Displaying items by tag: training

Heartbeat brings life to Serbia

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Heartbeat's International Coordinator Molly Hoepfner
shares about her time in Serbia

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.”

Passing the Torch

Passing the torchby Rindy Brooks, Heartbeats of Licking County, Newark, Ohio

Our staff retreat in late July focused around 2 Timothy 4:1 – 8 and the need to fulfill our ministry.  It is the last recorded letter of Paul as he knew his time of departure was near and he needed to share certain things with Timothy as he passed the torch of ministry. 

The study was so timely and personal for us.  We had just lost the “Paul” of our pregnancy center. A special lady named Merridy Hoover.  She is the reason I and so many are here at Heartbeats of Licking County today. She rescued the center from demise in 1989 and built a solid foundation of faith that we firmly stand on today.  Her vision and servant leadership even serves you in Heartbeat affiliates around the world every day. 

The prototype for the manual “Talking About Abortion” was written by her – she called it the “10-Point Health and Safety Check List”.  She tested it, we trained  and used it in our center and found out this “women-centered” approach worked to engage abortion-minded women on the phone to help and care for them. So she called Heartbeat's president, Peggy Hartshorn, and told her this method was working and that it needed to be published by Heartbeat International and distributed. 

It was published and still is distributed by Heartbeat.  Option Line actually uses this format 24/7 to reach women in crisis. The list of impactful projects Merridy shepherded could continue, but more insightful is to share how she lived up to the end to encourage us to carry on the torch of ministry. 

A greeting card came to the center a week after her funeral.  It was from her. 

We tearfully opened it together at the retreat and what we received from her was our charge.  A miracle to us from God, it was the perfect object lesson to illustrate these verses. Merridy “Our Paul” had retired 12 years prior but her prayers and encouragement were steadfast, especially to me, her “Timothy”.  I have ably served 12 years as Executive Director and yet for the first time, I felt strangely on my own.  And now, in her own hand, written 2 months prior to her passing she says to me, to the staff, and now to you in ministry every day: 

“To my beloved sisters and brothers in Christ, His work in you is so beautiful- keep shining with the light of His presence!  Keep shining.  I am so proud of you all.  God’s hand is on your ministry and service to Him. 

Love and Blessings, Merridy.” 

So let us remember to encourage and teach those “Timothys” in our midst.  To clearly charge them and remind them of the suffering and sacrifice in serving Jesus and yet the gladness and joy found in fulfilling our work received from the Lord.    I want to be able to pass the torch of ministry and say as in 2 Tim 4:7, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.   Until then, we must carry our torches high and keep shining.  

(Staff Retreat material part of Beth Moore’s  3-part DVD series with listening guide “Fulfill Your Ministry!” available from Living Proof Ministries)

Become a Life-Affirming Specialist


Heartbeat International has developed a professional designation for those working in Life-Affirming Ministries. Having the Life-Affirming Specialist (LAS) designation will provide you with credibility when working with clients. Its purpose is to show that you have studied and are aware of the latest research and findings surrounding life affirming information and training.

A Life Affirming Specialist (LAS) has up-to-date training on information surrounding pregnancy, abortion, abortion recovery, client programs, sexual integrity and other related life affirming issues.

You can receive and maintain your LAS designation through the application process, signing the LAS agreement, and fulfilling the on-going continuing education requirements.

What is a Life-Affirming Specialist?

LAS is a professional designation developed specifically for those serving faithfully in the pregnancy help movement. The LAS designation indicates that the holder has participated in on-going training on the latest information surrounding pregnancy, abortion, abortion recovery, client programs, sexual integrity and related, life-affirming issues.

Why should I want the LAS designation?

The LAS designation behind your name provides you with professional credibility when working with clients. The designation shows that you have studied and are aware of the latest research and findings surrounding life-affirming information and training.   Example: Sarah Smith, LAS

Professional Designation

Heartbeat International has developed this professional designation for people working in life-affirming ministries.

Those eligible must have completed the requirements as stated by Heartbeat International.

