“And it came about that as I was on my way, approaching Damascus about noontime, a very bright light suddenly flashed from heaven all around me.” Acts 22:6
As we know, the Bible is full of stories. The Old Testament tell us story after story of everything from the first sin, to the rise of Israel, to heroics and failures of people like Samson, David, Solomon, Ruth and so many more.
The New Testament tells us the story of Jesus, including the stories he told. And, we also see stories of those who followed Jesus . . . and the stories they told.
Do we see a pattern here? Sharing our faith almost always begins with stories. And there is no greater example of this than Paul.
Yes, the Paul, the great theologian who gave us so many New Testament letters. The Paul who gave us everything from the great doctrinal book of Romans to the love chapter in I Corinthians 13. That Paul.
His faith began with a story. One place he tells his story is in Acts 22. Defending his work before the Jewish council, Paul launches his story by recounting his advancement in Judaism. He mentions (v. 3) his education under the great Gamaliel, and his zealousness in persecuting that ragtag bunch of heretics known as The Way (v. 4).
But, Paul’s story shifts on the road to Damascus, where he met the man he was persecuting. Jesus. Paul tells of a bright light, of being blinded and falling to the ground. And, he tells of a life-changing conversation with a man he thought to be dead, which turned him from persecutor to a promoter of this new faith.
Reading Luke’s account of Paul telling his story, we see his listeners throwing fits of anger. This says much more about Paul’s listeners than his story. Because as we know, Paul told his story to people everywhere, launching churches all over the known world.
The point? While Paul’s story is more dramatic than most, all of us have a story.
We sometimes get caught up in trying to know exactly how to best share the hope within us. We search Bible verses, learn techniques and avail ourselves of trainings. None of this is wrong, but often our best approach is the simplest: Tell our story.
Just like with Paul, our story is our own. Someone could argue with Paul, but they could never take his story away. More important? Paul’s story—like ours—allows us to be transparent, which always draws in listeners.
The next time someone—whether inside our ministry’s doors or in our neighborhood—wonders why we believe what we do, perhaps it is time to do what Paul did so well: Let’s tell our story.
Our story may be a conversion story, like Paul’s. Or, it may be a story of a time when we clearly saw God’s hand in our lives. If our listener is open, our story may invite a transparent conversation—a conversation which opens the door for our listener to begin, or extend, their own story of faith.
The good news? If we have faith, we have a story. And it is often our story which may inspire the stories of others.
by Kirk Walden, Advancement Specialist
“Now there was a certain man at Caesarea named Cornelius, a centurion of what was called the Italian cohort, a devout man, and one who feared God with all his household, and gave many alms to the Jewish people, and prayed to God continually.” Acts 10:1-2
There are times in our when we see God working elsewhere, but for whatever reason He doesn’t seem active in our own life. Others appear to be in the middle of God’s work and us? We’re watching, wondering why we don’t seem to be included.
Whenever we find ourselves thinking, “God doesn’t notice me,” let’s remember Cornelius in the Book of Acts.
We know Cornelius’ story, but have we looked closely? Cornelius was a Gentile (non-Jew), an Italian centurion—a soldier. Even though he had no connections to the Jewish nation, he gave financially to the Jewish people, and in this narrative, Luke also points out he “feared God with all his household . . . and prayed to God continually.”
Yet, even as God worked among the Jews and we see God sending his messiah, Cornelius was not part of anything. He kept praying. Kept teaching his family about God. Kept giving. But day after day, nothing. We don’t see the Jewish people welcoming him as one of their own. Cornelius was on the outside looking in.
Though he wasn’t seeing tangible results from his prayers, Cornelius—out there on his own regarding faith—stayed committed. Still, we can forgive Cornelius if he ever thought, What about me, God?
Then one day Cornelius received a visit from an angel, who told him his prayers had not been wasted at all. “Your prayers and alms have ascended as a memorial before God,” the angel told him. The angel then asked our friend Cornelius to send men out to find Simon Peter, and, smart man that he was, Cornelius obeyed.
We know the rest of the story. Peter went to Cornelius’ home, where a mighty move of God brought the Good News to the Gentiles for the first time. Cornelius—the man who stayed committed even when he could see no real results—was likely the first Gentile in the history of planet Earth to be able to call himself “Christian.”
What about us? Whenever we feel as if we’re on the outside looking in, let’s stay committed. Let’s keep praying. Let’s keep looking for God to make His move. Though we may not see the results today, the fruit of our devotion may be closer than we think.
