by Jenn Walden, Guest Writer
At the age of 33, I met Kirk. He was a single dad of three children; ages 11, 14, and 16. I wasted no time falling in love with the four of them. In a moment only God could orchestrate, we became a family. Never married and never a mother, the moment I said, “I do,” my life was forever changed. After years of wandering, I finally found my tribe.
After six months as a family, we celebrated our first Christmas at Disney World. Moving states, building a house, enrolling in new schools, forming friendships, starting a business, step-parenting, and yes, a new marriage had sufficiently strained and tested all of us. We were ready for a break and some family bonding.
Despite the joy of our time at Disney World, by the end of the trip I was not feeling well. I couldn’t pinpoint what was wrong, but upon returning home things were no better. The voice of fear, dormant since my new marriage, surfaced again.
Five years earlier I had been diagnosed with a rare form of ovarian cancer. This led to a partial hysterectomy, heavy doses of chemotherapy and long-term medication. Now, the fear of cancer was back, and I thought, Just as I am experiencing so much joy, cancer is returning to steal it all away.
When I shared my symptoms with a friend however, she made a strange suggestion. “You need to take a pregnancy test,” she told me. My medication however, limited any possibility of pregnancy. Still, I tentatively bought a couple of tests, believing a false positive would only signal the cancer was back.
When the test was positive, I cried, convinced my worst fears were realized. When Kirk said, “Take the second test,” it too was positive. We agreed I needed to see my oncologist immediately.
The nurse did not play into my game of fears. Without hesitation she laughed and said, “You don’t need to see us; you’re pregnant!” Shocker. Despite what I read on the internet or made up in my mind, a positive pregnancy test is not an indicator of cancer; who knew?
I never once remember praying for a baby. After the miracle of meeting Kirk and his children, I was not going to be greedy. They were so much more than I ever believed I deserved. I would have told you emphatically that God does not cruelly punish His children. Yet, buried in my heart the thought brewed; Jennifer, there are natural consequences for the poor choices of your youth.
If I’m digging deep, I didn’t allow my heart to long for a baby because I didn’t think I deserved one. To this day, I still feel guilt surface when I meet precious people battling infertility. Why, I ask, did I so easily receive the longing of their hearts?
Despite the tremendous odds stacked against me, my sense of unworthiness and an absence of prayers in this direction, I gave birth to a baby boy.
When I saw my oncologist for a routine appointment, she asked about my pregnancy. As we talked, with tears in her eyes she told me, “You realize this baby is a miracle.” My doctor’s words jolted me, bringing full realization to the provision and hand of God.
Until that moment, I didn’t fully understand that in medical terms there should not be a Joshua Walden. I’m so glad God never got this memo.
Two years later, at the age of 35 I received yet another miracle. Jacob joined his brother in 2009.
Sometimes, for reasons beyond our comprehension, God gives us lost and forgotten dreams. In the process, lies which chain us to past mistakes are uncovered; our hearts suddenly freed to understand the true grace of God.
The first time I held Josh was one of the purest moments of love I’ve ever experienced. Holding that tiny life was more than my first moment with my first-born; it was my opportunity to truly embrace a testament of God’s love and mercy.
My past, for too many years, held on to me. In its grip were my deepest desires, so instead of seeking these desires, I buried them.
As a result, I truly believed God felt obligated to withhold certain blessings. I lived a life thinking that while God was kind, He sought only to correct me and make sure I understood that while I was forgiven, I was never meant to be fully worthy of His overwhelming love.
Giving me the gift of motherhood, God gave me the buried desires of my heart. And, He opened a window to help me see His boundless grace in ways I could not fathom before.
In different ways, God wants to give these gifts to each of us. For me, it was through motherhood. In the middle of my trial with cancer years earlier, I saw no possible avenue to becoming a mom. But God was there; waiting, preparing and then whispering to those around His throne, “Watch what I’m about to do in this one’s life. It will change her forever.”
Today, I’m mom to five. It’s a story I could have never written, never dreamed.
