Last week, I was blessed to attend the annual Heartbeat International Conference, held in Chicago. The theme was “On a Mission from God,” inspired by the classic 1980 film “The Blues Brothers.” We all received dark sunglasses for fun, and I swear I saw Elwood greeting people at the door!
I attended many of these conferences while I was working at Women’s Care Clinic, and I have continued going because I always learn something new. Not to mention, I just love these people! Seriously, this is a happy bunch who are committed to helping women in need, treasuring babies unborn and born, and encouraging men who feel unprepared to be dads. It’s tough work, but it is all done in love.
At the opening session, Jor-El Godsey, President of Heartbeat International, spoke of the incredible significance of being in Chicago this year. I confess that, due to my level of excitement, I was thinking he was referencing the fact that Chicago is home to the World Series Champion Cubs baseball team! But quickly I knew he was speaking of far more important things. Illinois has recently passed legislation requiring all medical professionals to provide abortion referrals to anyone who asks for one. This is clearly a violation of conscience rights. Some pregnancy centers have filed suit; I hope many more do as well. But Jor-El made a powerful statement about our situation in Illinois:
This gathering is a declaration that we will obey the laws of God over the laws of man.
Our culture is growing increasingly secular, and so any “Mission from God” is mocked or attacked. Opposing voices describe Christian pro-lifers as judgmental, ignorant, and brainwashed. The notion that faith and reason can, and should, coexist is lost on many people. But this conference was filled with professionals such as physicians, lawyers, and counselors who do combine faith and reason on a daily basis. Many individuals in the movement may not have the same credentials, but they, too, combine faith and reason when they take their incredibly relevant life experiences into helping women experiencing unplanned pregnancies. I have been involved in the pregnancy help field for more than 20 years now (gasp!), and I have seen more and more training provided for people in all roles. Conferences, webinars. And it is quality training. We love what we do, but we take it seriously. We serve a Mighty and Excellent God, therefore we should always serve with excellence. We also serve with joy! (Cue the sunglasses)
I remember in late 2006 when the local ministry was wrapping up our preparation for “medical conversion,” that is, to add ultrasound. I was on the phone in the evening with a someone who sees the world very differently than I do. When I told her about our upcoming visit and review from Focus on the Family for the Option Ultrasound Project, I talked about the added medical policies and training we had to complete. She seemed surprised. I told her that using an ultrasound machine is not a game or a gimmick; it is a real medical procedure that would be done by real medical professionals. This fact did not fit the “pro-choice” narrative she had heard so many times.
Of course, the added benefit for us at Women’s Care Clinic and all affiliates of Heartbeat International is the element of faith in a Loving God! We believe He created each person uniquely. Yes, some pregnancies happen in unfortunate circumstances, but God knows the identity of every child. Whether conceived through the love of marriage, the after-school misbehavior of teens, or even the violence of rape, God knows and loves every child. Every mother. Every father.
Every. Single. One.
So we do this work…this mission…because we are called by God to reach out and protect unborn babies. We are called to support mothers and fathers. We are called to do this in His Name. The One True God, Who is Father, Son, and Holy Spirit forever and ever! Amen!