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 Keith Ferrin, Guest Writer
Sometimes we know exactly what to pray for. The woman walking out of your office who is trying to decide what to do next. The unmarried couple who just signed up for your parenting class. The board meeting next week where tough decisions need to be made. Your fundraising banquet that’s only three weeks away.
Yes, sometimes the prayer needs are very specific and very obvious. And sometimes they are not.
There are also times when you might know what to pray, but your supporters, friends, board members, and people who drive by your center don’t have a clue what you are facing.
What if there was a template – or more accurately – a guide for times when prayer is needed, but the specific prayer requests aren’t known?
At those times, the Apostle Paul’s prayer in the first chapter of Philippians is just such a guide. Take a look...
And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ—to the glory and praise of God. (Philippians 1:9-11)
Now let’s look at this prayer one piece at a time...
More than anything, the people who walk through your doors, call your hotlines, and take your parenting classes need love. To know they are loved. To see it. To feel it. To receive it. To believe it.
Our love needs to abound...more and more.
Simply put: There is a lot to know.
Whether it is new medical information, training to become a better advocate, working more effectively as a staff and board, teaching abstinence classes in the public schools, or navigating the ever-changing political landscape, we could all use more knowledge.
Sometimes you’re talking to a person who truly needs answers. Other times, the person you are with is scared to death and simply needs to know they are not alone. To have the Holy Spirit give us insight into when to talk, when to be silent, and what to say is a daily necessity.
There are few things the enemy wants more than to destroy the purity and blamelessness of your staff, volunteers, and board members. He is a destroyer, and he loves to destroy marriages and families.
Too many times, we have seen the carnage left in the wake of moral failure. The enemy knows that. And he is attacking. Our best weapon in this area is prayer.
This ministry is life and death. Literally. The fruit of your ministry is life. Life for that unborn child. Life for that woman. Life for that couple. And life for all of the lives they touch.
God’s glory and God’s praise is our ultimate desire. We want everything we do to glorify the only One worthy of glory. And we want everything we do to cause those we serve to praise Him.
What if you and I prayed that prayer on a daily basis? What if your staff prayed that prayer? What if your donors prayed that prayer?
When specific prayer requests are known – pray specifically. When they are not – pray Paul’s prayer.
Pray it. Share it. And then pray it some more. Lives are counting on it.
Keith Ferrin is an author, speaker, blogger and storyteller. His word-for-word, dramatic presentations of whole books of the Bible have been seen by audiences big and small on several continents. His passion is helping people not just read and study the Bible, but truly enjoy it! He has been partnering with pregnancy centers around the country for the last decade. He and his wife have three kids and you’ll find them doing something outdoors in and around Seattle. He blogs weekly at www.KeithFerrin.com.
by Kirk Walden, Advancement Specialist
Every four years I can’t help but tune in. Sports I never watch at any other time are now “must see TV.”
Watching swimming one evening, I was mesmerized by the closeness of the women’s 100-meter freestyle event, where the USA’s Simone Manuel and Canada’s Penny Oleksiak tied for the gold medal by touching the wall in exactly 52.70 seconds. The third place finisher, Sarah Sjostrom of Sweden, was just .29 seconds behind, barely enough time to blink an eye. And the eighth place finisher? Still only .66 seconds from winning the gold.
Usually, the difference between gold and bronze, or between bronze and 8th place, is not just natural talent or luck. Instead it is the extra effort of adding the extra practice time, of working on a start—or a turn—just a little longer than someone else. It is early mornings in the weight room, running when it is raining outside or deciding to skip the “day off” or the “you deserve a break today” meal and sticking to the regimen, no matter what.
The difference, in a word, is choice. The greatest choose to do the most difficult tasks, and refuse those things which get in the way on the journey to victory.
So it is with the Christian life. The writer of Hebrews tells us in chapter 11 that Moses “refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, choosing instead to endure ill-treatment with the people of God than to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin, considering the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures of Egypt; for he was looking to the reward.”
Moses had to refuse and choose in order to fulfill God’s will for his life. Each day, we face “refuse and choose” moments. These moments may seem quite small, but added up, they are significant.
As an athlete chooses one more repetition after a grueling day of workouts, we—if we want to truly win the Christian race—must often choose another moment in prayer, another few minutes in our study of God’s word or another hour pouring into someone else’s life if we want that extra breakthrough in our walk with Jesus Christ.
Rarely does someone have to sit down and tell us which are our “refuse and choose” moments. We know, because we sense the Lord’s tug in our spirit.