Life-Affirming Specialist Requirements:

  1. Person has received HB training: L.O.V.E. Approach, all chapters or attended the New Directors track at Pregnancy Help Institute –OR–If person has not had L.O.V.E. Approach training or attended the New Directors track but can provide proof of training from a ministry that abides by the Commitment of Care and Competence the first requirement has been met.
  2. Person has two years of consistent experience in a Life-Affirming Ministry: Pregnancy Resource Center, Medical Clinic, Maternity Home, Abortion Recovery, and/or Adoption Agency.
  3. Person attended the Annual Heartbeat International Conference (14 hours minimum) or future qualified Heartbeat International conference or training. 14 conference hours may come from: Seven hours of key notes, seven hours of workshops and/or seven hours of an in-depth day training. Person has received Heartbeat training: L.O.V.E. Approach training and all chapters completed or completed the New Directors track at Pregnancy Help Institute.
  4. Must receive a minimum of 14 hours qualified Heartbeat International training every two years to maintain LAS Designation available online .

Designation Fee

The initial $99.00 fee is paid upon application.  A Designation Certificate of Completion is mailed to those who meet the qualifications. The bi-annual membership remains in effect for two years from the original date of earned designation. The bi-annual renewal fee is $99.00.

 Apply to become a Life Affirming Specialist today or renew your Life Affirming Specialist designation now!

For more information, please email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Tagged under

Heartbeat Academy

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Enter Academy  |  Upcoming Webinars  |  Featured Courses  |  Live Virtual Classes

Heartbeat International Academy offers life-affirming leaders, staff members, volunteers, and supporters with access to online webinars and courses on a wide variety of topics. In the Academy, you'll find trainings on our core foundational materials, as well as on topics on everything from the history of abortion in the United States to fundraising basics, and prenatal diagnostic tests to implementing STI testing in your center.



Why Academy?

Essentially, with Academy, we hope to offer a one-stop shop where pregnancy help leaders can access sector-specific training that will help them and their organizations continue to serve their clients and communities with excellence. We recognize the difficulty of trying to research where to go get training on raising funds, leading organizations, and serving clients, while simultaneously doing all of those things so our goal is to come alongside you to make it a bit easier. With our new learning plans feature, it’s even easier to identify what you need to know about any given topic and locate those trainings and resources that you need to raise funds, lead your organization, serve clients, etc.

What’s in the Academy?

It doesn’t take much effort in today’s age to find a piece of information or training video online, but what sets Academy apart is our training goes beyond social work, Christian counseling, and nursing education, instead offering training and information through a Christian worldview specific to our pregnancy help community. With the expertise that we tap into through our faculty, we’re able to provide sector-specific training which means we’re not just training nurses in the physics and technical stuff on ultrasound, but training nurses to perform ultrasound in a pregnancy help organization as part of the process of building a relationship with that client. Not just the latest information on chemical abortion, but how best to respond to clients in this shortened window of opportunity. Now with our learning plan feature added in, even if you don’t know where to start, and don’t know what you don’t know you have a built-in guidance system of sorts to help make sure you find the right training for you.

Where does training happen?

When Heartbeat Academy was first launched, we focused on building the online piece, that was what we were missing, but we’ve been working really hard over the last 9 months to bring those virtual and in-person worlds together so that now by completing the surveys offered onsite you can receive credit for the training you’re doing in person with Heartbeat as well as online, recorded all in one place in the Academy. So for example, the individuals who attend the Heartbeat International Annual Conference or attend Pregnancy Help Institute not only receive LAS credit but also now have progress in their related learning paths to keep track of what they’ve learned so far and other areas to be aware of or look to for future training.  

Upcoming Webinars

Have you noticed? With each webinar in the Heartbeat Academy, we now include an affiliate bonus registration for another member of your staff! Each registration gives you access to the live presentation for yourself AND access for 1 additional person from your affiliated organization to access the recording through Heartbeat Academy! That recording access includes all the benefits of the webinar, including any CEUs offered. Just register for yourself, and when the recording becomes available, you'll have the opportunity to enroll your additional staff member. That's one more benefit of being a Heartbeat International affiliate!


