Heartbeat’s Annual Conference, for all intents and purposes, is a weeklong event for Heartbeat staff, if you include planning, raising funds to attend, jetlag, the whirl of conference keynotes and workshops, more jetlag, recovery, and then bringing all that learning and understanding into your centers. It is hard, tiring, refreshing, and exhilarating work all at once. But, of course, we all feel it is worth it, or else we would not undertake the planning (or the jetlag).
Every Tribe. Every Nation.
For me, hands down, the best moment is watching the Parade of Nations, when every nation represented in the Heartbeat family bears their nation’s flag in the grand ballroom of the hotel. I do not participate in the parade, but I get to watch it from the back of the room. Almost always, through tears, I observe as nation after nation is called forth – from Albania to Zimbabwe – and ninety-one nations in between are called forth: Burundi, Kazakhstan, Pakistan, Norway, Sweden, Tanzania, and Uganda. It evokes tears around a room of 1200-1400 people, most of whom may never have the opportunity to visit most of their pregnancy help family members around the world. It is a beautiful, awe-inspiring, and humbling moment. Take a moment and click on the link to watch the 2023 Parade of Nations at the Breakthrough Conference in Louisville.
Why does a 6–7-minute parade of nations stimulate such a strong reaction from our affiliates, both USA based and internationally based? For me, I am responding to the unspoken but demonstrated reality that our God is on the move – He is up to something big. We all get to be a part of this movement of God, a movement that is so much bigger than any one person or nation, and best of all, God is at the head of the Parade. He is the one who leads us in a sure and certain triumph. The Parade is to display the splendor of His work, His character, and His glory.
An Unexpected Opportunity
Some opportunities are more unexpected than others. And we are excited about some opportunities more than others. Last March, Heartbeat was invited to participate in a panel discussion at the United Nations (UN). We were not expecting the opportunity, and as one of the two persons who participated, I must confess my feelings of hesitation, anxiety, and, at the same time, the honor I felt to speak at the UN on behalf of Heartbeat. The UN is not known for its willingness to embrace the pro-life movement, or for having a pro-life stance.
Unfortunately, it is often a forum for promoting and financially supporting abortion and anti-family values and initiatives; it may be said that the United Nations is a hostile environment for individuals and nations with pro-life positions. Heartbeat was given nine minutes to speak on the heart and work of the pregnancy help movement in Latin America, buttressing the thesis of the panel: pregnancy support and resources for women in unplanned pregnancies is women’s health care that all women need and deserve, which is the clarion call of the Geneva Consensus Declaration .
‘Yes to Life’ Showcased at United Nations
Following remarks by H.E. Ms. Carla Maria Rodríguez Mancia, Representative, from the Permanent Mission of Guatemala to the United Nations, Valerie Huber, Director of the Institute for Women’s Health, and other pro-family organizations based in Central America and Guatemala, Heartbeat was able to showcase the work of Centro Ayuda Para de la Mujer (CAM), and specifically of its affiliate in Guatemala, Si a la Vida (Yes to Life). Guatemala is a small Central American country with a population of approximately 17 million people, and just one pregnancy help center to serve its population.
For Si a la Vida, a CAM/Heartbeat affiliate, that has meant serving and resourcing over 3,000 women who received free gynecological care, over 2,500 who received mental health help, and 743 women who were helped with post-abortion trauma care. If we are talking about aftercare for the woman and the family, it looked like 232,660 packages of diapers distributed free of charge, and 928 baby kits. It also looked like pregnancy tests and food resources; all of this was accomplished through a team of volunteers and over the years, resulting in the lives of 6,668 babies blessing their mothers and families. Click here to listen to Heartbeat’s presentation. If you are Spanish speaking, click here for the entire panel discussion.
It was an honor to represent Heartbeat, and to represent, not only CAM and Si a la Vida, but all of you in the Heartbeat family of affiliates. Thank you for being part of the opportunity to showcase the display of God’s splendor in what you do every day in the public square of your communities, villages, cities, and nations. For CAM, that has meant serving tens of thousands of women in unplanned pregnancies, offering resources and essentials for every woman to be able to make a choice for life through its network of 71 National CAMs and 135 International CAMs in 20 countries, having a total of 206 CAM centers. You yourselves know what pregnancy help has looked like in your country.
Every Moment You Serve, You Proclaim
As much of an honor as it is, let’s be honest. It is difficult, scary, challenging, and humbling to be in the public square waving a pro-life flag. Maybe you are not waving a literal flag, but you are waving a flag in every action, every moment you serve a woman in an unplanned pregnancy, every time you choose to take the counter-cultural step of reaching and rescuing the woman in an unplanned pregnancy. Every can of formula you deliver, every alternative to abortion you offer, every time you open the doors to your center or maternity home, every ultrasound you offer, and every minute you spend listening to her fears and obstacles to carrying her baby to term, you are waving a flag that proclaims to your nation, “I am here for the mothers and daughters of my country.”
Heartbeat thanks you for waving the pregnancy help flag in your country, day after day, week after week, and year after year. It may look like a discussion at a table at the United Nations or look like carrying your national flag at our Annual Conference . It may look like pregnancy help centers going into the very halls of legislative bodies to present the good work that pregnancy help centers do every day. We know that every day looks like compassionate care: reaching and rescuing women in unplanned pregnancies, even in communities that oppose and oppress you. And every day, it looks like women being rescued, babies being saved, families being restored, and communities being renewed.