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Human life matters from womb to tomb, and Eric Verstraete and the staff at Life Matters Worldwide help the Church nurture respect for it.
Eric is president at the Grand Rapids, Michigan-based ministry that has long supported efforts to protect the beginning of life and provide care at the end of it as well. Life Matters produces pro-life materials for churches and pastors, provides support and encouragement to pregnancy care centers, and offers a ministry model called Living in Faith Together (LIFT). That last ministry model “identifies the needs of the terminally, chronically ill and aging” within a congregation and “then identifies the resources within that congregation to meet those needs,” Eric says.
LIFT, which Life Matters is focusing on this year, also provides training and a database to use to keep track of volunteers and appointments that need to happen.
“We try to equip people to value life from womb to tomb, from the beginning of life to the end of life,” Eric says.
For women’s pregnancy centers, that includes:
- Board of directors training. “A center’s board of directors needs to function as a united body to help the centers,” Eric says. “We want to help them be spiritually healthy, because then they will be healthy enough to be able to minister to the people who are walking through the doors. We also remind them of the promises of God that they can lean on each day, realizing it’s not about them and their strength, but it’s about relying on God.”
- An annual two-day retreat called the Summit for pregnancy care center workers, “where they come together to be encouraged.” Representatives of about 40 centers typically attend, Eric says.
Life Matters also equips churches to promote the sanctity of human life as well as care for those human lives. They do it through making bulletin inserts, sermon outlines, videos, and Bible studies available. Life Matters also supplies pulpits for churches needing to hear a pro-life message.
“The best way to promote it is to not be silent about it,” Eric says. “Abortion is not simply a political issue. It’s a life issue.”
Addressing it involves preaching about it and studying the Bible about it, Eric says, but it also involves a three-pronged approach by a congregation:
“How are Christians dealing with the unplanned pregnancy that’s going to come to their church? How are they walking alongside the walking wounded, those who are post-abortive—because every church has women and men who have been affected by abortion? How are we educating our young people to try to keep them from having to make that decision at all about having to deal with abortion?
“If our churches have a plan, we could begin to really make a difference.”
But, as Eric points out, that just addresses the beginning of life. Churches need to also proactively care for those at the other end of the spectrum. That’s where LIFT comes in.
“How do you care for the terminally, chronically ill and aging?” he says. “How do you beat back loneliness by simply just showing up?”