God’s purposes and His glory cover the earth, as the waters cover the sea.

Speaking of God’s glory, take a look at this video of the Parade of Nations, as Heartbeat’s 97 affiliated nations’ flags were on display for God’s splendor.

*If you think you might be interested in attending next year’s conference and require a VISA to attend, do not wait until next year to get your VISA appointment. Heartbeat can send you an invitation to next year’s conference that you can take to your interview. As always, the letter is not a promise by Heartbeat to pay for expenses of registration, accommodations, or travel. It is to be used only for purposes of the VISA interview.

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Wars and Rumors of Wars: Elusive Peace

by Ellen Foell, International Specialist of Heartbeat InternationalWars and Rumors of Wars

“You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of birth pains.”  - Matthew 24:6-8

In early October 2023, Hamas attacked Israel on the 50th anniversary of the 1973 Yom Kippur War. In September 2023, both Serbia and Kosovo moved troops to their borders in a standoff. In February 2022, the Russian Federation attacked Ukraine.

Wars and rumors of wars. And that is not all.

Did you know that according to the Geneva Academy1 (which classifies all situations of armed violence that amount to an armed conflict under international humanitarian law), there are currently more than 110 armed conflicts around the world? Some of these conflicts make the headlines while others do not. Some of them started recently, while others have lasted for more than 50 years. Here is a map showing the locations of current armed conflicts.2

World Map

One does not need to study the map for very long to see that the geographic locations where armed conflict is occurring far outnumber the nations where there is some semblance of peace.

Of course, as soon as any war or conflict erupts, leaders start to talk about “calm heads,” and pursuing peace; they begin to argue about who started it, but mostly, their loudest cry and call is for peace—even though hardly anyone dares to talk about what that would look like. It is the cry not only from those engaged in the war but from those who lead powerful nations, and those who have influence. Throughout history, and in the context of hundreds of previous conflicts and wars, great leaders in the world and history have spoken about world peace: Alexander the Great, Winston Churchill, John F. Kennedy, Mahatma Gandhi, Mother Teresa, Nelson Mandela, the Dalai Lama, Helen Keller, and Martin Luther King, Jr. Men and women—black and white—of every generation has had its spokespersons for peace. Everyone wants peace.

As a “world community,” prizes are even given to those who advocate for peace as if the advocacy for peace had a magic dotted line to actual peace. It doesn’t. And even if we think it does, the prophet Jeremiah wrote: 

“From the least to the greatest,
all are greedy for gain;
prophets and priests alike,
all practice deceit.
They dress the wound of my people
as though it were not serious.
‘Peace, peace,’ they say,
when there is no peace.”

– Jeremiah 6:14

The phrase “peace, peace,” when there is no peace is found in Jeremiah 6:14 and Jeremiah 8:11. It is also found in Ezekiel 13:10 and 16. In all four places, it has the same meaning in the same historical context: a cry for peace for a nation, for a people, amid conflict and oppression.

We want peace, and we cry for peace. As we look at the nations at war, the ethnic and regional conflicts, that are occurring right now in our world, of course, we pray for peace. But let us not kid ourselves. Jesus said we would hear of "wars and rumors of wars."Not only that, but Jesus told His disciples, “In the world, you will have tribulation.” (John 16:33)

“Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword.” - Matthew 10:34

“I came to cast fire on the earth, and would that it were already kindled!” - Luke 12:49

Is this the same Jesus who said, “Peace I leave with you…” no fewer than three times to the disciples after he rose from the dead? The same Jesus who oftentimes told someone whose life he had just irreversibly and gloriously changed, “Go in peace.” Including, the woman He healed from the issue of blood (Luke 8:48), the woman who anointed His feet with her tears (Luke 7:50), and the royal official whose son was healed (John 4:50).

Jesus was called the Prince of Peace. He could make winds stop, still the waves, calm the raging Gerasene and quiet the accusations of the religious leaders. Jesus said to the disciples and to those He healed, several times, “Peace I leave with you,” “Go in peace,” “Be at peace with one another,” and “My peace I leave with you.” In the famous opening to His great sermon, known as the Beatitudes, Jesus taught, “Blessed [happy] are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.” (Matthew 5:9).