My prayer is that even if we are in the deepest of trial, we will remember that despite our pasts, God is about our present.
As we celebrate Mother’s Day, I am forever grateful to the God who looked at me and said, “It’s time she saw the love I have for her–her buried desires are never too deep for Me to find.”
Jenn Walden is a mom and blogger who can be found at www.1stfaith.com/jenn, where this article first appeared. She is married to Kirk, an Advancement Specialist for Heartbeat International.
by Cindi Boston, Heartbeat Vice President
You hear the cries of the voiceless. The cries of those whose heart is beating, but whose voice may never be heard. You hear it day in and day out. You know that nearly a million unborn babies cry for help each year in the United States. (I can’t fathom that number, can you?) Choice has brought us to the place of a blood sacrifice, the sacrifice of our children, and you are steeped in this spiritual, not merely political, issue every day.
The hurting women who feel as if a pregnancy will ruin them are coming to you. They are desperate for help because an unplanned pregnancy is one of the things that creates a barrier between her and her loved ones that she usually depends on for support. Regret, shame, and fear are just a few of the barriers she faces.
The barriers you help her knock down.
The pregnancy help movement stands ready to intervene on behalf of each woman and child because of your commitment and compassion. Once a woman enters a pregnancy center, she becomes more likely by the moment to be one of women considering abortion who will carry her baby to term and make a parenting or adoption plan because you are there to help her.
I directed a life-changing pregnancy center in Missouri, and volunteers were a crucial part of the small, but mighty, gospel-centered mission we followed. The volunteers and staff at these organizations are creating a safe space for women to face their challenges and build a better life.
It’s your wisdom, knowledge, and ministry experience that is the lifeblood of this movement saving lives every day. You are the footsoldiers in an army of volunteers armed with love whether you’re answering calls on a helpline, mentoring women one-on-one, teaching classes, sorting donations, or data entry.
You hear the cries of the unborn. You spend your time caring for hurting women, children and families. Thank you for the life-saving work you do. And if you ever need a reminder about why what you’re doing is worth it, read this one more time, and check out the stories of the women who are thankful for you at PregnancyHelpNews.com.
“Then He poured water into the basin, and began to wash the disciples’ feet, and to wipe them with the towel with which He was girded.” John 13:5
Jesus’ washing of the disciples’ feet during His final Passover meal is only mentioned in one of the four gospels (John), but for centuries Christians have focused on this moment’s significance, impact and lessons for us today.
Clearly, this act—on Jesus’ final night before His crucifixion—is one of servanthood. We would not think the king of the coming kingdom would serve anyone. He should be served! But Jesus chose instead to paint a poignant picture of who we need to be as His followers. And He did so by washing the grimy, calloused feet of those who followed Him.
Which creates a question. What is a modern-day equivalent of foot-washing?
While many still practice actual foot-washing as a reminder and example, because we aren’t as likely to wear sandals (well, we do wear Chacos) and walk on dirt roads all day, what is 21st century practice which follows Jesus’ powerful act of service?
May I offer one, which I often overlook? Listening.
Here is why.
In today’s world, society is wedded to IPhones, Droids, laptops. We’re texting, Facebooking, Twittering, Instagramming and Linking In. Any conversation is easily derailed by the distraction of a call, a “Let me just text him/her back really quickly” or a need to rush off to the next thing in our busy lives.
Today, we don’t worry about dirty feet too much. Still, our lives get messy. And sometimes, the only way to wash off the dirt in our lives is to vent to a friend who listens, as we try to make sense of it all.
Our modern dirt is often found in a metaphorical desert, where our spiritual life converges with the challenge of trying to live out our faith in a mixed-up world. When the wind and rain of circumstances hits us from all directions as we try to walk out this faith, our spiritual feet get dirty.
Our dirt may not be a sin with which we are struggling, and it may not be a situation which demands fixing. In fact, because social media and first-world standards almost force us to hide our grime, it’s difficult for anyone to see the muck and mire which clutters our lives.
