by Jor-El Godsey, President of Heartbeat International
About a month into my new role as the Executive Director in my new state of Colorado, I traveled to a retreat center, Young Life Camp, nestled in the foothills at 14,204 ft., Mt. Princeton. I was there for the weekend to participate in my first-ever Rocky Mountain Counselors Conference.
The session opened and soon we were in a time of praise and worship. I scanned the crowd, more than 180 strong, only to realize that I was the only man in the room (no disrespect, but I’m not including the worship pastor and the drummer on the dais). The phrase “fish out of water” might’ve come to mind. The year was 1999. (Okay, stop snickering, I know that was the last century, er, even the last millennium.)
Fortunately, the ratio has improved since then. I mean, how could it not improve on 0.005%?! Every year, the number of men, as a percentage of the women, at our annual Heartbeat International Pregnancy Help Conference has grown to roughly 15%. (And, no, that count still doesn’t include the worship leader, drummer, or any of the guys with the worship band.)
Yet, the number of men in leadership in pregnancy help is still a relatively small percentage. Because abortion is a woman’s issue, right? At least that’s what is conveyed by our culture when the acceptable answer the man may give in response to her pregnancy is, “I’ll support whatever you want to do.” Or, worse, when rabid pro-abortion feminists shout, “No uterus, no opinion!”
However, abortion has never been that simple. Especially when you realize abortion was made legal in the U.S. by a dozen or so male governors (1967-1971), then by seven male Supreme Court justices with the Roe v. Wade ruling. Men and women are among every part of this issue.
Even from the earliest days of the pregnancy help movement, men have been deeply involved. Indeed, one of Heartbeat’s founders was Dr. John Hillabrand, an obstetrician and gynecologist in a solo practice in Toledo, Ohio for whom “healing was both a physical and a spiritual calling.” (Hartshorn & Godsey, n.d., p. 43). There were many male physicians – in the 1960s, greater than 90% of OBs were male – along with the many female nurses who were encountering and ministering life, to the women and couples who were presented with an unintended and seemingly ill-timed pregnancy.
Since those days, men have even been key leaders in local pregnancy help organizations. Some for two or more decades: Dave (Arizona), Bob (Alabama), Larry (Oregon), Jim (Michigan), Sol (Florida), Patrick (Georgia), Raul (Colorado), and many more. Some of these men are still active in our movement today, along with more recent leaders like Andrew (Tennessee), Aaron (Texas), Josh (California), Mike (New Hampshire), Rich (Colorado), and Toby (Virginia).
There are two things that should be in place for a man to be well-equipped to take the reins of a pregnancy help organization.
#1: He has a healthy understanding of men’s roles in abortion and the issue of abortion. Too often women are at-risk for abortion because of the men involved in the pregnancy. These men may have abandoned her to decide on her own, lending her no support. Or they may be actively pressuring her to abort for their own, selfish reasons. The prevalence of men like these could easily lead to making men “the problem.” Yet, a realistic glimpse into these circumstances shows that such actions arise more from selfishness and are not exclusive to any biological sex. Men can and should be part of the answer in a life decision.
#2: It takes a good cast of supporting women for a man to lead within a pregnancy help organization. The heart of pregnancy help is loving and supporting a woman in her pregnancy. Women are especially gifted in this area. Having women in key client leadership, among the many other possibilities, is a must to maximize what men can bring to a leadership role.
When inviting men into leadership, some policy and budget considerations are involved. (No, I’m not talking about the toilet seat position in the staff bathroom.) Some considerations include:
At Heartbeat, we firmly believe we are “better together.” This includes having men, along with women, in leadership roles across the movement. The winning formula for achieving a true culture of life is when both women and men are actively speaking about life as well as serving and championing the Gift of Life.
Hartshorn, Dr. P., & Godsey, J.-E. (n.d.). The Power of Pregnancy Help (p. 43). Heartbeat International, Inc. https://www.heartbeatservices.org/resources/resources-by-topic/networking/the-power-of-pregnancy-help
We can compare our Dad to many superheroes, but he is in a category all his own! We think his job gives him the chance to impact many lives for God’s Kingdom, even some he will never meet here on earth. His job also gives us an opportunity to share about life when others ask us what our Dad does.
We love you, Dad!
By Kara and Joel Godsey, children of Jor-El Godsey, Vice President of Heartbeat International. Note: This article was submitted and published as a Father’s Day gift to Jor-El, without his prior knowledge.
by Rick Johnson
In Better Dads, Stronger Sons: How Fathers Can Guide Boys to Become Men of Character, author Rick Johnson offers men straight-forward advice on how to be better dads.
Detailing his own struggle with fatherhood before his conversion to Christ, Johnson sympathizes with the overwhelming feelings of inadequacy that can accompany the parenting journey while reassuring fathers that God has chosen them for this special role in the family. Throughout the book, Johnson offers practical advice on key topics including male bonding, spiritual leadership, and self-discipline that can benefit dads with newborns and dads with twenty-somethings alike.
What I loved most about Better Dads, Stronger Sons was not only the encouragement it offers men as they strive to be the dads God designed them to be, but also that it approaches fatherhood with a generational perspective, reminding fathers that not only are they raising men, but they are creating a generational inheritance of fatherhood as they raise future dads.
As the first Father’s Day for my husband, Johnson’s book was truly a special gift offering the encouragement to truly pause and ask “What type of Father would I like to be?” while offering practical advice to help carry the answer out.
Book review by Dawn Lunsford, Heartbeat International eLearning Specialist.
By Jor-El Godsey, Heartbeat International President
While walking through the parking lot after visiting a superstore, my wife and I were joking about the labels CEO and CFO and who, in our household, they applied to. Since she has a degree in accounting, you can guess what I was lobbying for.
My then five-year-old son was in between us walking hand-in-hand, taking this all in. He stopped suddenly and looked up at me with a glint in his eye and said, “You’re the D-A-D.”
As I reflect on that moment, I understand that the reality of “D-A-D” is one that unfolds over a parent’s lifetime. Though motherhood might be more obvious, fatherhood also experiences transitions. Even before a man knows he’s a father, he has already begun the process of becoming one in more than just physical ways. How he responds to that will determine what type of “D-A-D” he can or will be.
In the pregnancy help world, we see too many examples of those who’ve rejected the role of father. Often we might find reasons to agree why a certain young man is not ready to serve in a fathering role to his own child. When our earthly wisdom leads us this way we might be tempted to champion single-parenting or feel more compelled to promote adoption. While there are certainly reasons to do both, we must be careful not to slight the call to fatherhood upon each man.
We must always remember that our Father God is actively working to reproduce Himself in each of us. He has inscribed on the heart of every man the source of good fathering. While earthly examples fail – sometimes miserably so – the Ancient of Days continues to sow seeds into the hearts of each generation. As believers and missionaries in this unique mission field we’ve been called to, we must be careful not to discard this reality.
The God of the Universe has divinely inspired both fatherhood and motherhood. He has established the most basic social unit – the family. Though our wayward culture and secularized media rails against every aspect of family, it remains His idea and His glory in its fulfillment.
As the focus is on Fathers this month, remember part of what we do is sow the godly seeds of family – motherhood, and fatherhood. The harvest of our seed should include more than babies born, but also marriages and families. Just as we seek to inspire the mothering instinct in the women we serve, we should always be mindful of the opportunities we have to inspire fathering. We can take heart that the Lord, in His wisdom, has also placed a complimentary calling upon fathers.
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