A stop on Interstate 20 that cuts the three-hour drive from Birmingham to Atlanta in half is teeming with a passion for life, as 23 new local churches have joined hands with Sav-A-Life Calhoun County over the past six months.
As the newly forged relationships double Sav-A-Life's total partner churches to a 45, the organization has had plenty more to celebrate in recent months. Earlier in the week, the organization hit its "Baby Bottle Boomerang" campaign goal of $40,000, while its number of churches, businesses, and families giving on an on-going basis have all doubled since the end of 2014.
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The "culprit" of Sav-A-Life's sudden growth is Kirk Walden's 2013 book, "The Wall: Rebuilding a culture of life in America and ending abortion as we know it." Inspired by the book's collaborative vision, Sav-A-Life executive director Michelle Payne enlisted the help of local videographer Jason Smith of Vital Productions and local pastor Dennis Smith of Covenant Life Ministry to produce a video that was sent, along with a copy of "The Wall," to 100 area churches in time for Sanctity of Life Sunday.
The video introduces Sav-A-Life, and invites viewers to link arms in organization's life-saving outreach.
"The Wall Partner Project has been an unbelievable tool for our ministry," Payne said. "[M]ost of all, the Wall Project has helped us to build new relationships, has given us the privilege of praying for others in our community, has provided us with the opportunity to breathe a little easier regarding finances, and has allowed us to be a part of God's mighty defense of the innocent in Calhoun County.
"Because if all life is not valuable, who deems the worthy?"
With a four-person staff, the center saw well over 1,000 clients in the past year, offering free pregnancy testing, ultrasound, options counseling, and a robust Earn While You Learn program that features over 100 classes, ranging from pregnancy and parenting to life skills and Bible studies.
Moms and families who participate in the classes are eligible for ongoing material help through the organization's "Baby Boutique," which Payne joked looked more like "Old Mother Hubbard's cupboard" at the end of last year, but now overflows with items for families.
"If it hadn't been for Sav-A-Life and the people who work there, I really don't know where I'd be right now," a former client says in the video. "They brought me back to Christ and they just helped me out tremendously. I was scared, I didn't know what to do, and I really, really thank the people that are there. I don't know where I'd be. I don't know if I'd have had my children or not."
Sav-A-Life has recently added an abstinence-based sexual education program in local schools and churches, and utilizes Surrendering the Secret curriculum for post-abortive healing and help. The organization also serves families through its fatherhood initiative, and expanded into a second location near Jacksonville State University, a campus with an enrollment just under 9,000 students.
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"Over 30 years ago, a group of women in our community saw a need," Payne says in the video. "So many ladies were choosing death over life for their babies, and most of the time it was simply because of a lack of education or support. This group decided to provide a safe haven for women in crisis pregnancy situations.
"Since 1983, they have helped over 20,000 women, including myself, which gives me a unique perspective as the director of Sav-A-Life today."