For Michael Brooks, the gift of an ultrasound machine this Sunday means God is providing through Southern Baptists a way for Stowe Mission of Central Ohio to help desperate women, save unborn babies and share the gospel.
The Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC) will make the presentation to Stowe two days before the beginning of the Southern Baptist Convention’s (SBC) annual meeting in downtown Columbus, where the mission is located. The ERLC will present the sonogram machine during the June 14 corporate worship of Veritas Community Church, a Southern Baptist church in Columbus.
The presentation will be the latest through the ERLC’s Psalm 139 Project, which provides ultrasound machines for gospel-focused pregnancy help centers throughout the United States.
For Stowe, the machine will be a vital part of launching a ministry its leaders have seen a need for. Stowe – an outreach of the Metro Columbus Baptist Association – already offers a soup kitchen, food pantry, urgent care, dental clinic, eye clinic, HIV/STD testing, tutoring, job training, clothing distribution, as well as mental health screening in cooperation with other agencies. Such a diversified ministry has brought women in crisis through Stowe’s doors.
“We see teenagers coming in pregnant,” said Brooks, Stowe’s president. “We have young women who are addicted to heroin and being worked by pimps, and we see them coming in pregnant.
“It’s one thing to say, ‘Don’t abort, but go and be blessed,’ and not do any other things with them,” he told Baptist Press. “[T]he desire of our hearts is not just to say, ‘Don’t have an abortion’ but to be able to walk them through that process and show them that this is a real person that they have developing inside and give them a biblical worldview and then the best support that we can in bringing that person” into the world.
Part of helping women with crisis pregnancies is “providing the emotional and spiritual support, practical assistance through God’s people to face a future with hope that only Christ can give,” Brooks said.
“In many ways, we’re hoping this will open up our outreach to the community and allow us to share the Lord with them.”
Brooks had dreamed of Stowe starting a pregnancy help ministry, but the need for money and personnel was an impediment. God seems to be “using the ERLC and Southern Baptists to put that package together,” he said.
He acknowledged Stowe is “breaking the mold on how this usually works.” After ERLC staff visited Stowe and decided to donate a machine, Brooks said his worry was: “Okay, I’ve got this awesome piece of equipment that God’s given us, but I need staff to run this. And God’s honored that request too. So we have someone to put the clinic together and to run it, and we’ve got a whole folder full of names and phone numbers, nurses and folks that have been involved in pregnancy ministries that are calling and saying, ‘I’m on board. Just give me the call.’”
The ERLC is thankful to be able to partner with Stowe in helping women and babies, said Dan Darling, the ERLC’s vice president for communications.
“I’m inspired by the faithful service of the team at Stowe, which lives out a gospel ethic by serving the least of these with holistic health services,” said Darling, who will speak about the Psalm 139 Project June 14 at Veritas. “We’re excited about the unborn lives, created in the image of God, who will experience life due to this new ultrasound technology.”
ERLC President Russell Moore will preach on the gospel and racial reconciliation during all three of the services at the Veritas campus where the presentation to Stowe will be made.
The Metro Columbus Baptist Association has more than doubled its number of churches to 119 since 2004. Stowe’s ministry has increased dramatically as well. For instance, it has grown from about 20,000 meals served 12 years ago when Brooks arrived to nearly 165,000 last year. About 750 volunteers from local churches run the mission’s programs, he said.
“I just sit in my chair and just am absolutely blown away and amazed at what God has put together here,” Brooks said. His wife, Janet, and he formerly served with the International Mission Board, then the North American Mission Board. “You dream and then you try to scheme and figure out how I can make this work and where can I get the money and those kinds of things. And God, He already knew that and has already put all those pieces in place.”
Previously, the ERLC has provided ultrasound machines through the Psalm 139 Project to pregnancy centers based in San Marcos, Texas; New Albany, Ind.; Denver; Corinth, Miss.; Lakeland, Fla.; Phoenix; Louisiana; Houston; and Woodbridge, Va. The presentation to Stowe will mark the sixth consecutive year the ERLC has provided an ultrasound machine to a center near the location of the SBC’s annual meeting.
The Psalm 139 Project gets its name from the well-known chapter in the Bible in which David testifies to God’s sovereign care for him when he was an unborn child. David wrote in verse 13 of that psalm, “You knit me together in my mother’s womb.”
All gifts to the Psalm 139 Project go toward purchase, delivery and installation of ultrasound machines, as well as training for staff members, since the ERLC’s administrative costs are covered by the SBC’s Cooperative Program. Information on the Psalm 139 Project and how to give toward providing ultrasound machines through the ministry is available at http://psalm139project.com/.
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Tom Strode is Washington bureau chief of Baptist Press, the Southern Baptist Convention’s news service.)