by Alexandra Nadane, executive director of the "St. Alexandra the Empress" Counseling Center, Bucharest
A few years ago, a reporter asked me: „When you got involved in the pro-life movement, did you have any detailed plan? Did you know where you wanted to end up?” I laughed remembering the unknown and difficult journey I had experienced up to that point.
No, I didn’t know where the road would take me, but I pressed on, practically dealing with everything that came my way. And a lot of the cases were pregnancy crises. Tens, hundreds of them. There was clearly a need for professional people to work in this field. So the “St. Alexandra the Empress” Counseling Center appeared.
Then I noticed that people who worked in pregnancy help centers across the country needed to share and learn. To cater for these needs, we organized the First National Conference of Pregnancy Crisis Help Centers. It took place on October 4-6, 2019, at Caraiman Monastery in Busteni, Prahova County.
The conference brought together 30 participants from all over Romania and the Republic of Moldova: pregnancy resource center managers and representatives, psychologists, social workers, volunteers, members of other organizations, and individuals who wanted to open such a center or simply work with women in pregnancy crisis.
On Friday, October 4, participants shared ideas about their work, experiences, joys, and the difficulties they face. On Saturday, the program included four sessions:
The last session, entitled "Goals and Plans for the Future”, was dedicated to creating a working group for those involved in pregnancy crisis assistance to support them in developing professional pregnancy help programs. “St Alexandra the Empress” Counseling Center will organize monthly webinars on different topics to train and assist people involved in this line of work.
The next National Conference of the Pregnancy Crisis Help Centers will be held in October 2020.
Please read below a few testimonials by participants at the conference:
"We waited for many years for such an event. We appreciate the initiative of “St Alexandra the Empress” Counseling Center and we hope that it will become a tradition, with more and more centers joining in every year. The exchange of experience, the relationships created, the information received enriched us and gave us courage to continue our work of assisting women in pregnancy crisis.”- PULS Center, Oradea
"I have just realized that we are not alone and this gave me more courage and determination to help.” – Clujul pentru Viață („Cluj for Life”) Association
"Attending the conference helped me understand the need to open a pregnancy help center in Arad. The quality of the information received, the professionalism of those involved, the hands-on approach on real cases have inspired me to get actively involved. „- Loredana, Tineri pentru Viață („Youth for Life”) Association, Arad
"It was a beautiful warm experience and I have met people open to sharing. I’ve learned new things. I feel that this conference has helped me grow both on a professional and personal level.” - Anca Pulpa, psychologist, The Pro Vita Department of the Orthodox Metropolis of Moldavia and Bukovina.
“If they receive practical and emotional support from close friends, relatives or experts, pregnant women will be able to overcome all difficulties and choose life for their child. This meeting was a joyful occasion, a new experience on a familiar yet ever new topic that is important, moreover, it’s vital.”- Nadejda Usatîi, President of Moldova for Life Association
"Thank you for the wonderful conference. For me, the days spent learning together, getting to know each other, sharing opinions and experiences, establishing future collaboration were among the most beautiful days of this year." - Estera Mardar-Simina, "Estera” Center, Timisoara
"We enjoyed being with other organizations, meeting other people involved in the same field of work, which is assisting women going through a pregnancy crisis and their children. We have received eye-opening information, we established work connections and shared experiences. We are looking forward to next year’s conference! ”- Simona Mihălescu, “Elena” Center, Rădăuți
"I have learned many new things that I could not have discovered on my own. It was a great experience.”- Counseling and Support Center for Parents and Children, Hârja"This conference is a promising initiative that should continue year after year so that we can exchange experience in pregnancy help.” – Dana Stavovei, Fălticeni pentru Viață ("Fălticeni City for Life”) Association
"I feel spiritually enriched after this conference, with the hope and confidence that many good things can be done through our involvement” – Nicoleta C., Constanța
Reprinted with permission from centrulalexandra.ro
April 14-16, 2020 in Seattle, Washington. For those traveling overnight, we strongly recommend that you plan to arrive at least the day before to accommodate to account for time differences and jet lag. If you receive a scholarship, we expect that you participate from the beginning of the conference through the close of the conference.
