Month: January 2017

We Can’t Be Pro-life If We’re Not Anti-Poverty

Planned Parenthood celebrated its 100-year anniversary last October. Since 1916, founder Margaret Sanger’s vision for this organization, reflected in its very name, was that every child be a wanted child. But underneath this mantra lay an ambition of systematic eugenics along with her belief that “the most merciful thing that a large family does to one of its infant members is to kill it.”

Planned Parenthood has performed approximately 7 million abortions of the 57 million pre-born lives ended since abortion was legalized. And that’s just here in the United States. To put that number in perspective, 57 million is about one-sixth of the U.S. population and rivals the number of atrocities committed by Joseph Stalin. This number would be similar to the genocide of the entire nation of South Africa, or South Korea, or Spain.

Further, of that 57 million, minorities are disproportionately represented. African-Americans make up less than 13 percent of the total population in the United States yet comprise between 30-35 percent of abortions. In fact, a black American woman is five times more likely to have an abortion than a white American woman.

Among professing Christians, abortion is rightly decried as a modern-day Holocaust, the killing of millions of defenseless unborn lives under the political protection of court systems and the facilitation of taxpayer funding.

Pro-life convictions are in our spiritual DNA. As far back as the second century, the early church condemned the practice of abortion, a stance that contributed to twice as many women converting to Christianity than men.

But there’s another characteristic of the early church that doesn’t seem to have the same urgency here in America, at least not in our conversations on important social issues. And it happens to be inextricably linked to the prevalence of abortions in our communities: If we’re going to be truly pro-life, we must also be anti-poverty.

Consider this: In 2014, 49 percent of women who had abortion procedures had incomes at the federal poverty level, i.e., a single woman with no children living on $11,670 year or less. (An additional 26 percent of women who had abortions in 2014 had incomes between $11,670 and $23,340 per year.) Inability to afford a child is among the top reasons a woman has an abortion; a 2004 study found that 74 percent of women having an abortion cited financial constraints.

What organizations like Planned Parenthood leave out of their marketing strategies is how much money they make off a woman in poverty.

Put yourself in her shoes: A new mother can expect to spend about $2,400 on diapers, formula and baby food alone. And that doesn’t count the cost of things like furniture, clothes or childcare. And it doesn’t even include the medical bills for labor and delivery (which average over $9,000). Perhaps she could apply for government assistance, like the WIC program? In that case, she must not earn more than $2,500 a month without losing the additional income. This means she will be caught in the limbo of not earning enough to support herself and her child independently, but not earning so much that she is unqualified for financial help.

For the single woman with an unplanned pregnancy living on less than $12,000 per year, raising a child seems impossible. For her, a five- to 10-minute procedure at a neighborhood clinic for about $450 seems like a way out.

Perhaps this reinforces why pro-life advocacy that focuses on the mother rather than the unborn child has proven more effective. According to a study titled “Profile of a Woman with an Unplanned Pregnancy,” a woman may agree that having an abortion means killing an unborn child and even agree that abortion is morally wrong. However, as the study explains, “that is the price a woman in that situation is willing to pay in her desperate struggle for what she believes to be her very survival.” The woman with an unplanned pregnancy believes her entire life is at stake.

Yet, in her fear and uncertainty, the woman considering an abortion will likely not hear about her increased risk of addiction, eating disorders or future infertility, along with the shame, guilt and difficulty in relationships she will likely endure. To quote the study again: “The terrible miscalculation of young women is that abortion can make them ‘unpregnant,’ that it will restore them to who they were before their crisis. But a woman is never the same once she is pregnant, whether the child is kept, adopted, or killed.” These are the life-altering realities that a woman having an abortion may not discover until she has to live with them.

And this is how the abortion industry exploits economically vulnerable women.

This isn’t to say that all issues should have the same priority. But it does mean we cannot afford to be morally selective. We cannot work to end abortion while being ignorant of, or unmoved by, the social and economic factors that often contribute to it.