But they themselves were filled with rage, and discussed together what they might do to Jesus—Luke 6:11
We know wherever Jesus went, many loved him and followed. But some—almost always the cultural and religious leaders—despised him no matter what he did.
In the verse above, the scribes and Pharisees in the synagogue were filled with rage because Jesus did the unthinkable, healing a man’s withered hand . . . on the Sabbath. How dare Jesus do such a thing? Couldn’t he have waited until Sunday?
No, Jesus could not wait. He had a point to make. Over the years, those in charge of all things religious had been adding to the law of God, creating extra rules regarding what it meant to “keep the Sabbath holy.” These rules were relatively easy for those in authority to keep; they didn’t have to worry much about tending flocks, finding food and getting oxen out of ditches.
But for those under their religious authority, keeping all the man-made Sabbath rules was an incredible burden.
Jesus then, asked a question when he saw the man with the withered hand. “Is it lawful on the Sabbath to do good, or to do harm, to save a life, or to destroy it?”
Like every one of Jesus’ questions, this was a good one. It boxed the religious leaders in a corner, pointing out the hypocrisy of their thinking.
Therefore, they were “filled with rage.” To Jesus, it was not surprising to see leaders of his own culture angry with him. He appealed to normal people, and this was too much for them to stomach.
Today, it’s no different. In our culture the “leaders” are those who preach to us about what we must think and how we must behave. They are in Hollywood, the media, and some are in the political realm. They tell us we are to bow down to gods like “choice” and “tolerance.”
Over time, these leaders created their own commandments; commandments which seek to impede—or even stop us from reaching those who need all of us in the pregnancy help community. According to these commandments, we are to cease talking about faith. And, we must desist from speaking honestly about the wonder of human life.
As those who serve in the pregnancy help community, we understand the opposition Jesus faced. Like him, we ask ourselves, “Is it lawful in our society to do good? To save a life?”
Our answer is always “Yes.” Because just like Jesus, we realize there is never a wrong time and never a wrong situation . . . to do good.
by Jor-El Godsey, Heartbeat International President
There are very few instances where the label for clothing “one size fits all” is really true. This is because, for people both “size” and “fit” can vary widely amongst the “all!”
The same is true for organizations populated by people serving communities that both have diversity within, but are also different from other communities. An organization is best when it is more like an organism – able to adapt in such a way so as to leverage its greatest strengths in the best way to meet the mission amidst the unique needs of those it serves.
Pregnancy help can take many forms, or methods – from one time visits to extended care to full-on housing – all for our life-affirming mission. Similarly, at the heart of Heartbeat International is our mission to advance pregnancy help. Sometimes, that’s been a hand-in-hand effort actively consulting a steering committee through key milestones toward a fully functioning service location. Many other times, that journey has been guided only through various written materials serving as building blocks toward that same end.
The idea of Built by Design, a manual released in 2017, was to put those two concepts together into a multi-layered resource able to go far beyond the physical limitations of Heartbeat team members.
At Heartbeat International, our approach to pregnancy help is intentionally grassroots. Heartbeat was called into existence by local pregnancy centers and medical clinics when it formed in 1971. Today, maternity homes, medical clinics, adoption agencies and pregnancy resource centers are responding to a local need. What works in New York, New York, won't be the same as what works in Inskip, California – and it's more than just a difference of urban or rural. It's the local culture, the political climate, the fundraising sources.
Those kinds of differences affect everything in a local organization from a name for your center that will communicate a safe place for clients (as well as a worthwhile investment for donors) to the way you recruit volunteers. An organization can sometimes find a way to partner with schools teaching sexual integrity, and build a positive reputation with students who may need them in the future. Or an organization might be called to locate next door to an abortion clinic where a woman will see the pregnancy center in her scariest moments and walk a few more steps for a safer place.
Whatever a pregnancy help organization might be called to do locally, Heartbeat is ready to help. That's why our resources, conferences, and trainings draw from an experienced – and varied – team. And when a Heartbeat team member can't be there every step of the way for a new organization, the resources we've developed can.
In that way, Built by Design, a start-from-scratch guide to starting a pregnancy help organization, seeks to fulfill the key elements of Habakkuk 2:2 (NASB), “Then the LORD answered me and said, 'Record the vision and inscribe it on tablets, That the one who reads it may run.'” The vision for Heartbeat is to see more pregnancy help organizations and locations reach more of those in need. We “inscribed” that vision in the form of the various elements and how-to’s in order that those who read it, may run with their own vision of pregnancy help in their community!