Heartbeat typically provides 15-25 scholarships at some level to its Annual Conference. Demand for scholarships is generally greater than what we can provide, and Heartbeat provides as many as we possibly can, based on what the budget will allow in that conference year. Furthermore, typically, we award one scholarship per organization. You must apply so that you can be considered for a scholarship.
Check to see if you are currently affiliated with Heartbeat directly, or with one of our Joint Affiliation Partners (JAP). Our JAPs are Africa Cares for Life, Association for Life of Africa, Be’Ad Chaim, Canadian Association of Pregnancy Services, Centros de Ayuda para la Mujer, Movimento per la Vita, Pregnancy Help Australia, Pregnancy Support Services of Asia, and ProVida You can check your affiliation status by asking your JAP, and if you are affiliated with Heartbeat directly you can log in to your account. If you find that your status is in grace or expired, you will need to reaffiliate. In that case, contact the JAP or click here to reaffiliate.
No. In fact, calling and emailing several times slows down the entire process. You will receive an acknowledgment of receipt of your application. After that, the International Program Specialist will review and check the information submitted for each application. With few exceptions, applications are considered on a first come first serve basis.
It will be a hard close on January 30, 2020. That means that no applications will be accepted after January 30, 2020. Do not delay if you want your application to be considered. Late applications will not be considered.
Decisions will be made by February 7, 2020 and emails will be sent out to individuals who have received scholarships as well as stating the level and conditions of the scholarship.
Some recipients will receive a scholarship for registration (which includes all hotel provided meals for the duration of the conference) for the Annual Conference only (a $619.00 USD value). Some may receive a scholarship for registration and hotel accommodation (Value $1,200.00). Recipients will need to provide evidence of confirmed travel reservations and/or hotel accommodations. If those are not provided within a month of notice of the scholarship grant, the scholarship offer may/will be revoked and offered to another applicant.
Therefore, we recommend that anyone desiring to attend the Annual Conference seek permission from your Board now and begin the fundraising process for travel and hotel.
No, but we will provide letters of invitation to be used in the VISA application process if you indicate on your application you need a letter.
Scholarship recipients are expected to:
Typically, Heartbeat international scholarship recipients arrive at the conference location in America one or two days prior to the conference. This allows the recipient time to rest and acclimate to the time change as well as an opportunity for fellowship among the international group and Heartbeat staff.
Internationals may have arranged or may create additional opportunities while in the U.S. for the Heartbeat conference. Heartbeat encourages this (as long as it does not conflict with attendance at the conference) but does not assume responsibility for any expenses, transportation, travel, etc.
If the scholarship offered includes hotel lodging, it is only for this time frame and the conference itself. Any additional time before or after the Heartbeat conference (for travel reasons or otherwise) is not Heartbeat’s expectation or responsibility.
Heartbeat International strives to assist individuals in other countries that seek to serve in pregnancy help ministry. Our annual conferences provide the greatest opportunity for diverse training, broad networking, and inspirational encouragement to our international affiliates.
We offer a limited number of financial scholarships for international conference participants who apply and are accepted. Scholarships vary due to demand, and scholarships may cover as much as:
We invite individuals such as the key leader/executive director, staff member, volunteer, counselor, and/or board member that is currently serving in an international pregnancy help organization to apply.
Eligible pregnancy help organizations are life-affirming non-governmental organizations (e.g. pregnancy resource center, medical help clinics, maternity housing, non-profit adoption agencies) that hold values consistent with Heartbeat International.
We also invite individuals demonstrating a strong and verifiable desire to open a new pregnancy help effort in their country/region and learn more about pregnancy help ministry. All scholarship applicants must be affiliated with Heartbeat International, either directly or through a joint affiliation partner.
Each scholarship is granted with the idea that the recipient will use the conference experience to strengthen their ministry or to lay the groundwork for a new ministry. Scholarship recipients are therefore expected to attend all keynote sessions, workshops, and in-depth day, if available. International scholarship applicants should be somewhat fluent in English. Heartbeat conferences are presented in English and translation is generally not available.
It will be a hard close on January 30, 2020. That means that no applications will be accepted after January 30, 2020. Do not delay if you want your application to be considered. Late applications will not be considered.
