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.
by Jay Hobbs, Communications Assistant
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.
Thirteen years ago, a woman came into the office seeking abortion. She was in deep pain. Hurt and at the crossroads. Her husband had abandoned her for another woman, leaving her with a pregnancy and four other children to take care of.
Now, with a fifth child in the womb, she saw only reasons to terminate her pregnancy. Besides that, she had no funds for rent or to send her kids to school. She was afraid to go through all these issues alone, without a husband. There seemed no way for her to survive, especially with one more mouth to feed.
Her mind was just abortion.
The woman was counseled, but still she left being abortion minded.
September 21, 2012, the woman called my number and asked if Silent Voices still existed. I told her we are still there and our offices are now at 33 Nsombo Street. She then said, “I would like to come to the office, and I am coming with my 12-year-old daughter who was saved in that same Center.”
She also said, “For many years, I have been talking to my daughter about that place, and I promised her that one day I would take her to meet her spiritual mom.”
Seven days later, the woman came in with a special gift—her daughter that was saved 13 years ago. Her daughter is named “Precious.” We all broke into tears of joy, danced and sang songs of joy.
Precious is in seventh grade now and she is about to write her seventh-grade exams. She is very good at speaking English and she is a leader at the church youth group. She told us she likes reading and going to church.
Precious’ mother is still single and very much committed to taking care of her children. Thank you so much, faithful friends and partners, for standing with us in many ways. Because of you, today we are able to witness God's faithfulness through the LIFE He brought to the Center today.
Your prayers and support are highly valued, be blessed always and rejoice with us always.
Continue to pray for both Precious and her mother as they work hard to pull through in life. Precious has five years to go before she finishes 12th grade and goes into college. Kindly pray with her.
This letter was originally sent to friends and donors by Barbara Mwanza, Executive Director of Silent Voices Zambia, one of over 300 non-U.S. Heartbeat International affiliates. It has been adapted for use at HeartbeatServices.org.
by Carrie Beliles
When the annual Berlin March for Life was held last year, my husband, Ben, our four children, our friend Breanne, and I drove the seven hours from where we are stationed with the United States Air Force (Ramstein Air Base), near Kaiserslautern, to downtown Berlin.
On Friday night, we attended a pre-march meeting, with leaders from the pro-life movement here in Germany, as well the Netherlands and members of European Dignity Watch, a pro-life NGO working with the European Parliament in Brussels, Belgium.
European Dignity Watch is a small, dedicated group of people who do what they do because it is right—not because it’s popular or a good career move—and some of them have been involved in the movement for years.
We encouraged them by relating what we are doing with our center, where I serve as executive director. We primarily minister to American military personnel and dependents, but we also serve locals and foreigners living in Germany who are without access to everything they need to raise their children. Unfortunately, we are one of the only pregnancy help centers in Germany.
The meeting concluded with a prayer, as well as laying out the final details for the next day’s march.
Unlike pro-life marches in the States, the March is extremely intense in Berlin. The counter-protesters were chanting things like, "If Mary would've had an abortion you wouldn't be bothering us now," and, "If you had been aborted we wouldn't be bothered.”
Before we started to march, the organizers asked us to remain quiet, and not to dignify the protesters with a response. The counter-protesters came equipped with whistles, which they constantly blew to try and distract us from hearing the speakers at the beginning of the march.
They continued to try and drown out our singing or speaking with shrill whistles as the march got underway.
The Berlin riot police were out in force, and seemed prepared to put down any real disturbance by the counter-protestors. As we marched along, a burly German priest told us to move into the center of the marching crowd to keep our children safe. Noticeably, there were no other children marching. Our four little children got quite a few smiles, and had a few pictures taken throughout the day.
The organizers handed out large wooden crosses at the beginning of the march, and our 4-year-old, Faith, carried one as she rode in the stroller down the streets of Berlin.
The walk led us along some of the most historically significant sites in world history. We began in front of the Reichstag, which was burned in late January, 1933, serving as the pretext for Hitler’s declaring of martial law. The Reichstag was later restored, and now serves as Germany’s capitol building.
Following the Reichstag, we were almost immediately in front of the Brandenburg Gate, through which Napoleon marched when he conquered Berlin in 1806, and in front of which, President Ronald Reagan said those immortal words to Mr. Mikhail Gorbachev in 1987, “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!”
We followed the line marked in the road almost the entire distance where the Berlin Wall had stood from 1961 until 1989, dividing East and West Germany. We marched on past Potsdamer Platz, once divided by the Wall, but where East now meets West in Europe, and turned left onto Leipziger Strasse, heading back east.