This guide doesn’t so much condense the wisdom of all the other Heartbeat resources, as much as it connects them together to serve those with vision for life-affirming work in a God-honoring way. That's why, in addition to making it available alone, Built by Design is the key part to our Pregnancy Help Starter Kit, which includes written resources on everything from volunteer training to fundraising, strong leadership to legal considerations.
The Psalmist (95:1, NASB) describes himself as a “pen in the hand of a ready writer.” Our prayer for this field guide is that it would be found by “ready writers” being used by God to create new opportunities to bring life-affirming ministry to life.
Because one size does not fit all. YOUR community needs YOU, and Heartbeat is here to help.
At the end of Pregnancy Help Institute, we invite our attendees to write a letter to the Board of a pregnancy center who might be trying to decide whether to send staff for training or not. Every year, we are inspired by their reactions to working with other like-minded individuals as they sharpen their skills to continue serving on the front lines of pregnancy help. Here's what a few of our 2017 Pregnancy Help Institute graduates had to say.
Dear Board Member,
If you are looking for one single thing that you can do to grow the ministry that you are a part of, please consider sending your director to Pregnancy Help Institute. I know when the budget is tight it is hard to spend money and allow your director to be out of the office. But it is worth every penny. Equipping your director to do his/her job better is a huge part of Pregnancy Help Institute, but the encouragement they will find there, you cannot put a price tag on.
Sincerely,2017 Pregnancy Help Institute GraduateNew Director Track
If you are considering sending your medical staff for ultrasound training at Pregnancy Help Institute, please do it! It will equip your staff to not only learn/be able to perform basic ultrasound exams, but to give that mother a chance to view LIFE! Not only will they learn the skill of ultrasound, but they will also be encouraged spiritually to effectively help a mother see her unborn. Your staff will leave blessed when they go in, and blessed when they leave (Deuteronomy 28:6).
Sincerely,2017 Pregnancy Help Institute GraduateUltrasound Training Track
What I have discovered is how important it is to take some time away to refresh and rediscover our purpose and energize our soul for the work we do. Being a part of the Pregnancy Help Institute training in development has helped me not only affirm much of what I have been focused on, but also to discover new ways to take our ministry to the next level. Development involves everyone on the team, and I have taken away so many ideas that I can present to our team to help us be the best we can be.
This week, I have been challenged, affirmed, and inspired to take what we do for God to the next level. I can take my skill set and use it for so much good. I have met amazing people who I will keep in touch with and bounce new ideas off of. It is so important to value the resources we have through Heartbeat International and to allow your team to participate so that they are more equipped to serve women and their families and affect generations to come and most importantly, be able to put on the armor of God to do the work we have been called to do. It’s an investment for God.
Sincerely,2017 Pregnancy Help Institute GraduateDevelopment Track
The investment for the heartbeat International training is not only faith-filled, but full of amazing information that can and will be incorporated into our plans for the home. I firmly believe this is something new members, as we add them to our team, need to attend. Not only has it been an amazing and information-filled week, but it has renewed my fire and excitement for our ministry.
Thank you,2017 Pregnancy Help Institute GraduateLeadership Track
“For his disciples had gone away into the city to buy food.” John 4:8
We all know the story of the woman at the well in Samaria; Jesus approached a woman, asking her for water. A conversation develops, Jesus reveals to her that he is the messiah and soon, she is telling all who will hear, “Come, see a man who told me all the things that I have done; this is not the Christ, is it?”
Later in the narrative we read (Jn. 4:39), “And from that city many of the Samaritans believed in him because of the word of the woman . . .”
But before this fascinating interaction with the woman at the well took place, something quite mundane is described. The disciples had to go buy food.
Interesting, isn’t it? Elsewhere in the gospels, Jesus solves the food issue with miracles. But not this time. The disciples were sent out . . . to the “grocery store” of the day.
When the disciples were gone (Jn. 4:8), Jesus was alone—and thirsty. Without a group around him, Jesus could connect directly and uniquely with just one person; the woman at the well. Could you imagine the many conversations which might have taken place had Jesus and twelve disciples asked this woman for water?
Seeing thirteen men, would this woman have been so willing to ask Jesus probing questions? Would she have been as honest and transparent?
I’m guessing here, but if the disciples had been on the scene, maybe this story would not be in our Bible today. It’s not that the disciples would have done anything “wrong;” it’s just that the heartfelt interaction we see in this story is not nearly as likely in a group setting.
Yet on this occasion the disciples were elsewhere. Certainly, the disciples were vital to advancing the message Jesus taught. And we will see in the Book of Acts that these same men (absent Judas) learned from Jesus and spread his message like wildfire. Just not at the well.
Our role in this faith is not always to be out front. Sometimes, we go buy the food so another can take the lead.
