Focus on Life Feature
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by Dr. Laura Lewis
“I can’t change the direction of the wind, but I can adjust my sails to always reach my destination.” – Jimmy Dean
There is something about the innate goodness of humankind that replenishes us when facts do not. In the midst of mounting COVID-19 infections and a seeming lack of control over a disease not yet understood – the simple stories of kindness remind us of our capacity to still care for and serve others – to be kind, just because.
For those of us with a faith foundation, in times of uncertainty we anchor ourselves in the unwavering hope of our God in whom we trust and who gives us peace in the storm. Others may have different ways to settle the storm in their hearts. In these turbulent times, I have witnessed the power of good news to bridge our differences and connect us as people– connecting people in need and people who may be afraid, with people who are stepping into the chaos to help.
The good news stories push through the social media feed because they feed our hope – the elderly man singing through a nursing home window to his beloved; the pregnancy care centre volunteer dropping off diapers to a single mom in need; the exhausted doctor whose face is bruised from the protective mask yet pushing on because of the need; the parking lot of a community hospital transformed into a worship service.
Good news stories highlight the kindness that reaches us all. These “simple” acts can be overlooked in the busyness of life. But in times of uncertainty, kindness shines bright and is a currency that has no boundaries of geography, politics, faith, or opinion.
I think we’re seeing something here. As the layers of life are reduced and simplified, so too are the divisions. Ultimately, we are all people with a capacity to love and care for others. Kindness builds a bridge and unites us.
We have an opportunity to navigate the COVID-19 storm with kindness and compassion. And my hope is that when a new normal is established, we remember the glue of basic human kindness that has bridged many gaps.
Everyday across our nation, local Crisis Pregnancy Centre staff and volunteers are responding and helping those in need – they are an essential service in their communities. They are bearing good news and building bridges with kindness. I encourage you to reach out to them – send a thank you, pray for them, donate to their work – let’s all help where we can.
Dr. Laura Lewis is a physician and she serves as executive director of Pregnancy Care Canada. PCC is the best practice association for member Crisis Pregnancy Centres nationwide.
by Brian Norton
Focus On Life has been a remarkable initiative of the Christian Advocacy Society (Protestant), Archdiocese of Vancouver (Catholic), and Signal Hill (non-sectarian).
With a “huge lump in their throats” these three partners are bringing to close their women-centred media consortium. After a 20-year run, one of the partners, Signal Hill, has decided strategically to move forward as a unique education-focused charity.
The first FOL Gala fundraiser was held in 1999 – with 1,600 attendees – featuring speaker Norma McCorvey (“Roe” in the historic Roe v. Wade). And the rest, as they say, is history.
Subsequent speakers included Dr. Bernard Nathanson (former NARAL abortionist), Dr. J.I. Packer (theologian), Fr. Richard John Neuhaus (Institute of Religion & Public Life), Ruth Graham-McIntyre (daughter of Billy Graham), Dr. Alveda King (niece of Martin Luther King, Jr.), Fr. Frank Pavone (Priests for Life), Lila Rose (Live Action), Reggie Littlejohn (Women’s Rights Without Frontiers), and Kim Phúc, UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador, to name only a few.
The FOL partners say they have been “exceedingly blessed” by those who have valued and financially supported their media initiatives.
Two decades of FOL collaborations have included television commercials, social media clips, educational videos, and more. Their life-affirming media resources have been seen by millions of viewers.
For example, “Your Pregnancy & Informed Consent” has had thousands of USBs distributed nationwide and over 46,800 online impressions. The video featuring conjoined twins Tatiana and Krista is currently at 293,107 views. The film featuring abortion survivor Melissa Ohden has 1.7 million views.
“Your Pregnancy & Informed Consent” is a resource for women at crisis pregnancy centres nationwide.
