Bethany Christian Services: a different take on Sanctity of Human Life Day.

(Photo courtesy Bethany Christian Services)

(Photo courtesy Bethany Christian Services)

USA (MNN) — This Sunday is National Sanctity of Human Life Day in the United States. President Ronald Reagan designated January 22, 1984 to coincide with the 11th anniversary of the Roe v. Wade Supreme Court case that first recognized the constitutionally-protected status of abortion in the United States.

Churches around the United States gathered to celebrate God’s gift of life, commemorate the many lives lost to abortion, and commit themselves to protecting life at every stage. But President of *Bethany Christian Services, Bill Blacquiere thinks it should focus on more than just abortion. “Over the years, Bethany has realized that pro-life issues aren’t just for infants and the abortion issue, but it’s for vulnerable children: children who are orphaned, abused, and neglected children. For them to have a full life that isn’t in bondage, we need to serve ALL children and families.”

It’s part of a biblical calling, adds Blacquiere. “What I think about is what God says in the Bible: he’s very concerned with the poor, with the orphan, with the widow, and the alien, or the refugees, if you will.” That’s even more relevant today with the Syrian civil war entering its third year and the rise of the Islamic State terror group. “Both the government and some of the other organizations that we work with on refugee services are saying that in the near future, children and families from Syria will be coming to the United States.”

bcs2_8 Specifically, “When God is commanding us to take care of those four groups of people, that is the sanctity of human life. God is saying, ‘Yes, I want you to protect the unborn. But in addition, I want you to care for these vulnerable families who also need your protection.'”

How does Bethany do that? “We have a refugee program that serves minor children. These are children who have lost their parents due to war, due to disease, due to political unrest. They’ve lived in refugee camps.” Plus, Bethany offers a resettlement program that assists refugee families in the process of moving to West Michigan.

Teams work with families for the first six months they are in the country, doing everything from meeting them at the airport and providing them a place to live, to bringing them to doctor’s appointments, providing language training, and helping them find a job. The goal is to provide a safe new community for refugee families where they will be able to thrive as self-sufficient, contributing members of society.

(Photo courtesy Bethany Christian Services)

(Photo courtesy Bethany Christian Services)

But sometimes, fleeing a country is messy. Refugee families are frequently split up from the time they leave their home until they arrive in a refugee camp. When this happens, family reunification is difficult and children are considered orphans. The only option for these children is to be resettled in other countries as unaccompanied minors.

Bethany has responded to this need through foster parents, says Blacquiere. “Bethany is able to provide families for these children, expose them to Christianity, and make sure that they have the necessary counseling to overcome their trauma and their losses in their life and lead productive lives here in the United States.”

The needs revealed through the Sanctity of Human Life Day don’t end when the sun goes down on January 18. For the many refugees who will soon be needing help in the United States, Blacquiere urges you to consider how you might be able to help provide traumatized families a chance at new life. First, “we always need foster families for our refugee program. Secondly, we need mentors. And then of course, we sometimes also need donations of furniture and other goods to help the families get set up.”

*For those who are looking for more traditional resources, Bethany is providing electronic resources instead of printed materials. This allows churches more options to honor Sanctity of Human Life Month. These resources are print-ready and include bulletin insert, poster, and PowerPoint slide to download, print, and share.