What better way to advance the pregnancy help movement worldwide than for one Heartbeat affiliate to link arms with another Heartbeat affiliate for the sake of women, babies, and families all over the world?
A new mother cradles her child in Immokalee.
The moment Diane Hanson stopped by for a meeting in Immokalee, Florida, an hour’s drive from the affluent town of Naples, she knew God was calling her family to serve the women and families of this impoverished community for the next season in life.
The year was 2007, two years after Hurricane Wilma whipped through the agricultural-dependent migrant community with winds over 120 miles per hour, and at the peak of the U.S. economic downturn, leaving nearly 40 percent of Immokalee’s residents below the federal poverty line.
Then serving as a pregnancy help center executive director at a center in Naples, Diane was asked by local leaders to take the reins at Immokalee Pregnancy Center, which had been destroyed by Hurricane Wilma. Soon, she and her husband, Dave, were on their way to their new mission field.
With so much work to do, and so little in the way of material and financial resources, the Hansons connected to an old friend and ministry partner named Phil Holsinger.
A veteran pregnancy help leader since the early 1990s, Phil was in the process of transitioning to a role as president and CEO of Heartbeat affiliate Blue Ridge Women’s Center in Roanoke, Virginia, where he had been struck by a parable of sorts, told by a friend who’d become a Christian during a stint in a federal penitentiary.
The parable went something like this: Several prisoners were sat down in a room and given a handful of puzzle pieces, then told they must learn to work with others without the benefit of speaking in order to complete the puzzle. These small groups of prisoners could only accomplish their work by cooperatively capitalizing on their shared resources.
To Phil, the application of this parable was simple. Every pregnancy help organization simultaneously has abundant resources and abundant need. Rather than expending the bulk of efforts compensating for areas of need, Phil realized, organizations could flourish by sharing from their areas of abundance with others.
Phil Holsinger (L) and Center for Global Strategies leaders, together with Macedonian President Gjorge Ivanov (head of table) in January, 2013.
And so, when Diane and Dave Hanson landed in financially strapped Immokalee, Phil knew this could be the perfect opportunity for his vision to come to reality.
Phil Holsinger (L) and Center for Global Strategies leaders, together with Macedonian President Gjorge Ivanov (head of table) in January, 2013.
“When Dave first brought me to the center, I had to kick chickens out of the way from the car to the building,” Phil said. “I told him, ‘This place reminds me of places I’ve been in Africa, or South America, or the Caribbean.’ I told him, ‘Anything we have is yours.’”
From that point on, Blue Ridge Women’s Center has supported Immokalee Pregnancy Center by, among other assistance, supplying one month’s overhead each year. Since Blue Ridge began this partnership, Phil’s goal has been to involve other pregnancy help organizations to pitch in and supply Immokalee with enough monthly support to power the center through an entire year.
But Phil’s vision has also expanded globally, with a similar work starting in the former Yugoslav country of Macedonia, where he and leaders from Center for Global Strategies recently met with the country’s President to discuss the good work of pregnancy centers, the first of which has been established in the bustling city of Shtip.
“We talked with the President for almost an hour about pregnancy help centers, and he was getting tears in his eyes as we told him the stories of women, babies, and families saved,” Phil said. “Then I thought, ‘Why couldn’t the same thing that’s happening with Immokalee happen here?’”
“It’s been amazing to see the lives that are being changed already in Macedonia, even with little-to-no advertising. I have just been blown away with how God is working there, and with the bulk of worldwide abortions occurring outside of the U.S., these efforts are uniquely strategic, as well as uniquely needed.”
With the pregnancy help movement advancing worldwide, the puzzle pieces are falling into place, thanks to faithful men and women like Phil Holsinger, Diane and Dave Hanson, and partners like you.
By Jor-El Godsey, President
As Lincoln’s historical heirs and as joint-heirs with Christ, we inherit this time-tested statement as we face the demonic and divisive issue of our time—abortion.
These same words should inspire those of us in the pregnancy help community to recognize how, together, we make up “a house”. Certainly, we are Christ-followers and part of His Kingdom, the House of God.