And, we try to ignore our messes as we rush to keep up with the frenetic pace at which we live.
Still, we need someone around who will listen. Because for all of us, that moment comes when we look down at our feet—trying to walk forward in this path of faith—and see they are covered with the cares of life. They need washing.
Jesus, on his final night with his disciples, stopped. He took the time needed to thoroughly wash each man’s feet. He listened as Peter asked, mistakenly, for more. And we can be sure He listened to others as He carefully cleaned those feet which had taken the journey with Him over three years.
Sometimes, the best example of servanthood we can offer to another is the gift of listening. No judgment, no quick fixes, no pat answers. Just. Listening.
If we offer this gift, perhaps our friend will experience a refreshing rain as the overwhelming circumstances of life wash away. And the feet our friend needs to walk this journey are once again clean, ready for another next step toward the One who loves us.
by Wendy Giancola, Guest Writer
As I was reading in my Bible the story of the Samaritan woman (John 4:1-30), I was drawn to verse six: “Jacob’s well was there, and Jesus, tired from the long walk, sat wearily beside the well about noontime.” (NLT) Jesus, the Son of God, was tired and weary from the long walk from Judea to the well in Samaria. I thought of how we who serve in abortion recovery grow tired and weary from the long walk with those who have been broken by abortion to their healing place at the well of Living Water.
Did the Divine Man’s human flesh crave a break from the pressing Pharisees, or the work of teaching, discipling, and healing? Don’t I sometimes crave a break from the pro-abortion rhetoric or listening to the pain of someone who experienced abortion?
I continue to read that when this woman from a different cultural view came to the place where Jesus sat wearily, he did not close his eyes, hoping she would go away. Instead, he engaged her in conversation, acknowledging her humanity. As he spoke with her, he recognized her deeper thirst or need for Living Water and stepped into her brokenness. He validated her deeper thirst without denying the truth of her reality.
I don’t know exactly what led this woman from Samaria to have five husbands or a current live in boyfriend. Perhaps she was fearful of the judgment around her, perhaps she was pressured by others or the culture, perhaps she was looking for love. I don’t know, but I think Jesus knew. Yet, he did not judge or condemn her for those life choices, but instead looked deeper into her heart and saw her thirst and need for something greater. Something that perhaps propelled those choices. As he listened deeply to her heart, he offered her hope. The hope of a savior who entered into her world of brokenness to reveal a new kingdom full of living, healing water for her to drink deeply and be fully satisfied forever.
Can I model Jesus in my weariness? Can I acknowledge a broken person’s story without judgement, recognize their deeper needs and offer the hope of living water? The hope of transformation found in a Messiah who has entered her world to reveal a new kingdom of healing?
In the wake of New York’s new abortion law and other legislative threats, I believe the number of individuals in need of hope and help after an abortion experience will be increasing. Even though the enemy, the culture and the law tell people that abortion is good, the human heart which is created by God may feel otherwise after an abortion experience.
The Lord reminds me that even He needed to withdraw and pray to be ready to meet more needs (Luke 5:16). We, too, need to rest and pray to be ready to meet more of those who are wounded from abortion and offer them Hope.
Wendy Giancola will be presenting a workshop at the 2019 Heartbeat International Annual Conference titled "Path to Life After Abortion Recovery." She has also written a book called Transforming Your Story: A Path to Healing after Abortion.
by Jor-El Godsey, Heartbeat President
There’s an old adage, “May you live in interesting times.” Whether it’s a curse, a warning, or a call to adventure, depends on how you read it, receive it, or respond to it.
The brazen political ploy to secure abortion rights, even over other constitutional rights, that just happened in the New York state assembly, followed by several other states, points to the fact that these are, at the least, “interesting times.” The politics of Big Abortion haven’t been this overtly obvious to the nation than since the 1970s and early 80s as the wicked reality of the Roe v. Wade decision. Held at bay for years, the New York politicos beholding to Big Abortion for a big win last November wasted no time in legitimizing the very things that the lead to the conviction of the abortionist, Kermit Gosnell (Philadelphia, PA).
