by Jay Hobbs, Communications Assistant
It would be difficult to imagine the two nations of Russia and Israel heading in opposite directions on abortion legislation, restrictions, and even state-sponsored funding. But, the news out of both countries in recent days has shown just that.
The 2013 calendar came to a close with Russian president Vladimir Putin approving new measures restricting advertisements for abortion, which continued a process that began in 2011 with the limiting of most abortions to no later than the 12th week, along with a 48-hour waiting period.
Meanwhile, Israel, “a nation with a forceful religious lobby and a conservative prime minister, is poised to offer its female citizens some of the most liberal abortion coverage in the world,” according to a Jan. 6 article in The Times of Israel.
Under Israel’s new “health care basket,” the article points out, abortion access will not only be expanded, but a total of $4.6 million (U.S. dollars) in public funds will be set aside for an estimated 6,000 state-funded abortions.
According to The Times, “No medical reason for the abortion is required.”
Consider the following statement from Dr. Yonatan Halevy, director general of Shaare Tzedek Medical Center in Jerusalem:
“We want large families in Israel. We definitely encourage birth,” he says. “But when pregnancy occurs and it is undesired or inadvertent, I think we should supply the means to end the pregnancy properly.”
This new development in Israel is certainly cause for concern and prayer for Christians all over the globe, particularly considering Israel’s unique role in salvation history, as well as its standing as the only democracy in the Middle East.
While Russia’s newest legislation is no doubt driven by an overarching concern for its dwindling population—the result of a staggering 1,022 abortions per 1,000 live births—rather than a conviction regarding the sanctity of life, this gradual shift is certainly reason for rejoicing, when each life (including mothers and unborn children) protected from the violence of abortion is taken into account.
In any case, both situations demand the prayer of Christians, starting with those involved in the local battle for life in every corner of the world. ________________________________________Pass along information about the global reality of abortion to your church this Sanctity of Life season, as we pray together for a world where abortion is unwanted today and unthinkable for future generations.
This story was sent to Heartbeat from Josephine Shoo, Executive Director of Options Pregnancy Clinic of Tanzania.
This child (pictured left) is albino. She almost lost her life before she was born, because her mother didn't have a true commitment to her father, and her family tried to force her to abort.
Herocially, she completely refused to do so!
After her birth, the father was so happy because the baby was albino, he came and suggested to the mother that they could cut her fingers or hands and sell them, so they could become rich and live forever happily together.
This is a lie of the enemy that has been going on in our country for many years. The spirit of death and the Culture of Death have far too often prevailed. Thankfully, this mother--again, heroically!--refused, and ran to our maternity home for rescue.
As for this precious little child, her life was in danger before and after her birth. But, she is now a big girl, and she just joined our school this year.
Heartbeat International seeks to advance the pregnancy help movement worldwide, and has partnered with the following networks to better serve women and families on every continent of the globe.
Heartbeat International® and the Centros de Ayuda para la Mujer Latinoamericana, A. C. (CAM) celebrate a new level of partnership that will serve pro-life pregnancy help ministries in both CAM’s Latin American network and Heartbeat’s worldwide network. This new Heartbeat-CAM program completes the pregnancy-help reach to women in the farthest points of the Americas. Heartbeat has similar partnership programs pregnancy networks in Canada, Africa, Australia and southeast Asia.
Heartbeat and CAM believe that this partnership, the fruit of a long-standing relationship, will benefit both organizations. The partnership enhances both Heartbeat and CAM’s respective ability to serve the pro-life pregnancy help ministries that place confidence in the two networks. Heartbeat International President Dr. Peggy Hartshorn, Ph.D. says, “Both CAM and Heartbeat serve pregnancy help ministries by assisting our affiliates and one another in fulfilling the mission that God has given to us to reach, rescue, and renew their communities for life by serving abortion-vulnerable women and their families and working to restore God’s plan for our sexuality.”
