To say that the Heartbeat Bill in Georgia has gained a lot applause and criticism would be a vast understatement.
Recently, I’ve felt like I was bombarded by reactions on both sides of the issue.
It gave me a lot to consider, and I began to ponder what a “regular person” could do in response to the Heartbeat Bill.
I stumbled upon Seeds Thrift Shop. With the motto “the more you buy, the more you help.” Seeds, a trendy consignment shop in Woodstock, seeks to empower local shoppers to participate in their mission of “sharing the love of Jesus Christ and providing help, hope and healing to individuals facing pregnancy or relationship issues.”
“With the money from the items that are sold, Seeds gives it back to the HOPE Center (a pregnancy resource center out of Canton that serves metro Atlanta), so that it can be sewn back into the community; providing free pregnancy tests, ultrasounds and help for local families,” said Dani Luyo, volunteer and donations manager at Seeds. “I think an awareness of why and how people can make a difference from shopping here (is important).” By allowing locals to participate through shopping and donating items and money, Seeds Thrift Shop gives hands and feet to the integral part of the pro-life movement that is often forgotten.
And Jacqui Jackson, from Ignite Hope, agrees. “If you believe in right to life, you have to believe right to lifetime,” she said. Ignite Hope, a local nonprofit support group for potential foster and adoptive parents, as well as the churches that surround them, was started in 2016. They walk alongside families during and before fostering and adopting.
“Children need families,” Jacqui said. “Foster kids are vulnerable kids, and the church needs to stand up and help.” Recalling the statistic from the World Health Organization of 150 million children with no parents whatsoever, she links the lack of parental love that is often necessary to heal heart wounds to being vulnerable, causing the children to be easy target for predators, with an obvious link to sex trafficking. Jacqui describes the recent “Heartbeat Bill” in Georgia as one part of a larger movement to help vulnerable children.
Jacqui passionately lists ways for people to help, even if they can’t or don’t feel called to foster or adopt. Reading to children; washing and folding laundry, or providing “meal trains” for new foster parents; donating $5 gift cards to social workers at the Department of Family and Children’s Services since they often provide meals out of their own pockets for foster children initially entering the system; or providing date nights for foster parents, allowing for a bit of respite. Other local opportunities include volunteering with the MUST Ministries summer lunch program.
Lauren Burk Miller, a personal friend of mine and a Noonday Collections ambassador and her husband considered adopting locally, from Mississippi, but feel strongly about overseas adoption. However, Lauren notes that the living conditions for certain children in her state have the potential for being worse than what a child might experience overseas. It is for that reason, “there is oftentimes motivation poverty,” she explains. “If they feel they have ‘no choice,’ where is the church in that? We have failed.”
She stresses the importance of “giving space to stories” and being slow to judge since often, “the more we listen, the more we realize we may not know.” Acknowledging the “black and white of Scripture,” Lauren doesn’t forget to note the gray areas and the importance of a compassionate heart, which is where God’s love often plays out. “There is a difference between someone’s story and a political issue.”
I believe as a community, we should respond accordingly. In particular, I believe that as Christians step up to follow through on their opportunity to be the church in a missional and real way that change will truly take place; cycles will be broken and hearts healed.
I am still pondering through my personal response. But I desire it to be one filled with compassion, hope and care.