(Courtesy of ICU Mobile)
WASHINGTON – The newest breakthrough in the pro-life movement isn't a bill in Congress or a march on Washington: it's a mobile ultrasound vehicle. Equipped with a team of Christian medical professionals, 22 mobile vehicles already visited 19 cities in the United States.
Michael Homula, executive director of ICU Mobile, shared the story on Wednesday at a Family Research Council event. ICU stands for Image Clear Ultrasound, but also sounds like "I See You," as in "I see you in the womb."
"We're not interested in having a pro-life-mobile," he said. "We're very interested in appealing to women who are considering aborting their children."
Homula laid out the weaknesses of traditional "brick and mortar" Crisis Pregnancy Centers – designed to welcome women in a crisis pregnancy. These institutions tend to be "baby-centric," with family pictures on the walls. They have an openly Christian appearance, they can only help the women who go to them, and their few local brands cannot compete with the huge umbrella of Planned Parenthood.
ICU Mobile, on the other hand, aims to "go to women, rather than waiting for them," and preaches "no judgment, coercion, or politics – just love, grace, and truth." The neutral title ICU allows them to slip under the messy political radar and perform their ministry.
But this mobile medical clinic is far from simple. According to Homula's presentation, each vehicle is specially designed for ultrasound, and each team goes through three different types of training: technical – "nuts, bolts, and gears"; operational – "how to execute the ministry"; and spiritual – 22 weeks to "put on the full armor of God."
"We're going on the offense," Homula said. "We're going into the neighborhoods and the communities where abortion is most prevalent, and we're bringing hope and we're bringing life. Satan does not like that one bit."
"Pregnancy centers aren't doing a good job of being prepared spiritually," Homula told The Christian Post in an interview Thursday. He also laid out the structure of the old 12-week program.
The first seven weeks follow 1 Chronicles 28:1-10, where David transfers authority to Solomon. Before teams engage in ICU Mobile ministry, they cover seven points: "acknowledging God, taking action, keeping motives pure, being faithful, realizing that God chose you, being strong, and doing the work."
They also spend 40 days in fasting and prayer, clean out their old pregnancy center, solidify their budget, check their motives, and find five prayer partners. They will give each prayer partner a smooth stone, to symbolize the five smooth stones David chose to slay Goliath.
In addition to this rigorous spiritual training, ICU Mobile uses new technologies and teams with older organizations to accomplish its mission.
Homula's team found "an algorithm that would allow us to draw reasonable conclusions by neighborhood where abortion is most prevalent." This allows them to go directly to where 15 to 28-year-old women are, and minister to them in their daily lives.
"We have a ministry as business model," Homula explained. ICU Mobile aspires to take 25 percent of Planned Parenthood's consumer base – women in a crisis pregnancy – to make it unable to expand in a local area. Since there are 8,640 yearly abortions in Memphis, Tenn., for example, ICU Mobile shoots for 2,160 life decisions. Knowing their conversion rates, they have to get 3,927 women to visit the vehicles.
In the interview, Homula shared ICU Mobile's partnerships with other organizations. The Family Research Council, where he spoke Wednesday, serves as "a coach and a guide" in media relations. CareNet and Heartbeat International provide knowledge "about all the latest regulations of laws and techniques in the pregnancy care movement," and recruit ministry members.
NILFA (The National Institute of Family Life Advocates) also helps ICU Mobile navigate medical regulations and laws, while Focus on the Family provides grants for the innovative ultrasound programs. Online for Life, another business-minded ministry, focuses on search engine optimization. "When a woman searches for an abortion on Bing or Google or Yahoo, they can be directed to a mobile ultrasound."
This innovation and partnership enables ICU Mobile to attract 53 percent more abortion-minded women to their mobiles than ever set foot in a Crisis Pregnancy Center. And 56.4 percent of those who have already decided to have an abortion choose life, and 87.8 percent who are considering an abortion choose life.
Most impressive is their conversion rate: 39.7 percent of those who hear the Gospel "make a first-time decision to trust Christ alone for salvation." Homula credits EvanTell, "the world's largest Gospel training organization," with this successful evangelism.
One story highlights the effectiveness of mobile ultrasound ministry. A teenage girl contacted the team in Memphis, Tenn., saying "I'm pregnant, I have an abortion tomorrow, but I want to come meet you." The team counseled her, but she was hesitant to come to the mobile. Later that evening, she called again, and the team booted up the mobile and "drove across town to meet her."
After an ultrasound, counseling, and prayer, the girl was still set on having the abortion. Jill, a member of the team, said "if you're going to be at the abortion facility tomorrow, so will we." When the girl drove up, the mobile was there, and she went there first because she had a relationship with them.
After more counseling and prayer, she again decides for the abortion. Jill then says "when you come out, we're going to be here for you. You're going to need us when you have this abortion." After twenty minutes in the abortion clinic, the girl changed her mind, and put her daughter up for adoption.