God only knows the full impact of all their life changing collaborations. But what is known: Babies at risk for abortion are alive today – now as children, teenagers, and young adults. Women with unintended pregnancies have been given compassionate care and resources. Women and men seeking healing for post-abortion grief have been helped. And thousands of youth have been mentored on healthy sexuality, self-worth, and the intrinsic value of all human life.
We at Light Magazine tip our hat to the men and women who pioneered and championed this sanctity of life media ministry. You can view 20 years of collaborations (squeezed into 200 seconds!) at christianadvocacy.ca/work/fol-video.
Signal Hill equips and mentors young people to become influencers for creating environments where every person is valued (thesignalhill.com).
Christian Advocacy Society provides help for women experiencing unintended pregnancies, post abortion grief, domestic abuse, and sexual assault (christianadvocacy.ca).
Archdiocese Respect Life Office offers pregnancy care, abortion grief recovery, education on abortion, bioethics, and euthanasia, and loving support to dying persons (rcav.org).
by Amanda Preston
More than 1,000 children in BC are waiting for adoption; awareness is key in finding forever-families for these waiting children. Each year, more than 600 children age out of the foster care system, having never found their forever family. The future for children who age out of care can be wrought with many challenges including: suicide, mental health challenges, addiction, homelessness, and their own children entering the system in a vicious cycle. Even despite these staggering outcomes, we know that 34 percent of Christians have considered adoption, yet only one percent have followed through.
Myths continue to play a role in the low adoption rates, and a lack of knowledge leaves many fearful of the unknown. By attending an info session, many parents can discover that adopting out of foster-care is free, that single or married applicants can apply, you do not have to own your own home, you can be 19 or older, and there are children of all ages waiting. Training for special needs further supports potential adoptive parents and many local organizations offer pre and post-adoption assistance in various forms.
At Home for Every Child, we seek to provide awareness, advocacy, education and support for all things, adoption and foster care related. From awareness campaigns to recruitment, conferences, consultations and support groups, we aim to support families. Our post-adoption financial assistance offers grants for children’s needs once adopted, and our newest Respite Program will offer reprieve to the weary parent. Supporting adoptive families can make a huge impact in the life of a child and their family. Many children who are placed for adoption struggle with past trauma, special needs, and attachment challenges. Parenting requires a different approach and many times adoptive parents are left isolated and walking in the trenches alone. While not everyone can adopt, everyone can play a role! Support can look different for everyone but may include making meals, house cleaning, yard work, prayer, driving, renovations, donations, volunteering and the simple gesture of a listening ear. Adoptive parents are also desperate for respite support, and our newest program aims to offer just that!
This past winter, we unveiled two new initiatives as part of our Respite Program. The first, The Hangout, offers a weekly/monthly outing with mentors for adoptive and foster youth aged 10-18. This group provides a short respite break for parents while providing the opportunity for youth to build lasting peer relationships with others on the same journey. Events include fun outings, cultural events and more! Our second initiative includes the recruitment and development of a respite provider database, coupled with specialized training for providers. This respite program provides a much-needed break for adoptive families through a whole wellness approach for the entire family. We believe that, in order to pour into others, you must fill your own cup.
I encourage you to consider opening your home to a child through adoption. If adoption isn’t possible, then consider supporting a family instead. If you are interested in volunteering with our Hangout Program, or would like to sign up as a respite provider, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For further information on adoption, contact Home for Every Child or visit your local government website at www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/life-events/birth-adoption/adoptions/how-to-adopt-a-child/adopt-from-foster-care. If we each play a small role, we can move mountains together and find 1,000 families to care for these 1,000 waiting children. We can support adoptive parents who are stuck in the trenches alone, and we can provide supports for children who require them.
by Kristjen Hull
When my wife and I were first married in 2010, God began stirring our hearts towards children without families. He began to give us a strong burden to speak for those who cannot speak for themselves, and to walk out our mandate given to us in James 1:27 “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.” – something that even if we tried to, we could not ignore.
