A high school senior just weeks away from graduation, Jana was on top of the world. She had just been accepted into her dream college and had one more carefree summer before packing up and leaving for her new adventure.
Everything was on track. That is, until Jana began to suspect that maybe, just maybe, her path had suddenly changed directions.
Jana’s friend bought her a pregnancy test, and the pair took it to her friend's house, so that Jana’s parents wouldn't suspect anything was up. The strategy had a short shelf life, however, as the pregnancy test showed positive… she was pregnant.
Even though she felt pressured to abort her baby, Jana was terrified that some day she would regret it.
Jana cried all afternoon and well into the night. Finally, in desperation, she typed in"abortion stories" to her search engine, hoping to find stories of post-abortion women who had gone on to live happy, fulfilled lives.
What she found was StandUpGirl.com. Jana read story after story about young women just like her who had submitted to an abortion and later shared their experience on the online forum. Story after story was shared as encouragement to not make the same mistake as the writer.
Moved by what she read, Jana clicked a box on the sidebar, opening up a live chat program.
The chat link connected Jana to an Option Line® consultant, who answered her immediately. Jana poured out her heart, sharing her fears, and what she'd read on StandUpGirl. She shared that, while she wanted to protect and care for her baby, she felt it would be selfish to bring a child into the world without a good job, house, or stability.
On the other end of the live chat, the Option Line consultant helped Jana understand that giving her child life was the most unselfish thing she could do. She explained to Jana that, in addition to single parenting or married parenting, Jana could also choose to parent through adoption, entrusting her child into the hands of an adoptive family.
She also let Jana know that help was available to her. A pregnancy center would be able to work with her for everything from diapers and wipes to maternity clothes and community referrals for help with food and medical care.
As the early morning conversation came to a close, Jana agreed to visit a center in her area, and told the Option Line consultant she finally felt ready to sleep, knowing that a brighter day lay ahead.
While Heartbeat’s Option Line® gains most of its traffic from its own advertising and web presence, the 24-7 pregnancy helpline also partners with several national organizations like StandUpGirl.com and TeenBreaks.com to reach over 1,000 contacts per month—just like Jana—via live chat and text.
“God how can I do this?!”
When leaders look at the numbers, we are tempted to ask, “God, how can I do this?!” God’s answer: “You can’t, but I will!”
God is far more than our intelligence, skill, and experience. When we place our faith and resources at the service of God’s will, all things are truly possible . . . in God’s own time and according to His own plan!
Jason Upton gives powerful testimony to how God’s blessings outstrip our imagination and fulfill our hopes in ways that are far beyond the decisions we make “by the numbers.”
Watch Jason’s testimony on Heartbeat’s FaceBook page, July 7, Jason Upton's Testimony (at The Ramp)By Peggy Hartshorn, Ph.D., Heartbeat International President
From On the LeaderBoard Volume 1, Issue 2
As Christians, we are all stewards of what truly belongs to the Master. As faithful stewards, we invest the Master’s “goods.” With the time, treasure, and talents that He has entrusted to us, we produce abundant goods for Him. Good stewards rely on skill, as in the effective use of accounting knowledge and management expertise.
As faithful stewards in pregnancy help ministries, we use caution in administering God’s goods. Even more so do we rely on grace. The blessing factor is God pouring His grace into our hearts when we respond to His will. Our response allows this grace to spill into our works.
Yes, caution is necessary. Yet, it’s easy to get carried away with statistics, numbers, and outcomes, losing sight of the heart and passion associated with the work of the organization. Board members (and staff) can get bogged down in this responsibility. Board meetings can become dry and heartless! Try to ensure that this isn’t the case, perhaps by assigning detailed evaluation work to a Board task force or committee.
Also, numbers don’t take into account the blessing factor. If you are part of the leadership team of a Christian ministry, one way you know if you are on the right track is by counting the blessings that the Lord is bestowing on your work. While this is most often not a category of the official reports, Boards and executive directors frequently talk about the blessings that have taken place recently, even miracles. We know that the small, often bungling efforts we make could never, in and of themselves, result in the effects which we see taking place in the ministry.
