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ERLC, Focus aid St. Louis pregnancy center

ST. LOUIS (BP) — Abortion-minded women in St. Louis have a new opportunity to learn the truth about their unborn children thanks in part to Southern Baptists.

Russell Moore, president of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC), announced the placement of a sonogram machine with Thrive St. Louis during the denominational entity’s presentation at the 2016 Southern Baptist Convention’s annual meeting. The gift through the ERLC’s Psalm 139 Project, in partnership with Focus on the Family, will equip the ministry’s new mobile center with ultrasound technology primarily to help reach college campuses and underserved communities.

“The fact that the Southern Baptist Convention is working with Focus on the Family in placing this state-of-the-art, newest-of the-new laptop ultrasound so that it can move around with the unit is pretty remarkable,” said Bridget VanMeans, Thrive’s president.

An ultrasound machine is vital for a woman who “has been the victim of propaganda” regarding her unborn child’s development, she told Baptist Press. A woman with a crisis pregnancy often has been told her child is just a lump of cells, which “makes it easier for her to justify having an abortion, because it’s not a life, it’s not a baby,” VanMeans said.

The ultrasound exposes the lie of such propaganda.

“You will literally hear the girl say, ‘Oh my gosh. Is that my baby right now inside me? That right there, that’s my baby. Oh my gosh. That’s a baby. I can’t have an abortion,'” VanMeans said of some client responses to seeing the ultrasound image.

“So it cuts through those deceptions and gives her a reality check, and the impact is very powerful, because between 80 and 90 percent of those girls will choose life when they see the baby on that image,” she said.

Moore said he is thrilled to partner with Focus on the Family in helping Thrive “minister further to unborn children and their mothers. These machines are a powerful instrument in persuading women and families to choose life. Ministries like Thrive play an indispensable role in the church’s advocacy for human dignity, and I pray that our churches would fill our communities with other such servants.”

Participants at the first Evangelicals for Life event in January in Washington, D.C., provided funds for the ultrasound machine given to Thrive. The ERLC and Focus are cosponsors of Evangelicals for Life, which will be held again in January 2017 in conjunction with the annual March for Life.

Previously, the ERLC has provided ultrasound machines through the Psalm 139 Project to centers based in San Marcos, Texas; New Albany, Ind.; Denver; Corinth, Miss.; Lakeland, Fla.; Phoenix; Louisiana; Houston; Columbus, Ohio; and Knoxville, Tenn.

The new mobile unit containing the machine provided through Psalm 139/Focus will be Thrive’s fourth, making its fleet of mobile units the largest in the country among pregnancy centers, VanMeans said. Thrive has named each of its mobile centers, and Belle is the new one. Belle not only will serve the women who enter it for a sonogram but will act as “a moving billboard,” VanMeans said, to make those with crisis pregnancies aware of Thrive’s services.

The Christ-centered ministry — which also has three “brick-and-mortar centers,” as VanMeans describes them — receives support from several hundred churches across denominational lines.

In his SBC presentation, Moore said of Thrive, “Through the work of this organization, mixing innovative technology with Gospel compassion, women are served and many lives are saved.”

The Psalm 139 Project’s name comes from the well-known chapter in the Bible in which David testifies to God’s sovereign care for him when he was an unborn child. David wrote in verse 13 of that psalm, “You knit me together in my mother’s womb.”

All gifts to the Psalm 139 Project go toward the purchase of sonogram machines and the training of staff members to operate them, since the ERLC’s administrative costs are covered by the SBC’s Cooperative Program. Information on the Psalm 139 Project and how to donate is available at http://psalm139project.com.