Heartbeat sees many benefits in working more closely with CAM: expansion of international affiliates as well as access to the expertise and cultural understanding that CAM offers its network of 98 pro-life ministries in 15 Latin American countries. Heartbeat is pleased that the joint affiliation will allow CAM to promote Heartbeat benefits to CAM’s network.
CAM, which recently celebrated two decades of service to women and adolescents facing unplanned pregnancies, continues to expand throughout Latin America from its original center in Mexico City. According to CAM founder, Mr. Jorge Serrano Limón, “Today, more than 1,800 women and their babies are saved each month in Mexico City alone.” That number is growing fast as pregnancy help centers open across Latin America, from Mexico to Argentina.
Click here for news about CAM.
Click here to view CAM's website.
Argentina is known for the tango, amazing beef, quality leather goods, and delicious chocolate.
Most recently, it’s also famous for providing the first pope from Latin America, Pope Francis.
In October, Argentina served as host country for the 5th Conference of the Red Latinoamericana Centro de Ayuda para Mujer (CAMs), where more than 200 pregnancy help leaders and volunteers from 10 different countries joined together for information and inspiration.
The conference featured keynotes by a representative from Human Life International, along with Heartbeat International Vice-President Jor-El Godsey, complimented by a list of break-out sessions including Heartbeat’s The LOVE Approach™ (La Propuesta de la Amor) and reaching the abortion-minded client.
CAM centers are growing across Latin America, more than doubling their number to over 130 centers in the past four years! We are blessed to partner with CAM, as—together—we advance the pregnancy help movement worldwide.
Jovana and her son, David
by Vesna Radeka, Executive Director, Choose Life Center
In our pregnancy help ministry, we have experienced the joy of assisting clients who chose to go against the Culture of Death surrounding us, deciding to keep their babies even in the midst of a crisis pregnancy.
While these women would listen to our advice and receive encouragement by our words and whatever help we could provide—including baby clothes, diapers, and money—we would still see them struggle from day to day.
These women are usually young, and do not have the support of either their baby’s father, their families, or both. When we come into contact with them, they are either far along into their pregnancy, or now have a baby up to about three months old.
These women need to be able to work in order to pay their rent, but there are precious few opportunities for a pregnant girl or a new mom to find a job. If they are able to find a job, who will take care of the baby?
I am so sad when I think how the first year of motherhood looks for some of these women. But beyond feeling sad about the situation for so many of these, I dare to dream of a better situation for these precious mothers and children.
What if we were able to offer accommodation and care to women in this fragile state, to give them the chance to enjoy being moms? What if this could become a place where moms are coached how to make better life choices, to follow Christ, to change their mind about relationships, to choose to wait, and to learn how to be good moms?
I know this dream could become reality if Christian families were willing to accept pregnant women into their homes. But in Serbia, we face two challenges: First, we have a very small number of vibrant, practicing Christians; and second, our culture largely lives within multigenerational homes—married couples with children, living with in-laws, and usually in small flats.
Social help in Serbia for single moms is around 12.000 dinars, which is around $140 per month. With that income, a single mom can only rent a room, to say nothing of paying bills or putting food on the table.
In the last two to three years, we at Choose Life Center have had to go beyond our month-to-month budget limits to help women as needs have arisen. Whenever we could, we have helped pay rent, bills, or grocery costs, but this type of care was not planned into our budget, so we had to stretch—and sometimes overextend—for the sake of these moms.
As we’ve gone through these seasons, we have thought and prayed about the direction in which Choose Life Center should develop. Is it to become a medical clinic, offering free ultrasound? Is it preventative services? Developing school programs? A housing ministry?
Slowly, God’s leading became clear to us, and Sarah House For Women began to take shape as a maternity housing ministry, adding to the everyday work we remain committed to doing at Choose Life Center.
In addition to reaching and assisting women in the midst of all the difficulties surrounding a crisis pregnancy, we pray Sarah House For Women will also have a huge impact on how the city officials see us as a Christian organization.
