This month we are highlighting Ashley Vance, one of our Healthcare Team Managers. Ashley assists our affiliates with medical questions and oversees the Abortion Pill Reversal Hotline. Before joining the Medical Impact Team almost three years ago, Ashley served as an Abortion Pill Reversal Hotline Consultant. Ashley also brings a background of Medical Surgical Nursing to the Medical Impact Team. If you speak with Ashley, you will be blessed with wisdom, encouragement, and inspiration in your work within the pregnancy help community!
Where did you grow up and go to school?
I grew up in northern Alberta. I left my hometown in the last year of high school where I moved to British Columbia and pursued my nursing career. I completed my nursing degree through Athabasca University.
Share with us about your family.
I am blessed to come from an extremely tight knit Christian family. I have one brother and I call my mom my best friend! I have a family of my own with my lovely husband and we have two small children, plus another one on the way set to arrive January 2022!
Tell us about what brought you to Heartbeat International.
Well, that is a God thing! I felt so strongly in my last year of nursing school that I wanted to join the prolife movement and have God use me in whatever way I was needed. I reached out locally and through my church but never heard back. Doubt crept in and I began to wonder if I was wanting to do something that didn’t actually exist! However, I could never shake the feeling of the call God placed on my heart so I started to do research and every time I kept coming back to the same name- Heartbeat International. I learned about Abortion Pill Reversal and was desperately eager to join! However, being Canadian I assumed that wouldn’t be possible so I reached out to see if anyone could connect me with a Canadian contact. To my surprise they let me know that they were looking for hotline nurses and the opportunity was open to me as well. I was SO excited! Along with being a mother, working for Heartbeat has been the biggest honor, joy and blessing of my life!
Share with us about your experiences sharing APR with others through presentations.
Public speaking and presentations are the biggest areas of growth that I have experienced in my career. It’s so humbling for me to speak in front of other prolife individuals because I deeply admire and respect them! With the guidance, support, and prayers of Christa Brown I have learned so much about this extremely important skill- Spreading the word about the APR mission! Every presentation I have done has connected me with others in the movement and strengthened my understanding of the many other life affirming roles as well.
Tell us about how you offer assistance to affiliates within their pregnancy help centers.
We offer assistance to affiliates in whatever capacity it is needed. That could be establishing medical services, information on STI testing, adding APR or how to find a medical director. For example, during the onset of Covid-19 we worked quickly to ensure we could assist pregnancy centers with policies and insights in a rapidly changing landscape. We work diligently to make sure we provide affiliates with the most up to date and in-depth information available.
Tell us about your experiences helping clients on the APR Hotline and now overseeing the Hotline as one of the Healthcare Team Managers.
My time on the hotline was where I fell in love with the mission. I remember my first shift so well and the feeling of my first call- I was so nervous but so grateful that I had the opportunity to speak with someone in the midst of a pregnancy crisis and share the good news: There are people out there that have no judgement for you, only love and that help is available. This line of work is hard, I’ve shed happy tears and sad ones alone in my office, but every second has been worth it! Now as a manager I work closely with the nurses, and I have seen the network grow in so many ways. It’s been an absolute blessing to witness!
Tell us about working on the Medical Impact Team.
In my eyes the Medical Impact Team is its own family. We are bonded by a love of women, the unborn, family and medical science. We have a unique role within Heartbeat where we oversee the APR hotline, nurse consultants, answer affiliate questions and assist with ultrasound training. There is always more to learn and it’s very fulfilling!
What do you enjoy the most about your work?
My favorite thing (and this is harder than one might think to choose!) is seeing God in details. He really comes through, and often in the most surprising of ways for these women. Sometimes it’s through a Provider willing to see a client after hours on a holiday, sometimes it’s a pharmacy that is open a few minutes late which allows a client to get started on the Progesterone in the middle of the night. Most often it’s in the courage He gives these women to reach out and find us. He whispers into their heart that there is a way out, a second chance available. Witnessing the ways they find us and hearing their stories gives me tremendous respect for these women that fight so hard to fix a decision that they regret and to now save the life of their precious unborn baby.
What are your favorite things to do outside of work?
Outside of work I enjoy slow days drinking coffee on my front porch surrounded by family! I love books, current events, horses, and good conversations with loved ones.
What else would you like to share?
How much we value and pray for the many Pregnancy Centers and prolife ministries around the world! We see how deeply you care and love for these women. None of your hard work goes unnoticed. It’s a true honor to serve alongside all of you!
This month we are highlighting Lisa Searle, one of our Healthcare Team Managers. Lisa assists our affiliates with medical questions and oversees the Abortion Pill Reversal Hotline. Before joining the Medical Impact Team almost two years ago, she served for two years as an Abortion Pill Reversal Hotline Consultant. Lisa brings to our team 19 years of nursing experience with four of those years spent serving within her local pregnancy help center. She brings so much wisdom to our team and is always willing to offer education and assistance to advance the pregnancy help community. We count ourselves blessed to have her on the team!
