by Carrie Beliles
When the annual Berlin March for Life was held last year, my husband, Ben, our four children, our friend Breanne, and I drove the seven hours from where we are stationed with the United States Air Force (Ramstein Air Base), near Kaiserslautern, to downtown Berlin.
On Friday night, we attended a pre-march meeting, with leaders from the pro-life movement here in Germany, as well the Netherlands and members of European Dignity Watch, a pro-life NGO working with the European Parliament in Brussels, Belgium.
European Dignity Watch is a small, dedicated group of people who do what they do because it is right—not because it’s popular or a good career move—and some of them have been involved in the movement for years.
We encouraged them by relating what we are doing with our center, where I serve as executive director. We primarily minister to American military personnel and dependents, but we also serve locals and foreigners living in Germany who are without access to everything they need to raise their children. Unfortunately, we are one of the only pregnancy help centers in Germany.
The meeting concluded with a prayer, as well as laying out the final details for the next day’s march.
Unlike pro-life marches in the States, the March is extremely intense in Berlin. The counter-protesters were chanting things like, "If Mary would've had an abortion you wouldn't be bothering us now," and, "If you had been aborted we wouldn't be bothered.”
Before we started to march, the organizers asked us to remain quiet, and not to dignify the protesters with a response. The counter-protesters came equipped with whistles, which they constantly blew to try and distract us from hearing the speakers at the beginning of the march.
They continued to try and drown out our singing or speaking with shrill whistles as the march got underway.
The Berlin riot police were out in force, and seemed prepared to put down any real disturbance by the counter-protestors. As we marched along, a burly German priest told us to move into the center of the marching crowd to keep our children safe. Noticeably, there were no other children marching. Our four little children got quite a few smiles, and had a few pictures taken throughout the day.
The organizers handed out large wooden crosses at the beginning of the march, and our 4-year-old, Faith, carried one as she rode in the stroller down the streets of Berlin.
The walk led us along some of the most historically significant sites in world history. We began in front of the Reichstag, which was burned in late January, 1933, serving as the pretext for Hitler’s declaring of martial law. The Reichstag was later restored, and now serves as Germany’s capitol building.
Following the Reichstag, we were almost immediately in front of the Brandenburg Gate, through which Napoleon marched when he conquered Berlin in 1806, and in front of which, President Ronald Reagan said those immortal words to Mr. Mikhail Gorbachev in 1987, “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!”
We followed the line marked in the road almost the entire distance where the Berlin Wall had stood from 1961 until 1989, dividing East and West Germany. We marched on past Potsdamer Platz, once divided by the Wall, but where East now meets West in Europe, and turned left onto Leipziger Strasse, heading back east.
We then passed the building that had served as headquarters for the Luftwaffe during World War II and later was the executive building for the East German government.
The dividing lines are much more stark here than in the United States. People here don’t have time for platitudes and half-truths. The sides are as clearly delineated between good and evil as they have ever been in Berlin.
What is also clear here in Berlin, as the whistles of the counter-protestors and the humming of Amazing Grace fade into memory, is that history does change, movements do matter, and nothing stays the same forever.
Just contemplate the tide of history in this place over the last 70 years. What an encouragement to realize that we may one day place abortion on the trash heap of history, along with so many oppressive regimes of the not-too-distant past.
Meanwhile, the killing continues. As must the praying.
Carrie Beliles serves as executive director for Heartbeat Crisis Pregnancy Center at Ramstein Air Base in western Germany.
In Fishhoek, South Africa, "Marc and Veronica" hold their newly adopted baby girl and praise God that, after six long years of waiting, He has answered their prayers.
Cradling their daughter, "Jenna", in their arms at the site where she was left by her birth mother, the beaming parents know firsthand the value of the work Baby Safe International is doing.
For Marc and Veronica, the thought of Jenna’s probable fate without Baby Safe’s life-saving innovation is unimaginable. At just a day old, Jenna would likely have been a victim of infanticide—infant exposure—had it not been for the availability of Baby Safe’s deposit box, which empowers desperate mothers with a real choice to preserve the life of their baby.