Please refer to the FAQs here | Click here to access the scholarship application
by Ellen Foell, International Program SpecialistHeartbeat International
I recently returned from a trip to Johannesburg, South Africa, site of the 2019 Africa Cares for Life conference on "Bold Thinking, Courageous Steps." Africa Cares for Life currently has 73 member life affirming organizations stretching from Capetown at the southern tip to Pretoria in the north. With over 70 participants present at the conference, I had the incredible blessing to see how God is moving in a different country with a different historical context.
The conference had a mix of black and white South Africans. There were five nations represented. I heard English, Afrikaans, and a variety of other ethnic languages being spoken (South Africa has 34 languages with 11 official languages). But everyone at the conference was there to reach out with the Gospel of Life, to renew their communities and to rescue women, families and babies.
I had the privilege to present a keynote on Conscious Cultural Competence and three workshops on spiritual refreshment as well as mission focus.
Africa Cares for Life came into being through the faithful work of Gail Schreiner, 20 years ago. ACFL and Heartbeat have been in a formal joint affiliation partnership since 2008, a partnership which benefits and expands the reach of both organizations. Daniele Gradwell has attended several Heartbeat International annual conferences and has reciprocated with invitations to Heartbeat staff to participate at the ACFL conference.
In 2018, Africa Cares for Life significantly increased its reach and impact. In 2018 alone, they were able to provide 4,110 consulting hours, equip 600 volunteers, and provide for more than 85,000 women and men who received pregnancy help and support.
This is just a glimpse of what we can do together! Thank you for continuing to share the Gospel of Life where you are and remember that around the world, people just like you are doing this work as well. And praise God for that!
by Gayle Irwin, Guest Writer
The Caribbean island of Saint Lucia welcomed its first pregnancy center a few months ago, and with help from Heartbeat International, staff members are fulfilling an unmet need for the nation’s pregnant women.
“Women who have unplanned pregnancies in Saint Lucia live in extreme poverty,” said Cindi Boston, vice president of mission advancement for Heartbeat International. “There is a massive need. When you have a new start-up and have fewer resources, it takes time. But, they are doing very well.”
Boston took a team to the country a few years ago to work with the staff and supporters. Training included how to interact with clients, how to establish and manage a board of directors, and specific teaching to nurses and doctors on ultrasound techniques, which was taught by a Registered Diagnostic Medical Sonographer (RDMS). Just a few months ago, the Family Centre officially opened as part of the Caribbean Centre for Family and Human Rights (CARIFAM).
Tammy Stearns, RDMS, Sarah and Heartbeat Vice President Cindi Boston
Nadine, a doctor in training, Tammy Stearns, Cindi Boston, Dr. Ginny, and Shawna Charles
This organization was started in 2012 by Sarah Flood-Beaubrun, a strong pro-life advocate who was a member of the nation’s Parliament. She saw the increasing pressure upon the country to embrace abortion and decided to create a pro-life, pro-family organization to help solve the country’s social and economic problems as well as in response to attacks on fundamental human rights and the family.
Located in the West Indies, Saint Lucia is part of the Lesser Antilles. With an international outreach, Heartbeat has conducted summits and other trainings in the Caribbean, said Ellen Foell, the international program specialist at Heartbeat.
“Trying to advance the pro-life movement on an island can be isolating,” she said. “Heartbeat recognizes this and seeks to come alongside these organizations and centers.”
Nearly all pregnancy centers in the Caribbean are less than five years old, she added.
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The Family Centre is managed by a three-person volunteer team: Nadine Khodra-Jn Baptiste and her husband Mitchell Jn Baptiste and Shauna Charles.
“We share the responsibility for oversight and working within the centre on a weekly basis,” Nadine said. “The Family Centre has been operating virtually for over a year. We opened the physical doors in May 2019.”
The community has been supportive, and many attended a blessing ceremony, she added.
However, opposing groups didn’t take long to implement advertisements luring women toward abortion, Boston said.
“After the website went up, there was a quick response from the pro-choice side,” she said.
The Family Centre meets needs not addressed by abortion organizations, with services and programs to help women find courage and hope to continue their pregnancies. The center offers pregnancy testing, ultrasound, options counseling, educational classes, material needs such as supplies for the baby, and post-abortion counseling.
Tweet This: The Family Centre meets needs not addressed by abortion organizations; they help women find courage and hope to continue their pregnancies.
