Monday, February 25, 2013

Monday musing: Variations on a (post-abortion) theme

Post-abortion ministry occupies a large space in the pro-life community, partly because so many women who've had abortions find validation in it. Here's a community that agrees with them that abortion is bad and should be stopped. Here's a community that understands why it hurts and has given them voice. It makes them feel at home, while the pro-choice movement denies them a place.

Everyone in the pro-life movement knows abortion does something irreparable to the unborn baby. For that reason, we also know it's something a person can come to look back on with deep regret. Yet, it's also something from which a person can recover. On that basis, most pro-life ministries reach out to post-abortive people with open arms, offering support groups to women as well as men. 

Not all methods for dealing with past abortions are created equal, however. If the question is, "What should a person do with the pain or guilt of abortion?" we can understand there'd be quite a wide divergence of answers because there are various assumptions or beliefs concerning sin and redemption.

Some in the pro-life movement deny the reality of guilt and a God who demands an accounting for actions. They deal with post-abortion pain solely on the basis of psychology. Because the psychological risks and complications of abortion have been well documented, it's helpful for therapists to inquire about a woman's abortion history and watch for adverse reactions. It helps if counselors affirm the difficulties associated with abortion, but this may not go far enough.

Other approaches deal with the problem spiritually, but tend to "specialize" abortion by emphasizing it over other sins. To be sure, abortion is special in the way it often compounds sins -- from sexual immorality to secrecy and the taking of an innocent human life. Post-abortion "syndrome" or "trauma" also manifests itself in an array of powerful emotions -- anger, grief, despair -- that may not be involved in the aftermath of other sins. Nevertheless, pastors and other Christian counselors should be able to talk about forgiveness from abortion in much the same way as they would deal with someone over any sin.

Several post-abortion books suffer from sloppy, or non-existent, editing. Post-abortion suffering ought not to be so special that books or Bible studies about it are exempt from theological review. Indeed, because abortion is such a pervasive problem -- with something like 43% of US women having an abortion in their lifetime -- it deserves serious attention from pastors and theologians.

Sloppy theology yields these extra-biblical recommendations:

  • Visualizing the aborted baby alive in heaven, in the arms of a loving Jesus.
  • Asking God to reveal the aborted baby's name so that forgiveness can be sought and obtained from the baby. 
  • Forgiving oneself when bad feelings persist.

Nowhere in Scripture do we find a basis for these practices. On the contrary, Christ died to pay the penalty for our sin. If God's word says Christ's work on the cross is the basis for justification, then we must accept it as fact, no matter what it is we've done. Faith like this honors God. Our feelings will follow.

As we've evaluated various methods of post-abortion ministry that claim to be based on the Bible, we've found other things to watch out for:
  • Making the cross of Jesus more about our pain, particularly the pain of abortion, than about satisfying the holiness of God. Christ died for the pain that our sin caused God. The best post-abortion books and Bible studies will put God's holiness first.
  • Failing to use biblical terms -- exchanging a weighty concept such as "being reconciled to God" with "healing." Sin is not a sickness and "health" is not an adequate substitution for "justification." 
  • Similarly, many programs urge people to "embrace God's love" rather than "believing" Christ or "receiving" His forgiveness.
  • Speaking of forgiveness apart from salvation in Christ, as though that were possible.

Here are some resources that are God-centered and deliberately careful in their explanations of sin and redemption:
  • Living in His Forgiveness, by Sandy Day (Caleb Ministries)
  • Forgiven and Set Free, by Linda Cochrane
  • Binding Up the Brokenhearted, from Healing Hearts 
  • Healing a Father's Heart (for men), by Linda Cochrane and Kathy Jones
  • Reconciled, an online course for men

Some post-abortion ministries prefer to draw women in who aren't ready for talk of God or participation in a Bible study. Surrendering the Secret, by Pat Layton (Lifeway) starts out focusing on women's pain in abortion but is faithful in its closing message about God's holiness and her need of forgiveness for sin.

Other reliable resources:

Friday, February 22, 2013

Friday feature: Jerusalem, Samaria . . .

This week we presented our rationale for partnering with pro-life ministry overseas, but on Saturday our prayer partners will focus on pregnancy center ministries in our home state. Basically we're featuring Margaret Horvath, who heads up both a PCC and a statewide alliance of PCCs.

Margaret is the executive director of Heartbeat of Monroe, "a faith-based, non-profit, life affirming, pregnancy care and resource center serving the Monroe County Area since 1973." Alliance for Life of Michigan is a loose-knit coalition of PCCs that "works to promote, nurture, unite and expand" life-affirming organizations throughout the state.

Heartbeat of Monroe is one of 34 Michigan centers listed on our website as either an associate or one with which we have a close working relationship. We didn't help start Heartbeat, but Margaret has attended our Summits; we were instrumental in the establishment of the Alliance.