Well, which was it? Did Jesus come to bring peace or division, calm or conflict, serenity or a sword? What if He came to bring both?

We know that Jesus also said in John 14:27 the most enigmatic thing of all: “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” Christ's "peace" here refers to a hope and reassurance that goes beyond what a fallen world can offer (Philippians 4:7). It is permanent, guaranteed, and eternal (Hebrews 6:18–19). Our vice president of Ministry Services, Tracie Shellhouse, shares an encouraging word about peace for each one of us. In Christ alone, we can have peace.

The Prophet Micah at 4:3, articulated his hope for a world where nations would no longer engage in warfare; where people would live in safety and unity, sitting under their own vine and fig tree with none to make them afraid. Micah, along with Isaiah and other prominent prophets, consistently emphasized the importance of justice, righteousness, and the pursuit of peace as integral components of a harmonious society. This underlines the idea that true peace was not just the absence of conflict but the presence of justice and righteousness in the world. We strive for peace, but we also know that the day when the lion lies down with the lamb is not for this side of eternity.

We have short video updates about the war in Israel from Sandy Shoshani, National Director of Be’ad Chaim, and Nadia Gordynsky, President of Save a Life, International, with a network of centers across Ukraine. Her testimony of what is happening in the Ukraine assures us God is on the throne and His work endures and grows despite conflict and war.

Friends and allies, we grieve the death and destruction caused by ongoing wars and conflict, but not as the world does. Our fully redeemed and truest hope is not in this world, and our hope is not in this present life. Nonetheless, let us pray and work for the peace of Jerusalem, the peace in Kiev, and the peace in every area of the world where conflict and unrest continue, until the shalom of the Prince of Peace is manifest.



  1. https://geneva-academy.ch/galleries/today-s-armed-conflicts (accessed 10/31/23).
  2. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_ongoing_armed_conflicts (accessed 10/31/23).

A Call to Prayer: Attacks on Pregnancy Help and Holy Land

by Rachel DeffenbaughA Call to Prayer

In the wake of major headlines blanketing our news media, this is an opportunity to remember our mission, corporately unite in prayer, and refocus our sights on God who is still on the throne.

These past few years have been marred with a global pandemic, fighting to overturn Roe v. Wade, and then the aftermath of doing so—the slew of attacks by pro-abortion activists aimed at the valiant work of pregnancy centers. When it feels like the world is falling apart at the seams—enduring many hardships over these years and now facing an unprecedented crisis in Israel—we remember our mission.

On Mission

Recalling an article by Jor-El Godsey, president of Heartbeat International, he writes, “The mission of pregnancy centers is not to operate a pregnancy center! It is to reach those facing life-and-death decisions about their pregnancy with the Gospel of Life! The pregnancy center is but a method. Just like the church building is not the church, the pregnancy center is not pregnancy help.” Understanding the body of pregnancy help as an extension of the body of Christ is powerful. It’s a reminder of who we are in Christ, not individually, but corporately within the body of pregnancy help. We are a divinely appointed collective entity, where our mission transcends the four walls in which we operate.

We are called to a purpose that is greater than any one of us. Our mission is exemplified through the phone calls, conversations, and support we offer women. Our mission is exemplified in the hope we bring to women through the Abortion Pill Rescue Network (APRN) or other free resources they didn’t know were available to them.

Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.” - Philippians 2:3-4

Unity of the Spirit

With harrowing reports coming from Israel, as Christians, we may feel like these attacks are a direct threat to us, wherever we are in the world. We know that Israel is God’s chosen people (Deuteronomy 7:6) and our hearts ache when we hear the turmoil ensuing on the very land where Jesus once walked. This is an opportunity to pray; to extend our united power as the body of Christ, through the Holy Spirit within each of us, across the ocean.