There are three things this tells us about pro-abortion forces.
They’re scared. The recent changes at the Supreme Court of the United States, namely new justices Gorsuch and Kavanaugh, and decisions highlighting protections of liberties, suggest that Roe v. Wade is truly in danger of being reversed for the failed legal framework it is. This is the core reason advanced by Governor Cuomo in order to ensure abortion rights in New York state.
They’re serious. They wasted no time ramming this major constitutional change through. They seized upon the increasing polarization by implementing the far left reality of abortion on demand for any reason, at any age. This is a stark reality that Roe currently protects. And even a simple reversal of Roe, will likely not provide the legal footing to address the egregious moves by the Big Abortion allies in New York and other blue states.
They’re stealing. In elevating abortion so radically they are actually stealing rights not just from the unborn who are obviously “viable” (have the ability to survive outside the womb), but also from women by gutting protections for women from domestic violence. They are stealing the protections provided by previous, and some long-standing, laws that carried these protections.
There is much to be disappointed about. But that misses the larger story in our nation.
When politics, and politicians, fail us (as they inevitably seem to do), the practical remains our primary impact area. The practical manifests in the faithful actions of the pregnancy help movement. From pregnancy centers to maternity homes, from pregnancy tests to parenting classes, we have many practical methods to reach at-risk women and men. New York politicians didn’t inspire the mission field created by abortion—but they did expand it.
In the wake of New York, what do we do?
Get busy. Or more precisely, busier. We need to examine our own service capacity to ensure that we’re optimizing our ministry outreach and impact. Do we have unfilled counseling rooms during current business hours? Do we have under-utilized ultrasound services? Quick gains can be made by getting busy filling unused capacity with more life-saving impact. That likely means looking more closely at our marketing effectiveness in reaching those at-risk for abortions in our community.
Get better. Just like the call to grow in Christ, the call to be better is one of intentional examination and evaluation. We need to be better in reaching those at-risk, stronger in serving those we can, and deepening our commitment to intervention impact. We won’t achieve new results by only doing what we’ve always done. Remember, the manual typewriter and the buggy whip were, at one time, deemed “best practices.” Actively re-think processes and programs for greater effectiveness.
Get bolder. Despite the false accusations that we “only care about the unborn baby,” the pregnancy help movement is positively impacting millions of people each year. We need to be bold about engaging the “mushy middle” that has been reminded that Roe’s full effect is not something to be “moderate” about. Every Christ-follower should be involved in overcoming Roe. Whether directly ministering to clients in the “valley of decision,” supporting those who do, or voting our values, there is something every believer can do. And let’s be bold to invite greater involvement for current supporters. We can, and must, do more. Let’s boldly proclaim the great work of pregnancy help!
In all of this we should not let our “hearts be troubled.” But, instead, we should take heart that where sin does abound, grace that much more abounds. It is that abundant grace that this ministry is built upon, and will thrive upon.
And when they did not find them, they began dragging Jason and some brethren before the city authorities, shouting, “These men who have turned the world upside down have come here also;” Acts 17:6
Paul, Silas, Jason and others caused quite a stir in Thessalonica, where Paul spent three weeks with the Jewish community, convincing many of the good news of Jesus’ identity and mission.
Yet, whenever there is good news some will find a problem. So it was in Thessalonica, where the Jewish leaders became jealous as more and more were persuaded Paul was right by saying, “This Jesus whom I am proclaiming to you is the Christ.” (Acts 17:3)
Because of their jealousy, the religious leaders of the day formed a mob (Acts 17:5), then dragged Jason and some of Paul’s friends in front of the city authorities, falsely accusing that “. . . they all act contrary to the decrees of Caesar, saying that there is another king, Jesus.” (Acts 17:7)
Paul probably made it clear that Jesus was not on earthly king, so why the false accusation? What was the real problem?