But in a parallel sense, we are part and parcel of each other, like the picture of the Body of Christ in 1 Corinthians 12, united by a uniquely common mission of compassion.
Our opponent, Satan, is as intent upon aborting our efforts as he was upon keeping an entire people group in the shackles of American slavery. This same zeal was present in the death of Christ, which Satan sought as his ultimate victory—which turned out to be his ultimate demise.
So, how do we stay united, and keep from becoming that divided house on the verge of collapse? Here are three profound things we can do, starting today:
We are much more than our “nickels and noses” (to borrow slang from church leaders/planters). Budgets, client numbers, and staff sizes are poor metrics for evaluating mission effectiveness. Subjective things like degree of professionalism, purity of mission focus, and client outcomes are also weak indicators for people setting out to participate in the Lord’s life-giving work.
We can all agree that Jesus inspires us to champion His Gift of Life and Him as the Giver of Life. With some 33,000 denominations (World Christian Encyclopedia by Barrett, Kurian, Johnson (Oxford Univ Press, 2nd edition, 2001), the reality of total doctrinal alignment is an illusion. But as Saint Augustine encourages, "In essentials unity, in non-essentials liberty, in all things charity.”
There are some essentials that divide us on Sunday in the pews—such as whether or not we refer to Saint Augustine or just Augustine—but these need not divide us while we seek to help those women and families who are making life and death decisions every day.
Apply the same love and grace to fellow staff members, board members, and peers as we would for clients/patients. The misty-eyed woman who can’t say which of her partners might be the father of her child needs the love of God to flow through us to her. But so does that fellow minister on our team, or across town, or on the national stage.
Love should always be our language whether we are in the counseling room, the classroom, the conference room, or at the convention.
Our pregnancy help “house” is a diverse group spanning cultures, vocations, and denominations. Abraham Lincoln saw something similar in 1858 as he addressed the crowd in Springfield, Illinois. When we look back on our victory over slavery, the moral crisis of that day, we should realize its similarities with our day.
Listen one more time to Lincoln’s eloquent words, and see if, just maybe, they can apply to us.
Of strange, discordant, and even hostile elements, we gathered from the four winds, and formed and fought the battle through, under the constant hot fire of a disciplined, proud, and pampered enemy.
Did we brave all then to falter now? -- now when that same enemy is wavering, dissevered, and belligerent? The result is not doubtful. We shall not fail -- if we stand firm, we shall not fail. Wise counsels may accelerate or mistakes delay it, but, sooner or later, the victory is sure to come.
Partnership with Movimento per la Vita, Heartbeat unveiled
While newly elected Pope Francis paid an unexpected visit to some 40,000 participants in Italy’s March for Life in Rome May 13, Heartbeat International was busy at the same event, signing paperwork for an official partnership with Italian pro-life organization Movimento per la Vita.
The collaborative partnership adds 398 new affiliates for Heartbeat International, bolstering its position as the largest network of pro-life pregnancy help centers in the world, with 1,800 affiliates. Heartbeat’s first official
partnership in Western Europe now gives the 42-year-old organization a presence on all six inhabited continents, with partners in Canada, Latin America, the Philippines, Australia, South Africa, and Central Africa.
Movimento per la vita President Carlo Casini (L) signs partnership agreement with former Heartbeat International board member Marie Meaney at Italy's March for Life.
“We are very pleased to announce this partnership with Movimento per la Vita,” Peggy Hartshorn, Ph.D., in her 21st year as president of Heartbeat International, said. “We already share so much in common with these friends, and I personally look forward to what we will learn from them as our relationship grows.”
Founded in 1975, Movimento per la Vita—much like Heartbeat International—began providing women with abortion alternatives three years prior to the procedure's legalization in its country, and now includes 338 pregnancy centers and 60 maternity homes, providing life-affirming help to women and families in need. The group is led by its founding director, Carlo Casini, a former judge who now serves as a member of the European Parliament.
