Abundant Life: Engaging the Local Church to Support Adoption (Transcript)

Dr. James Dobson: Welcome everyone to Family Talk. It's a ministry of the James Dobson Family Institute, supported by listeners just like you. I'm Dr. James Dobson, and I'm thrilled that you've joined us.

Roger Marsh: Hello, and welcome to Dr. James Dobson's Family Talk. I'm Roger Marsh. Thanks so much for joining us, and as always, thank you for making us a part of your day. Now on today's program, you're going to hear a compelling conversation that was conducted just last week by our own Dr. Tim Clinton, focusing on grassroots pro-life activation. The Scripture says in Matthew 18:20, "For where two or three are gathered together in My name, there I am in the midst of them."

Well that is what is happening up in the Pacific Northwest right now. As you're about to hear, two godly servants who work for separate ministries have joined forces to minister in their communities, and they've joined with us to explain an online and live event that's happening tomorrow. Yes, Saturday, October 1st. The event will focus on the new ecosystem of pro-life in which the local church works to encourage life over abortion and adoption as a beautiful and viable solution for those in crisis and those in need. Well there is so much to cover today, so let's go there right now. Here is our own Dr. Tim Clinton and his special guests on today's edition of Family Talk.

Dr. Tim Clinton: The ushering in of the post-Roe v. Wade pro-life ecosystem. That's right, we now have a new state of laws in many sections of the country protecting babies in the womb. With that comes more opposition, more challenges, and one thing is certain. There will be more kids that need our help at every stage of development.

In this fight against abortion, now is the time for the Church, big C, to step up and into this moment to protect the pre-born, and it comes straight out of God's word. James 1:27 says, "Religion that is pure and undefiled before God the Father is this, to visit the widows and orphans in their affliction and to keep ourselves unstained from the world."

Our guests today on Family Talk understand the importance of mobilizing the church to protect life and to integrate adoption into the pro-life movement as a means to a positive outcome and a happy life for every child. They are Beth Burns and Zeke Bambolo.

Let me tell you a little bit about our two guests before we get started. Beth Burns serves as executive director of Abundant Life, a nonprofit organization focused on advancing gospel-centered, I like that, life-affirming work up in the Pacific Northwest. Since 2016, she has worked within this organization translating her passion for the sanctity of life and the unity of the body of Christ into tangible service.

Ezechiel "Zeke" Bambolo, I'm going to call him Zeke the rest of the broadcast, serves as executive director of Antioch Adoptions, a nonprofit Christian agency in Washington State, with a goal of making family a reality for every foster child currently on the path to adoption. He was born in Liberia, West Africa, and came to the United States in 1991 as a result of the civil war in that country. Despite social and emotional trials caused by war, he became a successful collegiate athlete and student. As a firstborn son, Zeke accepted the challenge given by his father to embrace God's biblical instructions for that role. Ezechiel restored his family from destruction and chaos to peace and unity.

Beth and Zeke, welcome to Family Talk. We're so delighted both of you could join us.

Zeke Bambolo: Thank you so much for having us.

Beth Burns: Thank you so much, Tim. It is an honor to be here.

Dr. Tim Clinton: As we get started, let me go straight to the Supreme Court ruling on the Dobbs decision and the dawn of what people are calling the post-Roe era. What are both of you seeing? And I guess I'll go to you, Beth, first, out on the front lines of the pro-life movement. What are some of the specific needs, resources, support that's needed in this new post-Roe v. Wade era?

Beth Burns: Oh, thank you, Tim. Can you believe that we woke up June 25th, 2022, in post-Roe America? I'm still just pinching myself.

Dr. Tim Clinton: What an amazing day it was, really.

Beth Burns: Right?

Dr. Tim Clinton: Yes.

Beth Burns: Where it comes to tangible resources, God's economy is endless, and I don't want to sound with too much bravado, but the reality is that He provides for His people, and we haven't run into a situation yet where there's a mother with a need, and we can't find what she needs. But what we are short on often is hope, activity, and response from the church or even conversation within the church. And so, what we see in post-Roe America, especially in Washington State, is an initial response of, "well this doesn't change anything for us, and that grieves me. Whenever I have the opportunity." I say, "No, no, this changes everything for us." This is what we've been working towards and praying for. And even in a state like Washington, as left as we are, we have hope and we have a chance, and the Lord loves to work with a remnant.