In the story of the woman at the well, we see that through a one-on-one interaction, many came to believe in the message Jesus brought. This is an amazing and memorable moment, and should be.
But let’s not forget the disciples. The moment would come when they would “turn the world upside down” with the same message. But before this could take place, they had to go buy food. They had to do the mundane. They had to get out of the way.
The disciples only got a sentence in the Bible for their trip to find food. But what they did was important as well. They paved the way for a powerful message that day; a message that would change the course of history not only for the Samaritan woman, but for those in her city and the millions upon millions who learn from this same story even today.
Sometimes, we do the mundane. That’s important, too.
by Jay Hobbs, Director of Marketing & Communications
By now, it’s no mystery: If you don’t reach clients or donors online, you’ll have limited hopes of carrying out your life-saving mission.
What’s a little more mysterious, however, is exactly how to meet your clients and donors online. Is Facebook enough? How about Twitter? Instagram? Website banner ads?
Like any other technological shift, moving your reach online is an ongoing process, filled with unexpected twists and turns—and probably a lot more trial and error than we’d all like to admit. And so much of your online success depends on putting simple (and often cost-free!) tools to work in the most efficient way possible.
That’s why a group of my fellow Heartbeat International co-workers and I are looking forward to seeing you at our in-depth day, Putting Your Mission on the Map at this year’s Annual Conference April 18 in Chicago.
Running projects like Option Line, Extend Web Services, Pregnancy Help News and the Heartbeat International websites and social media outreach efforts, our team is constantly learning what it takes to be successful online—and we can’t wait to pass along our most recent findings at the Conference.
Together, we’ll hit five specific areas of online reach throughout the day. From getting the most of out Social Media—which you can learn more about here—to harnessing the power of the Web through Local Search, pay-per-click advertising and a SEM-optimized website presence, you’ll walk out with a clear-headed vision of reaching clients and donors in an online world.
Don’t miss out on this exclusive chance to roll up your sleeves and hammer out your online marketing strategy with our team. You can book your space here—but don’t hesitate, because spaces are filling up as we speak!
See you in Chicago!
by Carrie Beliles, International Program Specialist
You know abortion is a worldwide epidemic that must be addressed by life-affirming pregnancy help wherever it exists. But, what can you and your center do to help advance life-affirming help on the other side of the world?
The answer may be simpler than you’d think. In fact, with Heartbeat International’s Life Reach Global, it’s only a couple of clicks away.
Connecting U.S.-based pregnancy help people with global friends, Life Reach Global is one way Heartbeat International’s network can push ahead in our shared hope of making abortion unwanted today and unthinkable for future generations all over the world.
At Heartbeat International, we have long encouraged local organizations to connect with one another for ongoing partnerships during our Annual Conference, pairing U.S. organizations with their sister outreaches outside the States for mutual support and encouragement.
One example of this was at our 2014 Annual Conference, where attendees from all over the world pitched together to present our friend, “Lilli”, with a check to cover the first year’s operations at China’s first-ever Heartbeat affiliate. Now, partnering with life-saving efforts like Lilli’s is simpler than ever through Life Reach Global.
How Does Life Reach Global Work?
You start by selecting an life-saving affiliate of Heartbeat International, each of which Heartbeat has reviewed and approved to received funds through Life Reach Global.
After you give through Life Reach Global, Heartbeat International transfers your donation to the recipient organization. In most cases, your gift (less transaction fees) will reach the recipient organization in full, though in some cases, Heartbeat International will deduct no more than 1 percent for an affiliation or administration fee.
The recipient organization will receive the funds on at least a quarterly basis.
As a giver, your donation through Life Reach Global is tax-deductible because of Heartbeat International’s worldwide mission.
How Can We Receive Funds through Life Reach Global?
If your non-U.S. pregnancy help organization has been a Heartbeat International affiliate in good standing for at least the past 12 months, you can apply to receive funds through Life Reach Global.
by Ducia Hamm
What would bring 62 diverse individuals from a variety of pregnancy help organizations, hailing from 26 states, Washington, D.C. and the Bahamas together at the offices of Heartbeat International in Columbus, Ohio? Without a doubt–that would be Heartbeat International's Pregnancy Help Institute.
One pregnancy help leader summed up her experience as, “a great boot camp and leadership training that helps ensure our future success.”
Pregnancy Help Institute consists of three separate learning tracks: New Directors, Development and Leadership. This year, attendees were able to take advantage of unique opportunities that included a tour of the offices of both Heartbeat International and our 24/7 pregnancy helpline, Option Line.