I grew up in the heart of eastern North Carolina. Goldsboro is a little town known for pigs, pickles, and planes. Goldsboro is home to the Seymour Johnson Airforce Base. Mount Olive Pickle Company is not too far from town. You will find some of the best Eastern North Carolina BBQ as you drive through headed to the coast which is only two hours away. Barton College is in Wilson, North Carolina. I attended Barton College and earned my nursing degree.
My husband and I are celebrating 17 years of marriage this month. God has blessed us with two children, Costin, 16 years old and Asher, 9 years old. We share our home with two dogs Izzy and Sarge, our crazy kitty Petunia Butterfly, two African Dwarf Frogs, Bobby and Chunky, as well as Karen, the snail.
What was your favorite part of helping clients in the pregnancy center?
Spending time with the abortion-minded client is what I love to do.
Getting to know her, building trust to form a lasting relationship. I enjoy providing abortion education, introducing the client to her baby during her first ultrasound and guiding her down a path of life-affirming choices.
While working in the pregnancy center I learned about Abortion Pill Rescue Network and was encouraged by my peers to join the team of nurse consultants. I worked as a nurse consultant for two years prior to becoming a part of the Medical Impact Team. I accepted the position of Nurse Manager with Heartbeat International in November 2019.
Tell us about your experiences sharing APR with others through presentations.
Educating the community on how to help a woman who is desperately seeking to reverse her abortion is life-changing and the impact goes beyond what we can predict. The audience is receptive and amazed at how this treatment works. Likewise, I stand in awe at what God has given us—a treatment that can give women a second chance at choice! It really is amazing.
There are currently four Healthcare Team Managers who rotate through the hotline schedule. We each oversee the hotline one week out of the month. The hotline consists of 34 nurse consultants, 3 Nurse Advocates, and a total of 42 shifts per week. The days are tough. We experience spiritual warfare, and the battles are difficult.
Our team believes in the mission of APRN. We are strong in faith and have been called to this position for such a time as this. We fight to save the lives of babies and to protect women and families from the pain of abortion. The devil attempts to deceive and divide but we stand firm that the devil will never win. Our faith in God, our leadership, and our commitment to each other get us through the toughest days. Oversight week is one of the most exhausting weeks, but it is also full of rewards. Making a difference in the lives of women, children, and families makes it worth every second.
Educating Pregnancy Help Organizations on how to best meet the needs of their community is important. I enjoy helping organizations develop medical policy and procedures that will allow them to be successful when faced with an unplanned pregnancy, abortion, STI, and disruption of sexual integrity within their community.
What do you enjoy most about your work?
I love educating people and I get to do it often here at Heartbeat International. Whether I am teaching the abortion-minded client about reversal or the Pregnancy Help Center about starting medical services, I am sharing useful information that can be used to make the world a little better.
Visiting the beach and spending time with friends and family is great self-care for me. You can find me on the dock enjoying God’s beautiful creation.
What is something else you would like to share?
When I was 13 years old, I discovered my love for Women’s Health while volunteering as a Candy Striper in the Labor and Delivery Unit of the local hospital. As a young nursing student, I took a job in an abortion clinic because of my desire to help women and to also increase my knowledge in Gynecology. The time spent in the abortion clinic revealed a painful truth about abortion but most of all has given me an undying passion to protect the preborn and those affected by abortion. After leaving the abortion clinic, I went on to enjoy a successful career in obstetrical nursing. Prior to joining the team at Heartbeat International, I spent four years as a nurse manager of a Pregnancy Center where I was given the support I needed to begin my healing journey. I am grateful to God for his grace and mercy and for giving purpose to my past.
by Julie Stepp, Affiliation CoordinatorHeartbeat International
There’s something about 50-year anniversaries that always intrigues me. For one thing, I always seem to be ending up at these half-century landmarks whenever they happen. Whether it’s at my university, in my country of choice for an extensive study abroad, or during the timing of my first full-time job, I find myself celebrating 50 years of something… over and over. I’m starting to wonder, “Does God have something to tell me through all this? Are 50-year anniversaries significant to Him, and if they are, why?”