Rather than perceiving our work as threatening or as a nuisance, we pray—and expect—city officials to see that what we are doing really does benefit and bless the whole city.
Who knows? Maybe this new work will allow us to apply for and secure future grants and funds from the government, allowing us to continue reaching and rescuing women in Novi Sad, while renewing communities all over Serbia for life in the years to come.
Grace Chanda Swala was on the verge of giving up.
Having become executive director for Mansa Silent Voices in Zambia just a year ago, Grace and her family had laid the comfort of living in their own home on the altar, hoping to raise support for the fledgling center by renting out their home.
But by the time late July rolled around, and the Africa Cares for Life conference along with it, Grace was on the brink of losing heart.
Her heart burdened for the women and children in her community, and her spirit all but crushed under the weight of financial stress and worry, the five-day bus ride from Zambia to Durbin, South Africa, seemed like an eternity.
Would her center ever reach and rescue the women she passed by on the street every day? Could her ministry thrive under such tight constraints and seemingly insurmountable obstacles?
Would Grace and her family face financial ruin because of their selfless sacrifice on behalf of women and babies in Mansa?
Meanwhile, as Grace traveled the five days from Mansa to Durbin, grace was traveling halfway across the world to meet her, as Heartbeat International’s Director of Ministry Services Betty McDowell arrived for a full week of speaking and teaching at the conference.
Betty’s week started with a visit to Pregnancy Resource Centre, a maternity home in Durbin, and followed up with an in-depth day on fundraising all day Monday and into Tuesday morning.
While teaching two sessions on Heartbeat’s Sexual Integrity™ Program early in the week, Betty delivered two keynotes to the 80-plus person conference, which included representatives from three African nations.
“Vision came through as a major theme at this conference,” Betty said. “These friends face so many hardships we don’t here in the U.S., or even most parts in the west. It blew me away to hear from each organization about the problems they deal with: HIV, high crime rates, and even personal safety at risk on a day-to-day basis, and yet they keep at their work in spite of all these obstacles.”
“Africa Cares for Life did a superb job with this conference, and so much of the credit goes to Shanno Enoch, who was running her first conference as Executive Director,” Betty said. “That group is such an encouraging example of what true learners and servant-leaders look like.”
As the conference, “New Beginnings… Bountiful Harvest,” progressed, leaders like Grace were refreshed, encouraged and better equipped to hold fast to the Gospel of Life in spite of the daunting challenges they face every day.
For Grace, the conference truly proved to be a new beginning. As she boarded the bus back to Mansa, prepared for five days en route home, Grace reveled in the encouragement, instruction, and fellowship that had left her rejuvenated, and freshly ready to pursue her God-given call.
Grace also reflected on God’s faithfulness to provide a harvest. Even after a hard year of working the Zambian soil.
Heartbeat and PSSA join hands to fill a tall order in the Philippines
Centers affiliated with Pregnancy Support Services of Asia (PSSA) fill a tall order helping women and families. Asia is a region of the world where abortion and other population control tools are the order of the day. In fact, for baby girls throughout Asia, the mother’s womb has become a very dangerous place.
PSSA, founded by Lily Perez and headquartered in Manila, takes on the daily challenge of pregnancy support, thanks to the grace-filled vision that God gave to Lily over a decade ago.
PSSA has joined hands with Heartbeat International in a joint-affiliation agreement that makes more life-saving services available to PSSA’s pregnancy help centers.
At Heartbeat, we welcome the expansion of international affiliates and the access to the expertise and cultural understanding of Asian society that PSSA offers through its network of pro-life ministries. Heartbeat is also pleased that the joint affiliation will allow PSSA affiliates to benefit from Heartbeat affiliates the world over, our experience, and our tools. For example, PSSA affiliates will gain access to Heartbeat online trainings around the world and around the clock through the Heartbeat International Academy.
