Sunday, 01 August 2021
Pregnancy Help Network's South Africa conference Pregnancy Help Network's South Africa conference

Pregnancy help conferences in South Africa and India energize and bring hope

Two recent conferences gave a boost of encouragement to pregnancy help advocates in South Africa and India.

Reporting from this fall’s conference for Pregnancy Help Network (PHN),  a network of life affirming pregnancy help and community organizations in South Africa, Daniele Gradwell writes, “Individual prayer ministry, daily worship and a special evening devoted to Engaging with our King contributed to a time of refreshing for all.”

Ellen Foell, international program specialist from Heartbeat International, recalled a similar refreshing experience from taking part in PHN’s 2019 conference. 

“It is a unique atmosphere,” Foell said. “They refer to their affiliates as their tribe. There are usually two or three different languages spoken (African, English and Tribal languages) worship includes all three. It is amazing.”

PHN has been around since 2000 and this was the 16th annual conference held in Kempton Park, South Africa. The theme was ENGAGE – Hands Together . . . Hearts Open. Center directors and team members from pregnancy help organizations from around South Africa and Zimbabwe were among the 50 delegates in attendance. 

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Kirk Walden of Heartbeat International was a featured speaker at this year’s conference. 

“My hope was to bring us back to basics,” Walden stated, “that if we seek to emulate the fruit of the spirit Paul talked about, we can strengthen our own ministry culture and clients will see this and lean into what we offer.” 

“I'm already hearing of several PHN affiliates buying in,” he said, “it's exciting to see.” 

The annual conference fuels the expanding efforts in the region to minister in the midst of overwhelming need. Over 20,000 families and individuals are helped each year through 33 pregnancy help organizations. More than 400 babies were saved this year.

The coronavirus did have an effect on how the conference proceeded as evidenced by masks donned by attendees in a photo from the conference. The impact of COVID on needy families has also created a food crisis. PHN directors and staff have delivered food, diapers and other baby items in the midst of complete lockdowns.

Life Reach Global (LRG) a Heartbeat International initiative, provides the opportunity for individuals to support the work of PHN and other life-giving organizations around the world, with contributions able to be directed to individual regions indicated on the map shown on the LRG webpage.

India’s 6th National Pro-Life Summit was held virtually this fall as well. 

Life for All (LFA), an international pro-life non-profit based in India, hosted this annual conference featuring speakers from around the world, including Heartbeat International’s Director of Medical Impact Christa Brown, Heartbeat’s Vice President of Ministry Services Betty McDowell and Foell.

Brown presented information on Abortion Pill Rescue® (APR), and said the material was well received.

“It was an honor to share information about the hope of APR at the India Summit,” Brown said. “Those in attendance expressed the encouragement they felt after hearing this good news and to know that more than 20 women from India have sought the assistance of APR after starting a chemical abortion just this year. This gives hope that many more will do so in the future and more lives will be saved.”

LFA was founded in 2009 by Simon Durairaj, and his wife, Johanna, who directs the ministry and organized the summit. Together they seek to provide a voice for the voiceless in India and beyond.

In response to the APR seminar, Johanna wrote, “When looking at the practical things we learnt at the summit, your presentation and the information you shared with us has the most life-saving capacity. I’m again blown away by this option of APR, which is so simple, so safe and has such encouraging success rates.”

As with other areas of the world, chemical abortions are becoming more prevalent in India. The APR protocol involves intervening within 24 hours (although successful reversals have happened as long as 72 hours) after the first abortion drug is taken. Progesterone, the natural hormone that sustains a healthy pregnancy is prescribed to counteract the effects of the abortion pill. 

Durairaj stated, “I’m so encouraged that the life care movement in India has now heard and learnt from you about the possible reversal of chemical abortions.” 

Tweet This: I’m so encouraged that the life care movement in India has now heard and learned about the possible reversal of chemical abortions

Also during the summit, Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) India addressed the gendercide which has become so prevalent in India. 

The “Vanishing Girls” campaign exists to target this issue. Seven thousand unborn females are targeted for destruction by abortion each day in India.

Workshop topics also included the effect of COVID lockdowns in increasing sexual abuse of women and children in India. Combining gendercide with this has India becoming a very dangerous place for women and children, making them increasingly vulnerable to sexual abuse as the female population decreases.

Life for All's virtual pro-life summit


LFA utilizes Heartbeat International resources to train and fundraise. Soon they hope to establish a 24/7 pro-life contact center similar to Heartbeat’s Option Line. With only 50 outreach centers in the country, the need to reach women in crisis pregnancies is daunting. The conference, with approximately two dozen pregnancy help centers, represented was encouraging for the attendees. 

McDowell commented that the conference was rewarding for all involved. 

“These leaders were eager to learn,” she said, “and it was our joy to have Christa Brown teach them about APR and Ellen Foell encourage the attendees to continue to move forward in unity.” 

Foell commended the life-affirming work of LFA amid the challenges on the ground in India.

“It is a young organization growing with great leadership,” she stated. 

“Every time I read an article about the gendercide in India, and the loss to women it is heartbreaking,” Foell said, and very encouraging and inspiring to see the courage of those who stand up for life.”

Kim Hayes

Kim Hayes is a writer for Pregnancy Help News. She has been a teacher, author, speaker and facilitator for marriage and family issues and married for over 35 years to Jeff, with four grown children. Kim’s counseling experience included 21 years as a volunteer consultant and trainer at Pregnancy Decision Health Centers. She was the Athletic Director of Columbus Crusaders Youth Sports ministry for 15 years. Kim has written several books, including the latest release, Prodigal Rewind:  The Grateful Son.

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