A Bridge for Life: Sharing Jesus & Saving Unborn Babies
Story by Kate Larsen
Photos by Josh Larson
Calvary Chapel Old Bridge, NJ, and Bridge Women’s Center has teamed up with Save the Storks to save unborn babies and share Jesus with women facing unplanned pregnancies and with the abortion vulnerable. In March 2022, CC Old Bridge and Bridge Women’s Center hosted a conference teaching other churches how to continue this important work with Save the Storks.
Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. … praying always with all prayer and supplication in the [Holy] Spirit Ephesians 6:11,18
Pastor Mike Milian and his wife Amanda of Wildwood Calvary Chapel in Yucaipa, CA, pray with Debbie Biskey, director of Bridge Women’s Center (BWC) in New Jersey. Calvary Chapel Old Bridge hosted a conference in March with Save the Storks to show churches how to practically reach out with compassion to women facing unplanned pregnancies.
The subject line of an email, A prayer request for our ministry, caught the attention of Paul Miller, senior pastor of Calvary Chapel Tri-Cities in Johnson City, TN, this spring. “When Tom [Price] wrote in that email about spiritual warfare, [I remembered] that’s what we have been talking about at our church,” Paul said. The email from Tom, Calvary Chapel Magazine founder and editor, was lamenting how the change in printing companies would delay a time-sensitive article in the Spring issue. The article invited pastors and leaders to the Bridge for Life Conference at Calvary Chapel Old Bridge, NJ, in March 2022.
Paul shared that through this email, the Lord began tugging at his heart. Then, he saw God’s providence when another couple from his church said they would attend the conference with him and his wife Dianne. The husband of that couple just “happened” to be volunteering at church that morning, and his wife had previously attended CC Old Bridge.
“In 1993, we lost our son, Michael, at 10 years old,” Paul shared through teary eyes. “He had a brain tumor, and so we know how precious life is.” At the conference, the Lord stirred Paul’s heart even more.
Pastor Paul Miller (right) of CC Tri-Cities in Johnson City, TN, talks with Pastor Bill Luebkemann (center) of CC Marlton, NJ, at the Bridge for Life Conference. Paul first learned of the conference through a plea from Calvary Chapel Magazine—for prayer against spiritual warfare which hindered their ability to get information out about the upcoming event. During the day, Pastor Paul was inspired to take action in his own community.
Stirring Up the Brethren
And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works. Hebrews 10:24
“We have always prayed that the Lord would show us something in the community that was missing,” Paul expressed. “What niche can we fill that no one else is filling? Now the Lord has done that, and we want to walk through those doors.”
In CC Tri-Cities’ area of eastern Tennessee, the only presence at the abortion clinic had been one of hatred, judgment, and protest. With the desire to find their place in their community, along with the open door the conference provided, Paul sensed the Lord was answering their prayers—it was all Him and His timing. “I’m going to pray about it,” he said. “My heart right now is to partner and maybe get one of these buses (mobile medical vehicles).” He noted that “all of a sudden” his church has four nurses as well as a man involved with medical supplies whose wife is a nurse practitioner.
“We know how powerful God is. You see the price tag, what the cost is, and you know that’s a lot more money than we have!” Paul continued. “But then you think, Lord, You know our building [rent]. You know it’s nothing to Him. So, it’s just taking those steps of faith. One of my favorite Scriptures is ‘For the eyes of the LORD run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show Himself strong on behalf of those whose heart is loyal to Him,’” he recited from 2 Chronicles 16:9a.
BWC counselor Elsy Varela speaks with a woman outside of a Planned Parenthood clinic in Elizabeth, NJ. Behind her is CC Old Bridge’s/Bridge Women’s Center medical unit nicknamed Hannah, where women can get free ultrasounds and pregnancy tests. CC Old Bridge teamed up with Save the Storks to acquire the unit—and is purchasing another unit, which is due to arrive this summer. Participants at the conference learned how they, too, could do the same thing.