Movimento per la Vita also operates a pregnancy helpline, SOS Vita, which connects women facing difficult situations involving unexpected pregnancies to local centers, referred to as Centri di aiuto alla Vita (CaV). The helpline operated by Movimento per la Vita distinctly parallels Heartbeat International’s Option Line ®, a 24/7 call center connecting women and men facing unexpected pregnancies with real-time help and face-to-face contact with local pregnancy help centers.
In 2012, Movimento per la Vita served 60,000 women and saw 16,000 babies born who were otherwise vulnerable to abortion. Since 1975, the network has served over 500,000 women, delivering 160,000 children.
Click here to view Movimento per la Vita's website.
by Jor-El Godsey and Jay Hobbs
In 1963, writing while in a Birmingham jail cell, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. penned a stirring response to local clergy leaders who had publicly criticized his part in non-violent protests against racial inequality.
King’s words spoke powerfully to the commonplace injustice of his day. But his prose echoes throughout the decades to underscore the pro-life argument today.
We must come to see that human progress never rolls in on the wheels of inevitability. It comes through the tireless efforts and persistent work of men willing to be co-workers with God, and without this hard work time itself becomes an ally of the forces of social stagnation.
The greatest strength of our life-saving efforts today is to continue with “tireless efforts” and “persistent work” as we remain “co-workers with God” in the great work of championing the sanctity of life.
It’s almost as if Dr. King was speaking directly to the questions surrounding the pro-life movement as a whole, and even the pregnancy help movement in particular, as the letter progresses.
His audience was Southern clergy who, while sympathetic to desegregation to some degree, had not yet become emboldened to stand for the equality of their black brothers and sisters. It was not the infamous Ku Klux Klan or other rabidly racist groups who presented the greatest challenge, frustrations, or disappointments to Dr. King. Another group posed deeper issues:
Shallow understanding from people of good will is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will. Lukewarm acceptance is much more bewildering than outright rejection.
Far from a mere indictment or dismissal of the church, Dr. King wrote as a minister, who proudly proclaimed himself “the son, the grandson and the great grandson of preachers” who spoke to the church as a loving son or brother might lovingly—but earnestly—address his parents or siblings.
What an excellent example for those of us in the pro-life movement. We want to invite our churches into the good work of ministering to women and families who are vulnerable to abortion. We do best to address our pastors, priests, leaders, and clergy from a humble—“purified” in the words of Dr. King—position.
At the same time, we also do best to follow Dr. King’s example of relentless urgency:
By their effort and example [early Christians] brought an end to such ancient evils as infanticide and gladiatorial contests. Things are different now. So often the contemporary church is a weak, ineffectual voice with an uncertain sound. So often it is an archdefender of the status quo. Far from being disturbed by the presence of the church, the power structure of the average community is consoled by the church's silent--and often even vocal--sanction of things as they are…
But the judgment of God is upon the church as never before. If today's church does not recapture the sacrificial spirit of the early church, it will lose its authenticity, forfeit the loyalty of millions, and be dismissed as an irrelevant social club with no meaning for the twentieth century. Every day I meet young people whose disappointment with the church has turned into outright disgust.
Take some time this week and read through the Letter from the Birmingham Jail. You’ll be thankful you did.
by John T. Bruchalski, MD, FACOG
How can OBGYNs and Pregnancy Resource Centers (PRCs) collaborate to build a healthier community where abortions are unwanted? This is the purpose of this presentation. Seeing the benefits of what we have accomplished has been inspiring, but we can do more. Based on Tepeyac Family Center’s work of serving regional pregnancy centers in Northern Virginia for the past two decades, we have a few ideas on how to make abortion unwantable.
Individually, our purpose on Earth is to love God and love our neighbors with all of our heart, mind and soul. Faith and charity go hand in hand. As Tepeyac physicians, we see medicine as an act of mercy where we care for and have compassion for the sick and vulnerable, the “least of our brothers and sisters.” There is no better way to live this vocation as an OBGYN than by serving the local PRCs in our neighborhood, community, and beyond.
