Sanctity of life Spotlight
The Value of a Human Life
“The people who were most judgmental of me when I got pregnant were Christians. About half the people in the church got angry that my parents wanted to throw a baby shower for me. But I could have had an abortion, and no one would even have known I was pregnant…”
How very, very sad that quote is. It’s sad because it’s true.
It’s also good, because it can open our eyes to what needs to change – in our hearts, in our actions, and in our churches. Hopefully it disturbs us enough that it moves us to make a change. Hopefully it causes us to pause and ask a very important question: What is required of us when someone we know has an unplanned pregnancy?
What is required?
In pro-life conversations, much has been spoken about saving the unborn … defending the innocents who cannot save themselves. And therefore, there may be much pressure put on a young girl to not choose abortion.
But have we stopped to think about what that encompasses, beyond just not having an abortion? Have we thought about and asked that question, what else is required?
I’m not talking about what is required from the young girl. I’m talking about the people around the young girl. I’m talking about you and me.
If we are expecting her to step outside of her comfort zone and face all of the challenges that come with choosing life for an unplanned pregnancy, then I believe we should be ready to step outside of our comfort zone as well.
What might be outside of our comfort zone?
- Celebrating the unplanned pregnancy. This might be as simple as a heartfelt “congratulations,” or as involved and public as throwing a baby shower.
- Providing tangible support. Everything from prenatal vitamins to rides to the doctor to regular ‘check-ins’ where we ask, “How are you doing? How can I help?”
- Muting our opinions, judgments, and agendas, and just listening. That can be hard to do. We often want to tell people what to do and “fix” them. It may be uncomfortable to just listen and offer unconditional love. But that is of far more value to them than our words.
James 1 calls us to not just listen to the Word, but do what it says. And if we really want to know, God’s Word tells us what is required:
- James 1:27 – look after orphans and widows in their distress
- Luke 10:25-37 – love your neighbour as yourself and show mercy (parable of the Good Samaritan)
- Colossians 3:12-14 – show compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience; but above all, put on love.
- There are many, many more; unconditional love and mercy are woven throughout God’s Word
It is not enough to save the baby and then walk away, there are two lives at stake. We must walk toward the woman who carries that baby and then continue to walk alongside her. And as we journey with her, we love, encourage, support, and celebrate.
That is what is required.
Resource Development & Communications Liaison
Canadian Association of Pregnancy Support Services
At the Calgary Pregnancy Care Centre, we go to great lengths to support those in need. Each day, newly pregnant women come into our Centre, but instead of joy, they are feeling panic. Often this is because they don’t believe that they have the resources, or ability, to parent a child. In fact, we find that many of our clients feel unsupported in their pregnancy leading them to believe that abortion is their only option. Our goal is to help individuals understand all of their pregnancy options and to support them through any challenges resulting from a pregnancy decision.
Emma* came to us without support, unsure of what to do, and looking for someone to listen. As we walked through the options with her, she revealed that she wanted to carry to term but her partner wanted her to terminate. She was concerned about managing the financial burden on her own if the relationship was to end over this decision.
We see clients each day who are looking for information and someone to journey alongside them, providing connection and education. To meet the needs of clients like Emma*, we are inviting you to participate in our annual Baby Bottle Campaign. Churches, organizations, and individuals all partner with us so that we can provide the aid these people desperately need. We are offering you an opportunity to give, by filling up baby bottles with loose change, cash, or whatever you are willing to contribute. This year we have over 10,000 baby bottles to give away! We have found this to be an effective and fun way to raise funds to increase our ability to care for our clients. This is a great way to invest in our communities and to make a real impact in someone’s life.
Filling a baby bottle is a tangible way to make a big difference in our clients’ lives. Each small bottle adds up to services we can fund, volunteers we can train, and programs we can implement. This all equates to a higher number of clients we can empower – clients like Emma*.
After exploring all her options, Emma* was concerned about the challenges she would face if she chose to parent. We connected her with resources to help her understand her financial options for employment insurance, maternity leave and single parenting. Now she knows what her financial situation would look like if her partner does, indeed, choose to leave her since she has decided to carry her pregnancy to term. We will continue to walk alongside Emma* for as long as she needs, providing practical and emotional support.
Please keep the Calgary Pregnancy Care Centre in your thoughts and prayers during this season. Our campaign will begin on Mother’s Day and will continue until Father’s Day. Help us do something amazing this year by taking a baby bottle. One bottle could change a life like Emma’s*.
For more information, or if you would like to participate, go to www.pregcare.com or contact Ryan at email@example.com.
Emma’s name and details was changed to maintain confidentiality
Years ago, as a 21 year old, I was working as a volunteer in Uganda. My heart was broken by the number of abandoned babies the orphanage would receive regularly – primarily as a result of poverty, high maternal death rates, and an ongoing civil war that brought the country to its knees.
At the same time, I was incredibly encouraged to see that the majority of children were ‘abandoned’ in places where they would be quickly found and cared for. These were generally not abandonments related to abuse- they were acts of desperation and mercy in the hopes that the child would have some chance of a future.