God Provides for CC Old Bridge
When Calvary Chapel Old Bridge started the process of acquiring their first Stork bus and launching their Bridge Women’s Center (BWC) ministry, they were amazed at the influx of resources and workers.
Debbie Biskey, executive director of BWC, said initially they worried about how they were going to acquire resources and get workers and medical staff. “The Lord just took care of each need as it arose. He brought those people who were passionate about saving babies’ lives and bringing the Gospel,” Debbie confirmed. “God provided at each and every step, and we get to be in that position of seeing God at work, first-hand. Anyone who gets a mobile unit will be blessed to see God work like that.”
Then Assistant Pastor (now Senior Pastor) Jordan McGaughey and his wife Kristen, from Horizon Indy in Indianapolis, IN, learn about the ultrasound unit Hannah at the Bridge for Life conference. They learned how a church can partner to save babies.
“Bridge for Life” Conference
The conference, hosted by Bridge Women’s Center, was attended by 27 pastors and leaders representing 13 churches from 10 states. The partnership between BWC and Save the Storks (STS) was the first of its kind as STS has mostly partnered with pregnancy centers.
Bridge Women’s Center has seen a lot of fruitful ministries since Hannah, the Center’s Stork bus, hit the road in May 2020. That is why the two organizations teamed up—to share how other churches could reach into their communities and be on the front lines fighting against abortion and sharing the Gospel message.
“Four out of ten women were regularly attending church when they had an abortion.” Joseph Schmidt, STS Director of Church Programs and Partnerships, shared this startling statistic. “There is a lot of hidden pain in the pews; showing the [church] body you care about those on the outside means you care about those on the inside, too.”
Joseph Schmidt and CEO Diane Ferraro from Save the Storks answer questions during a Q&A session at the conference. Diane emphasized the importance of wisdom and discernment in this type of ministry. “Put on your seatbelts,” she advised. “You have to be called [by God] because you will face attacks.”
Going After the One
“The beauty of [having] the Stork bus is that the ministry is all about going after the one,” Joseph shared during the conference, referring to Luke 15:4-7. “This is where the lost are, and we are going after them.” He, along with Save the Storks CEO Diane Ferraro, emphasized the importance of wisdom and discernment in this type of ministry. “Put on your seatbelts,” Diane advised. “You have to be called [by God] because you will face attacks.”
Debbie Biskey (left) of BWC speaks with conference attendee Jenna Kahn of Brooklyn, NY.
A White Harvest
“Do you not say, ‘There are still four months and then comes the harvest’? Behold, I say to you, lift up your eyes and look at the fields, for they are already white for harvest!” John 4:35
Pastor Lloyd Pulley, senior pastor of CC Old Bridge, opened the conference with an exhortation from the Book of John, chapter 4, where Jesus is relating to the woman at the well. The disciples had missed the spiritual field of harvest right before them, concerned over carnal desires. But Jesus modeled for them that spiritually sowing into and reaping of people for salvation takes precedence. Lloyd shared how the Stork bus is the “very center of a field so ripe for harvest.”
Lloyd exclaimed, “Pastors are not fishing in the pond they should be fishing in. Early on, I shied away from the pro-life arena, having a bad taste in my mouth from [seeing] many [protesters] showing condemnation to women and hatred from God. But Jesus showed the Samaritan woman a dignity she had not known as He honored her and gently drew her to Himself.”
Representatives from Save the Storks and Bridge Women’s Center answer questions during a Q&A session as Jason Welty (left) moderates. The STS team educated those in attendance on marketing, operations, costs, and support involved in building the Stork buses.
Offering a Strategy to Connect
“The main goal is to provide love, compassion, and truth to the hurting,” explained Diane Ferraro. “No matter what decision she makes, we don’t just move on from her. We want to walk her through that brokenness even when she doesn’t choose life.”
