Four solid days of being with some of the most self-giving, faith-filled, enthusiastic pro-life people in the world is certainly a boost. That’s what I experienced this past Tuesday through Friday at the annual conference of Care Net, one of the largest networks of pregnancy centers.
The conference – at which I have exhibited and spoken many times over recent decades — met in Mobile, Alabama and consisted of over 1600 pro-life pregnancy center directors, staff, medical professionals, and pro-life activists who came together to learn from one another, pray together, celebrate over meals, and deepen their fellowship. It was the largest Care Net Conference to date.
The schedule consisted of speakers who addressed counseling techniques, clinic administration, legal and medical issues, healing after abortion, relations with Churches and media, and much more. Opportunities were available to meet with the Prayer Team – of which I was happy to be a part – for individual prayer and encouragement.
And the exhibit hall was nothing less than a waterfall of creativity inspired by the Holy Spirit as pro-life groups both new and old shared how they are reading and responding to the signs of the times with the unchanging Gospel of Life and the resources that convey it.
One of the key pioneers of pro-life ultrasound was there, Shari Richard, who decades ago released the famous “Window to the Womb” videos. Newer efforts like “Vans for Life,” which seeks to place mobile pregnancy vans outside every abortion facility in America, also were present. The exhibit booths of 40 Days for Life and Sidewalk Advocates for Life reminded everyone that the effort to reach abortion-minded women does not just take place within the walls of the center, but out on the public sidewalks of America.
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The presence of legal resources (like Alliance Defending Freedom and the National Institute of Family and Life Advocates — NIFLA) reminded us that as pregnancy centers serve their clients, they also have to defend themselves against an abortion industry that wants to shut them down. The presence of The Leadership Institute reminded everyone that unless we elect pro-life candidates, it will be nearly impossible for pregnancy centers to even exist.
And there were Church groups and after-abortion healing ministries and researchers and medical groups and much more.
Every participant in the Conference was a manifestation of God’s love for unborn children and their families. Yet the diversity of the groups and leaders that were united with them was a reminder that no aspect of the pro-life movement has a monopoly on “love.” Rather, love inspires every type of pro-life work, whether it is counseling a confused Mom or Dad, or arguing a pro-life case in court, or testifying on a panel before hostile pro-abortion legislators, or standing in front of an abortion facility, or preaching in a pulpit, or pouring over thousands of pages of research. Love is the engine that fuels every effort that the pro-life movement makes to protect the unborn and end the violence of abortion.
Many unique moments of the conference expressed that love in memorable ways. Actor Kirk Cameron gave his heartfelt encouragement to the pro-life movement and had us all raise a glass in a massive toast to this cause of life. Former abortion clinic worker Sarah Eubanks stood before conference participants, some of whom have had abortions, and apologized to them for the damage that she and other clinic workers had inflicted on them and others like them. And David Scotton, whose adoption story is featured in the film Lifemark, greeted conference participants, among whom was his birthmother Melissa. The story of his emotional reunion with her, to thank her for giving him life, is told in the film.
Thank you, Care Net, for providing such a life-giving experience for the entire movement. Thanks also to Heartbeat International, another major network of pregnancy centers which holds a conference of similar size each Spring.
I want to encourage pro-life activists of every background to take the opportunity to attend at least one of these conferences. You don’t need to work for a pregnancy center to be a conference participant. But you, like them, will come away inspired, equipped and energized as never before.
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