“But the salvation of the righteous is from the Lord; He is their strength in time of trouble. The Lord helps them and delivers them; He delivers them from the wicked and saves them because they take refuge in Him.” - Psalms 37:39-40 (emphasis added)

In Acts 16, Paul and Silas serve as remarkable examples of unwavering faith through unceasing prayer. While incarcerated, they decided to pray and worship (Acts 16:25) instead of wallowing in self-pity, fear, and even anger. One scholar describes prison at that time as “sleepless places” without much, if any, light. With every reason to play terrifying scenarios in their imaginations—letting fear grip and overwhelm them—they instead chose prayer. Together they prayed and the Lord heard them (as He always does). He answered their prayers by causing a mighty earthquake that led to their freedom (Acts 16:26-33). Had they chosen fear, they would have missed many blessings, especially:

  • the opportunity to be freed (Acts 16:36)
  • the blessing of seeing a prayer answered
  • the opportunity and blessing to witness the salvation of a prison guard and his entire family (Acts 16:31-34)

We can read these accounts as the framework for our own lives to pray without ceasing in every circumstance. As we unite in prayer to pray for our mission, Israel, and a future where abortion is unthinkable, we must remember to direct our time and attention upwards.

Vertical Focus

Paul and Silas shifted their focus. They opted for a vertical focus, instead of “horizontal vision.” They looked to the Lord and chose the posture of Philippians 4:6: “…in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.”

Closer to home, pro-abortion activists and politicians engage in baseless claims challenging the integrity of pregnancy centers, while pregnancy help continues its mission to help women in need. Like Paul and Silas, our focus must be vertical. We must focus on a higher purpose than ourselves; always seeking God’s Kingdom first (Matthew 6:33). Our focus must remain on the King of Kings, who has called us according to His purpose (Romans 8:28).

As we confront an uncertain tomorrow, we seize this as an opportunity to deepen our faith. The turmoil in Israel and the continued attacks by pro-abortion activists should propel us to remember our mission, unite in prayer and intercession (just as Paul and Silas chose to pray in their darkest moments), and focus vertically, keeping our eyes fixed on the Lord.

International Update: The Invitation to Pursue Unity

by Ellen Foell, International Program Specialist, Heartbeat International

Update on Slovenia and the Balkan ConferenceSlovenia and the Balkans Conference 2023

Some of us have dream jobs. I am one of those people.

As Heartbeat’s International Program Specialist, I have the privilege to interface with our 1,200+ international affiliates over Zoom and WhatsApp, at conferences and summits, and sometimes on their home turf. As someone who has the privilege to travel to different countries, one of the attendant responsibilities is learning to watch and process what I see in the context of this question: What is God doing around the world, and is there an invitation to participate?

Recently, I had the joy of attending the fifth Balkans Network for Life conference in Ljubljana, Slovenia. This conference, themed Unity, was hosted by two affiliated centers located in the heart of Ljubljana: Zavod Zivim and Sara's Place, a small retreat center in the mountains. Zavod Zivim is a Catholic-based center and Sara's Place is an evangelical center. About 45 people were in attendance, representing 10 nations (Serbia, Macedonia, Bosnia, Croatia, Albania, Greece, Slovenia, Netherlands, Italy and U.S.) and 9 life-affirming centers. The Balkans include 12 nations or parts of nations: Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Kosovo, Montenegro, Macedonia, Croatia, Serbia, Romania, and Slovania. Portions of Greece and, sometimes Turkey, are also within the Balkans Peninsula. If you are at all familiar with the history of the Balkans, you will know that the region has historically been a hotbed of conflict, unity under duress, disbanding under more duress, and has been impacted by the Greek Empire under Alexander the Great, the Austro-Hungarian empire, the Ottoman Empire, and the former Soviet influence. The very term balkanization means “division of a place or country into several small political units, often unfriendly to one another. The term balkanization comes from the Balkans Peninsula, divided into several small nations in the early twentieth century.

Why the history lesson? Because the life-affirming centers in the Balkans stand together in stark defiance of the region’s moniker and history. The Balkans Network for Life stands for life and unity, and is an example of what can happen when brothers and sisters dwell together in unity. There, in this place of unity, the Lord commands a blessing.

Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity! -Psalm 133:1

What is that blessing? More life. Even though the oldest Balkans pregnancy help organization we know of is less than twenty years old, the centers are praying for the next generation of centers and are actively seeking opportunities to birth the next generation of centers. Life begets life.