In South Africa, “baby dumping,” as it is called, is an increasingly common occurrence in both rural and urban areas. Some babies are found in plastic bags in rubbish heaps, others in storm drains, abandoned fields, ditches, alleys, or even in rural homemade toilets.
Some of these children are found, thankfully, alive, while others are found dead—upwards of 500 in the Western Cape of South Africa in 2010 alone—and still more are never found. This sad fact tells us that baby dumping is, by its very nature, widely unreported.
Baby Safe, a nonprofit Heartbeat International affiliate, specifically targets this injustice in its region, just outside of Cape Town, by producing and distributing “baby safes,” where mothers can leave their babies anonymously as a real alternative to the horror of infanticide.
The box has a variety of safety features to insure that proper care will be given to the baby who is left by his or her mother. When a baby’s weight is detected inside the safe, a team of dedicated staff are immediately notified, while a safety backup system assures the baby will be promptly rescued by Baby Safe volunteers.
Through the production and distribution of these boxes, Baby Safe is carefully building a network that enables desperate mothers to choose life for their babies. This network is spreading throughout South Africa, and has broken through the northeastern border to Swaziland.
While its visible efforts are focused on providing an alternative to infanticide for desperate mothers, Baby Safe’s long-term vision is to connect with at-risk women before they reach the point of dumping their babies, with holistic direction that includes Bible studies, parenting classes, nutrition education, and even exercise and dance classes.
To learn more about Baby Safe, and to find out how you can help, visit TheBabySafe.org.
Walking the Novi Sad streets, Molly Hoepfner and Betty McDowell pass row after row of square, grey buildings—standing monuments that remain 20 years after the breakup of Communist Yugoslavia.
Yet, even amid the seemingly unvaried landscape of drab, graffiti-covered structures that line the busy streets of Serbia’s second-largest city, an occasional flash of color bursts through a new, freshly painted edifice.
Little by little, life is returning to Serbia.
On behalf of Heartbeat International, Molly and Betty were there to see to it that even as life returns, the long-forgotten value of human dignity and life would truly take root.
Molly and Betty led a four-day volunteer training conference Oct. 4-7, hosted by Serbian pregnancy help organization executive director Vesna Radeka, who is one of more than 300 non-U.S. Heartbeat affiliates.
The conference included training on The LOVE Approach™ and Talking About Abortion™, two of Heartbeat’s signature programs, and welcomed a total of 50 attendees from five nations that were part of Yugoslavia as recent as the early 1990s—Serbia, Montenegro, Macedonia, Slovenia and Croatia.
“They got The LOVE Approach, they really got it,” Betty, Heartbeat’s director of ministry services, said. “Vesna had written scenarios that fit the culture, and that was really exciting. It was exciting to see The LOVE Approach really translate, and to see that it works in any language, any setting. It’s truly ‘Love in every language.’”
The conference is believed to be the first of its kind in the region, which has undergone constant political upheaval and deadly clashes between ethnic groups throughout the last century.
The fledgling growth of unity in the Eastern European pro-life movement was one of the highlights for the Heartbeat mini-envoy, particularly considering the deep entrenchment of the culture of death in the post-Communist region.
“We kept promoting the message that, ‘We’re better together,’” Molly, Heartbeat’s international coordinator said. “They really embraced that, even though that’s not how they tend to think.”
With a population of just over 7 million, Serbia reports an average 23,000 abortions every year. However, unofficial data, reported by The Southeastern European Times, estimates the annual average at 150,000 abortions—twice the number of live births—giving Serbia the highest abortion rate in Europe.
As Molly related, one woman who attended the conference said her mother had undergone 10 abortions after giving birth to her older brother and before giving birth to her, which was a tragically common story among the conference’s attendees.
“I’ve read about survivor’s guilt, but to see it so blatant and prevalent in that room was just so painful,” Betty said.