Athletes sometimes fall short, just as we do. But the greats get back up and start choosing again—because they are looking to the rewards of victory.
Let’s take heart. Yesterday is behind us. Today is another day to refuse . . . and another opportunity to choose. Let’s choose, and be victors in the race set before us.
“Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, lacking in nothing.” James 1:4
Like the Proverbs in the Old Testament, many see James’ letter as the New Testament’s letter of wisdom. Throughout James we see practical advice on how live out our faith (“faith without works is dead,” for example), and this counsel begins in the opening verses as James talks of trials and their role in our lives.
Trials, James tells us, produce endurance and perseverance in our character. This perseverance he concludes, makes us whole, mature and complete, “lacking in nothing.”
Honestly, I do not wish for trials. If I want good company in this view, I need look no farther than Jesus who, when facing crucifixion—the greatest trial of all—asked that “this cup pass from me.” Yet Jesus knew that unless he submitted to God’s will, even he would not be complete in fulfilling his mission to save humankind.
Jesus pushed forth through this unfathomable trial and was able to say with his final words, “It is finished.” This was his defining moment, when all could see Jesus was “mature and complete, lacking in nothing” just as James wishes for us in his letter.
We only get to completeness by trial. Apparently, this is the path. The trials may sometimes be small, asking us to persevere when someone treats us poorly. Or, the trial may be incredibly large, such as a physical or health challenge, the loss of a loved one, or rejection by others.
Our next trial could be financial, relational, physical or mental. We don’t know, and that’s the thing about trials. Rarely do we see them coming.
Trials are surprising, sometimes shocking. Many times we do not understand the “whys” of our trial. All we know is that it is our mission to persevere, and to count this trial as “joy.”
Why joy? Because we know that when we persevere, we grow in the character of Jesus Christ. As we follow Jesus, we prepare ourselves for entrance into his kingdom.
And we are reminded of Jesus who saw his greatest trial as one of joy. We are told in Hebrews 12:2 that Jesus, “For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” Jesus persevered. He endured. If anyone is “perfect and complete,” it is Jesus.
God offers us a similar opportunity. The path includes trial. It is not the easy way, but it is the only way.
Trials are coming. We will look at those trials not with happiness, but with joy. Because we know when we persevere, we will be everything God wants us to be.
by Jill Evans, Guest Writer
I’ll be honest. I can’t imagine facing a life and death battle in my everyday life. My days consist of diapers, sibling squabbles, meal preparation, and drinking coffee. God made me to be a mom, among other things. That is where my standing in life has brought me and where I know He wants me to invest my love and care. So different from a nursing medical career.
Isn’t that the beauty of life though? God placed such intricate passions within to stir and lead us. It is our passion which grounds us inside – knowing we are devoted and following this map through life which God has laid out in our desires.
In World War I, a young nurse name Alice Ross-King was stationed near the trenches in Armentieres, France. She was 28 and had only been at the hospital for five days. During a night in late July, the Germans began dropping bombs, five of which landed on the hospital. The first bomb dropped through the ceiling in front of her and threw her to the ground. Reports say that she was stunned for a few moments but once she had regained her bearings, she ran to assist those around her.
Now, if a bomb drops in front of me you’ll probably find me crying in a corner wishing I was safe under the covers of my childhood bed. But Alice ran toward the fight! She was later awarded a medal for her “great coolness and devotion to duty”. Being levelheaded and devoted – what a beautiful way to live. Is that not what nurses do every day? Run into the fray and fight to save lives – of babies, but also of scared mothers and fathers?
But, I can hear many saying that this was an extraordinary situation, fueled primarily by adrenaline. And it’s true. Alice Ross-King experienced a horrifying circumstance that the overwhelming majority would never find themselves in. The amazing reality is that nurses working in Pregnancy Help Medical Clinics are daily racing toward this fight, devoted, levelheaded, passionate.
Nehemiah 6:9b reads “Now strengthen my hands.” Four words but what powerful ones they are. Let that be your cry as you run toward the fight and it is our prayer for you!
Even though at times you might feel drained and as worn as the dishrag on my sink, every client who crosses the threshold of your center still needs you. They need you to run to them and to show God’s love in what might be the simplest yet most taxing way – to care for them, and this is why we take this week to express our utmost gratitude and appreciation for each and every one of you. You are AMAZING! We Celebrate You! Thank you for running to the aid of those who need you. You are strong and capable through the power of God. You are doing extraordinary work. May the Lord always strengthen your hands.
Jill Evans is the daughter of Heartbeat Medical Specialist, Susan Dammann, RN, LAS and a joyful mother.