The Stork bus is “a vessel of divine deliverance” in Diane’s words, offering women another option to abortion. The ultrasound onboard becomes a window into the womb as they witness the miracle of life. They get to see the baby and hear its heartbeat. The urge to choose life comes when the deception of abortion—the lie that that a fetus is no more than a clump of cells and tissue—is removed, and the truth is revealed: Life begins at conception.
The STS team educated those in attendance on marketing, operations, costs, and support. Mobile Operations Production Manager Nikki Chamblee shared on the building of the buses as well as timelines and costs. Jason Welty, National Partner Program Consulting and Training Manager, gave specifics on what a partnership between STS and each individual church looks like.
“Our goal is to make abortion unnecessary, something people don’t even think about,” Diane stated. “On a Stork bus is where [a mother] first meets her baby.”
Elsy Valera, a BWC volunteer, invites a woman outside a Planned Parenthood clinic in Elizabeth, NJ, to visit the mobile medical unit Hannah, parked nearby. Diane Ferraro explained, “Our goal is to make abortion unnecessary, something people don’t even think about. On a Stork bus is where [a mother] first meets her baby.”
Is the Church Ready?
Whether a church desires to be a donor, operator, or networker under Save the Storks, pastors and leaders were encouraged to be ready. They should have the necessary programs in place, such as single moms’ and dads’ groups, and be in prayer over ways to minister.
Joseph Schmidt reiterated Lloyd’s words: “Calvary Chapel as a movement started by going after people that the Church wasn’t going after. The Church was very much appealing to its own, and they realized no one was going after these hippies who thought very differently than us. Going after them birthed the Jesus Movement and Calvary Chapel as we know it today.” He said he believed this was similar to leaving the 99, to go after the one.
Bill Luebkemann, senior pastor of CC Marlton, NJ, shared how their church supports two crisis pregnancy centers, one of which has an ultrasound bus. He is open to how the Lord would work through their fellowship, whether it will encourage more to serve with them or encourage them do something that seems out of reach. “Or possibly, we might wind up with our own [bus]. I’m just going to have to see how the Lord leads!” he stated.
CC Old Bridge Senior Pastor Lloyd Pulley shares with CC Middlesex, NJ, Senior Pastor Tom Dickerson. Lloyd has been a strong proponent of reaching out to women facing unplanned pregnancies with compassion, not judgment. During the Bridge for Life conference, he shared that the Stork bus is the “very center of a field so ripe for harvest.”
Who Can Tell?
Lloyd Pulley shared from a recent Bridge Women’s Center publication:
The fear of bringing up a child in a less-than-ideal situation has led millions to make a decision that will be deeply regretted—abortion. If we could see from a higher perspective, perhaps the answer to our problems is bound up in that little child’s life. In the Bible, Moses’ parents were pressured to sacrifice his life to Pharaoh’s decree—but instead they resisted, believing there was a greater purpose for their baby. They risked their lives to rescue him from certain death, and though it would be 80 years later, Israel’s cries to God for deliverance from Egypt were answered by that baby when he grew up and led them to the promised land!
Last week, I received a picture of one of the hundreds of babies rescued by Bridge Women’s Center outside of an abortion clinic. The mom who sent the picture had been scheduled to have an abortion that day, but instead entered our Mobile Pregnancy Center. She saw an ultrasound of the baby in her womb and chose life! Along with the picture of her beautiful baby, she thanked us profusely for being there in her moment of hopelessness. Who can tell what great purpose lies in store for that one child?
More Information for Local Churches
To learn more about Save the Storks and how to join the fight, visit Save the Storks: Church Partnership or email Joseph Schmidt at firstname.lastname@example.org. To learn more about Bridge Women’s Center, visit bridgewomenscenter.com.
All verses above are quoted from the New King James Version, unless otherwise noted.
© 2022 Calvary Chapel Magazine (CCM). All rights reserved. Articles or photographs may not be reproduced without the written permission of CCM. All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the New King James Version. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc.® Used by permission.