When I observe the ongoing work and the intentional efforts to unite the Balkans centers, I am overjoyed and challenged to consider God's invitation to participate as Heartbeat International. I believe it is to live out with joy and sometimes, through tears, sometimes with struggle, but always with prayer, the invitation to pursue unity across denominational lines, across ethnic and national lines. This resembles the character of Heartbeat International as an "interdenominational Christian association," who believes the Lord wants to "use Heartbeat to continue to bring about greater unity among Christians." This is to God’s glory; may we truly declare His glory among the nations as we hold onto the Word of life.





When Others are Doing it Wrong

"Can you believe they're doing that?!"

"That's illegal. They can't do what they're doing!"

"Do they realize that what they do reflects on every one of us?!"

"They aren't following best practices!"

Yes, indeed others do it differently. Sometimes it's a difference of opinion and can be overlooked. Other times it might be a serious matter, possibly even a legal matter, which could threaten us all.

Or does it? Threaten us all, I mean.

We are, or should be, well-acquainted with threats, since they actually started happening the day each of us opened our doors (if not before). Our efforts to champion life are both defensive maneuvers and direct assaults on the kingdom of darkness, which tends to rile up our enemy a bit! It should come as no surprise when our enemy gets in on the action and stirs up those who oppose us – those who also happen to directly profit from or successfully rationalize their need for abortion.

When the opposition aligns with our enemy (please be careful not to assume the two are the same), the pushback on what we do (or who we are) is intense. And vicious. And nearly always without merit. The truth may be a great defense in the court of law, but attacks against us are mostly in the court of public opinion.

Actually, the number of legal actions against pregnancy help organizations is surprisingly small, considering the onslaught of relatively serious accusations including false advertising, impersonating a medical professional, and practicing medicine without a license.

This reality underscores the flaw in leaning too heavily upon legal principles to combat harsh, negative PR sound bites. To borrow a line from the movie Untouchables, it's a bit like bringing a knife to a gunfight.

The other side is serious about crippling our work, so they bring big weapons to the fight. Artful use of PR tools and political maneuvering is the only sustainable attack they have been able to use so far. The legal matters that concern us hardly concern them. If it did, they would have used the legal system to shut us down a long time ago. In fact, they've tried to do so, but found this strategy largely ineffective.

Instead, they've been launching state-by-state "Investigative Reports," badgering politicians to change the rules, manipulating the media to believing such things as Google pulling PHC ads and cyber-squatting on "crisis pregnancy center" entry in Wikipedia. And that's just the tip of the iceberg.

And what do we do? Well, we aim at each other for "doing it wrong."

We exert "legal expertise," passing along what we've heard labeled "illegal" without really knowing if it is actually, well, against the law. The old "telephone game" has us repeating, sometimes in directors meetings and public chatter, what someone else said they believe to be factual. Dare I say, some of what we believe is actually conjecture from well-meaning friendly lawyers (or those who pretend to be).

While we need to hear – and usually heed – advice from our legal allies, we must be careful to discern between recommendations and requirements, between what is permissible and profitable.

We can even exalt "best practices" – doing things "right" – above getting the mission done. Forgetting for a moment that most "best" practices are usually not proven to be "best" relative to our mission, we can tend to create the self-repudiating expectation everyone across the entire industry is operating at "best practice" level.

Believe it or not, the mission can actually be done without equipment or professionals or credibility. Just like the gospel. Of course, good equipment and education can (or should) enhance the effort. But when outcomes – hearts touched and lives saved – become subservient to so-called "best practices," we are all doing it wrong.

Tweet this! When outcomes become subservient to so-called "best practices," we're all doing it wrong.

Certainly the "others" might be able to do it better. Maybe they should have better equipment, more focused marketing and more professionals.

Or, maybe "they" are highly focused on outcomes, but just lack the resources to it differently. Maybe "they" are doing all they can, with what the Lord has seen fit to provide. Not every community has an abundant supply of pro-life, medical professionals ready to staff a pregnancy help center for a full week, plus weekends. Not just rural locations mind you, but some huge cities in certain blue states struggle with recruiting medical professionals.

