Africa Cares for Life Conference 2017August 22-24, 2017ATKV Resort – Illovo Beach (Amanzimtoti)
34° Life Happening “Vittoria Quarenghi” - Movimento per la VitaJuly 30-August 6, 2017Acquafredda di Maratea (Pz)
At the heart of Puerto Rico’s abortion industry, pro-life leaders from five Caribbean nations gathered Jan. 11-13 for the region’s first-ever pregnancy help summit, pooling insight and preparing for a new season in the battle for lives.
Coordinated in partnership with Heartbeat International, the meeting took place in Bayamon, Puerto Rico, where Cree Women’s Center established its second pregnancy help center in 2016—just a mile away from three of the island’s seven abortion clinics.
Trinidad and Tobago, Barbados, St. Lucia and the Bahamas were all four represented by men and women dedicated to rescue both women and children from a growing abortion epidemic that has jumped by 50 percent in the region since the mid-1990s.
According to estimates by the pro-abortion Guttmacher Institute, 4.4 million unborn children were aborted each year from 1990 to 1994 in Latin America and the Caribbean. That number increased to 6.5 million per year from 2010-14, prompting many pro-life Christians to respond by establishing pregnancy help centers and ultrasound-equipped medical clinics.
In Trinidad and Tobago, Rebekah Ali-Gouveia and her husband, Colin Gouveia, founded Elpis Centre in 2009 to provide life-affirming options, pro-life education and help with abortion recovery.
“This gathering helped to further knit the leaders in the Caribbean together; to refuel, reignite and anchor the matters we must commit to in the year ahead,” Ali-Gouveia, an attorney and Caribbean coordinator for World Congress of Families, said. “There was an overflow of love, trust, laughter and tears all of which converged into a weekend ripe with expectation and hope for our region.”
Three leaders from Heartbeat International—all who served in leadership roles at local pregnancy centers before joining the staff at the network’s headquarters in Columbus, Ohio—participated in the summit, along with Sol Pichon, a long-time leader of a local network of Florida pregnancy help medical clinics.
In addition to its Annual Conference, which is expected to draw over 1,000 leaders to Chicago in its 46th year this April 19-21, Heartbeat International fosters similar regionally based pregnancy help efforts on every inhabited continent, including Europe, where the organization hosted leaders from 10 nations in October of 2016.
“There continues to be a great need for pregnancy help leaders to build strong relationships,” Jor-El Godsey, president of Heartbeat International said. “Heartbeat is privileged to serve as the unifying network for so many faithful and faith-filled champions in the Caribbean and around the globe.”
Rhonda Darville, founder and CEO of Bahamas GodParent Center in Nassau, launched that nation’s first stand-alone pregnancy center in 2015 and has since braved Hurricane Joaquin and Hurricane Matthew in successive years—with both storms doing significant damage to the surrounding areas but leaving the pregnancy center unharmed.
Abortion is currently illegal in the Bahamas, but along with an underground abortion industry and a reported 60 percent of children in the nation born to single mothers, a push to legalize abortion is several years in the making.
“It has been a privilege and a pleasure to meet with other leaders in the Caribbean, as we do the work that brings the gospel, strengthens families and hence our communities and our countries,” Darville wrote on Facebook. “The need is great, the resources are few, but we keep trusting in the Almighty. We know He is able and so we do not get weary in well doing."
2019 Caribbean Pregnancy Help Leaders’ Summit
Bridgetown, Barbados | June 6-8, 2019
Pregnancy help heroes are championing life every day across the Caribbean landscape. The venues for such life-affirming efforts vary from telephone to email to hotline to 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 champion, 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.
The 2019 Caribbean Pregnancy Help Leaders' Summit wil be held at Courtyard Marriot, Bridgetown, Barbados, The Garrison Historic Area, Hastings. Christ Church, Bridgetown BB15156 Barbados.
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 discussion groups on vital topics that challenge all pregnancy help efforts – leadership, fundraising and the use of technology to more effectively reach clients. 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. Breakouts will be facilitated discussions with interaction among attendees.
English will be the primary language for plenary sessions and breakout facilitation.