We had been praying that God would “break our hearts for what breaks His.” and He did. We were no longer content to just feel bad when we saw a picture of an orphaned child. We realized that we have been given much, and therefore, much is required of us. Our dream became for every believer to become engaged with helping vulnerable children. As a result, this led us to become a couple of the initial founders of ABBA Canada Foundation in 2011, before we had even started our family. Sometimes we felt funny, speaking at conferences, running a ministry to help families in the process of adoption, sharing at churches about the value of adoption/fostering or just giving any kind of advice, when we hadn’t even experienced it for ourselves. But during this season, we were constantly brought back to our vision and dream for Canadian churches and Christians, when it comes to fostering and adopting. “Not everyone is called to, or will, adopt or foster, but every Christian is called to care for the widow and the orphan.” When we looked at it this way, it almost spoke our message louder, that we hadn’t been through the process itself, but were still able to play a part. It was a tangible way to show people, that you don’t need to be a foster or adoptive parent, to care for children in need of a family. In fact, you can be young, old, middle-aged, single, in a relationship, out of a relationship, married, not married, etc., etc. You get the picture! There is a role that every Christian can play to help an un-parented child, find their forever-family.
The call is clear in scripture, if we are a follower of Jesus, we are to care for the orphan. Jesus didn’t lay this out as one of many different ministries we could choose to be a part of; He said it would be something we would be known for, as followers of Him. The exciting part is, there are many ways to get involved and either support an adoptive or foster family, or support a ministry that supports these families. The need is also clear. There are approximately 30,000 children in Canada waiting for families and around 18 million adoptable children worldwide.
The bottom line is, children need permanent families and the world is a better place, when children are in families. Every child deserves a loving, permanent family. Most people would agree with this statement, but we believe, that as the Church, we are called to put this to action and demonstrate the love of Christ to the world around us, by our care for the most vulnerable.
ABBA Canada Foundation provides adoption grants up to $5,000 to help with the high costs of International or domestic adoptions. International adoptions can exceed $50,000, with domestic adoptions averaging around $15,000. An adoption grant for a family can be a huge financial help, but even more than that, it is the knowledge that the grant represents many Christians, whom they will never meet, that are standing with them and supporting them on their journey. – www.abbacanada.com
To connect to various organizations in Pro-Life, Crisis Pregnancy and Post Abortion Care or Adoption – Scroll down
I am so thankful for the beautiful, sunny days we have been blessed with! The pink and white cherry blossoms are so cheery and happy looking. Spring is here and each day is full of hope and peace – something we can enjoy in these uncertain times.
This past winter has been a whirlwind. Our Chilliwack Pregnancy Care Centre director, Judy, retired after many years of being the primary person working with our clients. We are thankful for all the years she served and for the many relationships she cultivated with our clients.
And now, I have taken on the role. I am very excited! We have hired Janelle Manzey to oversee the office reception and I am excited to start training new people to work in the CPCC in these coming months.
In February, we were trained to operate our new ultrasound machine. Although it is used for non-diagnostic, recreational use only, this is such a great tool to show moms their baby’s beating heart, spine, hand, foot or little face. Seeing makes things so much more real. Thank you all for your donations towards this! We rely on the kindness and generosity of individuals, families, businesses and churches to maintain our facility and client support. We are truly thankful for each and everyone of you! Without you, we could not do what we do.
The beginning of March started with a huge supply of diapers, formula, wipes and portable highchairs. These items were delivered to us by the carload from Southside Church; what a blessing!
Monday came, and so did the news of COVID-19 and the new guidelines around social distancing. God knew before we did that we needed these supplies. We foresee us needing every one of those diapers. We have been able to help (and continue to help) moms and their families with a couple of weeks worth of diapers, taking a lot off their minds. Every time I put a package together for a client, I stand in awe of all the people who are so generous and willing to help value life. Thank you Southside Church!
