Showing up

When Derek McCollum preached at All Saints last year, he quoted an Iranian theologian, Mohammad Ali Abtahi, who had recently spoken to a group at Covenant Seminary.  The thing that stuck out to me from Derek’s sermon was one of the questions a student asked Abtahi: “What would his [Abtahi’s] criticism of Christianity be?”  Abtahi replied, “It doesn’t show up in your culture.” I have not forgotten that.

What would it look like if my faith showed up more in the culture in which I find myself daily?  A few things constantly cross my mind – ways that I could better serve our church family, ways that I could better love my across-the-street neighbor, missions trips that I could take, and ways that I could possibly help someone I don’t even know, right here in Austin.

It all sounds so eloquent as it rolls through my mind.  Then, I immediately talk myself out it. I mean, seriously! I have two small children at home, as well as a husband; I am involved in a weekly Bible study; and I have some semblance of a social life, for crying out loud!  I can’t possibly exert any additional energy outside of my stratosphere.

Well, in a feeble attempt to see how I might get a little more involved in some Kingdom work, I thought I’d start with an organization that I have been increasingly curious about – Austin LifeCare.   I pretty much figured there was NO WAY a mom of young children would be able to fit into their volunteer scheme, but at least I could go and hear what cool things they are doing here in Austin.  Then, at least I could honestly say “I tried.”

So, this past Tuesday evening I went to the Austin LifeCare 101 informational meeting.  In case you’re wondering, Austin LifeCare is a non-political faith-based non-profit organization that offers prevention education and practical support for unexpected pregnancies in the Austin area.

I have been wanting to getting involved in an organization like this for a few years now. Having two preemies (Henry at 32 weeks and Crawford at 27 weeks) and coming face to face with tiny humans who, even at such an early gestational age, are quite clearly so perfectly made is convicting to say the least.   I went to this meeting wholeheartedly wanting to get involved, but also somewhat skeptical at the possibility.  I mean, I do have two small children who rely heavily on me and, surely the time it would take to volunteer at LifeCare would not be conducive to a young mother… wrong! 

LifeCare is composed of three main groups: prevention, intervention and aftercare.

LifeGuard speaker training equips individuals to address kids in local public schools, teaching abstinence-until-marriage with interactive presentations.   I was shocked to find out that this area only requires about 5 hours per month, during school hours, (completely on your availability).  You only have to attend one LifeGuard training a year.

LifeCare Pregnancy Services turned out to be the part of LifeCare that I was particularly interested in.  Pregnancy Services meets the needs of women, men, and their families, who are facing an unplanned pregnancy. Pregnancy Services provides education about pregnancy, abortion procedures, adoption, and parenting.  They also provide limited ultrasound services.

Two volunteer opportunities in the “intervention” services stuck out for me.  First, you could serve as a mentor in the PALS program– aka “Partners Affirming Life”.  As a volunteer you can be paired with a Client and commit to talk each week by phone, email or in person and attend monthly PALS meetings throughout your Client’s pregnancy.

Second, you can help at Hannah’s Closet.  Hannah’s Closet is a once a week commitment and has regular hours; this is where you help a Client shop for baby items as well as maternity clothes within the cornucopia of LifeCare donations.

After Abortion Care (AAC) provides support for the spiritual, emotional, and psychological effects that can occur after an abortion experience.  The strength of this program is a Bible study and support group led by compassionate peer counselors.   Involvement in AAC is primarily through becoming a Small Group Bible Study Leader.  It is a ten week commitment, usually one evening per week.

The opportunities for involvement at LifeCare were absolutely endless!  Not only that, their willingness to work with what would best fit you as a volunteer pretty much throws all my excuses of reasons I CAN’T be involved, out the window.

The first step in the process of becoming a part of the Austin LifeCare community involves going to one of their monthly “101” class meetings like I did.  Then you are able to meet with one of the staff people to see where you would best fit and what you are most interested in. 

If you’ve made it to the end of this entry, thank you for indulging me as I attempt to step outside of my comfort zone; hopefully in an effort to “show up in our culture” more.