Compassion means to suffer with, and we can suffer with our clients and patients and love enough by working together. Practicing merciful medicine removes the reasons for abortion and does so much more than save a baby. We are working toward Transforming Hearts Through Healthcare™ and mercy shows God’s grace.
Let us elucidate the problems that OBGYNs face today, so we can suggest some practical answers to make abortion unwantable.
Everywhere we turn, the world seems to be in crisis. With massive changes to the United States (U.S.) healthcare system, physicians today are more cynical, pessimistic, fearful and tired than I have seen in three decades of practicing medicine. The present government solution to fix healthcare decreases reimbursements to doctors and increases paperwork and overhead costs with complex regulations.
Moreover, the Affordable Care Act (ACA) has ignored the entire issue of malpractice resulting in increases in liability insurance costs. Under the rhetoric of “reproductive rights” and “women’s healthcare”, the current administration has enshrined abortion and contraception as mainstream medical practices despite the stigma, the paucity of providers, and split in public opinion.
Further, the ACA dismisses personal consciences and violates religious freedoms. The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) has assaulted conscience rights of future doctors and is demanding that their member doctors either refer or perform abortions. ACOG knows that most physicians refuse to perform the procedures because of its barbaric nature and the number of abortionists is dwindling.
Below are my observed problems that OBGYNs face in building relationships with crisis pregnancy centers and making abortion unwantable.
The first problem is lukewarmness. Lukewarm is a problem for physicians on both sides of the abortion issue. Sadly, I know this from first hand experience. I spent the first two years of my career as an abortion provider. Thankfully, my faith and prayer life led me to a place where I am no longer forced or required to violate my conscience. By faith and sacrifice, my wife and I founded Tepeyac Family Center in Northern Virginia in 1994, and its parent company Divine Mercy Care (DMC) in 2000.
My Tepeyac colleagues and I have worked alongside and inside pregnancy resource centers as volunteer counselors, advisors, and board members. Despite many excuses, the primary, honest reason most doctors do not perform abortions is the brutality of the procedure. Over one million abortions are performed in the U.S. annually and most doctors are simply not that passionate about abortion to actually perform them. It is easier for doctors to refer abortions out to the local abortionist.
On the pro-life side, most doctors, even those identified in a Christian faith tradition, are really not that passionate about the dignity of human life to take on the added malpractice risk of seeing women with crisis pregnancies, or accept the financial burden of caring for people without insurance. Providing life-taking or life-affirming care is too much of a burden to physicians with so many other problems and responsibilities to deal with on a day to day basis.
Lukewarmness among doctors is a problem for both sides of the abortion issue.
The second problem is chasing idols. My profession has placed idols before the source of happiness and joy. Idols include making money and increasing prestige; believing abortion is an answer to social and medical problems yet being lukewarm in its practice; not searching for the root cause of unplanned pregnancies; accepting rampant promiscuity and the resultant diseases that follow; treating fertility as a disease and children as sexually transmitted infections; pitting mothers and fathers against their unborn children; and working with suffering without seeing the redemptive nature when suffering cannot be relieved.
As doctors who have taken a vow to “do no harm” and care for all who come before us, physicians have moved away from His light and became instruments of evil in the world, subject to the worst of tyrannies. As OBGYNs, we are being asked to hold back from God and to hesitate to answer His call. Because we are fearful of the cost, the pain, the unknown, we no longer trust the Divine Physician nor do we care or serve our neighbors in need. This is the malice found in our soul.
We have become hollow, filled with emptiness and fear. Rather than turn to Christ, we grasp for more of the same: more abortion, more contraception, more sterilization and more secular, sexual education. When we attempt to follow ways other than willed by God, we find loneliness and sadness. We chase idols.
Physicians have stopped treating two patients; OBGYNs are being taught to treat a patient with a disease in her womb. No mercy and no care. Faith and love have gotten a divorce from each other and from ourselves, yet, we are called to care for women in crisis pregnancies and show her how to care for her unborn child. This is Tepeyac’s model of practicing excellent and merciful medicine. As a consequence of doctors being lukewarm and chasing idols, Heartbeat and your ministries heroically and sacrificially give of your time and expertise in meeting the needs of the woman with an unwanted pregnancy.
