Driving down a South Georgia road the other night on my way to a pregnancy center event, I had some time to reflect. As I was thinking about what I was going to say to those in attendance, the questions popped into my mind, “Why is this work so important? Why does this matter so much?” And perhaps most salient, “Do you remember how you were called to all of this?”
Surprisingly, this week marks exactly 25 years since I walked in the door of a pregnancy help center as a new, green, naïve executive director. I was 28 at the time, knew little about what to do (insert joke here about how some things don’t change), yet for some reason I absolutely knew I was in the right place.
Twenty-five years later, I’m thankful to be in my home office, standing at my desk (a new stand-up contraption, actually—to help my back!) and writing to all of us on the ground as we advance the kingdom of God through this mighty calling.
I’m no longer an executive director. That ended 16 years ago, when LifeTrends began. LifeTrends is now a part of the Heartbeat International family, and now I serve Heartbeat as an advancement specialist and have the opportunity to speak at events across the country each year.
A lot has happened in the pregnancy help community in these 25 years. For instance, we’ve seen the advent of medical clinics and advancements across the spectrum of our services. And 25 years ago the only “web” I knew about was created by a spider in the corner of my office ceiling. Now many of our organizations are winning the marketing battle on the worldwide web.
Yet even with all we are accomplishing, it is important for each of us to remember our first calling to this endeavor. For all we’ve learned about the “how,” we always need to answer the “why.” As in, “Why should we continue to press on?” in our work.
So I ask, “When and how were you first called to serve on behalf of life?”
For me, the journey began as an 18-year-old freshman college student, sitting in a pew on a Sunday morning in October, 1980. The pastor at my church was in the middle of six messages regarding a biblical perspective on the day’s social issues. The message that day? The Sanctity of Human Life.
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There was no audible voice in my ear, other than the pastor’s. No one asked me for a commitment. I saw no burning bush, had no “road to Damascus” moment.
Yet of those six messages over six weeks, this one message—regarding the sanctity of life—hit home. After that day, I realized that if our country were ever to return to the God we once believed gave us our inalienable rights, rediscovering our belief in the intrinsic value of God-given human life was absolutely vital.
For the next 10 years, I was highly involved in the political process and in public policy. I volunteered for almost every pro-life driven political campaign, wrote letters to the editor and worked with lobbying groups.
Then came an opportunity at a pregnancy help ministry and I found my home. For a wonderful 25 years, I’ve had the joy of serving alongside so many of you in different capacities. And it all started with a simple message from a young pastor with a heart for life and the courage to say what a freshman in the back of the sanctuary needed to hear.
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The other night at the event in South Georgia, a younger man came up to me as I exited the stage. “You said you were in Auburn, Alabama,” the man said. “Do you know of Lakeview Baptist Church?”
I nodded. “That’s the church where I heard the message I mentioned tonight,” I told him.
“Al Jackson?” he asked, mentioning the name of the pastor with the courage to share such a message.
Again, I nodded.
“I want a selfie with you,” he said, grabbing his iPhone. “I was the minister of music there for many years—I’ve got to send this to him.”
I smiled and we got our photo. Another reminder of God’s ability to capture our attention when we least expect it.
Here at Pregnancy Help News, we update you on current stories in the pregnancy help community, because knowing our present vaults us forward into the future.
But just as important is knowing where we started. Each of us has a launching point; a story of how we first got involved in advancing the sanctity of life. What about you? Whom or what did God use to open your story of changing hearts and saving lives?
I received my reminder in an unlikely setting; through a quiet drive in the country and by meeting a new friend a few hours later. Today, my focus is just a little sharper, my motivation a little stronger.
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Almost every time I sign a book, I’ll jot the verse, “Col. 4:17” at the bottom. It’s a simple message from Paul to a virtually unknown servant named Archippus, “Take heed to the ministry to which you have been called, that you may fulfill it.”
The words “take heed” can also be interpreted, “Pay attention.” And paying attention begins with remembering our initial calling.
In a world where our work seems irrelevant and even repellant to so many, today let’s each remember.
Then, together let’s commit to remaining faithful—just as Paul exhorted Archippus. When we do, my guess is we will fulfill our calling, and change the world in which we live.