According to, there are at least 46 organizations offering alternatives to abortion within a 100 mile radius of Grand Rapids, our Jerusalem. The Pregnancy Decision Line lists 49 such services in the state, although their list doesn't include every PCC.

That's probably 49 more than are available in entire countries of the developing world. It's helpful to keep that perspective in mind, as a reason to go to "the uttermost parts of the world."

Prayer request: For Tom, Ray, and John as they wing their way to the Philippines today for two weeks of training and consultation with pro-life ministries.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Tuesday prayer: For pro-life ministries overseas

I've been "chatting" via Facebook with a friend in Kenya this morning. He opened the conversation thanking me for my posts, and said he enjoys emailing them to others. He wishes he could share them with even more people, but faces some limitations that are almost unimaginable to Americans.

In my musing yesterday I listed four challenges that overseas pro-life ministry must overcome in comparison to what we face. Here's a fifth: lack of electricity. 

Most people in places like Kenya don't have consistent, available electric power. Many also lack computers, cell phones, and Internet access. If they able to download pro-life resources, they might lack laser printers and paper, or the money to have copies made.

I asked what communication methods are available to him and he replied, "holding workshops."

When you think about it, that isn't a bad method. It's similar to the way the Gospel spread in the 1st century. Even here in the States, where everybody has multiple means of communication, one-on-one conversation is still the best way to share compassion and attempt to persuade. 

Please pray for Stephen, and others like him, who urgently desire to spread the message about the sanctity of human life and the dangers of abortion, but lack even the most basic resources that we take for granted.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Monday musing: The case for pro-life missions overseas

Corrected 2/19/13: This week Tom Lothamer, president of Life Matters Worldwide, will fly to the Philippines with Ray Paget, our former executive director, and John McCastle, a new board member and the president of Ultrasounds for Life.

They'll be meeting with our partners in pro-life ministry, including Melisa Serata (who does abstinence education in schools) and Dr. Mae Corvera (who leads LIFT ministries at her church and others in Manila).

The trip will be costly -- both in terms of time and money. Some might wonder, why not concentrate on needs here in the U.S. Aren't they pressing enough? Why be "worldwide"?

Indeed the need for pro-life ministry in the U.S. is great, and we must continue to develop and promote alternatives to abortion and euthanasia. Many resources are already devoted to this cause.

In fact, Kurt Dillinger of LIFE International has said that something like 90 percent of U.S. pro-life dollars are spent in this country while 90 percent of the world's abortions occur elsewhere.

That's a sobering thought. Even more difficult to swallow is the responsibility America bears, because we have exported abortion to the world.

The Guttmacher Institute is pro-abortion and connected
with International Planned Parenthood Federation.
How is that possible? Consider two countries: Romania and South Africa. They both achieved new levels of democratic freedoms in the 1990s, and both looked to the U.S. for a model to follow. What did they see? Among other things, legalized abortion on demand. Sadly, as they threw off an old bondage they replaced it with a new one. Today Romania has one of the world's highest rates of abortion.

Life Matters Worldwide has been to both countries to help missionaries and nationals respond to the crises created by sexual immorality and its consequences: abortion and sexually transmitted diseases. In Romania, we helped establish the Clinica ProVita group of pregnancy care centers; in South Africa we trained church members to offer LIFT services to people dying of AIDS.

If you think passing pro-life laws is an uphill battle in the U.S., consider that the task of pro-life ministry in other countries is even more Sisyphean. Depending on the administration in power, the U.S. often ties foreign aid to a recipient country's liberalization of abortion laws. We Christians, therefore, owe an even greater debt to Christians in other countries to help them fight abortion.

Pro-lifers in other countries face added challenges, such as:

  • A lack of biblical teaching on the sanctity of human life, even in churches
  • A lack of understanding about human development and what abortion does to the unborn
  • A lack of respect for women
  • A lack of resources*

Life Matters Worldwide is positioned to help people overseas overcome the first three hurdles, but the last is most difficult. We want to avoid making Third World ministries dependent on the so-called First World for support. Nevertheless, many people in other parts of the world who have a great desire to do pro-life ministry must spend a good share of their day simply surviving.

I think of Bentina Alusi who runs the Kibera Community Counselling and Pregnancy Crisis Centre in the world's largest slum (outside Nairobi, Kenya). By our standards she has very little but, like the poor woman of Luke 21:1-4, she gives all she has.

At one point soon after the center opened in 2009, Bentina was counseling with 15 girls a day, two days a week. Missionaries reported that the church that her husband pastors grew because of her ministry through the center. From a small seed comes great harvest! Similar results have been had through PCC ministry in Lima, Peru.