You are present at the time of crisis and need. But this is not enough. PRCs have to provide ultrasounds because doctors in your communities cannot meet this need.
The medical model of a pregnancy resource center was born out of necessity because we in the medical profession, for the most part, have turned our backs on caring for two patients by eliminating the humanity of the fetus and violating the dignity of the woman. Most doctors, even those of Christian faiths, only see the poor on sabbaticals and not during their daily work, when in truth, there are poor people living in our very own community that need our help. We allowed abortion to become a valid medical practice in the Affordable Care Act because we did not uniformly stand together voicing our outrage.
We abdicated the intellectual and scientific truth of when life begins.
With almost twenty years of experience, Divine Mercy Care (DMC) and Tepeyac Family Center offer a solution.
Abortion and healthcare are NOT political footballs at Divine Mercy Care and Tepeyac Family Center. DMC’s solution has seven practical principles resting on a solid three-pillar foundation of serving, inspiring and unifying when collaborating with PRCs. Nearly two decades of being on the front lines has taught Tepeyac doctors much about combating “lukewarmness” and “idols”.
Tepeyac’s doctors have found a method through sacrifice, hard work and tithing for medical practices to see all patients; those insured and those not insured or under-insured by outreaching to all pregnancy resource centers in our region. Charity, not entitlement, is at the heart of serving our community. Every PRC is different, so we do not force anything on anyone. We offer our obstetrical expertise to care for the woman and the child in the hopes of helping her see the blessing of the child. We introduce her to resources intended to build a stable and strong family and/or support system. Our fiscal approach is called the MERCY Program where we financially cover medical services that the patient cannot afford. We want to be able to do more than save a baby; we introduce them to community services for a continuum of support; we work toward turning around a life and transforming hearts.
We recognize the great work many PRCs do with their medical model of providing ultrasounds to women in crisis pregnancies. Further, Tepeyac provides immediate ultrasounds and doctor visits for PRC patients. We are applying to open Tepeyac School of Sonography (TSS) Certification Program. If approved by the Commonwealth of Virginia, State Council of Higher Education, TSS will offer a 13-week curriculum designed to train your ultrasound technicians and ready them for the American Registry for Diagnostic Medical Sonography testing.
Medical care is more than a technical skill. Ultrasound technicians must meet the rigorous professional and safety standards while loving the patients, both mother and baby. This can be taught. Tepeyac shows students how to love and treat patients while fully complying with radiology standards. Additionally, Tepeyac’s standard of providing high quality ultrasound services in a supportive, life-affirming environment ensures that staff respond lovingly to patients who have an abnormal scan.
Our Kristen Anderson Perinatal Hospice Program is Tepeyac’s medical, spiritual and community approach to a woman carrying a terminally sick child. The hospice approach maximizes the time a mother spends with her preborn child and enhances the love available for the family as a whole.
By having a pro-life radiologist and OBGYNs at Tepeyac, we are able to electronically connect PRCs to a medical expert to read and interpret sonographic information. With the internet and open hearts, no distance is too far to provide excellent medicine and excellent resources.
Leading by example, DMC, through Tepeyac, can help doctors in your area realize the critical importance of not simply sitting on boards, or counseling, but actually seeing the client in need as a patient and building relationships. To transform hearts and minds, we actively attract men and women who are pursuing healthcare degrees and help them understand the importance of working with PRCs once they enter private practice. This is not on top of what we do, this is what we do. Collaborating with PRCs is a way to give back to the community in your own neighborhood.
This is not a “zero sum” game. We cannot continue to the “turf wars.” We serve a generous God. DMC can speak at annual banquets to help inspire those in the audience to give generously to this most urgent of causes. When donors and financially savvy people see the cooperative nature of PRC with a medical practice and other services, they are apt to give more generously knowing that they are not duplicating life-affirming services.