A special grant is available which will cover registration, summit materials, hotel stay for both nights and Summit meals for the first two attendees from your organization (double occupancy only). This is limited on a first come, first serve availability. This is a first come, first serve opportunity only while there are rooms. Preference is given to current Heartbeat International affiliates.
The cost for additional attendees is $669 (USD) per person, which includes registration, all registration materials, hotel stay (2 nights), 3 Summit meals and coffee breaks.
Heartbeat International, the largest pregnancy help network in the world with affiliates on every populated continent, is pleased to sponsor this Caribbean-focused Summit in recognition of the importance of growing relationships among all pregnancy help leaders. Pregnancy help leaders can find more about Heartbeat at www.heartbeatservices.org.
If you would like to stay additional nights at the hotel before or after the Summit, you will be financially responsible. You may book those additional nights with the hotel directly by clicking here.
Tiffany and her son, Jonathen, in 2016.
by Carrie Beliles, International Program Specialist
Last week, I received a Facebook message in the middle of the night. Most Facebook messages in the middle of the night are no big deal, but for me, this specific message was.
Why? Because God knew this message was exactly what I needed to hear at that specific moment.
I needed to wake up, to be shaken out of where I was mentally and reminded of a principle God taught me four years ago.
It is not about me. It is all about Him.
Let’s go back to four years ago, when I found myself the newly appointed executive director of a pregnancy help center in Germany. While I didn’t speak German, the center actually served a unique, English-speaking clientele. Our abortion-vulnerable clients consisted entirely of women connected to the largest U.S. military base outside of the United States.
And, I took on this role by accident. No kidding, by “accident.” Totally under-qualified, I had never worked in the pro-life world. I’d never been trained or even so much as volunteered at a pregnancy center.
I did however, have a background in the fight against human trafficking, where I worked directly with victims, so I understood there are hurting people all over the world who needed to be shown compassion. My only real qualification was God had been teaching me to love others and meet them where they were.
More importantly, I was also hurting. Having just walked through a recent trial in my own life, my marriage had weathered several years as a military wife, complete with constant separations that are part of the job description. Add to that, I was pregnant with my fourth of now five children.
Because of these—what I considered—disqualifying factors, I assumed I wasn’t ready to minister to others. After all, shouldn’t I fix myself first, then move on to help others? That’s how I was thinking, but of course, I was wrong.
Learning to Handle the “Tough Questions”
As the newly installed executive director, my board sent me to the 2012 Heartbeat International Annual Conference in Los Angeles, hopeful that a one-week training would help start me on the right foot.
In a city famous for its movie stars, dreams and miracles, I was slightly overwhelmed with the actual size of the conference. Heartbeat, I learned, is an international organization uniting over 2,000 affiliates working toward a common life-saving goal. Just walking the halls and meeting others who were doing this amazing work all over the world was an inspiration.
Though I was encouraged, I felt out of my league. Every one else at the conference seemed to be a much better director, board member or volunteer than I could hope to be. All week long, I kept thinking they all must know what they are doing. It was a humbling experience, to say the least.
The last day of conference, I attended a session titled “Answering Tough Calls” with Bri Laycock, the director of Heartbeat’s 24-7 pregnancy helpline, Option Line. Having served with Option Line since shortly after its formation in 2003, Bri was confident and it seemed she was able to answer everything thrown her way. She was professional, ready and prepared—everything I felt I wasn’t.
At the end of the workshop, there was a Q-and-A session. An attendee raised her hand and posed a situation she recently faced. I sat back and listened, thinking, “I have no clue what I would do in that situation.”
The client, it turned out, was pregnant in the midst of a marriage that was falling apart due to infidelity. Multiple families were involved, and the baby this woman was carrying would be of a different race from the client’s husband and her other children. There was no hiding the breech of trust.
I was overwhelmed just picturing the scenario. The consensus approach from the class, and from Bri, was, “Keep her on the phone, keep the connection open, and take it one day at a time.” I remember thinking how glad I was to not be dealing with that situation.
Two weeks later. Tiffany called the hotline.
I had just closed up the center, picked up my daughter from kindergarten and was on the autobahn heading home after a long day when the phone rang.
One Day at a Time
Tiffany’s first question was whether we perform abortions and, if so, when could she make the earliest appointment. As I listened, mother-to-mother to someone desperate with fear, I offered to meet up and talk. When someone, like Tiffany, needs to talk, they just need someone to listen. I could do that.