“This is generational,” Molly said. “Woman after woman after woman at this conference—whose average age was 35-40, stood up and said that they were either an unwanted child or that they grew up with abortion as a way of life.”
Abortion on-demand was legalized in its current form in Yugoslavia in 1977, but has been prevalent in the culture since just after World War II, when abortion was legalized in cases citing socio-medical grounds.
The conference’s attendees, many of whom are actively involved in bringing the sanctity of life message to their local public school systems, welcomed further training on how to speak the message of life into culture that has systematically devalued human life for several decades.
In addition to training related to The LOVE Approach and Talking About Abortion, another Heartbeat resource, the Sexual Integrity™ Program, played a major role in the conference training.
“These women are really stepping out in faith because it’s still so opposite of what their culture is saying,” Molly said. “They’re really going into uncharted waters because they’re in the infancy of pregnancy help centers even though their culture is much more entrenched in death than ours was by the time these centers began.”
One of the most beautiful things about the pro-life movement is its unity. When people come together and pool resources to see a common goal accomplished, the gospel of LIFE is spread throughout the earth.
That’s exactly what took place during Heartbeat International’s Annual Conference last March.
We have the honor of hosting pregnancy help movement leaders from all around the world at Conferences every year, and the chance for those international life-savers to receive training and get equipped can be life-changing. This year, we encouraged our U.S. pregnancy help organizations to bring any foreign coins they may have to our Conference, to be distributed among those outside of the U.S.
We were overwhelmed with the response! We received a multitude of foreign coins that we were able divide up and distribute among our international partners.
Our friends from Centro de Ayuda para la Mujer (CAM) came all the way from Mexico to attend our Conference. We were blessed to be able to give CAM the pesos that we received, knowing that they would be put to good use. And we were right!
The CAM network saves lives from abortion all over Mexico and across Latin America. As it turned out, those donated pesos were spent on baptism robes and gifts for the children who have been saved from abortion by their ministry. It is a thing of beauty to see lives rescued from death now baptized in beautiful garments because of the unity and generosity of the pregnancy help movement.
Thank you for partnering with us as we work to advance the pregnancy help movement worldwide!
The gospel of life in China is taking root. Lofty prayers are being answered!
Because of the nature and scope of this effort, Heartbeat International is releasing Executive Director of Global Advancement John Ensor to begin a new labor, called PassionLife Ministries. Though independent of Heartbeat, PassionLife will seek to work collaboratively with us in our life-saving mission when it officially launches Oct. 1, 2012.
PassionLife is a global missions initiative created to spread the gospel of life and expand the pregnancy help movement in especially difficult places and among people plagued by abortion, infanticide and gendercide. PassionLife will seek to use God’s Word to open the eyes of the Chinese people to the beauty of human life and the ugly truth of abortion.
All of us at Heartbeat are excited to be a part of what the Lord is doing as He expands His work in especially needy areas like China. When God's people respond with a desire to start a pregnancy help organization, Heartbeat’s goal is to provide leadership training and support to assist in equipping those that have been called. John has played an integral part in our movement for nearly 20 years, first as founder and president of a Heartbeat affiliate in Boston, then as a key member of the Heartbeat International Board. He served as a Heartbeat staff member for the past six years before being called to devote his time to bringing God's life-saving message to China.
It is our honor to help launch this new organization, and we greatly anticipate working closely with Chinese leaders who emerge, helping them plan and implement pregnancy help organizations in their own communities.
Please join us as we continue to pray for John's work, and for PassionLife.
May the Lord continue to bless this great and heroic outreach!
By Connie Ambrecht RDMS, CMB
Heartbeat International has a heart for international ministry. If you would like to join in the international ultrasound ministry, there are a couple of resources of which you should be aware:
Have you wondered how much impact ultrasound could have internationally? What does it take? Who is qualified to go? Who would you train in those countries?
It almost sounds glamorous to travel to exotic places like Haiti and Ecuador or Ukraine and Romania. Hope Imaging and its teams have been to all of these countries and more, taking life-affirming sonography training to physicians, midwives, and nurses in these foreign lands.
