Pregnancy Help Institute, which took place last week at Heartbeat International’s headquarters in Columbus, Ohio, is always one of my favorite weeks of the year. It’s a week of intensive training, teaching, fellowshipping, laughing, (crying), and encouraging.
Sure, Institute week takes energy. But when it is over, I always have more strength than when I arrived to teach the Development Track.
The reason, I think, is, “We Believe.” After a week with 105 of my closest new and old friends who take on the seemingly impossible task of changing a culture, I believe more. I believe bigger. And I believe with more clarity.
We believe God uses ordinary people to come alongside those who are hurting to be the hands and feet of His Son, rolling up our sleeves to be that help and hope.
We aren’t naïve. We recognize the feelings of helplessness many bring with them. We see the complications, the trials ahead. We don’t hand out rose-colored glasses to our clients. But we do believe.
In fact, we believe anyone, at any time, can take a step of faith which God can use to change a situation. Anyone.
Anyone can be someone at the end of her rope, thinking no one will ever love her. She might bring with her a stunningly long list of obstacles and challenges, all of them appearing to be insurmountable. But when we say “anyone,” it’s with the understanding that God is never limited to whom He can use, to whom He can reach.
Anyone could be a first-time father unsure of whether he can be a father when he is out of a job or out of luck. But over time, we’ve come to understand God is not knocked off His throne when He sees these situations.
Instead, when God sees “anyone,” He has someone in mind to reach out to them. Our ministries are often this “someone.”
Tweet This: When God sees “anyone,” He has someone in mind to reach out to them. Our ministries are often this “someone.” #prolife @kirkwalden
I guess this is another reason I enjoyed Institute last week. Much of the week—in different ways—is about helping a bunch of regular “someones” better connect with anyone who needs us. As we improve our “someoneing,” lives are changed.
For me, last week’s Institute in Columbus was my yearly reminder that we believe. Even better, I saw friendships forged and reignited. The stories told, the questions asked, and the insights shared built up each of us.
But there is a lesson in this for all of us.
Whether it is Pregnancy Help Institute, a conference or a statewide gathering of pregnancy help organizations, each one of us must have these “coming together” times. The value of these moments is not always just in the knowledge gained. Sometimes, it is the encouragement which flows from after-hours conversations, or from a connection made over a meal or during a break.
Friends, we can’t do this alone. As I look at budgets of pregnancy help ministries, I see one of the first things cut is “conferences and training.”
I’ll talk to executive directors who tell me, “We only had enough money to send one person to (a conference or event) this year.” Or, I’ll hear, “We only go every other year that conference.”
Let’s be straight. Unless we invest—heavily—in our people and their training, their spiritual health and their ability to connect with like-minded servants, we have our priorities skewed.
Said another way, we can invest all day in client services, a new ultrasound machine or a ton of other vitally important initiatives, but unless we invest first in those serving, I can promise the following:
- We will have more staff turnover than we should
- Our staff is more likely to wear out
- Our effectiveness will always have a lower ceiling
Though my role was one of teacher last week, just being around others committed to this work was enough for me to grow and revitalize. And yes, I believe more because of time spent with some great people who chose servanthood.
Do yourself a favor. If your ministry hasn’t invested in a conference or an in-depth week like Institute in the last twelve months, print this column out and hand it to whoever needs to see it. We need to get together more often, all of us.
When we do, we will all be better for it—because all of us will believe . . . more than we do right now.