We then passed the building that had served as headquarters for the Luftwaffe during World War II and later was the executive building for the East German government.
The dividing lines are much more stark here than in the United States. People here don’t have time for platitudes and half-truths. The sides are as clearly delineated between good and evil as they have ever been in Berlin.
What is also clear here in Berlin, as the whistles of the counter-protestors and the humming of Amazing Grace fade into memory, is that history does change, movements do matter, and nothing stays the same forever.
Just contemplate the tide of history in this place over the last 70 years. What an encouragement to realize that we may one day place abortion on the trash heap of history, along with so many oppressive regimes of the not-too-distant past.
Meanwhile, the killing continues. As must the praying.
Carrie Beliles serves as executive director for Heartbeat Crisis Pregnancy Center at Ramstein Air Base in western Germany.
In Fishhoek, South Africa, "Marc and Veronica" hold their newly adopted baby girl and praise God that, after six long years of waiting, He has answered their prayers.
Cradling their daughter, "Jenna", in their arms at the site where she was left by her birth mother, the beaming parents know firsthand the value of the work Baby Safe International is doing.
For Marc and Veronica, the thought of Jenna’s probable fate without Baby Safe’s life-saving innovation is unimaginable. At just a day old, Jenna would likely have been a victim of infanticide—infant exposure—had it not been for the availability of Baby Safe’s deposit box, which empowers desperate mothers with a real choice to preserve the life of their baby.
In South Africa, “baby dumping,” as it is called, is an increasingly common occurrence in both rural and urban areas. Some babies are found in plastic bags in rubbish heaps, others in storm drains, abandoned fields, ditches, alleys, or even in rural homemade toilets.
Some of these children are found, thankfully, alive, while others are found dead—upwards of 500 in the Western Cape of South Africa in 2010 alone—and still more are never found. This sad fact tells us that baby dumping is, by its very nature, widely unreported.
Baby Safe, a nonprofit Heartbeat International affiliate, specifically targets this injustice in its region, just outside of Cape Town, by producing and distributing “baby safes,” where mothers can leave their babies anonymously as a real alternative to the horror of infanticide.
The box has a variety of safety features to insure that proper care will be given to the baby who is left by his or her mother. When a baby’s weight is detected inside the safe, a team of dedicated staff are immediately notified, while a safety backup system assures the baby will be promptly rescued by Baby Safe volunteers.
Through the production and distribution of these boxes, Baby Safe is carefully building a network that enables desperate mothers to choose life for their babies. This network is spreading throughout South Africa, and has broken through the northeastern border to Swaziland.
While its visible efforts are focused on providing an alternative to infanticide for desperate mothers, Baby Safe’s long-term vision is to connect with at-risk women before they reach the point of dumping their babies, with holistic direction that includes Bible studies, parenting classes, nutrition education, and even exercise and dance classes.
To learn more about Baby Safe, and to find out how you can help, visit TheBabySafe.org.
Walking the Novi Sad streets, Molly Hoepfner and Betty McDowell pass row after row of square, grey buildings—standing monuments that remain 20 years after the breakup of Communist Yugoslavia.
Yet, even amid the seemingly unvaried landscape of drab, graffiti-covered structures that line the busy streets of Serbia’s second-largest city, an occasional flash of color bursts through a new, freshly painted edifice.
Little by little, life is returning to Serbia.
On behalf of Heartbeat International, Molly and Betty were there to see to it that even as life returns, the long-forgotten value of human dignity and life would truly take root.
Molly and Betty led a four-day volunteer training conference Oct. 4-7, hosted by Serbian pregnancy help organization executive director Vesna Radeka, who is one of more than 300 non-U.S. Heartbeat affiliates.
The conference included training on The LOVE Approach™ and Talking About Abortion™, two of Heartbeat’s signature programs, and welcomed a total of 50 attendees from five nations that were part of Yugoslavia as recent as the early 1990s—Serbia, Montenegro, Macedonia, Slovenia and Croatia.
“They got The LOVE Approach, they really got it,” Betty, Heartbeat’s director of ministry services, said. “Vesna had written scenarios that fit the culture, and that was really exciting. It was exciting to see The LOVE Approach really translate, and to see that it works in any language, any setting. It’s truly ‘Love in every language.’”
The conference is believed to be the first of its kind in the region, which has undergone constant political upheaval and deadly clashes between ethnic groups throughout the last century.