“In addition to lack of resources, family tensions run high when an unexpected pregnancy occurs,” Nadine said. “The mother-to-be becomes even more confused because of all the contributing factors. Hence the need! If we can support in a loving environment, provide guidance and clarity, make family interventions, et cetera. Essentially, we can greatly lessen the likelihood of an abortion.”
That took place for “Janine” in an extremely unique situation. She was referred to the Saint Lucia center from Germany, Nadine said.
“She was a St. Lucian who went to Germany to get married to a man with which she had had a long-distance relationship. The relationship became an abusive one very soon after she moved in with him,” Nadine said.
Within a few months, Janine decided she couldn’t stay in that relationship and sought to return to Saint Lucia. However, she also realized she was pregnant and reached out to an organization in Germany. That group contacted The Family Centre in Saint Lucia, seeking help for Janine.
“I met with her soon after she arrived and realized that there were other medical complications that would make it extremely difficult for her to carry the baby to term, despite the fact that she wanted to have her baby,” Nadine said. “In addition to counseling and emotional support, we were able to help her get funding to assist with her treatment and advanced monitoring of her pregnancy. Her healthy baby was born later that year.”
A situation such as Janine’s prompts The Family Centre staff to look toward the future. As they continue to meet the needs of the island’s pregnant women, they envision being of greater help.
“We’d like to expand our reach and range of services to a fully-fledged state-of-the-art pregnancy and birthing centre which specializes in at-risk pregnancies,” Nadine said.
Heartbeat will continue to be guiding force for St. Lucia and other pro-life pregnancy centers around the world.
“We invest a lot [into international training],” Boston said. “We raise a lot of funds so that our international friends can come over [to a conference] every year. In fact, each year we have 30 to 45 internationals coming.”
Nadine and the rest of The Family Centre staff recognize the vital assistance given to them and other centers across the world.
“We are especially thankful to Heartbeat International for the training and support that they have provided us with over the past few years. Their contribution is a key component to the success of our organization,” she said.
This story is reprinted from the August 5, 2019 article at Pregnancy Help News.
When is Heartbeat’s Annual Conference in 2019?
The conference will be April 24-26. In depth day (IDD) is April 23, 2019.
What is the location of the Conference?
Hyatt Regency Dallas│300 Reunion Blvd.│Dallas, Texas 75207│(214) 651-1234
Can I register for the conference even though the World Council is meeting?
How can I register for the Conference?
Are scholarships available?
Heartbeat is offering a registration only scholarship (which includes meals) for those affiliated internationals who desire to and are able to come. There are no scholarships available for transportation and/or hotel accommodations.
How do I get a scholarship for registration only?
How do I arrange for transportation and hotel?
You are responsible for your own transportation and finding accommodations. You must let Heartbeat know by March 11, 2019 your transportation specifics and provide evidence of your accommodation plans so we may plan accordingly for meals, etc. If we do not receive these specifics, the registration scholarship may be revoked.
Can more than one person from my organization or NGO register for the conference?
Yes. However, Heartbeat will scholarship registration for only one person per organization or NGO.
What if I have to cancel?
Please let us know immediately if you need to cancel your conference registration. Heartbeat is not able to assist with cancellation or any refund from your transportation or hotel accommodation providers.
What if I need a letter of invitation to get a Visa from my government?
Dear pregnancy help leaders,
We have a major announcement regarding our 2019 scholarship opportunities for the Heartbeat International Conference in Dallas, Texas in April. It’s a critical announcement which may impact your attendance at this year’s conference.
Pregnancy help is more important now than ever before. Major trends are underway in the U.S. and across the globe. In addition, there are some key subject matters that Heartbeat International needs to involve specially positioned leaders – such as those that lead major networks – to provide wisdom and insights toward determining future vision and direction for unifying and advancing pregnancy help.
Heartbeat is, therefore, reconstituting and convening our World Council at the conference in Dallas. The World Council will be comprised, primarily, of our current Joint Affiliation Network leaders. These delegates, fortunately, represent nearly 80% of international affiliates, totaling nearly 50 countries.
As such, Heartbeat will be unable to provide scholarships for our Annual Conference at the same level (that usually included conference registration, conference meals, and lodging), or as open (affiliation has been preferred, but not required) as in past years.