The real problem was about power. The religious leaders enjoyed being served by those they ruled over. They had full authority to make proclamations regarding not only religion, but about how the world around them (in this case, the Jewish community) would function.
No one was allowed to question their leadership or their authority. In short, they had a great life—and all of the power they could ask for. Until Paul showed up.
Paul, Silas, Jason and others were offering something new. This good news challenged the one thing the leadership held dear: Their power base. For if Jesus is king, the religious leaders were subject to him and suddenly, everyone was on equal footing.
To the religious leaders, this “turned the world upside down,” – their world.
It’s no wonder they were angry and jealous, creating mobs and making false accusations. They would do anything to protect their personal kingdoms.
For us and those we serve however, the good news is truly Good News. When we see Jesus as King, there is joy in knowing our King is one of reconciliation, hope and promise. Our King’s decrees aren’t those of a dictator (“Do this or else!”) but one of love (“Love your neighbor as yourself”).
And just like Paul and his friends, when we embrace this good news and share it with others, some—like in Paul’s day—won’t be happy. But if we’re faithful, we might see the results Paul did, where many choose instead to join with us in proclaiming the greatest news ever told.
by Kirk Walden, Advancement Specialist
by Terri Fox, Grant Writer
On a recent trip to Israel to participate in the L’Chaim 2018 International Pro-Life Conference, I had the opportunity to tour some historical biblical sites. We floated on the Dead Sea; sailed on the Sea of Galilee singing songs of praise; and saw the Dan stream that is fed by rain and snow from Mt. Hermon which feeds the Jordan River.
One of our stops was to the presumed site of Jesus’ baptism in the Jordan River.
Approaching the baptismal site, there are signs in different languages instructing one to respect the site and obey the listed rules. Two of the rules were unexpected and caught my attention:
Down the center of the river is a rope-like barrier that identifies the border between the two countries.
Two armed Israeli soldiers stood guard on the Israel side of the river and two armed Jordanian soldiers stood guard on the Jordanian side of the river. I thought about the great divide between them, even though the distance before them wasn’t that great.
Several of our group stepped into the waters of the Jordan for a full immersion baptism; some sprinkled water over their heads and on their arms, while others just stood in the water.
I walked the grounds, being mindful to stay behind the fencing, pondering the significance of this site. It was okay if I wasn’t standing in the exact spot where Jesus was baptized, but I was in the neighborhood.
Then I thought about the neighborhood: two countries, four armed soldiers, a rope, a fence, landmines dividing. In a place that brings Scripture to life I was fascinated by the contrast of reverence and rivalry.
As I sat down on a step to further reflect, I thought about Jesus’ birth in this land, how he walked this land, how he lived in community in this land, how he suffered and died in this land, and how he rose to new life defeating death.
I thought about how Jesus did this for the soldiers on both sides of the Jordan River.
And then I thought about what we face in our work in pregnancy help: two sides, lies used as weapons, a dividing line of choosing life over death.
As we prepare to celebrate the birth of Jesus, let’s try to think about our neighbors. Let’s try to remember what brings us together. And let’s remember that Jesus was born to bring reconciliation to even those who oppose us.
Let’s not be afraid but share the “good news that will cause great joy for all the people.” Luke 2:10
Who knows, maybe someone will lay down their weapon, cross the barrier that divides and walk into great joy.
by Jor-El Godsey, Heartbeat International President
It was Ghandi, well-acquainted with challenging cultural norms, whose philosophy is often summarized as the following: “First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.”
It started, in earnest, more than a year ago, in July 2017 with the launch of the Lady Parts Justice League “Expose Fake Clinics” campaign. The negative campaign started with a splash (ambushing a Heartbeat affiliate in Pittsburgh using fake clients) but wilted as Heartbeat’s Pregnancy Help News and Academy helped educate pregnancy help organization leaders in a timely fashion, as well as our Extend Web Services team’s expertise helped push back on the digital attack.
