(Photo: Save the Storks)
A group of young people are doing their part to reduce the number of abortions in America, not by picketing with signs and megaphones, but by showing pregnant women sonograms of their unborn children and by sharing the love of Christ.
Save the Storks, a pro-life ministry that uses the stork as the symbol of an expecting mother, is ready to officially set loose its first Stork Bus in Dallas, Texas, on Thursday. The Stork Bus will travel from one abortion clinic to another offering free sonograms and resources to women who may be seeking an abortion with the hope that they will change their minds. The organization focuses on the spiritual needs of the women, too, and they are not afraid to share the Gospel with any woman who will listen.
According to the organization's website, three out of every five women who board the Stork Bus choose not to have an abortion. The theory is that if they can see their children alive inside of them, they may decide not to abort.
But the ultimate goal isn't just to stop abortions, as Save the Storks founder Joe Baker told The Christian Post on Wednesday; the goal is to help women in need. The organization emphasizes its gentle methods, which makes them seem more approachable to the women they reach out to.
"We are not political whatsoever, and it is against our policy and procedure manual to be out there debating abortion or anything else. That's not our style. And it's not the place for it. We want our kindness and our love to be at the heart of what we do," said Baker.
The innovative ministry tries to create buses that offer a non-threatening, comfortable environment where women who are considering aborting their children can receive help before they ever step foot into an abortion clinic. Volunteer "sidewalk counselors" are also made available when each bus is on site, and the organization gets the contact information of the women so they can follow up with them afterward.
Baker, whose wife, Ann, is the ministry's executive assistant, says it is "life changing" for both his staff, and the women themselves, when a woman decides to keep her baby.
The idea for the organization came together after David Pomerantz, who is now the Save the Storks regional director for the Dallas area, went on a mission trip to New York City, the organization's website explains. There he met Julie Beyel, who served as a counselor for Expectant Mother Care, an organization that was highly effective at preventing abortions by using a similar method.
After learning about EMC, Pomerantz told his friends – Baker, Daryl Harshbarger and others – about what he had discovered and soon they were on their way to join him in New York for training. They altogether began brainstorming about how they could expand the idea of these mobile pregnancy centers to a national scale.
Later, after Pomerantz moved to Dallas for college, he met Carolyn Cline of the Downtown Pregnancy Center. Cline had felt God leading her to somehow prevent 1,000 abortions in the year 2012, though she had no idea how until Pomerantz came along.
They soon formed a partnership, marking the beginning of fundraising for the Dallas Stork Bus, but Baker says he doesn't want the ministry to end there. He hopes to have another bus in operation by Christmas of this year, and hopes to gain four more in 2013.
"That would be my dream. But let's see what God wants to do," he said.
Each bus costs between $100,000 and $150,000, and they are fully customized to meet the needs of each local pregnancy center that will eventually own them. Each bus will be given away to act as a mobile arm of a local pregnancy center, so that these centers can be proactive about providing help and an alternative to abortion for women in need.
"God has supplied all of our needs so far and it's exciting to see," said Baker. "We would love to have anyone who believes in us financially partner with us, not because we desperately need the money, but because we would [love] for them to experience the joy of being a part of this very rewarding ministry."
When the buses go to abortion clinics, they will often be operated by a site manager, a sonographer, a head counselor and a few "sidewalk counselors," though the amount of help at each site will vary from place to place.
Baker, who is only 30 years old, helped to create Save the Storks alongside a team of passionate young people. He took some time to share his thoughts on how young people can do their part to change the world.
"If you're going to do something that's controversial, you should do it right," he said. "Don't rush the field. Take your time preparing and then go for it. If God has laid something on your heart it is your prerogative to share it. That's what He made you for. It's your world, it's your generation, if you don't seek to change it and make it better it will never be better."