DENVER (BP)--A Colorado ministry to women in crisis pregnancies recently received a big boost toward its efforts to save human lives -- a new sonogram machine.VIDEO: Sonogram of McKinsey and Cameron Chase, now five years old. Courtesy of Jack and Brenda Wilkerson, grandparents.
The SBC's Psalm 139 Project -- an effort of the convention's Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission to educate Southern Baptists on the value of ultrasound technology in crisis pregnancy situations -- selected Riverside Pregnancy Center to receive the equipment. The project also provides a way for individuals to contribute to a fund that places the machines in qualified centers.
Psalm 139 was the inspiration for the project. The Old Testament verses affirm the fact that we are uniquely created by God Himself, in fact, "knit" together in our mother's womb.
The Denver-based pregnancy care center, a ministry of the city's Riverside Baptist Church, has been advocating for life since 2000.
The center received the machine last November.
"It has been a long journey to receive an ultrasound," center director Terri Baxter said. "We have been trying for years, and as a small center we ran into all kinds of obstacles from finances, to insurance, to training for the ultrasound, to adequate space to place it and again finances."
For four days, the crisis pregnancy center's staff was trained to use the new piece of equipment -- a critical part of the process that the Psalm 139 Project provides.
And it wasn't long before the value of ultrasound technology was personally demonstrated to the clinic's staff and volunteers. During the training period, Baxter said that a young lady came into their offices with her mother and her boyfriend.
"Abortion was definitely an option for her and her boyfriend," Baxter said. "Yet they had the ultrasound and took home pictures of the baby in her womb."
Baxter noted the young lady's boyfriend was very quiet when they came out of the examining room, refusing to look any of the workers in the eye. While the young lady's mother was urging her to keep the baby, the young lady only said she had some decisions to make.
While Baxter and the staff have no idea what the couple's final decision was, nurses at the center said their faces changed dramatically when they saw images of the active unborn baby.
"We are so excited about the difference an ultrasound is going to make in our center," Baxter said. "When women come into the center abortion-minded, if they are able to have an ultrasound, 90 percent will change their mind to parent or to place for adoption instead of taking that child's life."
Another woman came in during the training who reportedly was 8-10 weeks pregnant, Baxter said. Yet the ultrasound did not reveal any evidence of a pregnancy, so the client was referred to a local physician.
While the clinic staff thought they had done the sonogram improperly, Baxter said a few days later they learned the doctor had advised the client that there was a problem with her pregnancy.
"Thanks to having an ultrasound we were able to help a woman address complications early instead of too late," Baxter said.
Throughout its existence the center has been intentional about sharing the Gospel with those who come through the front door, Baxter said.
"We know if women are saved spiritually; we will save more babies physically," she stated.
Most of the volunteers are members of Riverside Baptist.
Because of the gifts of Southern Baptists to the Psalm 139 Project sonogram equipment has been placed in pregnancy care centers in San Marcos, Texas; New Albany, Ind.; San Bernardino, Calif., Corinth, Miss.
Riverside's pregnancy center is affiliated with the SBC's North American Mission Board. Such affiliation affords local centers a "great source of volunteers, financial income and prayer support," said Elaine Ham, the national consultant for pregnancy care ministries with NAMB.
NAMB works with local churches and Baptist associations "to start new centers, offering board, evangelism and volunteer training, as well as Bibles and other resources to the new center -- all at no cost to the center," Ham said, noting the importance of the convention's Cooperative Program funding mechanism to launch new centers.
There are no fees to be paid to affiliate with NAMB, Ham explained, adding that the staff of these care centers are then eligible for insurance and retirement benefits through Southern Baptist channels.
She said it has been her experience that when Southern Baptist churches discover that a center is partnering with the North American Mission Board, "they are much more open to providing financial resources and volunteers to the centers."
There currently are 225 pregnancy care centers that are affiliated with NAMB, Ham said.
Dwayne Hastings is a writer for the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission. The ERLC works with the North American Mission Board and Texas Life Connections, a pro-life outreach ministry of the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention, in expanding the reach and effectiveness of the Psalm 139 Project. For more information, visit their websites: www.namb.net/pcc, www.texaslifeconnections.org and www.psalm139project.org.