Each day of the weeklong event started out with a gathering for prayer, devotion and fellowship centered on God’s Word before everyone headed off to their respective training tracks.
At the New Directors training, 48 new executive directors, each with less than three years’ experience in their position, received in-depth training designed just for them. Using the DIRECT Well Manual as their textbook, these new directors were able to benefit from Heartbeat International leaders Peggy Hartshorn, Ph.D. and Jor-El Godsey along with Senior Director of Ministry Services Betty McDowell and several of Heartbeat International's expereienced staff members.
In addition, participants gained firsthand instruction on navigating the HeartbeatServices.org website while learning the benefits that OptionLine offers to life-affirming organizations.
“Being a new director is a complex position and a role that involves many facets,” one director told us. “This training gave a comprehensive overview of many of these facets that would be valuable for [new] directors”.
The Development track, an intimate group of six leaders jumped in with both feet on a path toward building strong funding plans for the future.
“With this size, we have a lot of free-wheeling discussion and the opportunity to address a lot of situations,” Kirk Walden, Heartbeat International’s Advancement Specialist and the track’s instructor, said. “And because we had development directors and executive directors from varying-sized organizations, we touched on a little bit of everything and were able to zero in on a lot of individual needs and challenges.”
The Development track addressed everything from a biblical perspective on fundraising to finding and building eight revenue streams that, while relationships stay strong, never run dry.
“Raising funds is about connecting in a meaningful way with those who care about our work, and then providing ways for these friends to do what they want to do—which is to support our work,” Kirk said. “It’s not complicated, but there is a process to all of this.
“The goal of the track is to not only identify how to be successful in building support, but to make sure each person who attends can say, ‘Hey, we can do this.’ I want everyone to walk away with practical tools and plan that works for them individually. That’s the important thing.”
Woven throughout the Leadership track were concepts developed by Built to Lead, an executive coaching program that has trained CEOs, presidents, and ministry leaders nationwide. Kitty Allen and John Rue from Built to Lead guided the group through “The 12 Essentials of Personal Excellence©”.
One of the attendees, Heartbeat International's own Tony Gruber, was part of the Leadership track.
“The class-time was informative, inspiring, and helpful,” Tony said. “I especially appreciated the homework reading assignments. What struck me the most was the high caliber of leadership in pregnancy help organizations and the opportunity that the Institute offered to meet leaders from around the country.”
Wondering whether you should attend the Pregnancy Help Institute in 2016? Check out this endorsement:
"I am leaving this week feeling encouraged, empowered and confident to continute to do the work the Lord has called me to do."
Sound like something you want to say next year? Bookmark this page and we'll see you then!
It's not a stretch to say that Nehemiah was an expert fundraiser. We just don't think of him in this way, because his heart for God and his people, and his passion for the project of rebuilding the wall of Jerusalem takes precedence in our minds.
Quick note: What if those we approach regarding funding viewed us first as having a heart for God and his people? And what if another of the key characteristics they see in us is our passion for the mission we serve? Aren't these worthy attributes for us to pursue? To that end, what if those we ask see our role in development as secondary (or "thirdondary," to make up a new word)?
Actually, it is Nehemiah's heart and his passion that made him a great fundraiser. In keeping with this, he built on this foundation with two more sterling traits. First, he was a man of prayer.
When he first heard the news regarding Jerusalem's wall, Nehemiah broke down in tears (Neh. 1:4). His next step? Prayer. In his narrative (Neh. 1:5-2:2), Nehemiah notes that this time of prayer lasted about four months. After this time, he was prepared when King Artaxerxes asked, "Why is your face sad though you are not sick?"
Because he had spent months in prayer, when the king asked of Nehemiah's need, he had a ready answer. Though he was scared, Nehemiah asked with clarity and conviction. Oh, and he asked big, too.
Nehemiah didn't just ask for a few days off to go see about a wall. His time in prayer had given him a clear picture of exactly what would be needed to complete his project. In just a short audience with the king, Nehemiah asked for:
A good development plan is a specific one. And that plan also includes all that is needed to complete a project.
An example of this in a pregnancy help ministry might be if we are asking for an ultrasound machine to commit to a medical model. If we are in this situation, asking for the machine is only a portion of the project.
Are we also asking for funds for training, staffing, renovation, insurance and materials? And almost always forgotten, are we also asking for the funds to properly market our new initiative in the community (after all, what good is an ultrasound machine if we are not letting people know of our new service)?
Let's pray. Then, let's clearly ask for all we need to complete a project. This model is as old as the Old Testament's Nehemiah. And, it works.
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