Volunteering at a pregnancy center or AIDS hospice is a luxury that few in developing nations can afford, therefore ministries in these parts of the world are well served if we help them devise strategies for sustaining pro-life work. A few years ago, for instance, we were blessed to be able to give one center in South Asia a grant toward the establishment of a pharmacy to generate income.

God has given Life Matters both the desire and the opportunity to join with others in pro-life ministry overseas. So far He's also supplied resources to enable us to help in small but significant ways. Please pray for Tom, Ray, and John as they make this trip, for Mae and Melisa as they organize the visit, and for the people in the Philippines who will be trained.

We receive new requests every week. Today there was one from a person in Kenya. Ask God to give us wisdom and grace as we steward both funds and opportunities, and as we respond to people.

Truly, life matters worldwide.

*Read about a fifth challenge here.

Related: Go for the Yahtzee -- an interesting take on helping people help themselves

Friday, February 15, 2013

Friday feature: Pennsylvania PCCs

Today our prayer partners will focus attention on two pregnancy care centers in the Keystone State: Lifeline PCC in Millersburg and Delaware County Pregnancy Center in Chester.

We've had a relationship with PA centers ever since 1987 when we helped establish Pennsylvania Baptists for Life & Families and trained their members for pro-life ministry.

Other PA centers that are (or have been) associates of Life Matters Worldwide:

Amnion Crisis Pregnancy Centers, Drexel Hill (Upper Darby)
Chester County Women's Services, Coatesville & West Chester
Cornerstone Pregnancy Care Services, Gap
Genesis Pregnancy Care Center, Pottstown

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Thankful Thursday: God's Word

God's word not only forms the basis for the sanctity-of-human-life ethic and gives us the prime motive for pro-life ministry, it also holds out the hope of forgiveness of the sin of abortion.

But we also take so much comfort from it for the daily problems and trials of life. As we seek from Him our "daily bread," we remember "man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord." (Deut. 8:3 and Matthew 4:4).

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Tuesday prayer: May God grant them repentance

In yesterday's musing we noted that, lacking the language of "good" and "evil," abortion advocates miss out on repentance and forgiveness of sins. Ponder these verses as you ask God to grant them repentance:
The Lord is not slow . . . but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance. 2 Peter 3:9
The kindness of God leads to repentance. Romans 2:4
The sorrow that is according to the will of God produces a repentance without regret, leading to salvation, but the sorrow of the world produces death. 2 Corinthians 7:10
The God of our fathers raised up Jesus . . . whom God exalted to His right hand as a Prince and a Savior, to grant repentance . . . and forgiveness of sins. Acts 5:30-31
You are witnesses that repentance for forgiveness of sins would be proclaimed in Jesus' name to all the nations. Luke 24:47-48
Christ came to call sinners to repentance. Luke 5:32
There is joy in heaven over every sinner who repents. Luke 15:7

Monday, February 11, 2013

Monday musing: The language of choice

In last Monday's "What's wrong with 'choice'?" we noted the abortion establishment's recent abandonment of the "pro-choice" label, and that it seems to indicate their inability to come to terms with the consequences of choice. That inability results in a stunted vocabulary.

Because advocates refuse to think about abortion as something for which we're answerable to a holy God, they imagine there's nothing to "repent," nothing to be "forgiven." These terms are foreign to them. "Right" and "wrong," "good" and "bad" are, therefore, purely self-oriented. The only question is, "Will abortion help me in my present circumstance?"

They fall into the trap of thinking the experience of sin teaches whether it is, indeed, sin. Their thinking goes something like this: "If, after I've done it, I have negative feelings, it may have been the wrong decision for me at that time. But it may be okay for you, or for me at another time. Who am I to judge?" Abortion decisions are perfect test-cases for the post-modern worldview.

The Bible, however, tells us why we're incapable of recognizing sin or its effects, and why we're never better off  having experienced it. God not only expects us to avoid sin by learning from the experiences of others, but implores us by special revelation to submit solely to His explanation of what sin is and does.

In one very enigmatic statement, Jesus told His disciples to be "shrewd as serpents and innocent as doves." This finds its parallel in Jeremiah 4:22, to the negative effect --
My people are foolish, they know Me not;
They are stupid children and have no understanding.
They are shrewd to do evil, but to do good they do not know.
In Romans 16:19, Paul recasts Jesus' words: "I want you to be wise in what is good and innocent in what is evil." He says it another way in 1 Corinthians 14:20: "Brethren, do not be children in your thinking; yet in evil be infants, but in your thinking be mature."

As we learn in Proverbs, it is possible for the "simple" (young or inexperienced person) to avoid becoming a "fool" or  "scoffer" and instead move on toward "wisdom"  and "maturity" through "prudence" and "understanding." Such terms are sorely lacking in the language of choice. 

