We won’t mention the name of the virus in this column. We’ve heard it enough. Nor is this column about safety measures, social distancing, “What to do if,” or creative quarantining. If you don’t know it by now, I can’t help you.
Instead, let’s stop and ask, “What’s the opportunity here?” Because, I see a big one—if we can take advantage.
A lesson in leadership
On May 22, 2011, a catastrophic EF-5 tornado swept through Joplin, MO, (many other states faced devastation as well), taking the lives of more than 150 people and injuring 1,150 more. Businesses and homes disappeared in seconds. To say Joplin was devastated is an understatement.
I remember several calls with Karolyn Schrage, Executive Director of LifeChoices in Joplin, in the months following the tornado. Many of us know Life Choices because of its outreach and training for so many in this work.
As Karolyn and I talked through issues they faced, she shared that LifeChoices had opened its doors to physicians—suddenly without offices--needing a short-term home for their practices.
During that time, LifeChoices became a beacon of hope for its community, thinking outside of its own doors to serve those in crisis. As a result, an organization with a positive reputation took an incredible leap, becoming a community hero, no doubt shifting perceptions of many “on the fence” regarding their work and mission.
Friends, this is our national opportunity to do the same.
An almost universal challenge
As I connect with pregnancy help organizations, I often hear something like, “How can we raise awareness of our presence in our community?” Said another way, “Why are we the best-kept secret in our town?”
Guess what? We have an opportunity—there’s that word again—to change this.
Asking the right questions
Our opportunity comes down to one simple question. Keeping in mind safety guidelines, here it is: “What can we do to be a good neighbor in our community?”
Along with that question, let’s ask “What is our best messaging, for this moment?”
A salient example
Talking with the executive director of a pregnancy help center this week, she notified her clients (and others) that they have diapers available. If asked, she or a team member will place diapers and other baby items in a grocery bag, go to the person’s home and drop them off.
This is “loving our neighbor” at its best.
Though our spirit is the same, our answers may be different
Loving our neighbor has different applications, based on our services, staff and community.
Tweet This: Loving our neighbor has different applications, based on our services, staff and community.
If we have stockpiles of diapers, perhaps now is the time to offer them beyond our ministry’s immediate mission until we are through this challenge. We must be prudent, certainly. But we could set up near grocery stores or other distribution centers and become a community hero to those struggling . . . building goodwill in the process. You will likely have many ideas.
For those with medical staff, is there a way to pay our nurses medical team members to assist within the community? Senior living centers, medical facilities, private practices and shut-ins may need extra care. Using wisdom and grace, what are some ways we can bring our talent to the collective table?
Honestly, my mission here is not to “tell,” “teach,” or give perfect advice for each organization’s unique situation. The answer to, “How we can be a good neighbor,” is not one-size-fits-all. We must make decisions based on what we can offer, keeping the health and safety of our people in mind.
This writer has the greatest confidence in the pregnancy help community. We will answer this call and do so with honor.
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As we answer our question about loving our neighbor, it’s also right to consider messaging. A lot of people have misperceptions about our motives and our services. This isn’t the time to argue these misperceptions because we can give everyone an amazing picture of “pro-life” without saying a word.
We—you and I—know that while our mission focuses on reaching moms, dads and babies (born and preborn), we believe in the sanctity and dignity of every human life.
Tweet This: We know that while our mission focuses on moms, dads & babies, born and preborn, we believe in the sanctity and dignity of every human life.
If we wear identifying clothing and name tags as we serve our community, we silently convey our belief that every human carries intrinsic value. And, we drive home the point that we’re not so wedded to our agenda that we can’t see the bigger picture during a time of shared sacrifice.
Those who oppose us want us to get caught up in useless arguments, comparing abortion deaths to deaths from this virus. They wish we were so myopic that all we talk about is babies when the greatest generation—our parents and grandparents today—is most at risk. Let’s not give them the satisfaction.
Let’s use this crisis to seek creative avenues to build a better community. In a sense, this could be our finest hour. If we rise to the occasion today, when our society moves past this moment and again begins thinking about issues such as the sanctity of life, they will remember those who served, those who loved, those who reached out. Let it be us.