Our budget is quite constrained this year, yet we will make a limited number of registration only scholarships available to Heartbeat affiliated organizations. No more than one registration scholarship per organization, or possibly per country, will be eligible for consideration. Scholarship recipients will need to have travel visa and expenses already provided for, and secure lodging directly with the Hyatt Downtown Regency Hotel. A booking confirmation from the hotel, or letter of reference from a U.S. pregnancy help organization confirming they will be providing for your lodging at the hotel, will be necessary for consideration of a registration scholarship.
We regret that our allocation for internationals to attend the 2019 Heartbeat International Annual Conference could not expand readily with our desire for many to join us. We waited as long as possible to see if additional funding might become available. Fortunately, these constraints should only apply to this coming conference. We look forward to returning to a more open application process next year and in years to come.
Thank you for your understanding of our limitations. If the Lord has not provided through Heartbeat to help, we are praying that He will provide directly for some of you, and for others, through your ministry partners. Whether you are able to attend in person, or not, please know that we celebrate the faithful work of our pregnancy help leaders during our conference and throughout the year.
We are united in spirit and purpose even when we cannot be together in person.
by Ellen Foell, Esq., International Program Specialist
It is always a privilege to travel on behalf of Heartbeat International, whether it is to Arkansas or, in the most recent case, to Serbia, for the 2018 European Pregnancy Help Leaders’ Summit. A small Heartbeat team, which included as an honorary Heartbeat member, Mike Spencer from Life Training Institute, met with representatives from 16 organizations and 14 countries—from Romania to Ireland to France—to network, fellowship and share challenges, victories and current issues facing the pregnancy help movement. Topics covered in breakout sessions included a range from self-care to engaging the church and digitally reaching donors and clients.
In that kind of setting, one sees the hand of God working behind the scenes in so many instances (perhaps because one is actively looking for the intervention of God in the context of 14 languages, different alphabets and cultures, and a good dose of jetlag). Maybe one instance that this writer found most dear was the presence at the Summit of four women from Ireland, still reeling from the recent vote abolishing the eighth amendment of the Irish Constitution banning abortion just four months before.
As they face legalized abortion for the first time in their country, their attendance at the Summit was truly due to the providence of God. They needed to connect with other European pregnancy help leaders, to be encouraged and to reevaluate pregnancy help in a country committed to a path of abortion. In addition, they needed to connect with an attorney who might be able to help their centers in Ireland deal with some specific new legal challenges. They wanted to know if Heartbeat knew anyone who might be able to help.
Imagine their delight and praise to God to be told that one of the plenary speakers was an Irish barrister working with Alliance Defending Freedom who would make time during the Summit to speak with them.
That is what God is up to. That is the way God works. He is still working his purposes out day by day and year by year such that one day abortion will be unwanted throughout Europe—and the world—and unthinkable in the generations to come.
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.
Pregnancy help heroes are championing life every day across the European landscape. The venues for such life-affirming efforts vary from telephone/email/hotline/and online to actual office space. The daily, compassionate outreach to women and men dealing with an unexpected pregnancy is affected by but far removed from the political wrangling. Those called to this work are facing great challenges in answering the call to save and defend life. We invite all pregnancy help workers, and especially leaders, to gather together to share information and understanding as well as to gain insight from others.
Who should attend? Anyone involved in life-affirming pregnancy help – direct service to women facing an unexpected pregnancy – is welcome.
Along with plenary sessions that will inspire and inform, there will be breakout forums on vital topics that challenge all pregnancy help efforts – issues on leadership, fundraising, client care and the use of technology to more effectively reach clients and donors. These breakouts will be participatory in nature; as you plan which ones to attend, please come prepared to share your knowledge and experience as well.
English will be the primary language for plenary sessions and breakout facilitation.
What: Pregnancy Help Summit for anyone involved in life-affirming pregnancy help across Europe.
When: 17-19 October 2018
Where: The Crystal Hotel, Belgrade, Serbia
Click here to download a printable European Pregnancy Help Conference flyer.
Heartbeat International, the largest pregnancy help network in the world with affiliates on every populated continent, is pleased to sponsor this Europe-focused conference in recognition of the importance of growing relationships among all pregnancy help leaders. Pregnancy help leaders can find out more about Heartbeat at https://www.heartbeatservices.org.
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