According to the Bible, how do we become wise and mature? The journey begins with fearing the Lord, and often is reinforced through rote obedience. We make further progress by rigorously keeping to the well-lit but narrow way and avoiding the paths of violent men and wanton women. How many abortions would have been avoided if the warning of Proverbs 1 had been heeded?
My son, if sinners entice you, do not consent.
If they say, “Come with us, let us lie in wait for blood,
Let us ambush the innocent without cause;
Let us swallow them alive like Sheol,
Even whole, as those who go down to the pit;
. . . My son, do not walk in the way with them.
Keep your feet from their path,
For their feet run to evil and they hasten to shed blood.
. . . But they lie in wait for their own blood; they ambush their own lives.
So are the ways of everyone who gains by violence;
It takes away the life of its possessors.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Friday feature: Women & Teens of Pontiac

In addition to helping people affected by unplanned pregnancies, the main goal of Women & Teens Pregnancy Center of Pontiac, Michigan, is glorifying God. Not only do they help by offering physical and emotional support, but they also aim to lead clients to salvation in Christ and fellowship with a local church.

Women & Teens was one of the first centers that Life Matters (then Baptists for Life) helped start. A steering committee was formed in 1986 to explore the possibility of opening a center on the other side of the state -- one year after our "flagship" Alpha Women's Center opened in Grand Rapids. 

The Pontiac center officially opened its doors June 15, 1988. According to their website, thousands of clients have been served since that day, ranging in ages from eleven on up. "Over 20,000 calls have come in on our 24-Hour Helpline. Our goal is to share Christ with each client who comes through our doors, and if a client professes Christ as Savior, to try to match her up with a local, fundamental, baptistic church."

In 1998, Women & Teens moved to 263 Cesar Chavez Avenue when a permanent building and parking lot was given to them. "We continue to counsel women against abortion and towards Christ. We also have a Learn & Earn Program which has given us many more opportunities to witness as many clients do Bible studies in order to earn the points with which to 'buy' baby items."

Carol Baldwin is the current director. A nurse and former missionary to Bangladesh, she served as the founding director of Flint Crisis Pregnancy Services. For a time after that she served as Baptists for Life's Development Director for Crisis Pregnancy Centers, training other new centers and helping us revise our training manual. Having served on the boards of the Flint center, BFL, and Women & Teens, she knows every aspect of pregnancy center ministry.

Find them on Facebook

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Tuesday prayer: For advocates of abortion

We've prayed for the abortion doctors, nurses, and other clinic workers. Let's also pray for the Nancy Northrups, Cecile Richards, and Ilyse Hogues of the world.* These are leaders of some of the most powerful pro-abortion groups in America. They're backed by many thinkers and writers . . . too many to mention.

Salon writer Mary Elizabeth Williams is one of them. She recently put her name to, "So what if abortion ends life?" in which she admits abortion kills a human being and that she doesn't care. She's unfortunately not alone. Here's a summary of what other abortion activists have said or written in the past.

Rather than repenting in shame, they imagine they're upholding freedom. Religious abortion advocates give them cover, as noted yesterday. They don't know they're spiritually blind and peddling spiritual bondage.

Remember, the battle over abortion isn't just political or philosophical. It isn't an argument over semantics. "Freedom of choice" is a spiritual problem. Sadly, this worldview doesn't just affect the influencers; it's  sways young hearts and minds. Only the grace of God will turn hearts. Pray!

*Nancy Northrup is the president and CEO of the Center for Reproductive Rights; Cecile Richards is the president of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America; Ilyse Hogue is the new president of NARAL Pro-Choice America.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Monday musing: What's wrong with "choice"?

A lot has been written lately about abortion advocates dropping the "pro-choice" label.
While I can understand why they don't want to be "pro-abortion," I'm not all that clear on why they're suddenly anti-"choice." It seems they regret not nabbing "pro-life" before we did. Of course, I think "pro-death" seems more appropriate, but I was willing to give them "choice."

This very public shrugging-off of a label (which they, ironically, chose) is like a gawky teenager who can't quite find comfortable clothes. Why are our opponents having such a hard time?

I think it's because they've always been unwilling to come to terms with the consequences of choice. They have habitually wanted to have their cake without calories.

Some do admit abortion ends life, but instead of taking that to heart and saying, "You know what, that choice isn't worth it" or "This is a bad choice," they persist in upholding the freedom to choose abortion at all costs. In the language of Proverbs, that would be the definition of foolishness.

Religious abortion advocates argue from the free will angle. God made us with a mind and a will, they reason, therefore we have the right to choose.

Well, yes, but from Eden on we've seen where that's taken us. As Isaiah 53:6 shows, we have all exercised freedom of choice and to that God has attached His own label: "iniquity."