I started studying where the number 50 shows up in the Bible to search for clues. The first factoid I found was that “Pentecost” means “50” and was a feast that happened 50 days after the Passover celebration of freedom from Egypt. This feast of Pentecost was also called the Feast of Firstfruits and celebrated the harvest God had provided for the people. So evidently “50” was related to freedom, celebration, and abundance in that case. The number “50” also came up in situations involving armies (like a group of 50 soldiers) or measurements (such as “make this area of the temple 50 by 50”). But what really caught my attention was the significance of the Year of Jubilee, which happened every 50 years for the children of Israel and was an entire year of releasing slaves to their families, forgiving debts owed to debtors, and restoring land to its rightful owners. I felt I’d hit the proverbial jackpot. Here was an example in the Bible of a year-long celebration of a 50-year anniversary that God Himself ordained. Maybe here was the answer to my questions about “the year of the 50.”
Let’s take a look together at what God had to say to the children of Israel about this “jubilee year” in Leviticus 25.
First, God told them that every 50th year would be a year of rest – rest for the farmland and the vineyards. This directly followed another year of no crop-planting, as every seven years God commanded a Sabbath rest too. With the 50th year coming right after the 49th, the Israelites were eating what they had planted over 2 years ago. God promised to take care of them through this time and provide for all their needs through their previous harvest. When I read this, I immediately thought about how 2020 was a similar year of rest in many ways. Businesses were closed for several weeks, social events were cancelled or moved “to the comfort of your home.” We didn’t have the option to “plant” our normal seeds in the hearts of our donors and supporters. The pregnancy help movement largely had to depend upon past interactions and strong current supporters to get through this season, and God provided. (Interestingly enough, while we’re celebrating Heartbeat’s 50th birthday in 2021, the fiftieth year of Heartbeat International was 2020. Remember that a child’s first year occurs before their first birthday, and so on and so forth, so 2020 really did match up with our 50th year!)
Then God told His people to “proclaim liberty throughout the land to all its inhabitants” (v. 10). Slaves were freed and sent back to their hometowns, people who had sold their houses and land were welcome to return to their heritage (very important in those days), and many people got to experience freedom and release. It made me think of the fact that the pregnancy help community does exist to see an end to abortion in our lifetime, but in that existence, we encounter so much more than “the abortion problem.” We see broken families, wounded hearts, drug addiction, physical abuse, and sexual webs woven so tragically you wonder if their effects can ever be un-done. But Jesus came to give us “the year of the fifty.” He came to give not only us, but also our clients, a way out, a way to return to their homeland and repair the broken cities that have been devastated for generations. His power is real, and it works. What we do through pregnancy help inspires people to go back to their families – the places they learned their brokenness – and restore them back to healthy communities.
Last but not least, God promised the Israelites in verse 21, “I will command my blessing on you in the sixth year, so that it will produce a crop sufficient for three years,” speaking of His abundant provision to sustain His people through their 2-year season of rest. Because the provision of the 48th year was so great, God’s people survived and thrived until they could reap the harvest of the 51st year. We’re in that season of rest and provision, friends. The seeds you have sown in previous years are still alive in the hearts God destined for them to be placed in. And not only are those seeds planted in the hearts of your donors, but also in the hearts of your clients. You are a two-sided ministry. Don’t doubt that God will bring to fruition what He planted through you in what seems like the distant past. His seeds have a purpose, and He will accomplish what He has set out to do. Don’t worry about “letting the fields rest.” God saw ahead, and He has commanded His blessing on you.
Just a few more thoughts. As a twenty-something celebrating all these 50-year marks, I’ve realized that it’s so sacred to witness a 50th anniversary. Think about when a couple celebrates their 50th anniversary. It’s such a special celebration because they likely won’t get to celebrate another 50-year mark – their 100th anniversary. Many times, different generations are looking at the same fifty mark and only get to see that fifty mark once. In the same way, a 50th birthday for an organization is a moment that all share together. I get to celebrate what others gone before me have prayed for, wept over, and offered their lives in service to. Heartbeat International, and the pregnancy help movement in general, takes skills, viewpoints, and experience levels from various generations to bring true healing and help to our communities. We are a cross-generational movement, and our 50th birthday is a moment in time that captures our passion together. May this “year of the fifty” be a year of rest, release from bondage, abundant provision, and multi-generational celebration.
In the last few years, Heartbeat has seen some amazing growth! Our affiliate network has been constantly expanding, and with the addition of the Abortion Pill Rescue Network, Next Level CMS, grant programs like Life Launch, and other exciting programs and resources introduced in the last few years, our staff have been working harder than ever to make sure you have all the tools you need to serve the women in your community.
With all of the excitement, Heartbeat’s team has had to adapt to new ways of working together, and that’s why we’re proud to announce that Betty McDowell, who has worked on the Ministry Services team for over 15 years, will be joining Cindi Boston as a Vice President at Heartbeat International.
Betty’s new title is Vice President of Ministry Services, and Cindi will continue to serve with the title, Vice President of Mission Advancement.