It is clear the prolife community needs to be more unified. This is easier said than done. Thankfully, Tepeyac’s approach seems to bring together doctors, PRCs, emergency rooms, maternity homes, social services, specialists, and even churches of various faith traditions. There is a way to live by example the axiom that we can love enough together to make abortion unwantable, children welcomed and families stronger.
Faith and charity is the goal of living. We can overcome the “lukewarmness” and the “idols” by working more closely together. OBGYNs and PRCs need to collaborate. The great work that Heartbeat International and Tepeyac Family Center have accomplished can be improved on, building on what we have done and making abortion unwantable. The above steps are the practical ways this can happen.
Please contact us for a conversation that can lead to the continuing transformation of hearts for our patients, clients and ourselves.
Just like any other everyday hero, the quartet of life-savers honored as Servant Leaders at the 2013 Heartbeat International Annual Conference quietly go about their business with no expectation of being celebrated this side of heaven.
It came as no surprise, then, when the first winner—Becky Coggin Hyde—stood speechless, even flabbergasted, as Heartbeat President Dr. Peggy Hartshorn, PhD, announced the Arlington (TX) Pregnancy Centers director as the first of four recipients for Heartbeat’s most prestigious award.
Becky was joined by Beverly Kline, Ann Carruth, and Amy Jones, while Mary K. Tiller was tabbed as the inaugural “Heart of the Future Award” honoree for emerging leaders in the pregnancy help movement.
A native of Memphis, Tenn., Becky became Director of Arlington Pregnancy Centers in 1987, and has served in that capacity ever since. In her 26 years, Becky has expanded the center—now called Arlington/Mansfield Pregnancy Centers—to four locations, along with a resale store that funds much of the ministry.
“Becky’s leadership skills are excellent,” one of her co-workers said. “When the Lord lays something on her heart and there is unanimous agreement with the Board, she moves expediently. She waits on the Lord, and she doesn’t move until she is sure He is in the midst of whatever project presents itself.”
Another of the award winners laboring in Texas, Beverly Kline, founded Living Alternatives in 1982 and still serves as executive director for the ministry that has served women and families with everything from pregnancy tests and living accommodations to life-skills training and adoption services in its 31-year history.
Originally based in Beverly’s one-bedroom apartment in Tyler, Texas, Living Alternatives now includes a pregnancy resource center, a resale ministry for teen foster girls (“Keeps Boutique”), a maternity home, and an adoption agency.
The third Texan recognized as a Heartbeat Servant Leader at her home-state Conference was Dallas-based Council for Life Founder Emeritus Ann Carruth.
One of 11 original founders of what was then known as Pregnancy Resource Council in 2001, Ms. Carruth’s vision to support a local pregnancy center began with a single banquet called “Celebrities Celebrating Life,” and has since raised $3.3 million.
Council for Life, who has partnered financially with Heartbeat, began a national affiliate program in 2011, encouraging other major pro-life donors in U.S. cities to unite for the cause of Life.
Amy Jones currently serves as Director of Servants for Life, an international ministry based out of Raleigh, North Carolina, which offers mentoring, coaching, counseling, and training to ministry leaders and boards. She began her life in ministry as a high schooler serving with Youth for Christ, and spent 22 years leading Christian Life Home, a housing ministry for young, pregnant girls.
She currently serves on the Board of Directors for the Carolina Pregnancy Care Fellowship and as a consultant with Heartbeat International.
The founder and executive director for Expectant Heart Pregnancy Resource Center in Longview, Texas, Mary K. Tiller was given the first Heart of the Future award for younger leaders stepping into key roles in local pregnancy help organizations across the globe.
Mary K., who holds a master’s degree in Human Services, Marriage and Family from Liberty University, founded Expectant Heart in 2011, and the center began serving clients in November of 2012.
“Mary K. represents what a next-generation leader should be,” Heartbeat Director of Ministry Services Betty McDowell, LAS, said. “We have witnessed firsthand that she is a servant leader and a learner, and because of that, it has been our delight to work with her.”
To view all Heartbeat Servant Leader award recipients, click here.