The end of choice

So what's the point of abandoning "pro-choice"? Is it an admission that the exercise of choice isn't an end in itself? I don't think they're there yet, but maybe it's an opening. If only they could bring themselves to make a good confession, starting with the words of Jeremiah 8:6 -- "What have I done?" If only they wouldn't continue headlong on a reckless path.

Choices have consequences. They either make God smile or frown. That's Theology 101.

Abortion rights advocates often say, "Although I'd never have one, I'll fight for your right to abortion." But why never have one if abortion is morally neutral? Why are they so like the Fonz, never able to admit, "It's w-w-w-wr-wrong"?

They emphasize the agony of the process of choosing abortion over any physical agony the aborted child might experience. It's as though the pain of the abortion decision will validate its choice, mitigate any "wrongness," and temper any future pangs of remorse the woman might feel.

Abortion advocates say, "Abortion may not be a good choice, but it's less bad than others," (i.e., living in poverty due to having this child, being unable to cope with a disabled child, having less to give my children already born, etc.). Such excuses may help justify abortion to themselves, but can they do so successfully with God? Have they consulted Him or sought His help avoiding abortion? Have they actually found Him wanting, or just assumed He doesn't care and can't help?

When a woman is pregnant, she has three options: give birth and parent, give birth and release the child for adoption, or have the child aborted. Each choice has permanent consequences. No responsible pro-life person would ever say carrying a child and giving birth is without pain and hardship, or that parenting is always joyful. Adoption is its own kind of hard. But abortion is a whole other thing altogether.

Abortion means a child is dead. A unique human life is gone from us into eternity. In more ways than one, abortion is the end of choice.

In an NPR interview Friday, an author identified her book's main character as a "bad choicer." She goes on to describe him:
I don't think he's an irredeemable bad person. I think he's a bad, bad choicer. Part of what's wonderful about writing, and reading too, is you can see yourself on the same continuum, you know, to wonder, 'What would I do, if I were more desperate than I am? Or am I three or four mistakes away from doing something like this, something unimaginable to me right now?' 
Some choices are bad; some people choose badly. Abortion is, or ought to be, in the category of "unimaginable choices."

Many women today look back on their abortions with deep regret. Yet, like the character in the book, they are not irredeemably bad. Having examined abortion and the thought-process that led them to it, they've repented before God and accepted His forgiveness in Christ. They now warn others away from the brink.

The consequences of our choice

What about the consequences of being pro-life? Have each of us reckoned with how it obligates us to help pregnant women? Do we expect them to make hard choices without our lending a hand or an ear? Are we trusting God with them for help avoiding temptation? Are we living by the faith we say we have?

Related: A Christian appeals to his pro-choice neighbor

Friday, February 1, 2013

Friday feature: Billboard update

We featured Garden of Hope's billboard campaign back in October. Today, an email from them requested prayer for a new post-abortion Bible study just starting. This sentence was really exciting to read: "Three of the participants came because of our fall billboard campaign."

A leader of the group mentioned the women "seem to be at different places spiritually, but they still knowingly came to a Bible-based study." They'll be working through Pat Layton's Surrendering the Secret.

How you can pray:
  • That all the participants will return next week and for the duration, even though their wounds are deep. "It is possible that they've avoided the truth for some time because it is so painful to remember.
  • For group leaders Karen and Michelle
  • For there to be no hindrances to healing and forgiveness
  • For all to discover freedom and joy in Jesus Christ

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Working Wednesday: The Summit

Our two-day conference for pregnancy care center staff, volunteers, and board members isn't until June 20-21, but we're busy planning it now. Workshop ideas are gelling into a well-rounded schedule, speakers are being contacted, exhibitors will be invited. Then a brochure will be designed and mailed to PCCs across the country. Soon after that we'll begin taking registrations.

Sol Pitchon
This annual event began in the 1990s, with just a few partner directors sitting around a table in our office. We'd discuss common problems and needs. It grew to include one or two speakers of interest. Eventually we moved to an outside location, invited more speakers, and opened it up to other centers. 

This year our main speaker is Sol Pitchon of New Life Solutions, a PCC in Largo, Florida. He has a very interesting personal story to tell and thoroughly understands the issues facing centers. We're also going to ask area pastors to join us for a couple sessions with Sol the first morning.

Workshop speakers will focus on ministry to men, sidewalk counseling, the special challenges that rural centers face, leadership, evangelism, and other important topics.

New location this year: The Kent ISD Conference Center.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Tuesday prayer: Abortion doctors

We missed our Monday Musing this week, but last week's Friday Feature was pretty thought-provoking as it reflected on how the news often casts the plight of abortion doctors in a pitiful light. Digging a little deeper, other writers have unearthed facts that lend themselves to a different interpretation.