I believe Ghandi’s quote has been on display in our movement. Initially Big Abortion, largely, ignored the pregnancy help movement. Even a sustained, multi-jurisdiction push for anti-pregnancy center laws and ordinances, has been defeated in the courts. In this past year, the NIFLA SCOTUS case win was preceded by a seven-year victory in Baltimore. In that case, Judge Wilkinson found, “After seven years of litigation and a 1,295-page record before us, the City does not identify a single example of a woman who entered the Greater Baltimore Center’s waiting room under the misimpression that she could obtain an abortion there. What the record does show is affirmative advocacy of abortion alternatives by a lawful non-profit group.”
With their strategy of bullying by legal means blocked, the “Expose Fake Clinics” public relations campaign has become the repository of Big Abortion attention, energy, and funding. Dozens of pregnancy help centers across the country have reported Handmaid Tale type protesters. The American Medical Association’s, so-called, Journal of Ethics published an article (by pro-abortion doctors) with the headline “Why Crisis Pregnancy Centers Are Legal but Unethical”.
Even HBO weighed in, with John Oliver devoting an entire episode of “Last Week Tonight” (HBO) to slamming "crisis pregnancy centers" delivering the requisite half-truths, outright lies, and biased perspective in a foul-mouthed sarcastic way so as, apparently, to qualify under both “they laugh at you” and “then they fight you” portions of the philosophy.
Media reporting on pregnancy help centers now leverages a myriad of articles, scholarly research (from a pro-abortion and anti-pro-lifer academic community), and various “investigative journalism” (written by Big Abortion allies). The effect – certainly intended by Big Abortion – is that Googling crisis pregnancy centers returns a mountain of negative posts, publicity, and periodicals.
And yet, Heartbeat’s Option Line numbers are at all-time highs (360K in 2017, tracking to eclipse 400K in 2018). Abortion Pill Reversal Network numbers are increasing significantly. More pregnancy centers, maternity homes, and others, are uniting under Heartbeat International affiliation, than ever before. Charlotte Lozier Institute’s recent Pregnancy Center Services Report, 3rd Edition, touts amazing accomplishments for 2017 alone, as well as achievements and milestones over “A Half Century of Hope” from the beginning in 1968 to 2018.
Despite the frenzied activity of our increasingly shrill opposition, the Lord of Hosts is clearly with us. We are winning. Even if the other side doesn’t know it yet. Though I suspect that’s what they fear. So take heart, “…for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control” (1 Timothy 2:7).
“Now there was a certain man at Caesarea named Cornelius, a centurion of what was called the Italian cohort, a devout man, and one who feared God with all his household, and gave many alms to the Jewish people, and prayed to God continually.” Acts 10:1-2
There are times in our when we see God working elsewhere, but for whatever reason He doesn’t seem active in our own life. Others appear to be in the middle of God’s work and us? We’re watching, wondering why we don’t seem to be included.
Whenever we find ourselves thinking, “God doesn’t notice me,” let’s remember Cornelius in the Book of Acts.
We know Cornelius’ story, but have we looked closely? Cornelius was a Gentile (non-Jew), an Italian centurion—a soldier. Even though he had no connections to the Jewish nation, he gave financially to the Jewish people, and in this narrative, Luke also points out he “feared God with all his household . . . and prayed to God continually.”
Yet, even as God worked among the Jews and we see God sending his messiah, Cornelius was not part of anything. He kept praying. Kept teaching his family about God. Kept giving. But day after day, nothing. We don’t see the Jewish people welcoming him as one of their own. Cornelius was on the outside looking in.
Though he wasn’t seeing tangible results from his prayers, Cornelius—out there on his own regarding faith—stayed committed. Still, we can forgive Cornelius if he ever thought, What about me, God?
Then one day Cornelius received a visit from an angel, who told him his prayers had not been wasted at all. “Your prayers and alms have ascended as a memorial before God,” the angel told him. The angel then asked our friend Cornelius to send men out to find Simon Peter, and, smart man that he was, Cornelius obeyed.