A client walks out of a peer-counseling session, seemingly bound for abortion, but calls back later to thank the center and share that she has decided to parent her baby. . .
An ultrasound machine picks up nothing but a pulsating dot on the screen (the heartbeat), but when the ultrasonographer reluctantly turns the screen toward the very abortion-minded client, she murmurs, “My baby. . .”
The staff and Board pray for office space and someone calls to ask if the organization would accept a donated building in the perfect location.
Your Board no doubt has such stories of blessings that let you know that you are doing something right. That something you are doing right is constantly turning to the Lord in prayer and relying on the Lord, the real Owner for whom we work as stewards, as our source of strength and wisdom.
Don’t let the world’s way of evaluating completely overshadow the blessing factor as a measure of what you are doing right!
by Peggy Hartshorn, Ph.D., President of Heartbeat International
by Jor-El Godsey, Heartbeat International Vice President, Ministry Services
Will you watch the competition on the field or the competition among the commercials?
That’s right. The Super Bowl will be upon us soon and millions upon millions will tune in. It seems that more emphasis is on the commercials than on the teams (unless the team is one of your favorites).
A mere 30 seconds of time costs advertisers somewhere north of $3,000,000 in 2010. But how many opportunities does an advertiser have to get in front of so many people and score with such a high sales impact? Is it worth it? Only those who are close to the numbers – who know the cost of the ad as well as the number of people who say, “Yes” and adopt the product – can answer that question. And answer they will!
Can we ask similar questions about the “numbers” impact in pregnancy help ministries? I mean the number of people we see who are facing a true life-and-death decision. And then the number of people among that group who say, “Yes” and embrace the Gift of Life and the Giver of Life.
So what does it cost to have the type of conversations that lead to the result we desire? How much do we spend on marketing our ministry to those who need us the most? What percentage of our budget are we spending now? How much should we spend? Where are we advertising? Are we still in the old, familiar places? Or are we looking for new and more cost-effective avenues like web search and social media?
As you gather with friends and family for America’s annual event, the Super Bowl, enjoy the commercials. The folks from Madison Avenue have worked hard to get our attention and capture us as consumers. They work almost as hard as we do to gain the hearts of our “customers.” When you’re tempted to think about how deep are the Madison Avenue advertisers pockets compared to our pinched budgets, remember the value of the widow’s mite – priceless. And the treasury of Our Provider – infinite. And the importance of our customers – eternal. Also remember that it’s up to us to be good stewards whether He entrusts us with one talent or five (Matthew 25:14-30).
Take heart! What’s most important, money can’t buy.
by Mary Peterson, Housing Consultant
It seems like a simple enough question, but it can make even a seasoned leader stumble… "What is success for your program?" Gulp.
As Christians, the question might make us especially squirmy. From a Christian viewpoint, success is modeling a life of love, planting seeds of insight, and observing tiny gestures of conversion of heart. We do our part in the work, and trust Christ to bring about the fruit by His Spirit.
But here’s the rub: Funders or major donors asking about success want to know more. They want concrete, measurable outcomes.
So, how do we go about establishing measurables and metrics? What can—at the very least—point to a pattern that just may be success?
With that goal in mind, leaders in the National Maternity Housing Coalition have begun working on a document to capture common strategies toward achieving various outcomes in practical skills, attitudes, and healthy behaviors.
The simple framework of NMHC’s work-in-progress resonates deeply with common sense, but is also rooted in up-to-date research from the Centers for Disease Control, addressing and preventing "adverse childhood experiences" while building resiliency skills. This framework articulates the work homes have been doing for years, while inviting leaders like you to share the "best of" what you’ve been doing, and considering new methods for serving moms in your ministry.
