ALPHARETTA, Ga. (BP)–More than 175 crisis pregnancy center executive directors and staff from 13 states — some having logged years in opposing abortion — attended “The Invitation Stands” National Pregnancy Center Conference at the North American Mission Board in Alpharetta, Ga.
After hearing Richard Land, Henry Blackaby and other speakers — as well as inspirational music by Rebecca St. James, Marvin Matthews and Dawn Pate — center directors said they were returning home recharged and ready to return to the 37-year struggle to protect innocent unborn life in America and lead women to Christ.
“Who would have ever believed or imagined that we would live to see a time in the United States when the most dangerous place an American’s ever been is in his or her mother’s womb between conception and birth,” said Land, president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission since 1988.
“For the last 37 years — since Roe v. Wade — an American baby has had a one-third chance of being killed between conception and birth,” Land said. “That’s a 33 percent mortality rate. We didn’t have a 33 percent mortality rate at Iwo Jima, at Omaha Beach or at Gettysburg, even if you counted the deaths on both sides.”
Since 1973, Land said, “[W]e have killed more American babies [an estimated 50 million] than all the soldiers, airmen, marines and sailors killed in all the wars we’ve ever fought in. And God had a plan and purpose for every one of those babies.
“Have we aborted the next Billy Graham, the next Abe Lincoln … or the next Martin Luther King Jr.? Have we aborted the little girl who God was knitting … in her mother’s womb to find the cure to cancer?” Land asked.
Land compared the Baptist pregnancy centers to the underground railroad that saved slaves during the Civil War.
“Instead of slaves, you’re saving babies, one or two at a time,” Land said. “You’re also saving the victims of abortion — and there are always at least two victims in an abortion, usually more.
“Don’t grow weary. The wind is now at your backs,” Land said. “According to the Gallup Poll, the majority of Americans now describe themselves as pro-life. The pro-life side is going up, the pro-choice side is going down, and every year another 1.5 million pro-life babies are becoming voters. We’re winning.
“We have just elected the most pro-life Congress since Roe v. Wade,” Land added. “Polling shows that 29 percent of all the people who voted are born-again evangelicals who voted 78 percent for Republicans.” Land noted that 52 percent of Tea Party members are born-again evangelical Christians.
Henry Blackaby, noted discipleship author and speaker, asked attendees at the Nov. 10-12 conference to imagine if Moses had been aborted.
“There’s going to be a huge accountability before God,” Blackaby said, “and God one day may say: ‘See that child you aborted? Let me show you what I had in mind for him.'”
Arnold M. Culbreath, urban outreach director of Life Issues Institute in Cincinnati, focused his comments on abortion’s impact on America’s African American community. He emphasized that any pregnancy center without evangelism as one of its key priorities is missing the boat.
“Because of legalized abortion, America has made a covenant with death,” Culbreath said. “And God has some strong things to say to a nation that makes such a covenant.” Quoting Isaiah 28:14-19, Culbreath said the Bible teaches that “when the innocent blood of our sons and daughters is shed as a result of this covenant, the land becomes polluted.”
Culbreath, an African American, said the leading cause of death in the black community is abortion — higher than AIDS, higher than cancer, heart disease, diabetes, accidents or violent crime. “It’s urgent we get this message out into the African American community,” he said.
Culbreath noted there were 452,000 induced abortions of black babies in 2005, compared to 587,000 live births. “They almost cancel each other out,” Culbreath said. “It’s genocide in the black and Latino communities. African Americans don’t realize how they’re captive to these issues.”
Culbreath, who is an independent politically, said he believes abortion is not a political issue, but “a God issue.”
“What I ask black folks is: ‘Whatever political party you’re in, what are we going to do about all these dead black babies?’ It’s a myth out there that there are droves of black folks who know about these abortion issues and facts but [are] not doing anything about it,” Culbreath said. “I have found that’s not the case. I hear from black pastors who ask, ‘Where has this information been? Why hasn’t anyone told us?'”
During the conference, Land promoted the ERLC’s “Psalm 139 Project,” a program in which donors’ gifts are used to install ultrasound machines in qualified SBC pregnancy ministry centers around the country.
The initiative is named after Psalm 139:13-14, which says: “For it was You who created my inward parts; You knit me together in my mother’s womb. I will praise you because I have been remarkably and wonderfully made.”
“If wombs had windows, people would be much more reticent to abort babies,” Land said. “Sonograms provide a window into the womb. Pregnant mothers who see their babies on sonograms are far more likely to carry their babies to term.”
Rita Willoughby, 14-year executive director of Pregnancy Resource Center of Southwest Oklahoma in Lawton, agreed. Her center sees some 2,000 first-time and repeat clients a year, some as young as 12. In 2009, the center saved more than 500 babies and recorded 140 decisions for Christ after counseling clients. The Oklahoma center is one of the 275 affiliated with NAMB.
“If a client comes through our center, they’re 95 percent more likely to choose life if they see a sonogram,” Willoughby said. “It’s amazing. Through this technology, we take the woman to that secret place of her womb, where life in its young form is exposed for what it is. Whenever we do a sonogram, God seems to breathe into that baby and it puts on a show for its mama.
“I want to thank NAMB for bringing us here, for valuing and validating our ministry,” Willoughby added. “Through NAMB, there are pregnancy centers throughout the U.S. NAMB has helped equip and train us. We are living out His call.”
Marly Ellenburg, director of Foothills Pregnancy Care Center in Seneca, S.C., said she was discouraged when she arrived at the national conference but added, “Now I’m leaving engaged, empowered and ready to minister again.”
Elaine Ham, national consultant for pregnancy resource ministries for the North American board, was chief organizer and emcee of the NAMB-sponsored conference. In her final remarks, she exhorted the 175 center directors to “never look back or give up.”
“Of all the people in your town, God called you to one of the most important issues — if not the most important issue — of this generation,” Ham said. “Live worthy of your call. Don’t question God. He cares about you. He has called you, will equip you and will carry you through whatever struggles you face in your ministry. If you know you’re called to this all-consuming ministry of life, then walk worthy of your calling. Don’t you dare think of giving up.”
In addition to the keynote speakers, the conference featured a variety of workshops on such topics as donor development, pregnancy center basics, reaching and ministering to the community, training new directors and leadership development.
Mickey Noah is a writer for the North American Mission Board. For free downloads of “The Invitation Stands” conference materials, go to www.nambforlife.net. For more information on the Psalm 139 Project, visit www.psalm139project.org.