It would be easy to despise these doctors and the people who work with them, but we must not. We must pray for them, asking God to turn their hearts to the children and toward Him.

Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who commits sin is the slave of sin. . . . if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed." --John 8:34,36

May they indeed find repentance and forgiveness!

UPDATE 2/5/13: Answer to prayer! Operation Rescue reports that two Michigan abortionists -- Alberto Hodari and his associate, abortionist Enrique Gerbi -- have retired and allowed their medical licenses to lapse. Other long-time abortionists -- Jacob Kalo and Theodore Roumell -- are replacing them. They all need Christ!

Blogger Jill Stanek adds a couple statistics from Right to Life of Michigan: "[A]t one time there were 72 abortion clinics in Michigan. Now there are 29 surgical abortion clinics, and two medical, or 31 total – 43% of what once was. In 1987 there were 49,098 babies killed by abortion. In 2011 that number had been cut to less than half, 23,366, or by 52%."

Friday, January 25, 2013

Friday feature: Abortion doctors

The media is always full of stories about abortion in January, but this being the 40th anniversary there seems to be an added focus. I've noticed a trend of feature articles putting a positive spin on the lives of abortion doctors:

This bias is countered by these stories:

I could go on, but you get the idea. Just be sure not to miss these two articles:

Please pray for abortion doctors and their supporters. They need the Savior. The truth will set them free (John 8:34,36).

UPDATE: Two stories from the week of 2/8/13 add to the pile of "things that abortion clinics must answer for" -- Carhart Patient Dead From Horrific 33-Week Abortion Injuries and Ambulance Transported Another Sella Patient to Hospital Moments Before Board Dismissed Negligence Charges

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Thankful Thursday: Pastoral advisors

Yesterday, Dr. John Watson joined us to lead morning devotions. He's the pastor of Standale Baptist Church in Standale, MI, and one of our pastoral advisors.

These pastors serve as a sounding board on proposed programs and theological issues. They also nurture us through these times around God's word and prayer. We are very grateful to God for their input.

Pastor Watson took us to Exodus 15 where the people of Israel learned that God is the One who heals. We asked God to help us recognize difficulties as tests of faith, and that those tests are opportunities to cry out to Him and see Him provide. May we be more like Moses in that, and not by like the people who complained!

Our other pastoral advisors:
Bill Abernathy, Jr. - Berean Baptist Church in Portage, MI
Burland Margesson - retired
Jeff Halsted - Calvary Baptist Church in Grand Rapids, MI
Ken Floyd - MARBC representative
Ray Paget - Grand Haven (MI) Community Baptist Church
Steve Harduk - Falls Road Baptist Church in Rocky Mount, NC
Richard Liverance - Kentwood (MI) Baptist Church

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Working Wednesday: Mailing out banquet invitations

It's the time of year for invitations to out banquet to go out. Chuck has printed them, and now Winnie and Julie are packaging sets to mail to the table hosts that Rebecca and Tom have enlisted.

You're welcome to join us! And invite your friends!!

Our banquet is at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday March 14 at Frederik Meijer Gardens in Grand Rapids, MI. Our speaker is Dave Bereit of 40 Days for Life.

Get more details and reserve your spot at the table online. Attendance is free of charge, but we need to know who's coming. (The cost per person is valued at $35.) We're still accepting table hosts!

Even if you can't attend, you may help Life Matters Worldwide by underwriting the event. Thank you!

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Tuesday prayer: To end abortion

This, the 40th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, as thousands gather in our nation's capitol for the March for Life, let's all pray for the end of abortion. May God grant us the mercy . . . the will . . . the hope to see it done.

CORRECTION: The March for Life is Friday.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Monday musing: 40 years too long, 55 million too many

Tomorrow marks the 40th anniversary of the infamous Roe v. Wade decision legalizing abortion in this country. Most Supreme Court cases fade into history, but this one remains far from settled.

All you have to do is glance at recent headlines to find evidence of that. The news this time of year is full of stories about where we are as a nation as a result of Roe -- pro and con. Depending on the point of view, the stories usually reference how far there is left to go in "securing abortion rights," or how much ground we've gained toward full protection of unborn babies' right to life.

One recurring theme concerns numbers: How many abortions there have been since 1973 (54,559,615 in the U.S.*); how many per year worldwide (approximately 44 million*); how many pro-life laws have been passed; or how many tax-dollars Planned Parenthood gets from the government each day ($1.5 million).

Numbers can boggle the mind, but don't tend to move people to lasting action. They seem to only make us angry or overwhelm us into inaction. And then we're on to the next atrocity.