During my time there, God clearly called me to adopt a young boy. Abandoned and sickly, there was no guarantee that this little child would survive very long, let alone eventually thrive. I was afraid, alone, and unsure about my abilities as a young, single parent, but the one thing I was sure about was that God had called me to be this little boy’s mom- whether that was for one month or for my lifetime. Stepping out with only the grace and confidence that God can give, I moved forward with the very complex process of adopting my first child. Fifteen years, and two additional adoptions later (this time of teenagers), I can tell you that adoption has been one of the greatest and most soul-refining gifts God has ever given me.
There is a very clear biblical call to adoption that many people have probably heard at one point or another along their journey. Just as God adopted us as His sons and daughters’and redeemed us from our brokenness and suffering, similarly are we to extend this same grace and opportunity to others especially young, vulnerable ones. Having said that my years of both personal and professional experience in adoptions have shown me that not everyone has a calling on their lives to adopt.
Adoption is both a wonderful and a messy choice. Walking daily with a little heart that is hurting is challenging, exhausting, and draining as much as it is life-changing, refining, faith building, and beautiful. For those without God’s clear call in this area, the difficult will overwhelm everything else and the child and family will suffer as a result. Keep in mind, however, that as a faith community there are many other ways you can support adoption, such as making meals for the families, offering to watch the children to give them a break, learning more about their challenges so they are not alone, and having an adoption ministry in your church to let families know you see this as a priority.
The reality is that you do not need to travel across the globe to witness a world in need of God’s saving grace. Would there be more scared teenagers willing to carry their baby to term if they knew there were communities of believers who would wrap around them, love on them, offer an adoptive home for their child, and continue to support them even after the birth?
Would there be less abuse and neglect, resulting in children in care, if as communities and churches we stepped up and supported at-risk families with respite care and support?
Would there be fewer young people involved in gangs and crime if they were connected to families who took a ‘love no matter what’ attitude with them and walked with them through those tumultuous years?
Would we see fewer teen pregnancies in the first place if every child and teen were growing up in a loving, forever family?
To talk about the ‘sanctity of life’, we need to see these precious lives from conception all the way through to end of life. This means truly living in the ‘mess’ with others. Inconveniencing ourselves so that others may live…sometimes when we do that, as I have found, we are the ones who are blessed to truly live!
Tandela Swann is the Executive Director of Christian Adoption Services in Alberta. She and her husband, Carlos, have six children, three of whom they were blessed with through adoption. She has an undergrad in Psychology with a minor in International Relations and a Masters in Clinical Social Work with a focus on international issues and Forensic Youth. Previously, she spent 10 years with Alberta Health Services doing counselling with youth involved in the justice system. She has a background in psychology and social work and has a heart for vulnerable youth, empowering action, and finding a permanent, loving home for every child, youth, and even young adult.
For more information on adoption in Alberta, please contact us at: 403-256-3224, firstname.lastname@example.org
Reflecting on the sanctity of life and how important it is to respect life from conception until natural death, I am awestruck at the mission we have, to visit students in grades 5 – 12 to share two programs: Respect Life: You Matter! and Respect Life: Fetal Development. The first is an exciting, interactive, one-hour presentation that makes a deep imprint on the lives of the students as we prove to them that their lives are sacred and have great meaning already. We challenge the students to consider their physical, mental, social, emotional, and spiritual aspects. Through discussion and a PowerPoint presentation, the students come to understand how the five aspects make them who they are, and that with mastery of these aspects they elevate their self-esteem. It is exciting to witness their readiness to embrace a culture of life by seeing how they contribute to life through the increased expectations and responsibility in their families, at school, in the community, and in the world! They share the ways they contribute by working for safety (patrols, babysitting), being environmentally conscientious (recycling, composting), caring for the marginalized (collecting food, money and clothing), etc. They show and tell about how they care about people, deeply. They speak of their communication on-line with friends and family – but also with their extended family, aunts, uncles and grandparents. This respect for all life builds the healthy confidence and ability to trust that each one of us can share the respect-for-life message with others.
The second presentation, “Respect Life: Fetal Development” recognizes that each and every one of the students, and every one of us, is a miracle! We spend 45 minutes proving this by showing video excerpts of the scientific study and photography of the fertilization of the egg at the moment of conception, followed by a PowerPoint presentation and a detailed explanation and show-and-tell of the eight life-size fetal development models depicting human life from four weeks to seven months in utero.
When people ask me what I do for a living, I am excited to say that I share life-affirming messages with young people and help them to understand that respect for all human life from the very beginning to the natural end starts with respect for yourself and others. In this world, at this time, it’s an incredibly valuable and life-giving message for them, their teachers and for me!
Calgary Pro-Life (CPL) Association had its beginning within an interfaith symposium in the early 1970’s and gained charitable status around 1976.
The Association grew steadily and in 1981 the first educational resource consultant was hired to present the Fetal Development presentation in classrooms. This program was inspired by St. John Bosco’s teaching methods that were based on ministering with love, rather than with punishment.
In 2009 the second presentation, You Matter’was added to the program of instruction offered to students.
Calgary Pro-Life Association is non-denominational, non-judgemental, and non-political in our approach to teaching young people about respect for life. Join us for our 38th annual Hike For Life , 8:30 am to noon, May 12 at Prince’s Island Park. Registration at Enmax Stage. www.calgaryprolife.com