We know the rest of the story. Peter went to Cornelius’ home, where a mighty move of God brought the Good News to the Gentiles for the first time. Cornelius—the man who stayed committed even when he could see no real results—was likely the first Gentile in the history of planet Earth to be able to call himself “Christian.”
What about us? Whenever we feel as if we’re on the outside looking in, let’s stay committed. Let’s keep praying. Let’s keep looking for God to make His move. Though we may not see the results today, the fruit of our devotion may be closer than we think.
by Peggy Hartshorn, Ph.D., Heartbeat International Chairman of the Board
We can all take heart from the findings of the latest report on the amazing work of pregnancy help centers, clinics, and maternity homes across the USA, A Half Century of Hope, A Legacy of Life & Love: Pregnancy Center Service Report, Third Edition, which notes that pregnancy help centers trace their beginnings to 1968, 50 years ago.
Having discovered our local Birthright in 1973 and Heartbeat International in 1978, I have been an eyewitness to the growth of this movement for 45 years. What a privilege to experience what God is doing through ordinary people who can accomplish the extraordinary when He is calling and equipping.
I want to reflect briefly on three things this report highlights.
First of all, the heroism of the mothers who are choosing life over abortion, despite the incessant marketing and promotion of abortion in American culture and organized attempts to stifle the voices for life, especially in pregnancy help centers.
We do not save babies – mothers do, once they have the love, support, care, knowledge, and new vision they need to overcome the pressures leading them toward abortion. We are woman-centered, and women are choosing life over abortion at higher rates than ever since 1973.
As the pregnancy center report shows, the abortion rate in this country in 2014 (the latest year for which numbers are available) has gone down to 14.6 abortions per 1,000 women from a high of 29.3 eight years after the Roe v. Wade decision (according to Guttmacher Institute).
Additional research underway now is looking at the hypothesis that even more than state laws, clinic closures, or political changes the major factor in this decline in the abortion ratio could well be the work of pregnancy help organizations! We will not rest from our labors until every woman who needs help can find it at her local life-affirming pregnancy help organization.
Just one more reason our Life Launch Grant to help start pregnancy centers in areas primed for more life-saving outreach is such an important recent initiative.
Second, the Footsoldiers Armed with LOVE – those working in pregnancy help organizations, and their supporters, throughout the USA (and the world) who provide the love, support, and help so women can choose life for their babies.
From the handful of volunteers that started, supported, and worked in each of the original pregnancy help centers (there were about 100 locations in 1971 when Heartbeat published our first Worldwide Directory), God has raised a mighty army!
In 2017, in 2,600 pregnancy help locations, there were 67,400 volunteers, along with a much smaller number of dedicated staff members, who served 2 Million people!
The tools available for this army have multiplied in the last 50 years, as the pregnancy center report illustrates. Centers are utilizing valuable tools that are becoming more and more available and prevalent. Just look at how many centers are expanding their services: 70% offer ultrasounds, 41% provide sexual integrity and sexual risk avoidance education with evidence-based curricula and materials, 97% offer material aid, 87% provide prenatal and parenting support and education, and 75% host after abortion support and healing programs.
Life affirming crisis intervention, prevention services (sexual integrity), support, and after abortion healing ALL save lives. Each provides, at some point in a woman’s life, a life-affirming vision, a hope, and perhaps some practical help, so some women will never be faced with a difficult pregnancy, and those who are know that abortion is NOT their only alternative.
To me, this continues to prove that the best alternative to abortion is another person – armed with the love of Christ, offering women a new vision of hope and life.
My third thought – my passion for the vision and mission of Heartbeat – the network of centers, clinics, and housing ministries that make up Heartbeat International, plus the programs and services of “Heartbeat Central” (our headquarters).