Meanwhile, which side is winning or losing is scored with as much precision as presidential election polling, but we really don't know the pro-life side has won until a "vote" is cast . . . until a woman chooses life for her child. And we only get that information if we're privy to the counseling room in a pregnancy care center, or to conversations taking place on the sidewalk at an abortion clinic.

You can also feel closer to the "action" through involvement with a pro-life ministry as a regular supporter and/or prayer warrior. If you're not enlisted that way already, I recommend finding a "front lines" pro-life ministry to pray for. Choose one that's good at communicating prayer requests on a regular (even daily) basis via Facebook, Twitter, or email. It could be a pregnancy center in your  neighborhood or across the ocean. We can make recommendations.

Numbers in the millions are too many to fathom, so concentrate on one at a time. One baby at risk. One mom tempted by abortion. One pregnancy care center offering abortion alternatives.

One life lost is too many. You can be sure one life is on the line right now.

One life at a time is, after all, what God demands an accounting of. In Genesis 9:5, He said:

"From every man, from every man’s brother I will require the life of man."

As God demanded an accounting from Cain over the loss of Abel, so God will demand from someone an account of every unborn baby lost to abortion. He doesn't miss a single one, even if the official counters do. The blood of the innocents cries out to Him (Gen. 4:10, Psalm 9:12).

America will have a lot of explaining to do, for first legalizing abortion and then exporting it around the world.

There's one more that needs our attention: the woman regretting her abortion at this moment. She needs to hear of the blood of Jesus "that speaks better word than the blood of Abel." It's a word of invitation, not accusation. He wants her to unload her burden of sin at His feet. He's offering forgiveness and a new life. We are privileged to bear that message.

*We're forced to rely on abortion providers and the government for figures on abortion because otherwise we'd have no access to them. Corrected 1/22/13: The link given above is to a National Right to Life compilation of figures through 2011; adding another year of 1.2 million abortions to the that total yields 55,772.015 abortions since Roe v. Wade.

Roe v. Wade month - part 1, part 2

Friday, January 18, 2013

Friday feature: AWC Des Moines & Ankeny

Alpha Women’s Center of Des Moines, Iowa, opened in 1995 and recently added a satellite center in nearby Ankeny. In that time they've served countless women. 

Their website notes that, "The average age of our clients is between 15-19 years old. The next common group consists of clients 20-24 years old." Additional data breaks down this way --

Caucasian – 57%
Latino – 21.3%
Afro-American – 14.5%
Other – 7.2%

Religious affiliation:
Catholic – 21.3%
Baptist – 10%
Non-affiliated – 20%
Penecostal – 9%
Other – 39.7%

Executive Director Linda Albertson and her team are rejoicing over the Ankeny center's new facility. Please pray with them that the new location and updated signage will lead more women to their doors.

Find them on Facebook

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Thankful Thursday: Mystery box

What's better than the smooth, creamy, frozen deliciousness of ice cream . . . even in the dead of a (frigid yet snowless) Michigan winter?

This morning an intriguing package arrived via the UPS man, all white styrofoam and blocks of ice. It was Colleen Tronson's way of rewarding us for being her shipping department as she had us send bulletin inserts directly to her center's supporting churches. (Normally PCCs order in bulk and do the deliveries, but that didn't work out for Colleen this year.)

We were happy to help her. We don't need any added inducement to get our message out (or the added calories), but rewards sure are nice. Thank you, Lord, for Colleen . . . and for ice cream!

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Working Wednesday: Speaking

This past Sunday, president Tom Lothamer spoke at Haddon Heights Baptist Church in Haddon Heights, New Jersey. He and his wife are able to combine this engagement with seeing their grandchildren and meeting donors.

In addition to updating the church on what Life Matters is doing, Tom spoke from Acts 4 on boldness:

"There is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved.”
Now as they observed the confidence of Peter and John and understood that they were uneducated and untrained men, they were amazed, and began to recognize them as having been with Jesus. And seeing the man who had been healed standing with them, they had nothing to say in reply.

He'll be in the the following churches the next several weeks as they focus on the sanctity of human life:

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Tuesday prayer: Boldness

Pray for continued boldness among leaders of Hobby Lobby and other Christian-owned businesses as they face paying enormous fines or compromising their beliefs. Thank the Lord Hobby Lobby has found a way to avoid the $1.3 million/day fine . . . temporarily.

Pray for these pregnancy care centers in transition: 
  • New directors  -- at Abiding Care PRC in Medford, WI; Modesto (CA) Pregnancy Center; Cradle PCC in Portsmouth, OH; 
  • New facility - praise the Lord for Ankeny (IA) Alpha Women's Center's recent move
  • New name - Harbor Lights Pregnancy & Information Center of Tawas City, MI, changed from "Caring Pregnancy Center"
  • New volunteers - at Sav-A-Life Pregnancy Support Services in Picayne, MS

Monday, January 14, 2013

Monday musing: Speaking up for the "hobby lobby"

There is no "hobby lobby," but maybe there should be -- advocates of crafting everywhere, UNITE!