Maybe the budget isn't big enough to fully meet AIUM standards, or voluntarily submit to HIPAA requirements, or afford the ultrasound equipment for which any of that might (notice: might) matter. Maybe "they" counsel and hand out material aid for the very purpose of interacting with at-risk women in a caring and compassionate way. Sometimes "their" method is wrongly assumed to reflect a desire for pregnancy support alone and not intervention services.

It's all too easy to judge from a distance and, without really understanding their circumstances and assume that what "they" are doing is wrong. But, let's remember what happens when we assume.

Let's also remember Proverbs 18:17, "The first person to speak always seems right until someone comes and asks the right questions." (ERV)

by Jor-El Godsey, Vice President



Power Up This Summer With Heartbeat, NMHC


PowerConver4Thinking of conserving power this summer?

Well maybe it’s time to think again.

This summer, Heartbeat International is partnering with the National Maternity Housing Coalition to pilot six highly interactive strategy sessions we like to call “Power Conversations.”

Short, sweet, and packing a punch, these 30-minute conversations are a perfect environment for maternity housing leaders at all stages of development and experience.

Here’s what to expect from Power Conversations this summer:

  • July 10: Smooth Departures
  • July 17: Intake Methods
  • July 24: Outbreak Prevention
  • July 31: Difficult Departures
  • Aug 7: Transportation Norms
  • Aug 14: Chore Systems

All sessions start at 2 p.m. (Eastern Standard Time)

Call-in Number: (559) 726-1300
Participant Access Code: 705126 


Baby Daddies and the Treasure Hunt

by Mary Peterson, Housing Specialist

babydaddySomewhere along the line several years ago, moms started using the title “Baby Daddy” to refer to the man they had been involved with when they became pregnant.

“The ‘baby daddy’ went with me to doctor today.”

“Him? Nah, we’re not dating—he’s the ‘baby daddy.’”

When it was still a new term, I remember hearing it a few times. Soon after, I saw it used in a pop magazine and realized that the term wasn’t just a passing phase. A sign of our times, the phrase “baby daddy” has come to be commonly understood as referring to a specific situation and calling to mind attributes of a specific kind of man.

It is this man who is often connected to the women of our homes.

More and more, I hear pregnancy help organizations reflect on how to better engage men. For maternity homes, this question is framed as, “How do we help ‘baby daddies’ grow into fathers?”

In the maternity home setting, this can raise the question, “If they are choosing to parent, how do we help single mothers—fatherless families—to invite the right type of men into their lives and raise children in the context of authentic masculinity?”

It’s a difficult tension—wanting to honor the role a man plays as a father and simultaneously, wishing a new mom would finally sever a destructive attachment to a man who is just using her, abusive, manipulative, or in and out of jail.

Hope Mansion in Cedar Hill, Texas, led by Angie Hammond, has developed an interesting program to address this tension.

The program, still under development, uses communication with the women as the leverage point. In order to be able to spend time with the mother residing in the maternity home, the man must walk through a variety of steps in a process they refer to as a “Treasure Hunt.”

One of the first steps is to require a formal letter from the “Baby Daddy,” in which he must explain his intentions regarding the resident in the Home and the baby. Once the Home receives the letter, he is provided with the workbook, “The Me I See,” from Loving and Caring. Next, he makes a request to meet with the House Dad, giving the opportunity to engage in a deliberate conversation.

Calling upon his masculine drive to take action, the intent is for the man to realize the mother of his child truly is a treasure—a woman worthy of his sacrifice. If he fails to take the simple steps required, then he is not allowed contact, and the house parents encourage the woman to think deeply about what it means that he was unwilling to make such small gestures in order to stay in her life.

“We are pleased by the level of conversation that has opened up,” Angie says. “The Treasure Hunt puts the initiative and the consequence into the hands of the man. And thus, provides an opportunity for real growth.”

Has your home, like Hope Mansion, discovered effective strategies for engaging men and teaching fatherhood? We would love to hear (and share!) more.

Please don’t hesitate to contact me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or post to the National Maternity Housing Coalition Facebook page. Who knows, maybe this is the beginning of a longer conversation we can have via conference call or through the Heartbeat Academy. Let’s learn from one another!