The idea for PSSA began at Heartbeat International’s annual conference in October 2004. Lily, a longtime pro-life advocate from the Philippines, attended the Heartbeat Conference and became inspired to create an umbrella organization for pro-life pregnancy centers throughout Asia. Heartbeat and PSSA began working together to bring leadership training including board management, postabortion healing, hotline counseling, and The LOVE Approach™ to PSSA affiliates. For example, in 2006, Heartbeat had the privilege of helping PSSA build capacity and leadership among Asian pregnancy help ministries by cosponsoring the Heart to Love Conference in the Philippines with PSSA. Over 180 individuals seeking training for pregnancy center ministries attended the conference.
“The growing reach of PSSA’s helping arms is a dream come true and an answered prayer for me in my personal mission of promoting life-affirming services in my country,” said Lily. “I am forever grateful to Peggy Hartshorn (Heartbeat International President) and Heartbeat International for sharing their passion for this ministry.”
Click here to learn more about PSSA
Pro-life Servants lead with their hearts to strengthen Pregnancy Help Movement
Lily Perez has been involved with many organizations promoting life in the Philippines. She and her husband, Rene, were Directors of Couples for Christ Family Enrichment Education Ministry for many years. Currently, Lily leads Pregnancy Support Services of Asia.
Heartbeat staff met Lily for the first time at our 2001 annual conference that was in Glendale, California. With her love for the Lord and for life, Lily began attending Heartbeat conferences, many times accompanied by family and co-workers. Not only has Lily visited Heartbeat, but Heartbeat staff has also visited Lily in the Philippines on many occasions.
After attending Heartbeat’s annual conference in 2004, Lily was inspired to create an umbrella organization for pro-life pregnancy centers throughout Asia, originally called Heartbeat International Philippines Center, later named Pregnancy Support Services of Asia (PSSA). Lily’s gentle spirit and strong leadership, gifts from the Lord, have helped her realize her dreams. She continues to be open to the Lord’s leading as she sees answered prayers of life-affirming services in the Philippines. PSSA plans to form affiliated pregnancy help centers in Hong Kong, Brunei, Papua New Guinea, Vietnam, Korea, Japan, and China by training individuals in these countries to establish and develop effective pregnancy centers.
What better way to advance the pregnancy help movement worldwide than for one Heartbeat affiliate to link arms with another Heartbeat affiliate for the sake of women, babies, and families all over the world?
A new mother cradles her child in Immokalee.
The moment Diane Hanson stopped by for a meeting in Immokalee, Florida, an hour’s drive from the affluent town of Naples, she knew God was calling her family to serve the women and families of this impoverished community for the next season in life.
The year was 2007, two years after Hurricane Wilma whipped through the agricultural-dependent migrant community with winds over 120 miles per hour, and at the peak of the U.S. economic downturn, leaving nearly 40 percent of Immokalee’s residents below the federal poverty line.
Then serving as a pregnancy help center executive director at a center in Naples, Diane was asked by local leaders to take the reins at Immokalee Pregnancy Center, which had been destroyed by Hurricane Wilma. Soon, she and her husband, Dave, were on their way to their new mission field.
With so much work to do, and so little in the way of material and financial resources, the Hansons connected to an old friend and ministry partner named Phil Holsinger.
A veteran pregnancy help leader since the early 1990s, Phil was in the process of transitioning to a role as president and CEO of Heartbeat affiliate Blue Ridge Women’s Center in Roanoke, Virginia, where he had been struck by a parable of sorts, told by a friend who’d become a Christian during a stint in a federal penitentiary.
The parable went something like this: Several prisoners were sat down in a room and given a handful of puzzle pieces, then told they must learn to work with others without the benefit of speaking in order to complete the puzzle. These small groups of prisoners could only accomplish their work by cooperatively capitalizing on their shared resources.
To Phil, the application of this parable was simple. Every pregnancy help organization simultaneously has abundant resources and abundant need. Rather than expending the bulk of efforts compensating for areas of need, Phil realized, organizations could flourish by sharing from their areas of abundance with others.