Here at Heartbeat International, we get many surprises in the mail. Sometimes, these are great blessings, and this one is too good not to share. So if you read the note below and think it could be a blessing to others, please pass it on.
The note was written by a woman named Marion in Sandusky, Ohio to her granddaughter's friend. The young woman was about to head off to college to pursue a law degree and help those less fortunate. She found herself pregnant, but with courage, she continued, attending school, getting a job, and keeping her baby.
Marion was inspired by the young mother's story and decided to send her a note anonymously thanking her, from the point of view of her precious, little daughter. In the years since, she has done the same for new mothers in her life, and shared with her local pregnancy center, and now all of you!
Thank you, Mom, for keeping me safe, inside you
for taking care of yourself, while I was growing, inside
for my first breath of air, when I decided I wanted to be outside, with you
for your tender touch and soothing voice
for feeding me and keeping my bottom dry
for each time you held me when I cried, and talking to me, and making me smile
for keeping me warm and close to you....
Thank you, Mom, for loving me!
Your little one
by kirk Walden, Advancement Specialist
“For I am mindful of the sincere faith within you, which first dwelt in your grandmother Lois, and your mother Eunice, and I am sure that it is in you as well.” 2 Timothy 1:5
Moms. We love our mothers for so many things, whether it be the way they looked out for us when we were small, their encouraging words or even those times when they needed to set us straight.
Perhaps most memorable however, is the potential power of a mother’s faith. Paul recognized this in his protégé, Timothy. In his second letter to Timothy he talks of the young man’s strong faith—and the truth that this faith was passed on from his grandmother Lois to his mother Eunice; then on to him.
This faith must have been more than special, for Paul to point this out. We can’t find this type of reference anywhere else in the New Testament; a direct compliment to the faith of someone’s parent and grandparent.
Lois cared enough to share her faith with Eunice. She likely spent many an hour with Eunice, talking with her about God’s many deeds he performed for the Israelite people. Not only that, we can be sure Lois also lived her faith in such a way that Eunice said to herself, “She is who I want to be.”
Eunice carried on the legacy of Lois, then had a son named Timothy. We have no record that God told Eunice she was raising one of the great leaders of this new faith in God’s messiah. What she did know however, she learned from her mother.
So Eunice lived out her faith with Timothy. Like her mom, she probably had long talks with the young boy as he grew up, perhaps singing him to sleep with songs of the God she loved and served.
Interesting, isn’t it, that Paul doesn’t mention a father in all of this. Were Timothy’s dad and grandfather men of faith? We don’t know.
There are many great dads in the Bible, without question. But here, mothers take center stage.
I’m not sure of Paul’s reasoning here, but perhaps there is a message for us as we approach Mother’s Day. When we read the New Testament, we read mostly of men like Peter, James, John, Paul, Matthew, Mark and Luke. Men. Great men of God.
But when Paul writes what may have been his final letter; his last opportunity to pour his heart into another, he speaks first of the faith of Timothy’s mother and grandmother.
Maybe Paul knew something we can overlook. Perhaps the writer of so many New Testament books understood that while any of us—man or woman—can impact this generation, it is mothers who can create generational change.
Moms. The faith of a mom, when passed down, makes the difference. Ask Paul. Or ask Timothy. Paul couldn’t wait even a few sentences in his letter to Timothy before pointing this out. My guess is, Timothy took this to heart.
We should, too.
by Ducia Hamm, LAS, Associate Director of Affiliate Services
Heartbeat International receives many calls daily for a variety of reasons. Usually, these calls are questions about our resources, training opportunities, how to add medical services, how to handle a challenging board or client situation, or even just a question about how to make an organization run more smoothly.
Sometimes we even get a call that should have gone to OptionLine, but we can redirect, and we don’t mind. Occasionally, there’s a call for a completely different Heartbeat International (a charity that provides pacemakers), but every once in a while, we get a really unexpected call.
One Thursday morning, the phone rang – nothing unusual right? Except for one thing, the person on the line kept saying only one thing. “Do you speak Spanish?”
Now, since OptionLine has nearly 100% coverage in Spanish and often receives calls in Spanish, the call could have easily been meant for them, but since Heartbeat International has affiliates all over the world and a great partnership with Centro de ayuda para la mujer latinoamericana, A.C. (Latin America), there was no way to know.
So just in case, the call was transferred to the Ministry Services department where there just “happened” to be Heartbeat’s newest volunteer, who “happens” to volunteer one day a week – on Thursday’s – who “happens” to be fluent in Spanish, and just “happened” to be willing to help when she was asked by the Ministry Services staff to translate.
