Sanctity of Life: Village Update
January 26, 2023
On January 22 (Sanctity of Life Sunday), our founder and president gave a ministry update to the congregation of Northview Church. We thought it would be appropriate to record and share the information on our blog.
Her words are written out below. As an alternative, you can watch her presentation here. (Go to the 32-minute mark, where she is invited on stage!)
Today, on National Sanctity of Human Life Day, I am honored to share with you about the ministry of Verity’s Village, our pro-life nonprofit. We are now entering our 3rd year of ministry. We provide encouragement, education, and practical support for families who receive a life-limiting prenatal diagnosis for their baby. As the parents of a child with a condition known as Edwards syndrome, my husband Ted and I know firsthand the difficulty of hearing that the baby you’re expecting is considered by many in the medical community to be “incompatible with life.”
Just this past week, a pregnant mama posted in our private support group sharing about the awful appointment she and her husband had with their geneticist. She wrote, “I’ve been keeping a tab and so far this week we have been told 5x that it’s still not too late to choose to ‘end the pregnancy.’”
The pressure to abort is extreme. This mama is not alone in hearing abortion offered (even pushed) multiple times. She and her husband have no intention of ending the life of their baby…but not all parents come to us so resolved.
One mama confided that she and her partner have tried for a baby for 3 years. She has a number of health challenges, so the pregnancy was joyful news. But then came the diagnosis. She wrote: “I desperately don’t want to terminate if there’s a chance he could live a happy life, even if it’s brief. But at the same time, I may only get one shot at this…to me it feels impossible. It’s a lot.”
She’s right. It IS a lot. It’s a journey you can’t fully understand unless you’ve walked it before, which means the parents we serve often feel isolated, anxious, and depressed. Our growing online community has connected mothers all over the USA as well as across the globe.
When a mama enters our support network, we send her a welcome packet with a free pregnancy journal and guidebook. These are resources that give specific help from diagnosis to delivery and beyond. We send care packages when babies arrive, whether alive or stillborn. Because such a high percentage of these little ones do pass away, we have extended our ministry to include a separate private support group for bereaved parents. The group just started up a couple of months ago and already has 90 members.
One of our biggest steps as a ministry in 2022 was adding pastoral counseling services for our networks so parents can have access to counseling at no cost to them! Our connection with Allen & Patricia Cooke of Paraclete ministries is totally a God story! In a nutshell, they are grandparents to a little girl with trisomy 18. They have a heart for our community and especially marriages that are experiencing the added stress of expecting or caring for a child with special needs. Verity’s Village sends monthly checks to their nonprofit counseling ministry, and the Cookes provide 3 group counseling sessions every month plus make themselves available for individual and couples’ counseling. This is a HUGE answer to prayer, as we’ve seen the great need for Bible-based counseling.
So if you’re a numbers person, here is a bit of a rundown from 2022:
- Roughly 400 packages sent out altogether
- 19 group counseling sessions
- 2 growing support groups: 317 members, 90 members
- 0 paid staff (!), 1 social media manager
- 5 board members + 1 passionate but slightly burned out founder + president!
Some next steps for Verity’s Village:
- HUGE NEED: Case manager. We need to hire someone at least on a part-time basis to start who can be the connecting point for all families entering our network. Ideally we would then have approved volunteers to be peer mentors, with the case manager making sure we are touching base with parents regularly.
- Expand our reach: PR manager who could connect with medical personnel to let them know we’re here to support parents receiving a prenatal diagnosis. Also connections with publications or podcasts who can help us spread the word.
- Grow our Board of Directors: looking for people who have a heart for this community and can bring something to the table. We ask for our directors to be “working board members” helping fulfill our mission.
How you can help:
- PRAY! Pray for the parents and families we serve. This is a hard journey and doesn’t end when Baby is born. Pray for those of us serving in some capacity, for wisdom and discernment. If you’re not already on our emailing list, join so you know how to pray!
- ASK/TELL: If you have a group who might be interested in hearing about our ministry, ask if we can give a presentation, whether virtually or in person. And tell people who need to know about us, such as medical professionals.
- GIVE: God has provided abundantly for our needs thus far. But to grow, we’ll need to have paid staff. We are asking those who have a heart for our ministry and who have the margin financially to consider setting up a monthly donation online. This would help us gauge the growth and health of our ministry and sustain long term.
- Connect with us online or talk to me after the service for more info!
I’d like to close by sharing a message from one of the mamas we supported last year. She sent this after receiving the gift we sent at Christmastime to our bereaved parents. You can see the digital version of the gift on the slide (or click here for a blog post about it).
“I am lost for words…I wasn’t expecting to see such a beautiful photo of my baby and Jesus. I burst into tears….As a native American woman I have different views and thoughts about religion. Don’t get me wrong, I do believe in God our almighty creator but just come from a different background. But let me tell you when I opened up that envelope I was taken back when I saw my baby in the arms of Jesus with no wires no tube in her mouth, just a little baby in peace. I honestly can’t explain how that made me feel considering I have a different view on Jesus…but it touched me in a way that I can’t explain. I almost feel at peace with my Rayleen for a moment, like I know she’s in good hands.”
It was a privilege to share with this mama the “reason for the hope that is in us” and how Jesus is our true Prince of Peace. Our vision at Verity’s Village is to change the narrative surrounding genetic anomalies from heartache to hope—and our prayer is that ultimately, as they go through difficult life circumstances, these precious families will find eternal hope through Jesus Christ our Lord.