There is a Christian-owned company by that name, and it has become a focal point in the battle over government intruding on basic religious freedoms.

Earlier this year, Hobby Lobby petitioned the government for relief from the mandate that employers provide insurance covering contraceptives that can cause abortions. The case is still pending appeal, but the Supreme Court recently denied a request for an emergency injunction. Hobby Lobby says it has no intention of complying, and so, beginning on January 1, the government will fine them an unfathomable $1.3 million dollars per day!

In an open letter, CEO David Green lays out the principles that guide the company:
We’re Christians, and we run our business on Christian principles. I’ve always said that the first two goals of our business are (1) to run our business in harmony with God’s laws, and (2) to focus on people more than money. And that’s what we’ve tried to do. We close early so our employees can see their families at night. We keep our stores closed on Sundays, one of the week’s biggest shopping days, so that our workers and their families can enjoy a day of rest. 
We believe that it is by God’s grace that Hobby Lobby has endured, and he has blessed us and our employees. We’ve not only added jobs in a weak economy, we’ve raised wages for the past four years in a row. Our full-time employees start at 80% above minimum wage.
But now, our government threatens to change all of that. . . . Being Christians, we don’t pay for drugs that might cause abortions, which means that we don’t cover emergency contraception, the morning-after pill or the week-after pill. We believe doing so might end a life after the moment of conception, something that is contrary to our most important beliefs. It goes against the Biblical principles on which we have run this company since day one.

. . . So, Hobby Lobby – and my family – are forced to make a choice. . . . My family has lived the American dream. We want to continue growing our company and providing great jobs for thousands of employees, but the government is going to make that much more difficult. The government is forcing us to choose between following our faith and following the law. I say that’s a choice no American – and no American business – should have to make.
Blogger Kevin DeYoung says, "Millions of Americans are already outraged. And rightly so. Our government not only allows for abortion, and celebrates abortion rights, and wants women to have unfettered access to abortion on demand, it now requires other Americans to pay for abortion-inducing drugs or face crippling fines. It is not an endorsement of any political party to conclude that this policy is morally degenerate. More Americans should be alarmed than are already."

Denny Burk agrees: "This is the most egregious violation of religious liberty that I have ever seen." He goes on to explain this case is not about banning contraception. "Nothing could be further from the truth. No one wants to outlaw contraception. This controversy is about the fact that the government is forcing pro-life business owners to pay for chemical abortions. If the federal government can force citizens to purchase items that they believe to be immoral, where will this end?"

And sometimes it's about employers who do see contraception itself as immoral.

To borrow freely from Martin Neimoller:
First they came for Hobby Lobby,
but I didn't speak out because I wasn't crafty . . . or a Christian employer;
then they came for me,
and there was no one left to speak for me.
January 5th was a Hobby Lobby Appreciation Day, but it's going to take more than one day of shopping at the chain of big-box arts and crafts stores to win this battle. Something sacrificial. The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty represents the company in its lawsuit, going as David against the Goliath of the U.S. government. I don't know how much it will take to win, but they are accepting donations.

Hobby Lobby: First martyr under Obamacare?
Contraception coverage heads to high court

Update: Hobby Lobby Delays Obamacare Fines for Now

Friday, January 11, 2013

Friday feature: Faith Baptist Community Center

In our partnerships with missionaries, we're usually talking about helping form pro-life ministries overseas. But in this instance of working with missionaries from Baptist Mid-Missions, we're referring to inner-city Cleveland.

Faith Baptist Community Church and Center was founded in BMM's backyard -- their "Jerusalem" -- and continues to be operated by missionaries from that agency. As director Mike Vanek writes, America’s inner cities cannot be forgotten as fields "ripe for harvest."

The community center offers a wide range of services, including:
  • Meal program
  • Clothing room
  • Medical
  • Pregnancy services
  • Computer classes
  • Interdependent living program
  • Men’s programs
  • Women’s programs
  • Children and Teen programs
  • Sunday School & Church service
  • Prayer meeting
  • Discipleship
Pregnancy services are where we came in to help. In addition to consultation on the start-up of ministry to pregnant women, we helped FBCCC obtain their first ultrasound equipment. They not only offer support at the start of a pregnancy, but help women learn proper pre-natal and infant care through one-on-one and video instruction.

How to help:
  • Pray for Sherri Vanek, the clinical coordinator, and Jen Lake, the pregnancy program coordinator
  • Volunteer opportunities abound
  • Donations are welcome, and not limited to funding - food, paper products, gently used clothing, personal hygiene products, OTC medications and medical supplies, new baby items (check website for details)