We had a young client come in who was worried that she may be pregnant and wanting to do a pregnancy test. Before we did the test, I asked her if she was excited about the thought of being pregnant. Her answer was no. This client had a one and a half month old baby sleeping in a stroller.
She said she was a single mom and that this new baby was all she could handle. If she were pregnant, she was going to have an abortion. I looked at her baby and asked her questions about her baby. She was so content and confident with the little one. She was a great mom, so full of love for her baby. I also told her that her little guy was so handsome and well cared for. This made her proud and her shoulders went back and she lifted her head.
I asked her if she had been prepared to have her (first) little one. Her answer was no. I asked if she had been as afraid then as she was now about being pregnant – did she want to abort this little baby? Her eyes welled up. Her answers were yes to both.
When she returned from the washroom, preparing to do the test, I asked her if she was glad she chose life for her little boy. She cried harder and replied with a yes and that she loved him. He was her life. She silently did the pregnancy test.
I was praying for the perfect words to say to her when two pink lines showed up on the test. The test was positive: she was pregnant. She began to cry harder. Pointing at her little baby, I told her that she could do this. I told her that we were here for her! I packed up some diapers and formula for her little guy and reassured her that it was going to be okay. In my hear,t I wanted to believe that she would not go through with the abortion, but there were no guarantees.
Four and a half months later, she walked into the pregnancy centre. She looked familiar. I asked her if I could help with anything. She needed diapers for her cute little guy. I asked for her name and it sounded familiar but did not ring a bell. She then shared with me that she was almost five months pregnant. I knew in that moment who she was – she had chosen life for her baby!
There will be many more conversations with this client and many more decisions to come. Can you join us in praying for her as she makes the decision to either parent or chose adoption?
The reality is that not all moms choose life for their babies. We want to get the word out that We Care for You – You are not alone!
The message within
Our voice gives words to the messages of our hearts, just as music adds melody to lyrics. If you can’t carry a tune in a bucket, don’t despair. This isn’t an invitation to sing. It is an encouragement to reveal the message in you that will be music to someone’s ears.
Given that I have moved between cities twice in the past three years, I am acutely aware that I have a lot of messages in other “boxes”. Many little inspirational scribbles, letters, study notes, road maps, cards and journals in boxes. Each nostalgic scrap of paper connected to a memory; each note a message. Looking at it now and sorting through the messages has brought fresh awareness to what I value.
While considering this, I am reminded of how our culture is carrying conflicting messages about the value of every human life. We desperately restrict social movement so that the most vulnerable, our elderly, will be saved from the possible acquisition of the COVID-19 disease. Yet we forge ahead to loosen restrictions on the elderly so that they can more freely euthanize. We cease to offer many of our general medical services and surgeries to protect individuals, yet we continue to leave the pre-born unprotected by providing abortion as an essential service.
We are confused.
Today is a good time to reconnect with heart values and to reflect on the messages in your voice box. Consolidate your message. Bring clarity to your life messages and action to your living values. Lighten the load in the box you carry with you each day by communicating your message.
Your voice for the vulnerable contains a message of value, security, and dignity which a disillusioned world is desperate to hear. The solution may well be found in the message within you. As we witness the COVID-19 crisis have impact on the pre-born and the elderly, the reality that the gift of life is precious and worthy of protection is truly before us.
Could it be that all humans intrinsically desire to know that each one has been loved since the beginning, all of the time, and all of our lives? To know that not one of us is here by time, chance or human reasoning, would bring great security to a world that doesn’t quite know what it needs today.
Your voice matters. The world is longing to hear from messengers of life. It’s time to open the message in your voice box.
Norma Cody, Executive Director of the Christian Advocacy Society of Greater Vancouver
by Brian Norton
To meet this challenge, 10 years ago the Christian Advocacy Society initiated an experiment: To create a nationwide, web-based outreach for women experiencing an unintended pregnancy or struggling from a past abortion.
OnlineCare is a free and confidential service. Having someone to talk with makes a difference. We help “reach the unreached” with information, referrals, resources, and personalized support by means of password-secured communications.
