This year marks the 35th anniversary of Lifeline’s ministry and our work in Birmingham, the United States and the nations. What an incredible blessing it’s been to look back at our history and see God’s faithful hand at work each and every step of the way. His faithful hand of provision is so abundantly evident as we reflect on the many lives which have been impacted in the last 35 years. Recently, I had the opportunity to sit down with one of our founders, Wales Goebel. I wanted you to hear from his heart and the journey which started 35 years ago as we look back on all God has done….
To the Lifeline Family:
In 1973, the Roe v. Wade decision legalized abortion in America. I thought the church would stand against this decision and stand for the unborn children, but I was wrong. So I told my wife, Jean, that we had to do something to help these hurting girls and these babies; my heart was aching. I told the Board of Wales Goebel Ministries that God was asking me to work with pregnant girls. I believed that if I could talk to them about their child and plead with them to protect that child from abortion; I could share with them the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Out of this burden, in the wake of the pro-life and pro-choice controversy, Sav-A-Life was born in 1980.
Later that year, a 15 year old girl came to my office to speak with me. She told me that she wouldn’t be able to keep the baby she was carrying. I didn’t have any other resources for how to care for this child at this time. She asked me earnestly, “Mr. Goebel, I want you to make a promise, that if I give up my baby, you’ll make sure it goes to a Christian home.” Her request was the seed of the dream God gave me for Lifeline.
During an interview with the Birmingham News, I shared a vision to start an adoption ministry. The reporter asked me if I was qualified, and I assured her that I was not. Simultaneously in Birmingham, John Carr was working in the Huffman area at a home for children. When the article was published in the paper, he called me and expressed his desire to be involved in a Christian ministry like the adoption ministry I had shared about with the reporter. He and his wife had enough money in savings to live on for one year. So they began to pray about starting Lifeline and living on faith and their savings for the first year. As God affirmed this plan, we began to pursue a license from the Department of Human Resources in Montgomery. After several hard weeks of work on the litany of paperwork, DHR denied Lifeline the application for licensure. We continued to pray for God to provide a way.
A few weeks later, I received a call from a friend in Mississippi. He invited me to a meeting in Washington DC called The Christian Roundtable. This was a gathering for conservative, Christian leaders. At the meeting, the tables were organized by state. So I sat separately from my friend with other leaders from Alabama. I was seated next to a lady who asked about my work. As I began to share about my desire to help young women, the woman’s excitement grew as she voiced her support of the pro-life movement. She asked me how she could pray for us, and I shared with her my vision for an adoption ministry and the recent obstacles we had faced with DHR. She said, “Mr. Goebel, I believe I can help you. My name is Mrs. Bobbie James and my husband is Fob James, the governor of Alabama.” Mrs. James shared her business card with me and the number to the governor’s mansion. I called later that week, and she organized a meeting for me and John to come to Montgomery to meet with the Governor. The meeting was a formality, and Lifeline was granted licensure in Alabama that very week in August 1981.
John Carr and I implemented a policy that every couple would write out a testimony of their faith in Christ before they adopted. I wanted to be sure that the request the first girl had made for a Christian family would be guaranteed for every child. Upon this foundation, Lifeline was founded and became the bridge between young women in unplanned pregnancy, and families that God was asking to care for these children.
The ministry of Lifeline was not organized by man, this was of God. Just like God rose up Moses to bring the Israelites out of Egypt. Or like David, it wasn’t his strength in the stones that killed Goliath, it was God’s. We can look back now and see all the miracles that took place, and one thing is for sure, Lifeline was created by God. God created this ministry so the name of Jesus Christ would be shared. Christ didn’t come into the world to establish Lifeline. Jesus Christ went to the cross to save the souls of people. Hudson Taylor said, “God’s work, done in God’s way, will never lack God’s supply.”
In God’s Work,
I have been serving as Lifeline’s Executive Director for the past 13 years. The values, mission and vision that Wales shared is the same driving force behind every step that we take today. As we end this 35thanniversary year of ministry, would you join us in our mission to continue impacting lives around the globe for the Gospel of Jesus Christ? Our remaining need is $451,524. Will you join us in God’s work today?
Written by Herbie Newell, Executive Director & President of Lifeline