What I Didn't See at a Pro-Life Ministry Conference
This week, my wife and I got to attend a ministry conference put on by Heartbeat International, an organization that helps pregnancy help centers like the one my wife works for with networking and resources. The mission of these centers is to help women with unplanned pregnancies by providing them with information, support, and resources and helping them to either choose to parent their children or place them with an adoptive family. This was my first time at a conference of this nature. And since our country's political climate is more polarized than ever, I've heard lots of rhetoric demonizing people with conservative values (i.e. pro-life) as radicals and extremists.
But regardless of how you vote (Republican, Democrat, Liberal, Conservative) or regardless of whether you are pro-life or pro-choice. I wanted to share my experiences of what things I did not find at this conference.
I did not find...
1. People instructing others how to lead protests at abortion clinics. There was no discussion of any effort to curtail abortions through any direct dealings with these clinics, save attempting to provide counsel and resources to women with crisis pregnancies prior to their decision to enter an abortion clinic.
2. People bashing liberal values or politicians. While many attendees of the conference strongly disagree with the pro-choice stance of our President and many of our prominent politicians, nothing was said to put down any of these figures. One speaker, an African-American pastor encouraged us all to pray for President Obama DAILY that God may change his heart on the issue of abortion, but nothing was said to portray any of our elected officials in a negative light.
3. People speaking hate towards women who have made the choice to have abortion. Many of the conference speakers and attenders are women (and men) who are recovering from a choice that was made long ago. For many, guilt and shame came without the voice of a preacher or other religious person condemning the issue of abortion. But regardless of what it was that made them feel remorse, it was still there. These people were not vilified at this conference. Everything at the conference spoke to the grace and forgiveness of God who is "faithful to forgive our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness." People even gave instruction on how to help people deal with the remorse of an abortion and how to accept God's forgiveness and forgive one's self.
4. People criticizing the media for attempting to curtail a pro-life message. One of the conference speakers was Pam Tebow, mother of Heismann Trophy Winner Tim Tebow. A pro-life ad that she and Tim had done for the Super Bowl last year came under much scrutiny and had to be re-worked to fit with the wishes of the Super Bowl broadcast carrier, CBS. But she made very little about the changes they asked. She did not encourage everyone to boycott CBS or any other media outlet, but she gave God the praise and glory that their message got out.
5. People having a political pow-wow. As much as people might want to think this was a politically motivated conference, it was not. There was no mention of nationalized health care, Arizona immigration law, how great President Bush was, how we should vote in the coming elections, or any other political discussion. People were encouraged to get in touch with their congressmen concerning the value of pregnancy help centers and what they do in their communities, but this was not a political convention.
So regardless of how you vote. Regardless of when it is you feel that "life begins." Regardless of whether you feel it is more compassionate to save an unborn baby or give a woman the right to choose--just know that there are people out there who are giving countless hours and dollars in time and resources to show the love of Jesus Christ to women of all ages, from all backgrounds, with all types of stories about their pregnancies. I am proud of what my wife does at her center and the ministry she has to each woman (and boyfriend/male partner) that comes into their center.