For more information on Hope Mansion, visit: https://www.hopemansion.com.


A home for the Housing Coalition

nmhc finalbw

by Mary Peterson, Housing Specialist
Heartbeat International

As maternity housing providers, we regularly welcome women into our homes at a time when they are most vulnerable. Perhaps an even greater challenge, we also welcome these women into our hearts.

As I speak with homes across the country, so many within our portion of the pregnancy help movement are quick to point out, “We aren’t a shelter… it really is a home we are trying to create,” or, “These women really experience love in our homes.” These statements capture what it means to be a home with a heart!

Over the past two years, leaders of maternity homes have been strategizing how to best unify maternity homes across the country, in order to speak collectively, support fledging homes, learn from one another, and help every maternity home to be more successful in facilitating the transformation we hope to see in the lives of the women we serve.

The results of this on-going discussion has been the formulation of the National Maternity Housing Coalition (NMHC), which is now reaching out to the more than 450 U.S. maternity homes to provide support and resources for the unique work of providing housing to homeless pregnant women.
Heartbeat International has been a great partner every step of the way. With its extensive history of supporting life-affirming organizations, Heartbeat has given the newly created NMHC a home.

In partnering with Heartbeat, the NMHC is tapping into a wealth of resources, including Heartbeat’s Annual Conference, the ability to host webinars through the Heartbeat Academy, and the opportunity to have more maternity homes take advantage of Heartbeat’s existing resources, such as the Sexual Integrity™ Program, The LOVE Approach™, and Healing the Effects of Abortion-Related Trauma (H.E.A.R.T Manual™).

Heartbeat unites Christ-centered ministries from across denominational dividing lines, and has a deep cultural sensitivity shown by their 2,800 affiliates from across the country and around the globe.

The Coalition is blessed to have such a loving place to call home!

To make sure the Coalition starts off on the right foot, I am now working with Heartbeat as a Housing Specialist. I bring over 14 years of experience in the work of maternity homes, having co-founded and helped to guide Maggie’s Place in several stages of growth since 2000.

As the Housing Specialist, it is my task to listen deeply to the needs of maternity homes and to support the efforts of the Coalition, bringing about unity, resources, and support for maternity home leaders.

Maternity homes are a key response to the questions, “What about that child?” “What about that mother?” “What are you doing to help them?”
Housing ministries provide the pregnancy help movement with a valuable response to these concerns.

By their nature, maternity homes meet a wide variety of needs, providing genuine choice and practical aid to mothers and mothers-to-be. Some of these precious women need help meeting immediate needs such as homelessness, while others need help formulating a long-term plan for success.

Aren’t we blessed to be smack dab in the middle of this wonderfully challenging and wonderfully beautiful work?!

For more information about the National Maternity Housing Coalition, please visit our website here.

You can read more about Heartbeat International’s role in the Coalition here.


Better Together is God's Idea

by Betty McDowell, Heartbeat Director of Affiliate Services

From Take Heart | Vol. 2, Issue 6

You were all called to travel on the same road and in the same direction, so stay together, both outwardly and inwardly.  You have one Master, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who rules over all, works through all, and is present in all. Everything you are and think and do is permeated with Oneness.

But that doesn't mean you should all look and speak and act the same. Out of the generosity of Christ, each of us is given his own gift.  The text for this is,

  • He climbed the high mountain,
  • He captured the enemy and seized the booty,
  • He handed it all out in gifts to the people.

Is it not true that the One who climbed up also climbed down, down to the valley of earth? And the One who climbed down is the One who climbed back up, up to highest heaven. He handed out gifts above and below, filled heaven with his gifts, filled earth with his gifts. He handed out gifts of apostle, prophet, evangelist, and pastor-teacher to train Christ's followers in skilled servant work, working within Christ's body, the church, until we're all moving rhythmically and easily with each other, efficient and graceful in response to God's Son, fully mature adults, fully developed within and without, fully alive like Christ (Ephesians 4:4-13 The Message).

It is awe inspiring to think about how this scripture points out how much we have in common and how we are so much better together.  We are not to be a threat to each other.  But what a threat we can be to the Father of Lies when we are united in heart and purpose!