A mother of three young boys, a married family friend had taken advantage of Tiffany while her husband was deployed in the Middle East. Now, she was pregnant. My heart sank as I realized I knew the wife whose husband was the father of Tiffany’s baby.
My thoughts went back to that session at the Heartbeat International Annual Conference. I’d only been back a couple of weeks, so the conversation—and that fleeting sense of relief that, at least I wasn’t dealing with this situation—was still fresh in my mind.
I asked myself, “What would Bri do in this situation? How would she handle this ‘Tough Question?” How on earth could I help to “fix” this?
That’s when Bri’s answer at the workshop crystalized in my mind: Keep her on the phone. Keep the connection open. Take it one day at a time.
As I got to know Tiffany and listened to her story, God began to teach me to take one step at a time, one day at a time. I wasn’t going to “fix” Tiffany’s situation. There was no formula. There were very few words of wisdom I could offer.
I only had the love of Christ, which I have seen and experienced in my own life, and which I could draw upon to share with someone who was hurting, alone and scared. Extending love was all Tiffany needed at that moment. Looking back, I’m sure that, had I tried to impart counseling methods or a fixed scenario, I may have missed an opportunity to actually love her.
The Miracle of Love
This life of love starts right where we are. I didn’t have years of training or relevant experience; it was a core principle that came to light in the “Tough Questions” workshop that set me on course. Stay on the line. Keep the connection open. Take it a day at a time.
Often, we count ourselves out even before we give ourselves the chance to see how God works through us. Whether it’s our perceived gap in our qualifications, preparation or “life-togetherness,” we need to remember that it’s God who works through us, and He’s the one who qualifies the unqualified.
Hitting my Facebook message folder four years after we first met, Tiffany’s note jarred me out of the same thought pattern to which I—and I’m guessing, you—tend to default.
Tiffany is now a homeschooling mother of five young boys. She’s going back to school to pursue a degree in crisis counseling. She reached out to let me know that, because of the way God worked through our relationship, she wants to do the same for others.
What a powerful reminder of the God who supplies our every need “according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.” I know He has supplied mine. What a blessing to know He’s done the same for Tiffany.
You can read Tiffany’s story here.
by Carrie Beliles, International Program Specialist
You know abortion is a worldwide epidemic that must be addressed by life-affirming pregnancy help wherever it exists. But, what can you and your center do to help advance life-affirming help on the other side of the world?
The answer may be simpler than you’d think. In fact, with Heartbeat International’s Life Reach Global, it’s only a couple of clicks away.
Connecting U.S.-based pregnancy help people with global friends, Life Reach Global is one way Heartbeat International’s network can push ahead in our shared hope of making abortion unwanted today and unthinkable for future generations all over the world.
At Heartbeat International, we have long encouraged local organizations to connect with one another for ongoing partnerships during our Annual Conference, pairing U.S. organizations with their sister outreaches outside the States for mutual support and encouragement.
One example of this was at our 2014 Annual Conference, where attendees from all over the world pitched together to present our friend, “Lilli”, with a check to cover the first year’s operations at China’s first-ever Heartbeat affiliate. Now, partnering with life-saving efforts like Lilli’s is simpler than ever through Life Reach Global.
How Does Life Reach Global Work?
You start by selecting an life-saving affiliate of Heartbeat International, each of which Heartbeat has reviewed and approved to received funds through Life Reach Global.
After you give through Life Reach Global, Heartbeat International transfers your donation to the recipient organization. In most cases, your gift (less transaction fees) will reach the recipient organization in full, though in some cases, Heartbeat International will deduct no more than 1 percent for an affiliation or administration fee.
The recipient organization will receive the funds on at least a quarterly basis.
As a giver, your donation through Life Reach Global is tax-deductible because of Heartbeat International’s worldwide mission.
How Can We Receive Funds through Life Reach Global?
If your non-U.S. pregnancy help organization has been a Heartbeat International affiliate in good standing for at least the past 12 months, you can apply to receive funds through Life Reach Global.
by Carrie Beliles, International Relations Specialist
Kristijan Aufiero is a breath of fresh air and quickly becoming one of the most powerful communicators and effective organizers for the pro-life movement in Europe. Based out of Heidelberg, the pro-life organization he leads is called Pro Femina ("For the Woman") and has been in existence since 1986.