We see the church now opening the doors in a way that we haven't seen. We have had the opportunity ourselves to go in and do some pro-life apologetics trainings and just talk about, what does this mean from a biblical worldview? How do we engage this in a winsome and loving way in a state like ours or in any of the states, and what do we do next? And so we're excited to see the church standing up and having those conversations and really starting to rally the troops.

Dr. Tim Clinton: Yeah, it is so encouraging to see the stirring that's going on, and it seems like people are beginning to move collectively, if you will, in a direction of life. Now Zeke, what are you seeing on the front lines? And by the way, welcome. It's such a delight to have you on the broadcast, too.

Zeke Bambolo: Thank you, Dr. Clinton. Yeah, I think I will take my approach on that question from the aspect of birth mothers. I love to see that transformation from the church giving the resources that says birth mother, despite of those fears of complication and other things, will say, I've got to fight for life and rather than fight for death. So how do we transform that conversation in the minds and the hearts of mothers across this nation that have been told for many years that it's a constitutional right to have an abortion, as opposed to saying no, it's more of a constitutional right to give life to that baby or those babies in your tummy, right? So how do we do that?

So I think when you ask this question, that's where it hits home. The adoption side of, are we giving every opportunity with the network that you hear from Abundant Life and what they stand for? Are we giving every opportunity as the church for birth mothers to not be swindled into thinking that the Roe v. Wade gave them a constitutional right for abortion? But no, it's a whole new language that needs to be brought to the table that gives them a choice for life, God-given life, God's affirming life.

Dr. Tim Clinton: As you look at culture for a moment and look inside Christianity, in a lot of ways through the years, people have operated in silo ministries, meaning they focus on their little world, and they stay locked in it. One of the things that has been exposed again is our need to collaborate, to come together. Connect the dots here between the two of you for a moment. Bethany, you're out there with Abundant Life. Zeke, you're out there with Antioch Adoptions. Where's this relationship begin and what's its significance?

Beth Burns: Well I've known of Antioch Adoptions for years. I've known of Antioch Bible Church and Ken Hutcherson and respected and admired the legacy that Ken left. And so as we launched Abundant Life in 2016, really it was birthed out of sidewalk ministry. So we had moms in front of us that were willing to make a choice for life but had a myriad of needs. It was never a simple story. I've yet to meet that mom that chooses life, gets married, butterflies and rainbows, family welcomes her back in. It happens, but it's not the common story. And so we set out to bring together the various organizations that do this work. So a lot of people would say, "Well that really rests on the shoulder of the pregnancy clinic." Well, what about the adoption agencies? What about the homes that are teaching these moms that came out of foster system how to do laundry and to budget for a meal?

And so as we did this work and started gathering these various resources around the table, Antioch was always in our sights. We love Antioch. Everybody falls in love with Zeke the minute that they meet him, so it was pretty easy story. But we were working with an adoption agency. It was 30 to $50,000 to do an adoption through that agency, and that just grieved us. And so as we heard more and learned more about the amazing model that Ken Hutcherson and Pat and those that founded Antioch came up with, it was clear that this was a partner that we needed to have, and it was a different model.

It was looking for what is God doing that's different than what we see in the world, because He always does things in a different and much better way than what we see around us. So that's really what brought us to sit down for lunch with Zeke, and the rest is history. We've been partnering closely ever since.

Zeke Bambolo: Dr. Clinton, I would just go back to giving a lot of honor where honor is due to Dr. Dobson, who was an incredible friend with Dr. Ken Hutcherson. And the encouragement of what Antioch Adoption stands for and how we have collaborated with Abundant Life begins with an example that was set by Dr. Hutcherson and Dr. Dobson. And I say that because Antioch has been around for some 22 years, and we've always stood, if you want to say, against the current, because we are a simple, small, for the most part part-time agency in terms of our staff.

But the idea of looking at Christ-centered work authentically, not compromising unapologetically, has been why Dr. Hutcherson, with the help of a friend like Dr. Dobson, decided we want to create an agency that will never charge a penny for any adoption we do. We will never take a penny from the state or federal government because we want it to be God's work done God's way. We want to make sure that we remove every barrier existing to adoption to make sure that kids in foster care, all private mothers in crisis, will have a place to say, "Yes, we can trust our baby here," or, "We can trust our lives here." And it's not just the baby. It's also restoring birth mom after a place of crisis that she finds herself in and birth father.

