What should churches do to protect human life?
EDITOR'S NOTE: Jan. 22 is Sanctity of Human Life Sunday in the Southern Baptist Convention.
NASHVILLE (BP) -- Churches must be intentional in protecting the lives of the unborn and caring for the most vulnerable among us, leaders across the Southern Baptist Convention said as the SBC prepares to observe Sanctity of Human Life Sunday Jan. 22.
"Science has corrupted the rationale that the Supreme Court used to decriminalize elective abortions and eventually the infamous decision will be overturned," he said, citing scientific findings that a baby's heart begins to beat on the 16th day in utero. "However, more than ever before, people need our help and love to walk through the tough dilemmas of life. As a child of the King of kings, you can be a voice in your workplace, schoolhouse and community for the voiceless innocents."
J. Chris Schofield, director of the Office of Prayer for the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina, said churches can be successful in ministry to protect the lives of the most vulnerable by intentionally praying for them.
"We move toward the things we pray toward," Schofield, who also leads the PrayerLink ministry to Southern Baptists, told Baptist Press. "If we pray for them, we'll want to come alongside them" in relationship and ministry.
Daniel Darling, vice president of communications for the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, encouraged Southern Baptists to "inform, educate, and build a culture where human dignity is championed."
"Do what you can for life," Darling wrote in the January issue of Mature Living Magazine, a LifeWay Christian Resources publication. "It's important for Christians to be pro-life, not simply on the issue of abortion but to see the image of God in every human being."
From Darling come several recommendations to that end. Among them:
-- Develop a pregnancy care ministry or partner with pregnancy care ministries already active in the community.
"The reality is that in your community today, there are vulnerable young women who are contemplating what to do with their unexpected pregnancy," Darling said. "Each one is scared to tell loved ones and unsure of how she will be able to raise a child. The one place in the community where she should find hope is the church."
-- "Read and study the issue." Darling points Southern Baptists to Genesis 1:26, which proclaims God made humans in His image, and Psalm 139, which states that God knits new life in the mother's womb. He recommends the books "Why Pro-Life?" by Randy Alcorn, "The Case for Life" by Scott Klusendorf, and "Women on Life" by Trillia Newbell; as well as the websites erlc.com and focusonthefamily.com.
Yeats also employs Scripture in encouraging families to instill in their children from an early age the value of human life.
"Explain to [children] the uniqueness of God's creation of people and His purpose for every person, no matter who they are or what they might have done or what their ethnicity," Yeats said. "Use Psalm 139 as a primer to help them understand God's purposefulness. Remind children that all people matter to God, and it doesn't matter if the person is in 'Mommy's tummy' or in a wheel chair at a nursing facility."
Yeats also suggests:
-- Encouraging, facilitating and celebrating adoptive and foster families within the local church;
-- Volunteering in a local crisis pregnancy center, and
-- Taking time, especially on Sanctity of Human Life Sunday, to "mourn the loss of millions of little children and face up to the circumstances their mothers must have faced that drove them to such a horrific decision."
Schofield offered three key areas of prayer in sanctity of life ministry:
-- Pray that people involved in decisions related to human life, including mothers and medical personnel, would "draw near to the Lord," as James 4:28 encourages. A personal relationship with Jesus would enable people to view the value of life from the Lord's perspective, Schofield said.
-- Pray for churches to get involved in pregnancy crisis centers and the lives of individuals on a level that goes deeper than the surface;
-- Pray for the restoration of those who've had abortions.