Phil Holsinger (L) and Center for Global Strategies leaders, together with Macedonian President Gjorge Ivanov (head of table) in January, 2013.
And so, when Diane and Dave Hanson landed in financially strapped Immokalee, Phil knew this could be the perfect opportunity for his vision to come to reality.
Phil Holsinger (L) and Center for Global Strategies leaders, together with Macedonian President Gjorge Ivanov (head of table) in January, 2013.
“When Dave first brought me to the center, I had to kick chickens out of the way from the car to the building,” Phil said. “I told him, ‘This place reminds me of places I’ve been in Africa, or South America, or the Caribbean.’ I told him, ‘Anything we have is yours.’”
From that point on, Blue Ridge Women’s Center has supported Immokalee Pregnancy Center by, among other assistance, supplying one month’s overhead each year. Since Blue Ridge began this partnership, Phil’s goal has been to involve other pregnancy help organizations to pitch in and supply Immokalee with enough monthly support to power the center through an entire year.
But Phil’s vision has also expanded globally, with a similar work starting in the former Yugoslav country of Macedonia, where he and leaders from Center for Global Strategies recently met with the country’s President to discuss the good work of pregnancy centers, the first of which has been established in the bustling city of Shtip.
“We talked with the President for almost an hour about pregnancy help centers, and he was getting tears in his eyes as we told him the stories of women, babies, and families saved,” Phil said. “Then I thought, ‘Why couldn’t the same thing that’s happening with Immokalee happen here?’”
“It’s been amazing to see the lives that are being changed already in Macedonia, even with little-to-no advertising. I have just been blown away with how God is working there, and with the bulk of worldwide abortions occurring outside of the U.S., these efforts are uniquely strategic, as well as uniquely needed.”
With the pregnancy help movement advancing worldwide, the puzzle pieces are falling into place, thanks to faithful men and women like Phil Holsinger, Diane and Dave Hanson, and partners like you.
Partnership with Movimento per la Vita, Heartbeat unveiled
While newly elected Pope Francis paid an unexpected visit to some 40,000 participants in Italy’s March for Life in Rome May 13, Heartbeat International was busy at the same event, signing paperwork for an official partnership with Italian pro-life organization Movimento per la Vita.
The collaborative partnership adds 398 new affiliates for Heartbeat International, bolstering its position as the largest network of pro-life pregnancy help centers in the world, with 1,800 affiliates. Heartbeat’s first official
partnership in Western Europe now gives the 42-year-old organization a presence on all six inhabited continents, with partners in Canada, Latin America, the Philippines, Australia, South Africa, and Central Africa.
Movimento per la vita President Carlo Casini (L) signs partnership agreement with former Heartbeat International board member Marie Meaney at Italy's March for Life.
“We are very pleased to announce this partnership with Movimento per la Vita,” Peggy Hartshorn, Ph.D., in her 21st year as president of Heartbeat International, said. “We already share so much in common with these friends, and I personally look forward to what we will learn from them as our relationship grows.”
Founded in 1975, Movimento per la Vita—much like Heartbeat International—began providing women with abortion alternatives three years prior to the procedure's legalization in its country, and now includes 338 pregnancy centers and 60 maternity homes, providing life-affirming help to women and families in need. The group is led by its founding director, Carlo Casini, a former judge who now serves as a member of the European Parliament.
Movimento per la Vita also operates a pregnancy helpline, SOS Vita, which connects women facing difficult situations involving unexpected pregnancies to local centers, referred to as Centri di aiuto alla Vita (CaV). The helpline operated by Movimento per la Vita distinctly parallels Heartbeat International’s Option Line ®, a 24/7 call center connecting women and men facing unexpected pregnancies with real-time help and face-to-face contact with local pregnancy help centers.
In 2012, Movimento per la Vita served 60,000 women and saw 16,000 babies born who were otherwise vulnerable to abortion. Since 1975, the network has served over 500,000 women, delivering 160,000 children.
Click here to view Movimento per la Vita's website.
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