EDITOR'S NOTE: Sanctity of Human Life Sunday is Jan. 19, 2020, in the Southern Baptist Convention.
NASHVILLE, TN (BP) – Amory's life changed forever when she saw those two blue lines on the pregnancy test. Thinking it was a false positive, she took it again, and again, three more times.
Amory had just finished graduate school, accepted her first job as a speech-language pathologist, moved into her own apartment and finally found a guy who she believed liked her back. However, their relationship was rocky, and Amory had no idea how he would react to the idea of being a father. Although in that moment, Amory's life as she knew it seemed to crash down, her story did not end there.
Terrified of potential judgement and ridicule and almost too afraid to even seek help, she scheduled an appointment with Liberty Women's Clinic in Kansas City.
Amory's clinic nurse was Missy. Missy treated her with kindness, respect and grace, providing not only information, but hope.
Thanks to the ultrasound machine at Liberty Women's Clinic, Amory saw her baby's heartbeat for the first time. The emotions that flooded her heart were surreal, overwhelming. She knew she was going to be a mother. There was no doubt she was keeping her baby.
Ryder entered the world, and Amory says he brings her incomparable joy. When he says "I love you" she cannot imagine her life any other way.
Amory's story is not uncommon for recipients of the ministry of pregnancy care clinics.
Ultrasound technology is often referred to as a window into the womb, for it gives mothers a vivid picture of the life they carry inside them.
'TEETERING ON THE EDGE'
For the past 16 years the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC) of the Southern Baptist Convention has donated ultrasound units to clinics like the Liberty Women's Clinic across the country through the Psalm 139 Project. So far, the project has funded and placed 20 machines.
The machines are fully funded through direct monetary gifts and through the Cooperative Program, Southern Baptists' unified giving plan to support national and international ministry causes. The machines' impact is powerful.
Bobby Reed, chief financial officer of the ERLC, said the project is a very practical way for those passionate about the sanctity of human life to get involved and make a real difference.
"A lot of times people who become passionate about it, their follow-up question is 'Well, what can I do?'" Reed said. "One way to be involved in valuing human life is to be involved in the Psalm 139 Project."
Individuals can invest personally in saving lives, in ministering to mothers just like Amory. The money donated to the project goes directly to funding a machine placement and therefore, to saving lives.
But the lives that are to be valued also reach beyond the womb, Reed said. "It also goes to the orphan or the foster child who needs a home. There's a dual messaging there. Not only does that center help babies who are in their mother and need life, but they're also helping moms who are scared for their very lives."
Carol Graham, founder and CEO of Liberty Women's Clinic, said that in the twelve months since receiving the ultrasound machine they have provided nearly 4,000 services to more than 650 women.
285 of those women had a positive test result, 231 were eligible for an ultrasound and 209, to their knowledge, chose life for their child. That is a 90 percent rate of choosing life for those who saw their unborn child on an ultrasound.
"Ultrasound is truly what makes a difference for young women who are teetering on the edge of a decision between life and death of their child -- the quality of that image is vital," Graham said. "The truth presented in the ultrasound image and the compassion of His people poured out on the broken, provides an avenue to set captives free from their current anguish and the future despair of a decision to end their pregnancy."
LWC has more than 100 volunteers helping with events and projects as well as serving in the clinic. Additionally, more than 1,200 individuals, churches and businesses financially support the clinic on a regular basis.
"Together, we are encouraging hearts and saving lives, one client at a time," Graham said. "We have the amazing opportunity to have a mission field that literally walks through our doors."
'THAT'S MY GREAT-GRANDBABY'
Not all clinics that receive the machines are as large as LWC. Greenspoint Pregnancy Assistance Center in Houston is staffed by just eight volunteers and one ultrasound technician.
But even with the small staff, Flora Lopez, director of the Greenspoint center, said that 102 women gave their lives to Jesus in the past year through the ministry of the center.
Lopez said that her personal journey to the position of director has been filled with faithful reliance on God to utilize her desire to serve and share the Gospel. Previously working as a banker with no experience in the pregnancy assistance field, Lopez had doubts about whether she was fit for the role.
"I didn't feel that I had the skills or that I was prepared and that I wouldn't be able to do it because I was never involved with pregnancy centers before," Lopez said. "But when you put your yes on the altar and you trust the Lord and when you ask Him 'what is your plan for my life and whatever it is I'll be there, I'll say yes and I'll go because I know you'll equip me. You equip the called, you're going to be with me all along and you are going to help to go through this path.'"
Lopez said the key to being utilized in ministry is just to be available. She encourages anyone who is wondering what they can do to champion the value of human life to simply put their life in the Lord's hands and see what He will do with their desire to be used.
Lopez recounted the story of a new mother she recently served. The mother was 14 and came into the clinic with her grandmother. They were already planning on getting an abortion.
The grandmother was encouraging her granddaughter to have an abortion because she also had one when she was younger. Both individuals were confused and hurting.
Lopez said that the grandmother told her granddaughter that she could get an abortion but it would all be OK in the end because God would forgive her. "That statement broke my heart," Lopez said.
But the pair agreed to an ultrasound appointment for the very next day. Lopez said the grandmother told her if, in the ultrasound image, the baby appeared developed, then her granddaughter would not have an abortion.
The rest of the day, that night and the morning, the staff of the center spent time in prayer asking God to work in the hearts of the two women, to change them and convince them to choose life for the child. When the time came for the ultrasound, both grandmother and granddaughter were moved to change their minds about the abortion.
Lopez recounts what the grandmother told her after the appointment -- "I cannot deny, I saw it in the ultrasound. That's my great-grandbaby."
Lopez said 97 percent of the women who come into the clinic and receive an ultrasound choose life for their baby.
Even through this small center, Lopez said 50 lives of unborn children are saved in a year, averaging out to one child -- one life -- a week.
Lopez said their goal in the coming year is to hire another technician in order to have more ultrasound appointments and in the end, save more lives.
"When we encounter a woman that does not know the Lord, and we're able to share the Gospel, not only the person is being saved, but also their souls are being saved," Lopez said. "That's the main focus -- sharing the Gospel and the good news of Jesus Christ.
"God is doing great things through the ultrasound machine at different pregnancy assistance centers," Lopez said. "Thank you [donors] for making my dream a reality and God's dream too."
For more information on the Psalm 139 project, visit psalm139project.org.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Tess Schoonhoven is a staff writer for Baptist Press.