The fledgling growth of unity in the Eastern European pro-life movement was one of the highlights for the Heartbeat mini-envoy, particularly considering the deep entrenchment of the culture of death in the post-Communist region.
“We kept promoting the message that, ‘We’re better together,’” Molly, Heartbeat’s international coordinator said. “They really embraced that, even though that’s not how they tend to think.”
With a population of just over 7 million, Serbia reports an average 23,000 abortions every year. However, unofficial data, reported by The Southeastern European Times, estimates the annual average at 150,000 abortions—twice the number of live births—giving Serbia the highest abortion rate in Europe.
As Molly related, one woman who attended the conference said her mother had undergone 10 abortions after giving birth to her older brother and before giving birth to her, which was a tragically common story among the conference’s attendees.
“I’ve read about survivor’s guilt, but to see it so blatant and prevalent in that room was just so painful,” Betty said.
“This is generational,” Molly said. “Woman after woman after woman at this conference—whose average age was 35-40, stood up and said that they were either an unwanted child or that they grew up with abortion as a way of life.”
Abortion on-demand was legalized in its current form in Yugoslavia in 1977, but has been prevalent in the culture since just after World War II, when abortion was legalized in cases citing socio-medical grounds.
The conference’s attendees, many of whom are actively involved in bringing the sanctity of life message to their local public school systems, welcomed further training on how to speak the message of life into culture that has systematically devalued human life for several decades.
In addition to training related to The LOVE Approach and Talking About Abortion, another Heartbeat resource, the Sexual Integrity™ Program, played a major role in the conference training.
“These women are really stepping out in faith because it’s still so opposite of what their culture is saying,” Molly said. “They’re really going into uncharted waters because they’re in the infancy of pregnancy help centers even though their culture is much more entrenched in death than ours was by the time these centers began.”
One of the most beautiful things about the pro-life movement is its unity. When people come together and pool resources to see a common goal accomplished, the gospel of LIFE is spread throughout the earth.
That’s exactly what took place during Heartbeat International’s Annual Conference last March.
We have the honor of hosting pregnancy help movement leaders from all around the world at Conferences every year, and the chance for those international life-savers to receive training and get equipped can be life-changing. This year, we encouraged our U.S. pregnancy help organizations to bring any foreign coins they may have to our Conference, to be distributed among those outside of the U.S.
We were overwhelmed with the response! We received a multitude of foreign coins that we were able divide up and distribute among our international partners.
Our friends from Centro de Ayuda para la Mujer (CAM) came all the way from Mexico to attend our Conference. We were blessed to be able to give CAM the pesos that we received, knowing that they would be put to good use. And we were right!
The CAM network saves lives from abortion all over Mexico and across Latin America. As it turned out, those donated pesos were spent on baptism robes and gifts for the children who have been saved from abortion by their ministry. It is a thing of beauty to see lives rescued from death now baptized in beautiful garments because of the unity and generosity of the pregnancy help movement.
Thank you for partnering with us as we work to advance the pregnancy help movement worldwide!
The gospel of life in China is taking root. Lofty prayers are being answered!
Because of the nature and scope of this effort, Heartbeat International is releasing Executive Director of Global Advancement John Ensor to begin a new labor, called PassionLife Ministries. Though independent of Heartbeat, PassionLife will seek to work collaboratively with us in our life-saving mission when it officially launches Oct. 1, 2012.
PassionLife is a global missions initiative created to spread the gospel of life and expand the pregnancy help movement in especially difficult places and among people plagued by abortion, infanticide and gendercide. PassionLife will seek to use God’s Word to open the eyes of the Chinese people to the beauty of human life and the ugly truth of abortion.
All of us at Heartbeat are excited to be a part of what the Lord is doing as He expands His work in especially needy areas like China. When God's people respond with a desire to start a pregnancy help organization, Heartbeat’s goal is to provide leadership training and support to assist in equipping those that have been called. John has played an integral part in our movement for nearly 20 years, first as founder and president of a Heartbeat affiliate in Boston, then as a key member of the Heartbeat International Board. He served as a Heartbeat staff member for the past six years before being called to devote his time to bringing God's life-saving message to China.
It is our honor to help launch this new organization, and we greatly anticipate working closely with Chinese leaders who emerge, helping them plan and implement pregnancy help organizations in their own communities.
Please join us as we continue to pray for John's work, and for PassionLife.
May the Lord continue to bless this great and heroic outreach!
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