Quarterly Call with Heartbeat International & Embrace Grace

Wednesday, June 12, 2024 at 2 p.m. ET

Our first Zoom call to share and learn together is here.  Join us to hear new ideas and receive ongoing support to partner with the churches in your community, by linking arms to serve single and pregnant moms and their families! For those just getting started or those looking to bolster their existing groups, this is for you. Join the Embrace Grace and Heartbeat teams, along with experts from the field, to be inspired and equipped.  Secure the bridge between churches and pregnancy help worldwide! 

register now

Effective Use of Fetal Models With Clients

Wednesday, July 3, 2024 at 12 p.m. ET

Presented by Beth Diemert and Sara Dominguez

Fetal models can be a powerful tool to help reveal the truth of life as being "fearfully and wonderfully made," yet so often our staff and volunteers aren't sure how to make the best use of them in their time with clients. 

In this session, you'll join Beth Diemert and Sara Dominguez to learn key tips for using this valuable tool to factually and relationally engage clients and some key missteps to avoid.

register now


Trauma-Informed Care in the Maternity Home

Friday, June 28, 2024 at 12 p.m. ET

Valerie Harkins defines trauma-informed care with an overview of its implications for the efficacy of ministry in maternity homes. This webinar is complete with a history of trauma, neuroscience, and practical applications for the maternity home worker. 

And remember, you can always access our recorded webinar archives by clicking here.

register now

Featured Courses

AdvancementBootCampAd 1 web human trafficking

Online ultrasound training by Heartbeat International sonography refresher

Please contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. if you need assistance locating your courses or migrating your account to our new home. 

Use the links below to explore the different ways you can use the Academy to enhance the knowledge and skills of you and your organization.

Continuing Education
for Nurses

Interactive Courses
for Everyone

Custom Training Courses
for Affiliates

Live Virtual Classes













Tagged under

Pregnancy Help Institute

Not your Typical Ministry. Not your Typical Training.

The Pregnancy Help Institute has provided thousands of pregnancy help leaders with professional training. Over time, this training has added key elements vital to the pregnancy help movement as services expand. 

This year is no different. Our 2024 Pregnancy Help Institute will be July 22-26 in Columbus, OH.

The Pregnancy Help Institute dives deep into core topics useful both in the pregnancy help movement and in life. Organized under four intensive tracks (New Director, Development, Mediaand Leadership), the Pregnancy Help Institute integrates executive-level instruction in a small-group environment, where you'll have the unparalleled opportunity to process information and strategies with experts and fellow front-line pregnancy help leaders. (Looking for ultrasound training? Click here!)

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The New Director Track - for Directors with less than 3 years of experience

"I cannot imagine a more fitting training to kick off this new position. I left challenged, inspired, feeling connected to others in the movement. I am humbled and blessed."

NewDirectorIf you have less than three years of experience in directing a life-affirming pregnancy center, medical clinic, maternity home, or nonprofit adoption agency, the New Director training is perfect for you. When you combine the wisdom gained from this training with your calling from the Lord, you are truly prepared to navigate effectively, avoid pitfalls, and increase your effectiveness as a leader. Facilitated by Heartbeat International staff with years of experience in pregnancy help leadership, you'll be in good hands.

Designed for Directors with less than 3 years of experience leading a pregnancy help organization.

This includes:

  • Keys to a Healthy Organization
  • Strategic Planning
  • Board Governance
  • Volunteer Recruitment, Retention, & Training
  • Core Client Programs
  • Development — Raising Friends and Funds
  • Staff Growth & Development
  • Energizing Tips to Maintain Focus

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The Development Track - for Fundraisers

"I am new to this field and have come away feeling equipped to make suggestions and push back on old systems and events that are less effective. I am excited to foster relationships with our supporters and to see where these relationships take us."


Advancing development through a more robust understanding of the nature and ministry of development is at the heart of this track. Anyone with responsibility for donor development or a part of the development plan will benefit from this advanced training. Seasoned pregnancy help leaders will join Cindi Boston-Bilotta, Leanna Baumer, Terri Barnhart, and Frances Lacson from Heartbeat's Mission Advancement team to provide a comprehensive view of a healthy development planning, follow-through, and steps for funding your mighty mission.