If we, as the people of God, considered the abortion-vulnerable woman as our responsibility, perhaps she wouldn’t feel like an abortion was her only option. Perhaps she wouldn’t feel quite so alone.

Our spiritual forefathers considered care for the poor an essential practice of our Christian faith (Galatians 2:10, see also 1 John 3:18, Proverbs 31:8-9). The apostle James even makes this an issue of discipleship, one that proves the validity of our saving faith (James 2:14-17). He asks what good it does if we see someone’s material need, tell her to live as though her need has been met, yet do nothing to contribute to her situation. For James, this would undermine our very profession of faith. How much more would it undermine our pro-life message?

Have we who claim the name of Christ abdicated our responsibility of care for the poor among us, especially economically vulnerable women, to state-sponsored programs? Or worse, do we become dismissive, and even perhaps a bit cynical, when our government attempts to fulfill our ministry?

If we’re going to speak up for the unborn, we have to speak up for the poor. If we’re really pro-life, we must also be anti-poverty.

Katie McCoy is assistant professor of theology in women’s studies at the College at Southwestern, the undergraduate school of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. This article first appeared on

First SBTC Disaster Relief unit of its kind now online in Houston

HOUSTON—Last November, Scottie Stice prayed for 25 new disaster relief units. When the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention director of disaster relief announced at an SBTC executive board orientation in 2015 his hope that four or five units per year would “come online,” newly elected SBTC president Nathan Lino, pastor of Northeast Houston Baptist Church (NEHBC), exclaimed, “We want one of those!”

This December, NEHBC got its pastor’s wish when DR task force member Doug Scott transported an inactive recovery unit from San Antonio to the Houston-area church.

“The trailer is set up for clean-up and recovery,” Scott said. “There’s chainsaw capability. It is also set up for mud-out. It has everything you would need to go in and clean up a house.”

The Northeast Houston unit is the first of its kind in the greater Houston area. “We are expecting great things down here,” Scott said.

Last spring’s severe East Texas floods precipitated NEHBC’s interest in disaster relief. Stice said that more than 1,000 disaster relief volunteers were trained in the Houston area, many at Lino’s church.

“We are short of units in Houston,” Stice confirmed, noting the age of the membership of NEHBC as an added bonus. “Most of our units are manned by older volunteers. This one is at a much younger church. We are happy.”

Lonnie Galyean, director of the church’s unit, expressed surprise at the scarcity of DR units in Houston. “I thought it was important to establish one here at least as a foothold,” Galyean said. “Hopefully we can get other churches involved to also have units.”

Plans to feature the new DR unit at the church’s January ministries and missions fair are under way, Galyean said. Many members served in the DR feeding ministry headquartered at First Baptist Humble during the spring floods.

SBTC DR is edging closer to Stice’s goal of 25 new deployable units. Stice said that some 12 disaster relief units are in various stages of development at SBTC churches across the state, including New Life Baptist Church (Primera Iglesia Bautista Nueva Vida) in Dallas, First Baptist Church of Borger, Mission Dorado Baptist Church in Odessa and First Baptist Church of Bellville.

In addition to new recovery units, SBTC DR added a command center, bunkhouse and new UTV this fall.

The command center is housed in a trailer pulled by a Ford F-250 pickup truck and contains an office, computer stations, a generator, desks and satellite capability.

The 53-foot, four-room bunkhouse sleeps 14 and features a kitchenette, bathroom and shower. It will provide much-needed living quarters when units deploy to smaller churches or when facilities are overwhelmed.

DR task force member Mike Northen recalled a deployment to Port Arthur when the team had to sleep in a parking lot because the city had been evacuated. “It was hot, humid, and full of mosquitoes. The bunkhouse would have been very, very helpful.”

Mike Jansen, SBTC DR task force member, added that a new ADA compliant laundry and shower unit was also in development in response to repeated requests for accessible facilities.

SBTC DR acquired a new Kubota RTV500 utility task vehicle to accompany the Kawasaki mule already in use. Stice confirmed that one or both UTVs will accompany SBTC DR units whenever deployed.