Each of us has but one Master who has given us many gifts and callings.  What a blessing and an honor to grant each other the freedom to be who God made us to be, to develop our talents in ministry, and to recognize the calling on each other’s lives.

Today you have a choice.  You can  look around and feel threatened or insecure about your position or future in ministry or you can bless and acknowledge those around you who have the same heart, who serve the same God, who are part of the same body, who desire, like you, to be fully alive in Christ.  We are better together because this is God’s idea and He desires unity for us and with us.

Back to Take Heart | Vol. 2, Issue 6

Developing a Thriving Team

team medium1

by Debra Neybert, Training Specialist

Since building an effective team will ultimately affect the women and men you are trying to serve, board members and directors looking to strengthen and nurture their team need to take specific steps to positively impact their staff and volunteers.

The Board of the organization is responsible for creating an environment that puts people first, that solves conflict in a healthy and biblical way, and that also allows people to develop and ultimately use their God-given gifts and talents to bless those they minister to.

A healthy leadership team (Board and Executive Director), can be a source of nourishment for an entire organization as they model servant leadership and provide professional development opportunities.

Pursuing Godly Servant Leadership

One characteristic of servant leadership comes prioritizing your relationship with the Lord, which then leads to pursuing a particular God-given mission. Board members should have a calling to follow the mission of your organization. The mission energizes and creates a passion for leaders to take on the responsibilities and jobs that come to Board members. It will also draw others to get involved and energize their passion for the mission.

Servant leaders should value their relationship with fellow members of the leadership team. These relationships must be characterized by love. In 1 Corinthians 13, the Apostle Paul describes the kind of love that God would have us exemplify. Servant Leaders are sensitive to the needs of those they work with (fellow leaders on the team), and to those under their direction. Servant leaders also lead by example and are willing to doing small jobs as gifts to others.

As the Cross drew near, Jesus introduced his followers to servant leadership as a radically new form of leadership, such that the world had never seen.
Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God; so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples' feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him. (John 13:3-5)

Another characteristic of a servant leader is peace. It is always easy to remain peaceful when nothing is rocking your boat, but remaining peaceful is more challenging when struggles begin to surface, whether in relation to finances, personnel, internal or external challenges, transitions or attacks.

A peaceful environment is the result of effective servant leadership. This is an atmosphere of peacefulness that nourishes the organization when conflicts are handled in a biblical way. One extremely helpful resource Heartbeat recommends and uses is Ken Sande’s The Peacemaker: A Biblical Guide to Resolving Personal Conflict, a practical handbook for peacemaking based on Matthew 18. When this kind of conflict resolution is modeled by a leadership team, the entire organization benefits.

Cultivating a Professional Environment

Another way the Board can encourage and nurture its team is by proactively investing in professional development opportunities.

A good working environment is crucial, including space and equipment. It is the Board’s responsibility to see that those under their care, especially the Executive Director, are treated with dignity and respect. When dignity and respect are modeled, these virtues also filter down to the whole organization and bear much fruit.

A good salary and benefits for the Executive Director and staff are some of the ways that dignity and respect are shown, and it is always wise to plan ahead and make provision in the budget for continuing education and training for the Executive Director and staff.

Continuing education can be provided in many ways: through the Heartbeat Academy, one-on-one mentoring of the Executive Director by a Board member, community workshops provided by local foundations, a line item in the annual budget to send the Executive Director (and at least one Board member plus other staff and volunteers) to one of the Heartbeat International training events (Annual Conference, Executive Roundtable, Institute for Center Effectiveness).

A commitment to the on-site or online training of Board and/or staff every few years is also a tremendous way to nurture your center, while a prayer retreat for the Board and/or staff is a blessing that can be provided by a local pastor or priest (or both).

Training events also provide an excellent networking opportunity for Board Members and the Executive Director (and staff) with other nonprofits in the local community and, in the case of Heartbeat International events, with similar ministries all over the world.

Order Heartbeat International’s GOVERN WellTM today to find out how you can become a more effective leader in your life-affirming center.
Also, don’t let the chance to invest in your leadership excellence through the 2014 Heartbeat International Annual Conference, March 24-27 in Charleston, S.C.

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