By / Dec 4

This is the latest ERLC end-of-year update as part of our RISE Campaign.

How can the gospel of Jesus Christ influence the public square with the intent to inform and love our neighbors instead of trying to divide? How do we ensure the pro-life movement continues moving forward? In our complex culture, how can parents be better equipped to raise children in a more Christ-centered fashion?

These are just a few of the questions the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission sought to answer in 2017.

Whether it’s our Evangelicals for Life conference which brings together leading pro-life thinkers and seeks to mobilize Christians to advocate for the unborn, the orphan, the immigrant, and the vulnerable; or our 2017 National Conference that focused on equipping parents with gospel truths for their homes, the ERLC is committed to putting together compelling programming that makes a difference in the lives of Christ followers.

But we’re more than just an organization that hosts conferences. We build relationships with elected officials and bring a message that focuses on human dignity for every situation. We gather with pastors and church leaders to help them think through the vexing questions our fallen world is continually throwing at all of us and the church, and we provide a helping hand when called upon. Because of these conversations that take place on Capitol Hill or in the hallways of your local church, we’re proudly on the frontlines against an enemy that prowls like a lion (1 Pet. 5:8).

Thankfully, God has moved in all these instances. For example, in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey’s devastation in Houston, Texas, we were approached by a church to help secure funding for a new ultrasound machine that was lost in the storm. This machine was part of a local Southern Baptist congregation’s ministry to the city, and it had saved countless lives. But the church did not have the funds to replace it. We quickly worked with partners to raise the money necessary to replace it and get the local pregnancy resource center up and running again.

As we look ahead to 2018, we see a great need to continue helping Christians develop ways to see through the cultural storms and avoid being conformed to this world.

Following our 2017 ERLC National Conference, which was the largest conference we have hosted under Dr. Russell Moore’s leadership of our organization, we released a Christ-centered parenting curriculum that builds upon much of the helpful guidance and practical wisdom featured at the conference. To date, thousands of couples have found it to be a vital resource for shepherding their children through today’s confusing culture.

As we look ahead to 2018, we see a great need to continue helping Christians develop ways to see through the cultural storms and avoid being conformed to this world (Rom. 12:2). We believe that begins with helping Christians realize everyone has inherent worth; we are all image bearers. Our 2018 EFL conference will help unpack the value of human dignity across all issue areas. And we’re going to mark 50 years since Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was murdered by placing a special focus on the pursuit of actual racial unity in this world, discussing his life and legacy, and emphasizing how God calls us to an Ephesians 4 cohesion in the church at our special MLK50 conference with our friends at The Gospel Coalition.

Finally, we have a heavy burden for Christian marriages and families. At a time when the culture seems to be at war with what we believe, we know pastors and laymen alike need refuge and reassurance from the gospel. So throughout 2018, we are going to focus on what we call the cross-shaped family. In other words, we are going to explore the myriad ways God brings families together and uses their experiences to mold them. So whether it’s thinking through how to protect our marriages, how to disciple countercultural children, extending dignity to the vulnerable, or thinking through end-of-life care, we plan to cover it in the next year.

We are thrilled about the possibilities that lie ahead in the next 12 months, and we hope you will join us in this journey. The time is now, fellow Christian. It’s time to rise.

Help us multiply our efforts in the public square. Consider making a tax-deductible end-of-year gift to the ERLC today.

By / Apr 3

HOUSTON — The expectant mother in the room adjacent to Grady Butler’s office at the Greenspoint Pregnancy Assistance Center exclaimed with joy at the first sight of her unborn child’s ultrasound.

“The more she saw the baby inside her the more she was in awe,” said Butler, executive director of GPAC’s umbrella organization, Missions Greenspoint. The newly acquired ultrasound machine donated by the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission’s Psalm 139 Project was cause for joy.

The donation will greatly expand GPAC’s ability to reach women considering abortion when facing unplanned pregnancies, said GPAC’s director Flora Lopez. director of Greenspoint Pregnancy Assistance Center (GPAC) embraced her “baby” the day it arrived at the Mission Greenspoint ministry offices Feb. 3. 

Through the Psalm 139Project, ERLC seeks to save lives by donating an ultrasound machine to pregnancy centers in cities hosting the Southern Baptist Convention Annual Meeting, held in Houston last year

Daniel Darling, vice-president for communictions for ERLC, says the Psalm 139 ministry is part of the ERLC’s mission to equip the church to live out the gospel, “GPAC is a gospel-centered ministry staffed by people who take the Great Commission seriously. We’re honored to be a part of this gospel ministry.”

Prior to the acquisition, Lopez experienced heartbreak each time she had to tell a potential client GPAC didn’t have an ultrasound machine. She wondered whether they would they seek counsel at a disinterested medical clinic or a nearby Planned Parenthood clinic? After four days of training on the Esoteric MyLab 20 Plus, Lopez expressed confidence that God will use the technology to transform lives in the center’s  rough neighborhood.

GPAC is just one of several ministries operating under the purview of Mission Greenspoint in  northeast Houston near the outskirts of town. Typical of metropolitan areas, its economy has at time  prospered and declined. The neighborhood is composed of undereducated and economically poor families merely scraping by, under the specter of gang violence, drug dealing and prostitution. Mission Greenspoint shines in the neighborhood the light of Christ. No one comes to Mission Greenspoint or GPAC without hearing the gospel and receiving prayer, Lopez said

Most of the women GPAC encounters are not “abortion minded,” Lopez said, but see no possibility of keeping their babies. The ultrasound images provide a new perspective.

Two weeks prior to the machine’s arrival, Lopez put out the word that GPAC would be providing ultrasound examinations and needed pregnant clients to volunteer during the training period. The response was overwhelming..

The training required the two volunteer sonographers examine women at stages of six to 18 weeks gestation. Each hour a new client arrived. On the first day of training a woman called GPAC to receive the free exam. She was anxious to be seen but there were no openings. Lopez told the caller she would put her on a waiting list.

Minutes later an appointment for the next day cancelled and the other woman was scheduled for the 12:30 p.m. spot.

“That was a divine appointment,” Lopez said.

Sharee Valencia, an obstetrician/gynecologist who volunteered as a sonographer, said the woman arrived stressed and determined to have an abortion. While the woman’s boyfriend waited outside the examination room, Valencia learned he was the source of the mother’s anxiety, pressuring her to abort said. He repeatedly sent the woman text messages making it difficult for her to focus on the exam. Valencia allowed him in the room, believing it might reduce the distraction.

“He came in and the tension rose,” Valencia said. “He was not interested [in the ultrasound] and she was tense.”

The staff tried to remain calm, explaining to the woman the development of her six-week-old fetus. Body parts are not visible on an ultrasound at that stage, but the heartbeat was clearly audible.

The couple left without indicating their plans.

When Lopez followed up with the couple by phone a few weeks later, the mother said the pregnancy was progressing wonderfully.

“That told me we saved a baby,” Lopez said. “And that’s only in the training week!”

Valencia is eager to share the life-affirming message of GPAC. As a medical professional, she had learned to view abortion as a legitimate medical procedure. Then God began to work on her heart, impressing the scriptural tenet that everyone is special and created by God with a purpose for their lives.

 “Just because we can do it [abortion] doesn’t mean we should,” Valencia concluded. “I just want to do my part to show [the mothers] Jesus. If they choose abortion I still want to love them and help them.”

To learn more about the Psalm 139 Project or make a contribution, go to psalm139project.org or contact the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, 901 Commerce Street, Nashville, Tenn., 37203.