You're passionate about the sanctity of human life. You've held children who would've never had the chance to sing, dance, or laugh without intervention from your center. You've been moved by stories from expectant mothers, and you long to share your love for human life with your community and its churches.
What can you can do? Promote Sanctity of Human Life Day. This special day, instituted by President Ronald Reagan in 1983, is a great way to spread the word about your center's mission. Here are some ideas:
Have a Memorial Service
When Pastor Don Bergstrom, a grandfather of 19 children, attended a memorial service in San Diego for America's aborted children, he knew he had to replicate the idea at his own church in Texas.
At the beginning of Sanctity of Human Life Week 2006, Bergstrom's congregants placed 50 crosses on the church lawn adjacent to a major freeway, representing America's approximately 50 million babies that have been aborted since Roe v. Wade. The following Sunday during church service, 50 volunteers stood one at a time and placed a rose at the base of a large wooden cross on the platform while Jesus Loves Me was being played quietly. Then each volunteer lit one candle as a living memorial to the children who are now in heaven. Fifty roses. Fifty candles. Fifty million babies. And one cross—full of forgiveness.
Hearts of post-abortive women were washed clean with tears of grief at the altar, church members felt afresh the value of human life, and lives were changed. Following the sermon, Pastor Bergstrom acknowledged the sin of abortion, prayed for mothers and fathers hurting from the effects of abortion, and told them about God's grace. Counselors were available to minister to anyone in need of healing.
Of course, organizing a service like this one doesn't have to start with a church. It can start with your center. You can encourage local churches to hold their own memorial service, which will cost very little. If you're unable to find churches to participate, your center can hold it at a central city location, inviting all denominations to come.
Hold a Baby Shower
When Rebecca Wilson from Clovis, California, saw a flyer in her church bulletin promoting the sanctity of human life, she was inspired to hold a non-traditional weeklong baby shower to gather necessary items for a local pregnancy center.
Rebecca and other volunteers created shower invitations and set up a table in the entryway of her church where people dropped off gifts during "Showering Week." Four women's Bible study groups from Rebecca's church participated by gathering and purchasing gifts and sharing invitations with non-church goers.
The results were more than Rebecca dreamed. "We collected four carloads of items to donate to the pregnancy center."
What was the big draw? Besides the cute pictures of babies that Rebecca posted in the church, many people loved shopping for the babies. "We got so many clothes, just because people had so much fun buying them." To wrap things up, Rebecca made sure that the women from the Bible studies discovered how the pregnancy center operated. They took a tour and listened to a speech from a staff member. This brought the project full circle because those who had donated their time and gifts could see how their efforts helped. It wasn't just the pregnancy center that was blessed.
Why not hold a "Showering Week" at your center, in a local area church, or at a community building? You can include pictures of babies associated with your center as part of your display, send out invitations, and set up a table like Rebecca did. Just like having a memorial service, this is a low cost project that can make a big difference.
SANCTITY OF HUMAN
LIFE SUNDAY IS
JANUARY 20, 2008.
Pray before Sanctity of Human Life Week
Janet Sperry wasn't surprised when a group of teens from her church asked how they could help a local pregnancy center. Why? Because the young people are exposed to the value of human life every Sunday, all year long, and not just during Sanctity of Human Life Week. "The sanctity of human life is something that we talk about all the time in the context of our normal worship services. Individually and in corporate worship, our church [regularly] prays for the least of these," says Sperry.
According to Sperry, a resident of Colorado Springs and an administrative assistant at Focus on the Family, prayer is a main element in developing compassion for others. "If it doesn't come from the heart and the soul [through prayer], why would you care?"
Your center can promote an attitude of prayer in your community prior to and during Sanctity of Human Life Week. One Idaho church passes out small pink and blue tags labeled with newborn babies' and their mother's names to members. Then each participating volunteer simply places the card on the refrigerator or somewhere noticeable to remember to pray at a specific time each day. While it may seem like a small gesture, it's a great way to promote compassion before focusing on a larger sanctity event. All it takes is some time, paper, and a little bit of legwork.
Your center can even go one step further and ask congregants to come alongside a new mother and her baby through a mentoring or sponsorship program, much like Compassion International does when donors sponsor a child in a third world country.
Offer and Utilize Resources
Every year, Focus on the Family provides resources through their Sanctity of Human Life website: www.beavoice.net. Months prior to Sanctity Sunday, churches can order bulletin inserts, or your center can benefit from free downloadable posters and public service announcements as well as other free resources.
What are the main ingredients for a successful Sanctity of Human Life Week? Compassion and love. Encouraging your community to become involved in your mission will be more effective if you connect at the emotional level. After all, compassion is a powerful catalyst in moving people into action and promoting change.
Shana Schutte, a former Focus on the Family editor, is a freelance writer, author, and speaker from Colorado Springs, Colorado.