Designed for those whose role includes donor development within a pregnancy help organization.

This includes:

  • Biblical Foundations for Fundraising
  • Setting Goals and Targets
  • Funding Your Mission - Starting and Building
  • Creating & Maintaining Monthly Support
  • Developing Church Relationships
  • Building Major Gift Relationships
  • Writing Effective Grants
  • Communicating with Financial Partners
  • Creating Effective Direct Appeals

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The Leadership Track - for Seasoned Leaders

"The leadership track went beyond expectations. For the first time in a long time, I was challenged in the area of strategic thinking, and I learned a lot that I will carry with me through life as a ministry leader, mother, and wife."

LeadershipCreated for seasoned leaders, the Leadership track contains concepts developed by Built to Lead, an executive coaching program that has trained CEOs, presidents, and ministry leaders nationwide. Here, you will learn proven techniques on how to lead effectively both at work and in your personal life and practice those methods throughout the week. Alumni are welcome to return for this track at any point for more training and refreshment!

Designed for seasoned leaders who want to invest in their ministry through leadership development.

This includes:

  • Personal Leadership Development
  • Goal Setting
  • Team Building
  • Leadership Growth (Leading Leaders)

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The Media Track - for Seasoned Leaders

media training 2The Pregnancy Help Institute's Media Training will take you on a transformative journey! Join us in empowering your team to navigate media interactions with finesse, foster positive relationships with reporters, and uphold ethical standards, ensuring your message resonates authentically with the world. In this track, we will delve into media landscapes as they relate to pregnancy help, empowering staff with a deeper understanding of various media types and trends. Through interactive sessions, we will unpack the impact of effective communication on public perception, while equipping participants with practical tools to create compelling messaging tailored to diverse audiences and platforms. We will also prioritize personal development by providing public speaking tips, immersive mock interviews, and on-camera practice to bolster confidence. Sessions will include media protocols, interview techniques, relationship building, crisis communication, and continuous improvement. Designed for leaders who want to refine their interview skills. 

This includes:

  • Media protocols
  • Interview techniques
  • Crisis communications
  • Mock interviews

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All Training Tracks will have prerequisite work that must be completed before attending the Pregnancy Help Institute. The list of prerequisites will be included in your registration confirmation

Hotel Information

Instructions for booking your hotel room at a neighboring hotel for $109/night are provided during registration. When booking at Heartbeat's selected hotel, you'll be within walking distance from the hotel, have breakfast provided, and have access to a local shuttle service in the evenings.

5 reasons you need to come to Pregnancy Help Institute

  1. It’s corporate training at a non-profit cost.
    Businesses nationwide use Built to Lead to train CEOs, Presidents, and Boards in Leadership Training. We have partnered with these executive coaches to bring you business training at a price you can afford.
  2. It’s far more dynamic and personal than a conference.
    Conferences, specifically the big annual ones, are incredible. There are so many people to meet and so much to learn, but sometimes you need more personalized in-depth training. Pregnancy Help Institute is intentionally sized for an intimate learning environment. Pregnancy Help Institute provides individual interaction and personal feedback to help you grow in your role and increase your effectiveness.
  3. It’s vital to invest in yourself.
    "We must all learn to lead ourselves with excellence before we can lead a team towards excellence. In other words, we believe that excellence achieved individually will spread organizationally." - Built to Lead’s Belief
  4. A burst of training can take you a long way. 
    One week can literally revolutionize your personal leadership as well as grow your knowledge and understanding. Working with trainers and fellow participants over an extended time yields an exponential return on your investment of time.
  5. The relationships you build will be powerful.
    There's nothing more powerful than realizing you're not alone, and at Pregnancy Help Institute, you are surrounded by people not only who share your values, but also are close to you on the same journey.

Pregnancy Help Institute training qualifies for the Life Affirming Specialist (LAS) designation.

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