Herbie Newell on Engaging the Church to Care for the Vulnerable

Child WelfareAdoption


Nick Vujicic: Hello and welcome back to the Nick V TV talk show. Love you so much. Here on Stand For Life series I am so excited to have our next guest, Herbie Newell, President and Executive Director of Lifeline Children’s Services. Under his leadership, Lifeline really is engaged in helping many families throughout the nation to understand that as we all stand for life and as we talk about giving everyone an opportunity to understand that adoption is an option, when you look at America, we must admit that we can’t talk about pro-life without talking about the foster care system and the need for families to be forever homes for these children that need a home of love, hope, and peace.

And we all know that a home that has a foundation and faith in Jesus Christ is the most whole home that any child can be brought into. I personally, and my wife, have been so inspired by Lifeline and organization and here in the DFW area of Texas I’m so excited that my own local church as well, my home church, is heavily engaged in fostering and adopting right here in the Dallas area. Herbie flew in from Birmingham, Alabama from the headquarters just this morning to join me here in studio and I’m so excited.

Under Herbie’s leadership, I just want you to know that Lifeline, listen to this, has increased international outreach to 29 countries through adoption and strategic orphan care, obtained licenses as well in 17 states. So we’re not just talking about nationwide program, we’re talking about outreaching to the world through adoption. Herbie is a member of a core team of individuals representing the organizations that make up Stand For Life. That’s what we’ve been talking about, this collaborative, unified front of pro-life organizations, fully aligned, working hand in hand to engage with churches, to become the hands and feet, engage in the local community to do all that we can to shine that light and stand for life.

Herbie and Ashley share a passion for the unborn, the adoption, and the desire to spend their lives continuing to be advocates for the least of these. Here right now in the studio on this incredible series Stand for Life, where we are onramping onto our events that I’ll talk about later, in January, 2023. You’ll hear about that in a second, but first of all, would you right now welcome… If I had hands, I’d give you a little bit of a applause, Herbie, give me a fist bump. I love you brother.

Herbie Newell: Love you too, brother. Appreciate it.

Nick Vujicic: Thank you so much for coming. And the organization Lifeline, it’s such an epic, important part in the Stand for Life collaborative effort to really begin a movement throughout the nation of America. Tell us why Stand for Life is the movement, why Lifeline said, “We are in and we’re all in with.”

Herbie Newell: A hundred percent. I think for us everything starts with a theological framework and obviously we know that God created life purposefully on the sixth day. He makes all of creation in such order so that everything builds upon the next. And you get to day six and the Lord needed an image bearer to take care of all that he had made. To be the caretaker, but to be the explorer, to be the one that gets to see all the handiwork and take care of the handiwork.

Life is precious because it was made and formed by God and it’s the center place of all life, right? Jesus came not just to come to the world that he made, he came to redeem those that were made in his image.

Nick Vujicic: Amen.

Herbie Newell: And so as believers, if we are not passionately defending all life, then we’ve really lost our purpose because we want to ultimately stand up for life because ultimately we want life to be introduced to the… What you and I know, the wild, awesome, exhilarating ride of knowing Christ and making him known. And so as a ministry, how can you not be for life? In life that God created in his image?

And so it’s a privilege, but also we realize that if we don’t reach out and really care right now in our nation at this time that we have and in our world and reach out and speak out for life, then we really aren’t going and doing the things that the Lord asked us to do to bring reconciliation and restoration to this fallen world.

Nick Vujicic: Herbie, I want to first of all go back to your personal life. You and your family. How did this passion come about for life, for the value of all life?

Herbie Newell: So I mean, I have to give credit where credit is due and that goes back to my wife. So even when we were dating in college, she really already knew what she wanted to do. She had her plan. One, she wanted to work at a crisis pregnancy center and you know, you just don’t meet a lot of people who already know, “I want to go help women in crisis who are going through unplanned and crisis pregnancies.” And in high school she had several friends that had walked through crisis pregnancies, several of them who had considered abortion and she was able to counsel them to life. And so she actually, right out of school, started as the assistant director of a crisis pregnancy center. And so in a sense, our table at night became the place that we were praying for these women, that we discussed these cases that she was coming face to face with.

And to be honest with you, Nick, there were conflicts of belief even as we would see these broken women who maybe were struggling with substance abuse or maybe were in an abusive relationship or maybe just where at their end, their wits end. And yet here we were encouraging them to choose life and there was a conflict of belief even to say, “Is it enough just to have them choose life or do we need to be leaning in a little bit more? Do we need to be coming alongside of them? Do we need to be helping them? Does the story really end at the end of the postpartum ward or is there more that we need to be doing for these women and for these children? Not only to see life born, but ultimately see that life thrive and survive.”

Nick Vujicic: Amen. Well, God bless you in the ministry. The importance right now of the timing, America with the overturn of Roe vs. Wade-

Herbie Newell: That’s right.

Nick Vujicic: Post-Roe. Where are you hoping the Church of America awakens into for the next couple years and how does Lifeline play a part in that?