NMHC’s document is currently a working draft, and we would greatly benefit from your perspective! We are having a working session to collectively fill in the framework of this document on September 12 at 1 pm (CST). You can find details for the session here.
Please consider joining us to add your input to the document!
Our work, so dear to the heart of God, plays out on the stages of both the natural and supernatural. On a supernatural stage, we know God's vision for success is not easily quantified and measured.
But the natural stage is where we are called to articulate a vision for success that advances the excellent, transformative work of maternity homes.
And in doing so, we give God the glory!
Gregory Boyle, founder of Homeboy Industries, wrote a simple yet profound book about his work with gang members, “Tattoos on the Heart”.
It’s an impressive story for a variety of reasons, but the chapter entitled, “Success” speaks to any ministry leader who deeply shares life with people. In it, he writes:
Success and failure, ultimately, have little to do with living the gospel. …Jesus was always too busy being faithful to worry about success. I’m not opposed to success; I just think we should accept it only if it is a by-product of our fidelity. If our primary concern is results, we will choose to work only with those who give us good ones. (p.172, 178)
We are all seeking results for our labors, longing for moms to know profound and lasting transformation in their lives…and many times, we get to see incredible successes. But, not always.
Sometimes, we give without ever knowing the impact we will have. Other times, we watch as women make painfully destructive decisions about their future.
In your work as a maternity home leader, you have been called to be faithful to the task of welcoming the stranger…the women standing at the door in need of a loving place. She may arrive bad-mouthing, attention-seeking, closed-off, or beaten-down.
But, regardless of appearance, she is Christ before you in wonderful disguise. In welcoming her into the embrace of your home and your heart, you are living out the gospel…whether you “succeed” or “fail.”
by Jor-El Godsey, Vice President
Before you break out the mission statement, ministry tag-line or branded sound-bite, let’s look past today’s pundits’ and consultants’ definition of success.
Let’s see what the “Owner’s Manual” has to say about success. After all, if we are a Christian ministry, or simply Christians ministering, we should understand what the Bible has to say about success.
The New International Version has only a couple dozen occurrences of the word “success” (a few dozen more if we add “successor,” “successive,” etc.), and all of them are in the Old Testament.
When success is the subject of the verse, we see two distinct patterns. First, success is something that comes from the Lord, like Nehemiah 2:20: “I answered them by saying, ‘The God of heaven will give us success...’” Second, success is a reward for partnering/cooperating with the Lord, like we find in 2 Chronicles 26:5b: “As long as [King Uzziah] sought the LORD, God gave him success.”
Notice also that success noted in the examples above can be both corporate (“give us”) and individual (“gave him”). And again, success is noted as a gift from the Lord. Although the New Testament has no direct references to “success,” there are two themes that seem to indicate success among believers. These two, like the Old Testament references, are indicative of working and receiving from God.
1. Faithfulness. In 1 Corinthians 4:2, the Apostle Paul explains, “Now it is required that those who have been given a trust must prove faithful.” Our Lord asks us to be full of faith, particularly faith He will accomplish what He desires, both in and through us.
2. Fruitfulness. In the Gospel of John (15:8), Jesus states, “This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.” Fruit, ostensibly good fruit, is also an indicator of our relationship to God and our faith in Him. We were created for good works (Ephesians 2:8-10) that bring glory to Him and advance His kingdom (in our hearts and elsewhere).
So, in our work today, success is more than any “outcome” (that word only shows up once... in The Message) related to our mission. Positive outcomes are excellent and to be celebrated as one measure of success. But as both ministers and ministries, our success must include faithfulness to the mission—even in the face of opposition—and fruitfulness where we count the victories of those who embrace life, and life everlasting.
As you take stock of the year just past, look back a little further. Rick Warren says we “overestimate what we can accomplish in a day, and yet underestimate what we can do in a decade.”
Look back over the last decade (or more) as a minister and a ministry, and celebrate the success of faithfulness and fruitfulness.
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