So it's a very holistic view, but it's all centered on Christ. And Abundant Life was a welcoming opportunity to see another entity that said, "We want to do Christ affirming work. We don't want to do it and compromise with everybody said to be liked, do it this way. We want our God to say, 'Well done, good and faithful servant.'" So that's where we are. And when we found them and the network that they have created for this pro-life ecosystem, it's a no brainer. This is where we belong, and this is the church's best opportunity to respond to Roe v. Wade and beyond, and give moms and babies' lives an opportunity.

Dr. Tim Clinton: So this ecosystem that's existing is really beginning to pick up even greater momentum now, especially in this post-Roe era. That's what I wanted to get across. And you guys, by the way, again, are in the Pacific Northwest, known as an extremely, again, liberal area, some would say almost unchurched section of the country. By the way, do you guys think Seattle gets a bad rap, or can you give us a little inside baseball on what's happening up there?

Zeke Bambolo: Well I'm going to jump on that one, Beth.

Beth Burns: Okay.

Zeke Bambolo: I'm going to jump on that one. I think...

Dr. Tim Clinton: Zeke, go ahead.

Zeke Bambolo: We're working a system where we are under pressure all the time to compromise who we are biblically and not be able to express that. But I'm an African, I've been in a civil war. One of the best opportunities to step up is when you're under pressure. I'm an athlete, as well, and they say, "Hey, you're in the zone," or, "You're not in the zone." If you're in the zone, it doesn't care who's doing what. You're moving forward. You're creating incredible opportunities. So yes, even if that's the nature of it, God does His best work in the worst and dark places, and we're okay with that.

Beth Burns: Yeah, and how do you not want to partner with a guy like this? I swear he's just my constant coach. He was reminding me recently, "Don't look to the left, don't look to the right. Keep your eyes on where God has you going." And so, yeah, it's a tough area, but I think that what I've really learned is the people that live here are the best equipped missionaries to those that we're reaching. We know the culture, we've grown up in it. That is challenging at times to be able to see the trees for the forest, but the reality is that God has us here with a purpose.

We got to go to the Love Life California conference where Jack Hibbs spoke, and he really touched me when he talked about growing up in California and that California is the laughing stock of the nation, if not the world, is what he said. And he stopped, he said, "But I'm jealous for California." And I think God really did something in my heart in that moment to remind me that it's not over, that it's time to fight for this. And that's not to say that there may not be a time for leaving, but that's not today. We've got a lot of work to do, and if all the light leaves Washington, it's going to be a dark place. I'm thankful for Zeke and his family and the many, many families that we partner with through these ministries that are bringing light to a dark place.

Dr. Tim Clinton: I can just imagine Dr. Dobson right now, whispering in my ear saying, "Tim, tell them, make sure that they stay strong and encourage them to be courageous for such a time as this, because we need that in this day and time." Let me take this a step further. So in light of what we've been talking about, you all are hosting an event, a Love Life conference. You want to take us there and tell us what that's all about and how our listeners, by the way, who may be involved in pro-life ministry at various levels, can come into the fold, if you will, and be encouraged and challenged and to develop that backbone that we need to have in this hour.

Beth Burns: Zeke and I had the opportunity to go to the Love Life California conference, and that was just in January, and we were just blown away. We've known… Love Life isn't just the name of the conference. It's an outstanding national organization. Their role is to educate, encourage, and equip the church to create a culture of love and life, and that's happening all over the United States. And where we're really focused on bringing together and encouraging and equipping the 501(c)(3) nonprofits that are doing the tangible work to help these families, their focus is on the church.

And so as nonprofits, we know we really can't do much without the church. We are dependent upon the people, upon their resources, upon their time, and their giftings to make this work happen. So obviously it starts with the church, and we recognized a real need in our state in an area, like you said, that is perceived as being very unchurched. We have a lot of churches, but I think we all tend to feel at times like there's not really anything we can do to affect real change. And so this conference is really designed to encourage and equip and educate them on exactly what you can do tangibly to step in and make a difference, because there are so many ways that I was unaware of growing up in the church, with very pro-life parents, of what people are really doing day in and day out in this fear of either helping in post-abortive recovery, or helping with their transportation needs for moms and their families, or making sure that there's housing programs that are solid and pointing to Christ, but also giving practical life skills to these moms and families that need to get to the next level, on and on and on. There's just so many things that I was unaware of that we're excited to get to put in front of the church and say, "Look, it's so much richer than what maybe has been told to you in these recent years."