If traveling internationally to address life issues doesn’t interest you, read no further. Hope Imaging is all about the God possibilities, and exotic travel and intrigue are all part of His itinerary to get the job done well.
You may already be interested and eagerly have your hand raised saying “Send me Lord, send me!”
What does it take to go internationally?
Flexibility, agenda-free thinking, funding, immunizations, peanut butter, and “just in case” medicines make international outreach travel all that you imagine and then some.
Who’s qualified to go?
Those He’s called.
Hope Imaging recommends taking a team; two registered sonographers, one prayer partner, and one intern. The registered sonographers can rotate with the training and translation. The prayer partner is one who can be trusted with difficult situations – team members, participants, safety, health, technical translations, clinic needs, medical needs…the prayer needs can be endless.
An intern, as defined by Hope Imaging, is one of the following:
Any of these members can be combined. For example, a registered nurse/sonographer might also serve as prayer partner, or a registered sonographer may be prayer warrior. You get the idea; it’s that flexible thing again!
Who do we teach internationally? The simple answer is primarily physicians. Physicians are quick learners so keep that in mind as you walk them through the steps to a good image. Be patient and work with them. Remember, they want to learn. That machine has been sitting idle for too long. Let’s get it in use!The reality is, however, that we teach everyone we cross paths with.
Our teams need people with a heart for international missions, who are flexible, and who are willing to raise their hand and say, “Send me Lord, send me!”
Connie Ambrecht serves as International Team Coordinator as well as Team Leader for Hope Imaging. She and her husband have been involved with Hope Imaging since its birth in 2005.
International Affiliates (outside U.S.): $70.00 USD
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To initiate/renew your Heartbeat affiliation online, please click here.
In order to become an affiliate of Heartbeat International, you must review and agree to abide by the Heartbeat Principles and Commitment of Care and Competence:
As an affiliate of Heartbeat, our agency or organization subscribes to the principles of Heartbeat and “Our Commitment of Care and Competence.” We recognize that we are autonomous in all other matters of policy and management. This includes choice of name, method of operation, and all other matters which do not violate the principles of Heartbeat International. We expressly agree that General Counsel for Heartbeat International does not act as our legal counsel, and cannot represent us in legal proceedings or give us legal advice. We understand that Heartbeat’s General Counsel is available for consultation to our agency or organization’s legal counsel. Any general legal education provided by Heartbeat’s General Counsel does not constitute the practice of law.
Affiliates are entirely autonomous in all other matters of policy and management.
Check out PregnancyCareCanada.ca to see the good work and exciting initiatives of our friend Dr. Laura Lewis, Executive Director, and her team at Pregnancy Care Canada (formerly The Canadian Association of Pregnancy Support Services CAPSS) and the associated pregnancy centres. We also are excited about our joint affiliation agreement whereby all Pregnancy Care Canada affiliates gain affiliation with Heartbeat International for no additional cost.
Click here to visit the Pregnancy Care Canada website.
Heartbeat International congratulates our Australia affiliate network Pregnancy Help Australia (PHA), formerly known as the Australian Federation of Pregnancy Support Services (AFPSS), on their new leadership group and especially the new Executive Officer, Lynn Mabey. Pregnancy Help Australia is set to celebrate their 25th anniversary in 2009. The roots of this good work go back even further and intersect with the founding group that became Heartbeat International.
Click here to visit the PHA website.
The pregnancy care efforts are growing on the continent of Africa! Africa Cares for Life now publishes a dynamic manual on how to start a pregnancy centre called “Fan Into Flame”. Gail Schreiner, President Africa Cares for Life, combined her personal experiences, insight and wisdom with the framework for Heartbeat’s own “A Vision for Your Organization” to author a manual that will equip and inspire others to establish strong efforts to help those in need. We are pleased to announce our joint affiliation agreement where affiliates in good standing of Africa Cares for Life automatically receive all the benefits of affiliation with Heartbeat International.
Click here to visit the Africa Cares for Life website.
Click here for news about Africa Cares for Life.
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