Latest Psalm 139 gift helps 2 pregnancy centers

ERLC President Russell Moore gathers around a new ultrasound machine given through the Psalm 139 Project to North Jefferson Women’s Center in Fultondale, Ala., with pregnancy resource center directors (from left) Angie Cantrell of St. Clair County Save-A-Life Ministry, Julie McLendon of North Jefferson Women’s Center and Lisa Hogan of Vestavia Save-A-Life Ministry.
Photo by Eric Mayo/ERLC
FULTONDALE, Ala. (BP) -- The Psalm 139 Project's latest placement of an ultrasound machine benefited not one but two pregnancy resource centers in the Birmingham, Ala., area.

Russell Moore, president of the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC), joined pregnancy center directors and church and community leaders April 26 in placement and dedication ceremonies for a new ultrasound machine at North Jefferson Women's Center in Fultondale, a northern suburb of Birmingham. The machine's placement and the training that accompanies it were made possible by gifts to the Psalm 139 Project, the ERLC's ministry to help place sonogram technology in pro-life pregnancy centers across the country.

The gift enabled North Jefferson Women's Center to donate its previous ultrasound machine to St. Clair County Sav-A-Life Ministry, a center in Springville, which is northeast of Birmingham.

Moore said during the dedication ceremony at North Jefferson Women's Center his prayer for the day is "that every time that the hum of that ultrasound is heard, that God would hear a prayer from all of us for that woman; for that man, whether he's there or not; for that child; and for all of the people who will be part of their stories."

Julie McClendon, executive director of the North Jefferson Women's Center, said in an ERLC news release before the ceremonies, "We are so thankful to God who multiplies gifts. By blessing us with this new ultrasound machine, the Psalm 139 Project allows us to bless our friends at St. Clair Sav-A-Life with a machine of their own, so together we can serve more women in crisis."

In a video shown at an earlier program hosted April 26 by Gardendale First Baptist Church, McLendon said the center's staff and supporters are "very excited" about the new machine because of the difference it makes when an image of an unborn child is viewed.

At North Jefferson, "when a young lady or young man is abortion determined, and they see an ultrasound, 50 percent of the time they change their mind and choose to carry their child," she said. "When a couple is undecided about their pregnancy and they see that ultrasound, 90 percent of the time they choose to carry their child."

Angie Cantrell, executive director of St. Clair County Save-A-Life, described it as "an exciting time" for a center that has not had a sonogram machine since it began seeing clients 17 years ago.

"We have been praying about ultrasound actually from the very beginning," she said at the dedication ceremony. "There were a lot of unknowns that we were dealing with when we first made that decision to offer ultrasound. And God has just opened the door."

Cantrell shared a story she told at the center's October fundraising dinner regarding the baby in a sonogram image shown at the event. Both his parents were unplanned pregnancies for their parents, and "at any time they could have easily been aborted," she said. "But thankfully, their parents chose life for them, and so that baby was there today in that ultrasound picture." The child was "extra special" to her because he is her first grandchild, she said.

She wanted to help the audience to recognize the "choice of life is not just about that mom and that baby and that moment, but it's [about] generations," Cantrell said at the dedication ceremony.

Chris Crain, executive director of missions for the Birmingham Metro Baptist Association, spoke at the church and commended in the ERLC news release "the tremendous cooperation between the ministries in the Birmingham Metro area." Crain, who initiated the Psalm 139 grant, said, "Everyone wins, especially the unborn."

During the placement ceremony, Moore said the rest of the church can learn "a great deal from pregnancy resource centers and the ministry going on there, not only in terms of how we approach children but the way we approach evangelism, the way we approach new believers, the way that we learn to bear one another's burdens within the life of the church and the way that we say to the rest of the world, 'We are not the people who define your worth in terms of your power, in terms of your freedom. We are the people who learned what it means to be human at the cross, symbol of the greatest weakness, the greatest dependence that one could possibly imagine.'

"And yet in that we have seen the power of God, and we have seen the salvation of the world," Moore said. "And that's the reason why we care about unborn children the rest of the world would want to see invisible, why we care about scared young women who don't have resources, why we care about the young man who is just as scared as the young woman and ministering to all of them with a Gospel that says, 'Life matters because eternal life matters.'"

Since 2004, the Psalm 139 Project has now helped provide ultrasound equipment for centers in Alabama, Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Indiana, Louisiana, Maryland, Missouri, Ohio, Tennessee and Texas. The ERLC has collaborated with Focus on the Family's Option Ultrasound Program on some of the machine placements.

All gifts to the Psalm 139 Project go toward machines and training, since the ERLC's administrative costs are covered by the Cooperative Program, the SBC's unified giving plan. Information on the Psalm 139 Project and how to donate is available at psalm139project.org.

The Psalm 139 Project is named after the psalm in which David testified to God's sovereign care for him when he was an unborn child. He wrote in verse 13, "You knit me together in my mother’s womb."

Tom Strode is Washington bureau chief for Baptist Press, the Southern Baptist Convention's news service. BP reports on missions, ministry and witness advanced through the Cooperative Program and on news related to Southern Baptists' concerns nationally and globally.
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