Heartbeat International was founded in 1971 by a diverse group of the original pregnancy help organizations (from California, Ohio, Michigan, Minnesota, and other states). Inspired by the Holy Spirit, these centers were starting up all over the USA because of the push to de-criminalize abortion state by state. The founders knew that, once abortion became legal, women would need help and support to withstand the pressure for abortion.
These centers were diverse, influenced by local needs and the vision of their founders – entrepreneurial and creative. And they still are!
There never was one Heartbeat model – there were MANY models. And there still are, as the pregnancy center services report makes clear! It highlights the continuing diversity and creativity, the local, personal, and God-led nature of pregnancy help, while it is, at the same time, professional and sophisticated in the most positive senses of those words.
Heartbeat Central – your team at the Heartbeat headquarters – also remains entrepreneurial and creative plus professional and sophisticated as we lead and equip this dynamic movement. Starting like most pregnancy centers do, as “all volunteer” in 1971, we now have over 50 dedicated staff members with diverse expertise.
Let me highlight just 3 areas, mentioned in the pregnancy center services report, where Heartbeat International is advancing the pregnancy help movement, areas that I am personally passionate about.
Reaching women, particularly minorities who are targets of abortionists. Heartbeat’s original 1971 vision for a toll free number (called a Watts Line in ancient times!) is now our Option Line, answering more than 1,000 calls for help EVERY DAY and sending these people to the amazing network of local pregnancy help.
We know that women search for help primarily online, and Option Line is the only web-based helpline – “answering the call” via text, email, live chat, and phones. As the pregnancy center services report notes, Planned Parenthood and other abortionists target minority and immigrant women for abortions. Option Line is staffed by loving and caring bilingual consultants, fluent in English and Spanish, 24/7, 365 days per year.
In the not too distant future, the number of calls for help answered by Option Line yearly in the USA will surpass the number of abortions!
Rescuing women and their children from the Abortion Pill. With perhaps 1/3 of abortions now done by the “abortion pill,” according to the pregnancy center services report, Heartbeat is countering with our APR network – Abortion Pill Rescue. Option Line is answering calls from women who change their minds after taking the first pill of the two-pill chemical abortion process.
These women are desperately seeking help. Heartbeat is growing the present network of over 450 physicians who use the APR protocol to save babies (over 500 born so far!) and the centers that refer to this network in an effort to help even more women save their babies and themselves from the effects of abortion.
Renewing training and service efforts with the latest technology. From a handful of training pamphlets that we could provide by snail mail in the 70’s – the first and only training materials available to all centers – Heartbeat International now uses the latest distance-learning technology in our online Academy to provide APR training as well as over 200 different courses and webinars, any place and any time to more than 4,300 registered students in the pregnancy help movement.
To advance the medical emphasis in pregnancy centers, as noted in the pregnancy center services report, our Academy provides CEU’s for nurses and even a full ultrasound training course online. For staff and for volunteers, still the heart of the movement, we also provide a Life-Affirming Specialist (LAS) certification to help keep up crucial skills and learn best practices. LAS continuing education credits can be earned online through our advanced online class ConCERT, online webinars, or in-person training opportunities such as the Heartbeat International Annual Conference.
In fact, almost the only technology employed by Heartbeat’s first pregnancy help affiliates in the 70’s – and by Heartbeat International too – was the telephone (even pregnancy tests had to be done by cooperating doctor’s offices)! Now, Heartbeat leads with a variety of technology training and solutions for centers – from Option Line (to schedule appointments within cooperating centers), to website design and local search marketing from Extend Web Services, to a complete center management system, Next Level.
All of this, Heartbeat makes available to serve the broader pregnancy help movement, not just to our affiliated network.
We see Lord’s hand here – in the way He has provided the vision and resources for us at Heartbeat to serve the pregnancy help movement over these many decades – and in the amazing success story of pregnancy help in the USA, so well documented in A Half Century of Hope, A Legacy of Life & Love: Pregnancy Center Service Report, Third Edition.
THANK YOU – to all of YOU whom God has called to be part of this story, and Praise be to God – from whom all these blessings flow! Let us all Take Heart.
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