Dr. Tim Clinton: Let me make sure I get this right. This is a one day, all day, in person, online streaming conference. Again, it's called the Love Life Conference, and the mission is really to help educate, train, equip people to do this kind of ministering collaboration in light of all the changes. Everything's moving so fast, and this is the moment. And by the way, this is coming up very quick. This is like October 1st, right?

Zeke Bambolo: Correct.

Dr. Tim Clinton: That's tomorrow.

Beth Burns: Right.

Dr. Tim Clinton: Again, it's coming live from Cedar Park Church out of...

Zeke Bambolo: Bothell, Washington.

Dr. Tim Clinton: Yeah, Zeke, what's your take on it?

Zeke Bambolo: Yeah.

Dr. Tim Clinton: Why should people participate, be a part of what's taking place tomorrow, October 1st?

Zeke Bambolo: Yes, when you look at the need for the church to respond to this Roe v. Wade conversation, I think there's no better opportunity to really understand, learn, equip, be encouraged of how to do that than what the Love Life Conference has to offer. And so you have an opportunity, yes, attend in person if you're in Washington State, but you have the opportunity to also attend by livestream from wherever you are around the world, around the country. And what we want people to walk away, most of all, with is this idea of understanding how the church can really see collaboration in effect, to present great opportunities to mothers in crisis, present great opportunities to babies that need, whether it's adoption or treatment or a home, the temporary home for a mom in crisis. All of these entities working together to say, here is the church's answer. Protesting has a place, no doubt, but here's the church's real answer to the value of all of these entities collaborating to say, we want to do Christ-centered work right now in response to this conversation around Roe v. Wade.

Dr. Tim Clinton: So I'm thinking if you're listening out there and you feel a tug in your heart, in your spirit, about being involved in pro-life ministry, this would be a perfect event for you to be a part of. If you are a part of an agency and you're out there getting after it, and you're trying to figure out how to collaborate and stay on the cutting edge or the leading edge, especially in this moment, this is that kind of an event. Beth, let me throw it back to you. What's the URL? How do people find out more information? Where do they go?

Beth Burns: You bet. Yeah, they can go to lovelifewashington.org. That's Washington spelled out, lovelifewashington.org, and our livestream tickets are available for $9.97. We've also got general admission if you're in Washington State or near enough to drive for $59. You can get group tickets as low as $39 with a group of 10 or more, if you're willing to pull people together last minute. We'd like to see you do it.

Dr. Tim Clinton: No, that's more than reasonable, and what a beautiful opportunity. The URL, the website, again, where they can go?

Beth Burns: Lovelifewashington.org.

Dr. Tim Clinton: Lovelifewashington.org. I'm told one of the differentiators about your organization is the consistency factor. You guys grind it out without fail every month. You've been doing it since 2016. Do you think that has really just kept the attention and the focus where it needed to be?

Beth Burns: Yeah, it's remarkable what God does through these meetings. So we started meeting in 2016 with just three organizations, about five individuals in Snohomish County in Washington. And in these six years, God has grown that to a 36-partner organizations across Washington State. We meet in three different regions because our meetings grew too large. We had to branch off. So every single month, we have these great meetings where we are really just living out the Galatians charge to bear one another's burdens. There's not a lot of people you can sit down with, look in the eye, and they can understand what it is to be the only person who ever saw this little baby on an ultrasound monitor before their mother did decide to go and have an abortion. You were the only one to pray for them and to love them or to be walking alongside mothers who did choose life and are just in the mire and need to help unravel their situation and get them to a place of health and hope.

There's just so many different ways that these Christians are pouring into these moms and families, and being together is a huge buoy for them and for all of us. I feel kind of guilty. This is my job and I get to go into these meetings, and I leave so refreshed and so encouraged because that's what happens when we bring the body of Christ together. It's remarkable to see how many believers that have been called into this work and are ready to join in. Just like Zeke said, they find their safe place where they know that things aren't going to be changing with the tides of culture. We are founded on Scripture and we're not moving.

Dr. Tim Clinton: Yeah, it reminds me of Henry Blackaby's words, what he would say, "Find out where God's working and get there. Get there with everything you've got." And Zeke, in sports, they say this. 90% of success is showing up. You've got to show up and then get after it. But Zeke, as you listen to Beth talk, and I know you're itching, but where do you see Antioch Adoptions going, and where do you see the whole pro-life movement going over the next five or 10 years, or what's your prayer?