However, it has grown exponentially under Kristijan's leaderhip in the last five years. It was named Pro Femina in response to the Planned Parenthood affiliate in Germany which is called Pro Familia ("For the Family"). Aufiero says "If they are for the family, then we are for the woman!"
An affiliate of Heartbeat International, Pro Femina is an uncompromising grassroots organization that now runs 320 baby bottle drives at churches across Germany with grassroots volunteers and collected 15,000 bottles last year. They grew this drive from only 28 baby bottle drives in 2010.
Mr. Aufiero's excellence in google analytics and fundraising has caused the organization to grow tremendously through its own organic fundraising, and its websites draw in German speakers in Germany, Austria, and Swizterland and elsewhere around the world who type in keywords related to abortion and unplanned pregnancy. When German speakers type in these terms, Pro Femina's subtle but excellent website is often first or second on the google hits. They receive 30,000 views a month on their webpage from German speakers, 360,000 approximately per year and growing.
This website leads abortion-vulnerable women to often chat about these issues in a forum, and email or speak on the phone with one of the 16 full-time, professionally trained, pro-life counselors based out of the Pro Femina Heidelberg office. They also see clients face-to-face in that office, although since they counsel clients across Germany and the German-speaking world, the phone is their primary method of communication. They counseled 2,200 women last year alone.
Since they are growing by leaps and bounds, they are expanding by opening a new pregnancy help center this September in Munich, one of the largest cities in Germany, and also where Aufiero was born and raised by Italian and Croatian parents.
As a German with Italian and Croatian parents, Aufiero is particularly well-suited to speaking to this issue to Europeans of all kinds. An unapologetic pro-lifer, his counselors do not provide the documentation that would enables their clients to go to obtain abortion in Germany.
In Germany, counseling before an abortion is still mandatory and has been ever since abortion was formally legalized in the first trimester in 1991 when Germany was reunified. Prior to 1991, abortion had technically been illegal for all trimesters, although a doctor's note that the woman was undergoing undue stress or psychological problems from the pregnancy would allow a woman to receive an abortion in the first trimester. When West Germany reunified with East Germany in 1991, East Germany had typically liberal Soviet bloc laws on abortion and the current framework was a compromise between the two systems.
Aufiero's counselors do not provide this document of counseling to their clients because they feel they would then be participating in or facilitating in an abortion and thus participants in this act.
When my husband, Ben, and I visited Aufiero in his Heidelberg office this April, he explained that he feared that the laws in Germany were moving toward an even more pro-choice and anti-life position in the near future. But he also affirmed that they would keep fighting for every unborn child's life in the meantime.
A devout Catholic, Aufiero's organization has both Catholic and Protestant employees and is a wonderful example of Catholics and Protestants working together in the name of Christ to end abortion.
Tweet this! Pro Femina is an example of Catholics and Protestants working together in the name of Christ to end abortion.
Aufiero has also created a wonderful communication method for spreading the positive message of life. He calls it "German words" and it consists of postcards printed by Pro Femina which have pictures of beautiful little newborns in entertaining outfits with catchy, positive messages of children on them such as "World Cup Champions 2034," "The Future Chancellor of Germany 2067," and other cute messages that highlight that children are the future and must be preserved and appreciated.
This is all the more important in a country such as Germany where the birth rate is 1.3 children per woman, well below replacement rate.
Over a million of these pithy postcards have been mailed throughout Germany by supporters of the organization - and others who just find them charming. In so doing, the pro-life message has been spread throughout Germany without spending a cent. Supporters buy these postcards for small donations and use them as stationery for their messages. It is a brilliant, low-cost method of propagating the pro-life message that has quickly become well-known throughout the English-speaking world and needs to be utilized in other languages and countries.
We are confident Aufiero will soon be crafting new and better ways of communicating the pro-life message.
Aufiero is willing to use the newest technologies and strategies to mold a pro-life message that will shape the next generation in Europe, a place without many strong pro-life voices and where most pro-life messages are marginalized and labeled extreme. Aufiero is a leader and Pro Femina is an organization that is growing and needs our support to answer the problems of abortion in Germany and Europe in the 21st Century.
