I blogged a few days ago about my experience at a ministry conference put on by Heartbeat International. Heartbeat is an international organization that provides materials, resources, and support to pregnancy help centers all over the US and elsewhere. The blog discussed things I did not find at this conference that might surprise some people who weren't there. But I didn't only want to focus on the things I didn't see, but I also wanted to share some of the great things I did see at this conference. Here they are.
1. Catholics and Evangelicals working side-by-side. While everyone there was representing their respective pregnancy centers, these were all people of faith who attend their own churches and whose centers are supported by local churches. The overwhelming majority of attendees were Roman Catholic or Southern Baptist/evangelical. I was a little suprised to see that I did not meet many people who were of mainline denominations (Episcopal, Methodist, etc.), and maybe this is for political reasons. I realize the issue of women's rights is a politically divisive issue.
2. People who had been through the heartbreak of abortion and/or unplanned pregnancy and were now serving in this wonderful ministry. I suppose I expected that a lot of people there would be people who had never been through some of the major issues presented at the conference. It was comforting to know how many people in the pro-life movement were not just "goody-two-shoes" Christians who had never been through unplanned pregnancies, but these were people who had been in the very shoes of the clients they are trying to reach. Whether it was before an abortion or after, God showed them the value of human life at all stages and gave them a passion to communicate that with others.
3. Story after story of God's amazing grace. Whether it was women who had experienced personal miracles or God's overwhelming blessing poured out on a pregnancy help center, it was clear that God has been doing a work in these people and their organizations.
4. Bristol Palin is a working mother. The famous daughter of America's most well-known former vice presidential candidate was one of the speakers at the conference. Of course her pregnancy could not have come at a more inconvenient time for her or her family-during the presidential campaign- yet she chose to keep her son, Tripp. She shared with the group that she works 40 hours a week at a medical clinic in Anchorage while going to school part time. If you've seen the overwhelming success her mother has had as an author and speaker, you know she could have easily lived off her mother's success. I found it admirable that she (and her family) has chosen to deal with the responsibilities of raising a child.
5. Proof that Christians working together can accomplish great things. The conference was basically a huge network of Christian publishers, inspirational speakers, experts in fund-raising, technology-media experts, adoption specialists, medical professionals, and pregnancy center staff members, board members, directors and volunteers. All of these people were coming together under the banner of Christ. The theme of the conference was "Better Together." We as Christians are better together. This conference was Ephesians 4:10-12 in action.