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"Introducing a Vital Ministry"
by Tom Goodman
March 1, 2007

I was glad that Lori DeVillez could join us in worship last Sunday to introduce us to her ministry, the Austin Pregnancy Resource Center.  The timing was perfect, because the week before, Time magazine ran a cover story on Christian pregnancy resource centers.  The article opened with this:

The pregnancy-center clinic, with its new ultrasound machine, has been open only since December, but already the staff can count the women who came in considering an abortion and changed their minds: five women converted, six lives saved, they declare, since one was carrying twins.  "They connected," nurse Joyce Wilson says, recalling the reaction of the women who saw the filmy image of their fetus onscreen.  "They bonded.  You could just see it.  One girl got off the table and said, 'That's my baby.'"

"Another got up," Deborah Wood says, "and said, 'This changes everything.'"

Wood is the CEO of Asheville Pregnancy Support Services in Asheville, North Carolina, one of the thousands of crisis pregnancy centers in the U.S. that are working to end abortion.  Hers is the new face of an old movement: kind, calm, nonjudgmental, a special-forces soldier in the abortion wars who is fighting her battles one conscience at a time.  Her center helps women navigate the social-service bureaucracy, sign up for Medicaid and begin prenatal care.  She helps pregnant girls find emergency housing if their parents threaten to throw them out.  Free pregnancy tests and ultrasounds are just the latest service.

"They've been fed these lies, that it's just a bunch of cells that's not worth anything," Wilson says.  "But those limbs are moving.  That heart is beating.  You don't have to say anything..."  She brings out a black velvet box that looks as if it holds a strand of pearls.  Inside are four tiny rubber fetuses, the smallest like a kidney bean with limbs, the biggest about the size of a thumb.  This is what your baby looks like, she tells clients; this is about how much it weighs right now.  "When we do the ultrasound, we ask the girl how she's feeling," Wilson explains.  "I ask what she would like to put on the picture for her baby book.  One girl put ANGEL.  Some put the name they've picked out for the baby."  She points to the translucent image on the screen.  "One put LITTLE MIRACLE!!!!"

Albert Mohler focused attention on the cover story, commenting on it on his radio program and at his blog.

Lori DeVillez brings this national cover story "home" to those of us in Austin.  She opened the Austin Pregnancy Resource Center two years ago.  She is active at Great Hills Baptist Church and serves as a consultant for our national convention's North American Mission Board.  The Board's Pregnancy Care Ministries will send her out to train a church in opening a new center or help train existing centers.  Lori has helped establish "Texas Life Connections" in partnership with the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention (SBTC), and this is being used as the model across the U.S.  She is also working with Dr. Richard Land at our convention's Ethics and Religious Liberty Committee (ERLC) with their "Psalm 139 Project."  Lori has helped them place new sonogram machines in pregnancy centers.

It's good to learn more about this work among Baptists at the local, state, and national level, and my thanks to Lori for her hard work!  In addition to Lori and the Austin Pregnancy Resource Center, we have two similar ministries supported by members of our church.  I hope to have representatives of these ministries share their work with us in the future:

Austin LifeCare
Hillcrest Contact: Judi Raymund

Sarah's House
Hillcrest Contact: Michelle Roberts

What does all this have to do with LeaderLines, which is designed to give information and inspiration to leaders?  I believe that in the next two years you are going to see a major expansion in the number of "hands on" missions and ministries our church promotes.  I'm seeing this conviction grow especially in our Missions Committee and our Second Half Ministries, as well as in conversations with our young adults.  As leaders, you need to look for ways to influence our people to greater involvement in ministries and mission activities that make a practical difference in people's lives.

It's a good time to be a leader at Hillcrest!


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