But wait! There’s more. Our volunteer asked the caller where she was calling from – Hialeah, Florida was the answer. She was surprised and excited because she just “happened” to have been a part of the team that started Heartbeat of Miami in – you guessed it – Hialeah, Fla.
The grateful caller was given Heartbeat of Miami’s phone number, specific directions on getting to the Center along with the number for OptionLine.Some may call these mere coincidences – we call them GOD-incidences! The Lord tells us in Psalms 37:23 “The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord, And He delights in his way.”
We stand back in awe to see how the Lord ordered all the needed steps so that everything and everyone was in place to meet the needs of this caller.
Ten years ago my family moved to Tennessee, which carries the motto, “The Volunteer State.” The University of Tennessee’s athletic teams are the Volunteers, a moniker carried with incredible pride.
Most historians agree the nickname comes from a call for militia to fight in the Mexican-American War from U.S. President James K. Polk, a Tennessean. As the war ramped up in 1846, Polk asked for 2,600 men from across the country to join the battle. Stunningly, 30,000 fellow Tennesseans heeded Polk’s request and enlisted. Hence, “The Volunteer State.”
The story of the Volunteer State makes for an interesting history lesson, certainly. But this makes me think as we celebrate Volunteer Appreciation Week, what does it mean to be a true volunteer, a state of being incredibly valuable to God? In short, what is The State of a Volunteer?
When we choose to volunteer, we truly do enter a new state of being. It changes those around us, but it also changes us.
In the State of a Volunteer, we understand our battle is not against flesh and blood, “but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places (Eph. 6:12).”
In the State of a Volunteer, we stand before God as servants, willing to step forward when called upon even when the stakes are high, even when the odds are against us.
In the State of a Volunteer, we place our trust in God, knowing He is not moved by what we might see, knowing He can work in any situation.
In the State of a Volunteer, we are confident that God chooses to work through anyone who says, “Here am I, send me.”
In the State of a Volunteer, the words, “It can’t be done” are replaced by “I’ll give it my best.”
In the State of a Volunteer, a natural desire to be recognized is replaced by a passion to serve.
In the State of a Volunteer, “It’s not my job” is replaced by “How can I help?”
We celebrate Volunteer Appreciation Week because when we volunteer, the entire world better understands the meaning behind the words, “Set your minds on the things above.” The State of a Volunteer is focused on the eternal—on the truly valuable.
This week—and every week—take heart. God sees the volunteer . . . and smiles.
by Jennifer Minor, Editor/Writer
I don’t know if you think much about light, but I usually don’t.
Most days, I take it for granted. All I have to do is flip a switch when I walk into a room and the darkness is chased away. That, of course, is the beauty of light. It can’t be overcome by darkness.
Now maybe this is a human failing, but I can’t just let it sit there. I have a lot more to think about with light and darkness. For example, especially as the seasons change and the days get shorter, I find myself sitting in a room that’s perfectly well-lit in the afternoon, but discovering an hour or so later that I can’t see what I’m reading or working on.
The light escapes, and I don’t notice.
It’s a simple solution – just flip a switch – but I can’t help but worry and wonder about why I never noticed the light leaving. I notice when a light bulb goes out, when a match is struck, when a campfire sputters out, when the first light of dawn sneaks through my window to wake me up. That’s just it though; I notice the change in light, and even then, only dramatic changes.
That’s why I take electric lights for granted, and even the sun on nice days. I forget about the light, and with it, the possibility of darkness.
Candles though, always draw my attention. They don’t change significantly, but they do flicker. They change just enough to keep my eyes on them.
I think that must be the kind of light that Jesus is talking about when He says, “Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 5:16).
A candle not only draws attention so that it may be seen, but it also carries an incredible potential to spread light. Now, I know a single candle in a dark room may not seem like much, but at my favorite church service of the year, something else amazing happens. We start with just one candle, the one that represents Christ, and everyone in the church holds their own little candle. One person lights their candle from the Christ candle, and then spreads the light. In a very short amount of time, hundreds of candles are shining and everyone can see because the darkness is being overcome.
This is extraordinarily beautiful, even if it's very simple. Every candle in that church gave away some of its light so another could be lit, but it didn’t lose anything. In fact, the flame grew and changed more than the usual flickering when it touched a second wick. It doubles in size. It can multiply, but not divide.
And a wick that’s been lit before, even if the flame goes out, is easier to light a second time.
So that’s my challenge to you. Be a candle. Light other’s candles without fear of losing something that you have. God doesn’t work that way. He is love and light.
The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. (John 1:5)
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