“The potential [for a disaster] is always there. That’s up to the Lord. He gets our attention through disasters and many people come to know the Lord through disasters,” Doug Scott said.

—Bill Bumpas contributed to this article.

2016 Disaster Relief By the Numbers

  • 5,066 volunteer days
  • 22 different disasters
  • 786 recovery sites
  • 172,283 meals prepared for victims and responders
  • 5,489 showers provided
  • 2,684 loads of laundry done
  • 696 gospel presentations
  • 195 people professing faith in Jesus Christ


2017 SBTC Disaster Relief Training Calendar

  • January 14 Phase 1 Intro to DR | First Baptist Rosehill, Tomball
  • February 10 Phase 2 | Hillcrest Baptist Church, Jasper
  • February 11 Phase 1 Intro to DR | Hillcrest Baptist Church, Jasper
  • February 27 Phase 1 | Irving Convention Center at Las Colinas, Irving (Empower Conference pre-session)
  • March 11 Phase 1 Intro to DR | First Baptist Church, Madisonville
  • May 1 Phase 1 Intro to DR | Panfork Baptist Encampment, Wellington
  • May 2 Phase 2 | Panfork Baptist Encampment, Wellington
  • October 6 Phase 2 | Flint Baptist Church, Flint
  • October 7 Phase 1 Intro to DR | Flint Baptist Church, Flint

2016: Year in Review

Since I’m not a prophet I will not try to forecast what will happen in 2017; however, I have 2020 hindsight vision. Here are some notable moments in review of 2016.

The day after Christmas 2015 a tornado rampaged through Rowlett. The Southern Baptists of Texas Convention Disaster Relief responded quickly. It was my privilege to preach at FBC Rowlett on Jan. 3, 2016, at the request of Pastor Cole Hedgecock. God moved mightily in the worship time, and doors of ministry continue today because of God’s people serving in times of trial.

I preached 38 times in 2016. I count it a privilege to serve the SBTC, but the preaching ministry will always be my first calling. I did three Revelation Studies, a January Bible Study and numerous testimony opportunities.

As a state executive director I attend meetings with the North American Mission Board, SBC Executive Committee, strategy sessions with other state execs and the Southern Baptist Convention Annual Meeting. Many in-state SBTC events are also a part of my calendar throughout the year.

As most of you know, I had extensive open-heart surgery May 4. The doctor replaced my aortic valve and repaired an aneurysm. Some minor complications slowed my recovery, but in about a month I was able to resume a limited schedule. Pastor Adam Dooley at FBC Sunnyvale was gracious enough to let me preach my “coming out sermon” on July 17. At the end of September my cardiologist released me from any restrictions.

Just nine days after my surgery one of my closest friends, Joe Senn, passed away. He had answered the call to preach under my ministry. Later we pastored neighboring churches for a number of years. We traveled to seminary together. Our two oldest children grew up together. His legacy with his family will live on. He will always be a part of my life. Joe never pastored a mega church. His last pastorate was located in cotton fields on the bank of a bayou. There are no small pastorates in God’s economy.

Highlights in the SBTC are too numerous to list. The Empower Conference in February was extraordinary. The Equip Conference had over 1,100 staff and laypersons trained in local church ministry. Perhaps the capstone event was the SBTC Annual Meeting. President Nathan Lino gave direction to the program that revolutionized our gathering. Prayer and preaching took the forefront. While we did some necessary business, the Annual Meeting became a spiritual mountaintop experience. I’m already looking forward to November 2017 at Criswell College.

I know I left out many significant happenings for 2016. A presidential election, an excessive number of natural disasters, and historical sporting accomplishments dominated the news. The most important part of 2016 is our faithfulness to the Lord Jesus. To be able to advance the gospel and be a part of the work of God is greater than any headline.

My prayer is that 2017 will be the year our Lord Jesus returns. If he does not, I want to be found doing his will for his glory. Join me in 2017 as we serve him together in the SBTC.

Happy New Year!