Zeke Bambolo: I think this is a great launch pad. Antioch Adoption and the uniqueness of what we do with our adoption processes and where others may be charging thousands of dollars, 70, 80,000, we're saying, do not charge a penny. Dr. Hutcherson said, "No money should exchange hand for the life of any child." But I want to just echo this, Dr. Clinton, as we wrap this up, is that, look, we want to see the same thing that Abundant Life has created this network right here in Washington State of all places, all around the country. The opportunity, it's there, it's great. Like she said, she's being humble, there's nothing great and unique, but it's ingenuity behind this, innovative aspect of it says, what can the church do? And we worry about all of our silos or our boundaries. We do it this way, they do it that way. And they say, "Put that all aside." We say, "Put your egos and your logos by the side, and let's come and work together." And let's see the church all across this nation doing this particular aspect of collaborating and giving every answer to giving birth mothers a way to choose life over death.

Dr. Tim Clinton: Bethany, I'm going to give you the closing word here.

Beth Burns: Yeah, I think that the move is the churches. God is so faithful when we do join into that work that He's doing. I spent my life early on really convinced that my husband and I met and married in worship ministry. That's where we were supposed to go. That's not what God had for me. And it wasn't until I finally got on my knees and said, "Lord, what would You have me do," that all the doors started opening, and it became very clear what the path was. I think that's true for each and every one of us individually and as churches, is to say, "Lord, what would You have us do? Where would You have us serve?" And it's very clear all throughout Scripture that His heart is for these little children. His heart is for His people, and that when we join in that work, He'll do miraculous things. Zeke and I have just been blown away to see what He's done with our fish and loaves.

Dr. Tim Clinton: Our special guests, again, today have been Beth Burns. She is the executive director of Abundant Life. It's a nonprofit organization focused on advancing gospel-centered, life-affirming work in the Pacific Northwest, and Zeke Bambolo, Jr. He is the executive director of Antioch Adoptions, nonprofit Christian agency there again in Washington State, with the goal of making family a reality for every foster child currently on the path to adoption.

You know what I take away here from our conversation, how Heaven must be rejoicing at the good work of what's happening at Abundant Life and Antioch Adoptions, and we applaud that work in and through you both. I want to make sure our listeners, again, have an opportunity and listen, if you have any interest in or you're involved in pro-life ministry, the Love Life Conference is tomorrow, October 1st, all day, 8:00 A.M. to 5:00 P.M. at Cedar Park Church if you're in the state of Washington. Get there if you can or you can livestream it, and the event promises to be a real bastion of hope and education and encouragement to advance the cause of Christ through pro-life ministry. Again, on behalf of Dr. Dobson, his wife, Shirley, their entire family, the Family Talk team, we salute you all. May God give you great courage and strength for such a time as this. Thank you for joining us.

Zeke Bambolo: Thank you for having us.

Beth Burns: Thank you, Dr. Clinton. It was an honor.

Roger Marsh: Wow, what an incredibly positive interview. Thank you so much for joining us and for listening in today. By the way, to learn more, go to antiochadoptions.org or you can send an email to foreverfamily@antiochadoptions.org. Also, to learn more about Abundant Life or to reach Beth Burns, simply go to abundantlifewa.org. That's abudantlifewa.org.

Now if you'd like to attend tomorrow's event online from literally anywhere around the world, if you have an internet connection, you can watch and learn, be informed and equipped, and fight for life, simply go to lovelife.org/washingtonconference. Let me say that one more time. That's lovelife.org/washingtonconference. Now there is a nominal cost involved to stream the entire eight hour conference, but you'll find it well worth the price of admission.

Keep in mind, the live speakers include Eric Metaxas, Seth Gruber, and former abortionist, Dr. Anthony Levatino, who serves now at The Life Institute. So don't forget, that's coming up tomorrow, Saturday, October 1st, 8:00 A.M. To 5:30 P.M. Pacific Time. Go to lovelife.org/washingtonconference. That's lovelife.org/washingtonconference.

I'm Roger Marsh. Thanks so much for listening today. May God continue to richly bless you and yours as you grow in relationship with Him, and be sure to join us again next time right here for another edition of Dr. James Dobson's Family Talk.

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