Importantly, OnlineCare does not inadvertently take potential clients away from the local pregnancy centre, but by our referrals we significantly increase attendance at physical centres.
Our first online client was a teenage girl residing in a remote, rural area. The nearest CPC was 100 kilometres away. This young girl’s situation was the very reason our outreach was created.
Since this first client, our site has received 126,415 visits. Furthermore, we have provided care and resources for hundreds of women and men in every province and in the remote north.
Words from a pregnancy client: “Thank you ever so much for all the information and keeping in contact with me. It is wonderful to have someone helping me through this.”
Words from a post abortion client:
“I want to thank you for helping me recover [from my sorrow]. I never thought I was going to be able to feel free again. God bless you.”
With COVID-19’s social distancing, our unique online resource is in need more than ever.
Weeks ago, we completed a total makeover of our site, fully financed by a crazy-generous designated donation. If you would like to consider a gift to help maintain our life-changing outreach, we will be grateful. Please visit us at onlinecare.ca.
Brian Norton is former executive director of the Christian Advocacy Society and co-founder of OnlineCare Canada.
My Abortion Story
“My story began in 1974, when my fiancé and I had terminated our engagement and I had decided to move to Vancouver. When I arrived in the city, I felt sick to my stomach.
A friend brought me to her doctor. I discovered I was pregnant. The doctor immediately suggested I have an abortion – something that I knew nothing about, and through my lack of knowledge, agreed to this solution.
So away I went to the hospital, feeling reluctant, and I was in deep sorrow when I arrived home that night. I found myself spending the following years in secrecy and launched my future as a career woman.
Sixteen years later, I married the father who, like me, had never married. I myself was trying to atone my past – yearning so desperately for inner peace. I realized, however, that even with marrying the father, I still remained in a state of living with shame, guilt, remorse, regret, and with all the hauntings of abortion.
One day, our church bulletin announced Rachel’s Vineyard, an abortion recovery three-day retreat. It was a beautiful weekend of self-reflection and care. I experienced a long overdue deliverance giving me joy and enamourment. From that day on, I could finally look wholeheartedly at children and enjoy them. I was “Forgiven and Set Free!”
Following the retreat, I participated in a three-month support group with Post Abortion Community Services (PACS). This was indeed a God-ordained journey with staff who excel in beauty and understanding.
PACS facilitated my journey of reconciling with God – who had never left me. I always knew deep inside that He had forgiven me, but I unfortunately, had not forgiven myself. I found my healing. I finally feel liberated.”
This personal story is graciously submitted by a former participant with Rachel’s Vineyard Vancouver, a joint initiative of Post Abortion Community Services (PACS) and the Archdiocese of Vancouver.
For more information on the free and confidential services of PACS, please see our display ad or visit pacscanada.org.
Adopting an orphan in 2020
The adoption process is governed by the Hague Adoption Convention, which most countries in the world have agreed to. Before deciding to adopt a child, there are many things to learn and consider. These include the process, time frames, the inherent risks in an adoption, and most importantly, what are the characteristics and challenges of a child which your family is open to parenting.
The landscape of adoption is very different from a decade ago, and also different from most people’s expectation of adoption.
A good first step is to set up an appointment with one of our adoption specialists who can guide you through the process and the many decisions you will have to make.
International adoption rates are declining all over the world, however there are still children in need of loving families through adoption. A child growing up in an orphanage can lead to tragic outcomes. Children need attachment and that happens when they are part of a loving family; it does not happen in an orphanage. An attached child has the best opportunity to reach their full potential in life.
To provide an orphan with a safe and loving family through adoption can be a life-changing event for a child, and needless to say for the adoptive parents also. All adoptions are different from each other, and they all involve challenges. At the end of the day, adoption is a leap of faith!
If adoption is something you would like to explore, please contact us at 1-888-984-2488 or visit SunriseAdoption.com.