Heartbeat International welcomes Carrie Beliles as our new part-time International Program Specialist. Carrie will now be the primary liaison and consultant for Heartbeat'sInternational Program outreach.
Originally from the U.S.A., Carrie's travels and interests have taken her far and wide. From running a pregnancy help center in Rammstein, Germany to advocating against sex-trafficking in Asia, Carrie's passion for life-affirming ministry is evident. She has 5 kids (all under the age of 8) and now makes her home in Virginia with her husband, Ben.
Carrie joins the Ministry Services Team and takes over the role from Molly Hoepfner, who will now be more focused as Heartbeat's Event Planner, especially our Annual Conference.
We are so excited to have Carrie on the team that we decided to do a quick interview so you could get to know her too.
Heartbeat International congratulates CAM (Centro de Ayuda para la Mujer Latinoamericana, A. C.) on reaching 25 years of lifesaving ministry.
Heartbeat President, Peggy Hartshorn, was honored to celebrate this great achievement with CAM representative in Mexico City, Mexico, saying:
"Congratulations on this very important occasion of the 25th Anniversary of CAM. God certainly laid it on the hearts of your founders, Jorge and Magdalena, that it was essential that every woman with a difficult pregnancy, finding herself perhaps alone and afraid, could find help and hope and the courage she needed to carry her pregnancy to term. This is because every person is made in the image and likeness of God, both the mother and the child!
Let us continue to lock arms around the world, pray for each other, strengthen and encourage each other, and recommit to the task ahead. Our strength and power comes from the Lord. We are responding to his call, Come follow Me. We are running the race and fighting and good fight and we look forward to our reward in heaven where, like St. Paul, we hope to hear the words, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”
As spring turned to summer, it was time for the annual Pan-African Conference, hosted by Association for Life of Africa (AFLA). This year's event was held in Livingstone, Zambia—a fitting place for trail-blazing missionaries to meet.
Heartbeat International was on site, standing alongside our brothers and sisters for life in every corner of the globe.
This year's conference, "Breaking New Grounds in the Kingdom of God," included missionaries for life from 12 countries and was keynoted by former Heartbeat International board member, Rev. John Tabor.
The represented countries were Zambia, Zimbabwe, South Africa, Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique, Ghana, Nigeria, Botswana, Ecuador, Brazil, and the U.S.
"It's an exciting time for AFLA as we continue to grow and adapt," AFLA President Barbra Nalavwe Mwanza said to open the five-day conference. "We must remain always adaptable, motivated, responsive, and client-focused."
Topics of focus for the conference included, "Where is the Church and the Theology of Life?", "Abortion in Africa," "Counseling Toolbox," "Healing the Wounds," "The Boardmanship," "How to Start a Centre," Natural Family Planning, Sexual Integrity, and Fundraising. But Africa, as Barbra pointed out to lead off the conference, could not hope to solve these problems without addressing the underlying life-and-death issue of the sanctity of human life.
Heartbeat International Director of Marketing and Communications Debora R. Myles brought her expertise to the conference, presenting a keynote entitled, "The ABCs of Marketing with Emphasis on Websites," and a workshop called "Fundraising Essentials."
In addition to Myles and Rev. Tabor, Lorraine Gariboldi, author and founding member of Heartbeat International affiliate Life Center of Long Island, spoke at the event, drawing from her leadership experience in a three-location setting.
Find out more about Heartbeat's International partners here.
Led by Barbra Mwanza, a long-time friend of Heartbeat International, Association For Life of Africa (AFLA) grew out of a ministry known as Silent Voices Zambia, and formed a partnership with Heartbeat in 2013. AFLA's vision includes the following: (1) Bring together the independent and autonomous Life Affirming/ Giving Organizations/Centres in Africa through Affiliation. (2) ALFA connects its Affiliates to local and overseas mentors and also matching the local and overseas resource to where they can be mostly utilized. (3) Equip and Coach new Directors & church leaders in Africa. (4) Spearhead the Bi-Annual Pan African For Life Equipping Conference.
Click here to visit Association For Life of Africa's website.
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