We serve the Giver of Life, and He Reigns.
Nothing, including political climates, cultural shifts, or even the unspeakable worldwide tragedy of abortion, can dethrone the God whose glory is set above the heavens.
This precious truth was woven throughout every aspect of the 2013 Annual Heartbeat International Conference, which included close to 1,000 friends of Heartbeat, including attendees, exhibitors, expert workshop presenters, inspiring keynote speakers, Heartbeat board members, and donors.
Fittingly, the centrality of prayer emerged as a major theme throughout the Conference, as 40 Days for Life National Director David Bereit helped set the tone for desperate dependence upon the living God as the keynote speaker during the Conference’s first evening session.
David was one of eight keynote speakers throughout the four-day event, which concluded with a closing banquet and address from Heartbeat International President Dr. Peggy Hartshorn, who is commemorating her 20th year of tireless service in that capacity, and her 40th year of active involvement in the pro-life movement.
Opportunities for prayer and worship were led in part by worship leader Greg Gober, while opportunities to participate in mass were led by Fr. Frank Pavone, National Director of Priests for Life, who also keynoted at the Conference.
Conference participants were also given the opportunity to receive prayer during their time in Dallas, thanks to the generous involvement of Refuge House of Prayer and Breath of the Spirit, who volunteered their time to encourage and refresh those on the front-lines of the battle for Life.
The glorious truth that God reigns carries along with it global implications, and this was also reflected at the Conference, where a total of 20 representatives from 11 non-U.S. countries gathered.
These friends served as a great reminder that God’s reign extends to all corners of the world—from the U.S. to Zambia, Australia to South Africa, Mexico to the Philippines, Costa Rica to Austria, Canada to Liberia, and from Germany to Ethiopia.
And these friends were just a sampling of the more than 300 Heartbeat affiliates outside of the United States in over 50 countries. Two of these friends, Pastors George and Sylvester from Liberia, shared an African proverb that became a theme unto itself for the Conference:
“If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.”
We hope you join us at next year’s Annual Conference, March 24-27 in Charleston, South Carolina!
by Jay Hobbs, Communications Assistant
On a brisk January afternoon, I found myself positioned between two citadels of American government.
On my right sat the Capitol Building, where I’d spent the morning with Heartbeat International’s Babies Go to Congress®. On my left stood the U.S. Supreme Court Building, where the 40th Annual March for Life would conclude the following day.
As I turned my gaze to the Supreme Court building, I expected to behold its looming columns and take in its hopeful, enduring motto, “Equal Justice Under Law.”
But what I saw surprised me. The majestic façade was covered with scaffolding and a transparent construction curtain. As I learned, the great marble-work of the building’s façade had been crumbling for some time, and renovation was now underway.
What a striking parable of justice, deteriorating. Yet, at the same time, what a striking parable of hope that justice can be—and one day will be—restored.
We live in a world that is plagued with the consequences of a decision made in that very building 40 years ago. When those inside this shrine to American justice decided, 7-2, to legalize abortion on-demand, justice crumbled.
Such a miscarriage of justice under the auspices of “Equal Justice Under Law” must never be forgotten. That’s why Heartbeat launched RememberingRoe.com, which serves as an online memorial to those 55 million unborn Americans who will never see the light of day because of Roe v. Wade.
A few hours before my stroll to the Supreme Court steps, I had the pleasure of watching Matennah—one of three moms who made up the Babies Go to Congress envoy—tell seven of her congressmen the story of how her beautiful twin daughters had been rescued by a Heartbeat-affiliated pregnancy help center.
Twenty-four hours later, the 40th annual March for Life brought 500,000 peaceful protesters to these stately steps. Heartbeat International was there, represented by a group of generous supporters and the sampling of moms, like Matennah, and their babies who have been saved from the violence of abortion.
Following the March, Peggy Hartshorn, Ph.D., President of Heartbeat International, keynoted the annual Rose Dinner, highlighting the good work pregnancy help organizations to do for women and families. Peggy was followed by New Jersey Rep. Chris Smith, chair of the Pro-Life Caucus, who delivered a ringing endorsement of Heartbeat and our life-saving mission.