"Betty and I have worked together in pregnancy help ministry since 1983, and she has been a wise counselor to me (on matters both professional and personal!) for over 30 years,” says Peggy Hartshorn, Ph.D., Chairman of the Board of Heartbeat International, “So, I can confirm that she brings both a broad and deep level of knowledge, experience, creativity, passion, and wisdom to her position. Plus, her leadership is informed by her love of Christ and a focus on relationship. I can't think of a better combination! I am thrilled that Betty has accepted an even greater responsibility for Heartbeat's services to YOU, our affiliates, as Vice President of Ministry Services.”
Betty will continue to lead and serve the Ministry Services team, as members of the team take new titles as well. Dawn Lunsford, who will continue to make online learning available to the pregnancy help movement, takes the title of Director of Academy, and Christa Brown, who will continue to lead the Abortion Pill Rescue Network and work with those seeking to add medical services to their organizations, takes the title Director of Medical Impact.
Betty isn’t alone joining the Executive team. Director of Operations, Tony Gruber is also stepping into the executive team as Controller, and Danielle White, Esq. takes the title of Heartbeat General Counsel.
While not much changes for you, our affiliates (you’ll still be working with the same people for the same reasons!), we hope you’ll celebrate with us as we grow and adapt.
Ellen Foell, J.D., Esq., who previously served as Legal Counsel to Heartbeat International, has recently rejoined the Heartbeat Ministry Services team as International Program Specialist. Ellen’s introduction to pro-life work came as part of a team that defended peaceful, pro-life protesters. Ellen worked as a trial lawyer for many years after graduating from Case Western Reserve University. As legal counsel for Heartbeat, she was instrumental in laying the groundwork for several international initiatives, including our Europe Pregnancy Help Leaders Summit.
Ellen’s heart for the international program at Heartbeat is fueled by her family connections to Asia and Europe, and she is familiar with several languages. We’re thrilled to have Ellen working with the Heartbeat team again, so we decided to do a quick interview to share our excitement!
My last “gig” with Heartbeat was as Legal Counsel, a position now well-filled by Danielle White, Esq. I was in the position just under 5 years, and it was a wonderful experience. I had the chance to meet with lots of affiliates, do lots of legal reviews, do some teaching, and basically do all things legal for Heartbeat.
I always loved the mission and vision of Heartbeat, so when I had the chance to come back in a role with even more contact with affiliates, I was really excited. I see the pregnancy help movement across the globe is growing more and more. Look at what just happened in Ireland, a country where we never thought legalized abortion would come, and it did. Heartbeat is in a position to come alongside the pregnancy help centers where the political climate is changing. We have a lot to offer, and a lot to learn from these new organizations starting out, trying new things in new places.
I finished writing a book and started getting it ready for publication. I have been doing some work representing ministries and nonprofit organizations. I’ve also been doing some court-appointed work.
I did court-appointed work because I have such a long history of desire to help children. When you do this here, you often get appointed to represent either parents, children, or the best interests of children in abuse, neglect, and dependency cases. I really like it because you get to look at all the facts, and help the court find out what’s in the best interest of these children.
At the same time, it’s like putting band-aids on this incredible cultural systemic problem. It’s frustrating because you can put the band-aid on, but you’re not dealing with the foundational piece, which is life is sacred. God sees the life of this child as sacred, and God sees the lives of these parents, regardless of what they’re doing, as sacred.
One of the reasons I really wanted to take this position is that Heartbeat really deals with the foundational issue – that life is sacred. You can apply a billion band-aids, but if you have not addressed the foundation piece, if you’re not trying to help create and transform the pro-life gospel in a culture, you’re gonna be applying band-aids for the rest of your life. People need to do that anyway until Jesus returns, but I really want to make the years I have left count, and I think this is the way to do that.
I love being a part of a team. It’s encouraging to be with like-minded people again. It’s encouraging to be with people who have a vision to see a world in which abortion is unthinkable.
Joining the team in June of 2017, Hannah Ellis serves in dual roles as Heartbeat International’s executive assistant and international program specialist. Prior to her work with Heartbeat, she served as a Policy Analyst/Writer and the National Field Director at Concerned Women for America, the nation’s largest public policy women’s organization.
Hannah has appeared on television, radio and podcasts, and her writing has appeared in American Thinker, Breitbart, CNSNews.com and The Christian Post, as well as other national and international pro-life sites.
A graduate of Cedarville University with a bachelor’s degree in International Studies, she specialized in Bible, editing and publishing, and Spanish. Hannah’s heart for cross-cultural Christian ministry has led her to serve in Zimbabwe and Mexico.
Hannah’s desire to reach vulnerable people with the hope of the Gospel has also led her to answer phones for Dawson McAllister’s The Hope Line, which answers over 50,000 calls from troubled teens each year.
Hannah’s favorite titles, however, are Christ-follower and wife to her best friend.
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