No doubt, justice has drastically crumbled. But just like the façade of the Supreme Court building, it can be restored.
I was reading through Proverbs when news of the Penn State child abuse scandal broke in late 2011. As the horrific story dominated every inch of the public square, one saying from the wise man stood out most clearly to me:
Rescue those who are being taken away to death; hold back those who are stumbling to the slaughter. If you say, “Behold, we did not know this,” does not he who weighs the heart perceive it? Does not he who keeps watch over your soul know it, and will he not repay man according to his work? (Proverbs 24:11-12)
I was so sickened by what I was seeing and hearing about everything, from the grisly details of the events that had occurred—and were even witnessed—to the shameful cover-ups collaborated by football coaches, school administrators, and even sworn officers of the law.
Having worked in collegiate athletics for nearly 10 years, these acts of negligence hit me with a specific force, but no harder than they hit me as a father. I felt anger, disgust, nausea, and helplessness.
But what good would come if all I did was feel these things, and then let them fade away so that I could go on with the rest of my life? Did the sting of this outrage belong in the rear-view mirror?
While my 1-year-old daughter napped one Saturday afternoon, I began to pray that somehow, some way, God would lead me to a calling and vocation where I could play a role in the rescue of those being taken away to death. I prayed, and less than a year later, God—the true and final Rescuer—brought me an opportunity to do just that, with an organization I’d never heard of, called Heartbeat International.
Today, I am so blessed to be playing a role in the effort to hold back “those stumbling to the slaughter.” Most of you who are reading this are in the trenches right now, fighting this battle one life at a time. Some of you have been in this trench longer than I’ve been on this earth.
What an honor it has been to join with you in the battle to hold each life precious.
Together, we hope and pray and labor for the day when abortion is not only unwanted, but unthinkable in our nation, our legal system, and our culture. At the same time, we also realize that abortion may not be going away this side of heaven. In one form or another, the strong will always victimize the weak, right up until the Day when the Judge of the whole earth makes all things right.
Until that Day dawns, our orders are clear: We are to rescue those who are being taken away to death. One child at a time. One woman at a time. One family at a time.
It’s not up to you and me to finally solve these evils. It’s up to each of us to be faithful to do our part, in hope—hope that one Day, we will see these evils ended before our very eyes. Until that Day comes, we’re free to focus on the task at hand without driving ourselves to despair or exhaustion.
The problem is more than you and I could ever handle, and yet, it has already been handled—fully and finally by the death and resurrection of Jesus. We enter into that promise by faith, but it's that same faith that also thrusts us into the vineyard to labor for that which our faithful Savior values.
Take heart. God, the one who “keeps watch over your soul” sees the good work you’re doing. And, he will repay you according to it.
Jor-El Godsey, Vice President
When you take into account all those who have been wounded by this “choice”, it becomes even harder to find something positive—let alone to allow ourselves to think we’re winning.
But, before we throw our hands up and walk away, let’s consider two things that can give us at least a hint that, yes, we are winning.
First, the nearly 1,400 Heartbeat affiliates worldwide directly serve 1,000,000 moms, dads and babies every year. That’s direct service, not estimated impact. Think about it: If the pregnancy help community threw in the towel, countless additional lives would be added to the toll of dead and wounded on account of abortion.
Second, and more importantly, such discussions draw us to envision a time when no abortions are happening. We long for that day. We pray for that eventuality to come about. We hope to see the realization of that dream.
Many pro-lifers give their time and attention to achieve that BIG victory over abortion, by utilizing the political and legislative resources available to us. This is a necessary and worthy goal. But, until that happens, we can—and must—win ONE victory.
That ONE victory involves the mom and baby we will see today, in our centers, in our maternity homes. That’s what we do: We win one victory, one heart, one life at a time.
So take heart. We win every day we step into someone’s life and prevent the tragedy, the loss, and the violence of abortion they are otherwise headed for.
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