Herbie Newell: Yeah, I really hope that we look, in a sense, the same kind of epiphany that the Lord brought to my wife and I at our dining room table talking about these women. I really pray that the Lord would bring that to the church to say that our rhetoric can’t end at just wanting life to be born. We have to bring action to bear to see that life thrive and survive. And so I think as pro-life people, we’ve got to be honest with even the things that are being said. So right now you hear a pro-abortion side saying, “Well, there are going to be more kids in foster care.” And the truth of the matter is there will be more kids in foster care. And so the church, are we going to come alongside of our system and say, “How do we care for these kids?” Because of the 424,000 kids today in US foster care, there’s one thing in common about all of their moms, they chose life.

And so how are we going to say as pro-life people that we want to care for that life that is here, that’s living among us, that’s vulnerable. And so I hope the church will awaken and see that our moment now in this post-Roe world is to say, “We’re going to back up our rhetoric. We’re going to back up our political talk. We’re going to back up our voting for Supreme Court judges and we’re going to say we’re going to hit the streets now and we’re going to care.” And I think for pro-life people that’s got to start in our churches.

Nick Vujicic: That’s right.

Herbie Newell: In our communities, in our neighborhoods and our own homes.

Nick Vujicic: That’s right.

Herbie Newell: I think if Christian people aren’t teaching an appropriate sex ethic to their kids, then we’ve missed the boat. It’s got to start at our home. We’ve got to equip our kids to have these discussions out in the public space and as they go to school and as they come alongside of people. It’s got to start in our home, but then it’s got to spill out into our communities.

I bet every single person that’s listening to us now has someone in their sphere of influence that’s walking through maybe a vulnerable situation or has experienced a crisis or unplanned pregnancy. How are we reaching out to them? How are we being available? And then as we start to reach our own communities, it spills out into our country. And Nick, you and I know it’s not just an American issue, this is a worldwide issue. And so how are we really going to care for vulnerable life here and around the world in a active, aggressive God-honoring way? And that’s what I hope, the church will wake up and say, “Okay, let’s do this.”

Nick Vujicic: I love those words, “Active, aggressive, in a God-honoring way.” Listen, that’s why we’re doing this series. Stand for Life is all about not just talking about a topic and on an informative way or an encouraging way or an inspiring way just for you to watch another video about this or go to another conference about this.

Listen, Stand for life… First of all, if you haven’t gone to the website, go to standforlife.com and get your tickets. Get as many people from your church as possible to come and meet us and join us. Herbie’s going to be speaking at one of the breakout sessions. I’ll be a keynote amongst other people on the main stage. I am actually there the whole time. I’m going to be listening to every single speech that I can and bring as many people as I can in my own community because why? Again, not just for a conference to talk about it, but to aggressively, actively engage in showing the tools and showing everyone and equipping of what we can do right there and then, getting free resources, free information, all those tools to bring back to our community and say, “Okay.” Whether your pastor starts a different initiative or even preachers anything different from the pulpit, which there’s a lot of stuff for pastors as well and executive leaders there as well who can be as well-equipped, but the average person sitting in the pews knowing that there are 424,000 children out in America still waiting for a foster home.

And whether you hear it in your pews or not from the pulpit, you can do something actively. And that’s the whole beauty about this collective group of organizations who will teach you how to engage aggressively and actively God-honoring way in your own community to make a difference in one of these children’s lives, to come around and surround the mother and families affected with an unexpected pregnancy. And it’s true, I mean, we’ve said this in other interviews and it was even brought up about sex ethics and decisions, waiting for marriage within our own Christian homes, within our own Christian churches, but really coming from a point of view from the heart of God. And it’s pro-love. That’s what it’s all about, is giving every child the chance to reach their God-given full potential.

And there’ll be times where people will look at children, look even at me without arms and legs and say, “Well, he doesn’t have a good quality of life.” Well, look what God did for a kid with no arms and legs, who’s now become an ambassador of the King of Kings and Lord of Lords to be his hands and feet. God has a miracle for every single child that is born. He had known their name before the earth began. God loves life.

And that’s what the people of God should be doing, should be standing for, and it’s all about life. January 18th and 19th, two-day conference, I’m going to be there. Get your tickets on standforlife.com and also go to this website standsfl.com/nickv to actually take the pledge.

Let me say that again. It’s Nick?

Crew: Just Nick.

Nick Vujicic: And also make sure you go to the website standsfl.com/nick to take the pledge. Give us your name, give us your email, and we’ll be in touch with you on the runway up to the event and after the event, because we know it’s more than an event, it’s more than a conference. It’s about a movement and a group of people to say, “Yes, continually, we will stand for life and know that every baby matters and every mother needs to know that we will stand with them and by them.”

It’s really interesting. Before we even got on camera Herbie, we were talking about my own home church here, Gateway in Dallas, and pastor Josh Morris, incredible communicator, especially on his sermon on adoption that he had recently. I really encourage everyone to go to Gateway People YouTube channel and check out that sermon. Absolutely incredible. Phenomenal. So proud of Gateway Church for engaging with Embrace Grace and Lifeline and so many other crisis pregnancy centers out here as well.

It’s just incredible what one church can do in a community when we say “Yes, together, we stand for life.” And may it inspire other churches. There’s other churches all around the nation doing great work, so keep it up. But so many other churches need to hear that message. And it’d be a good example for pastoral leaders to also see how some other pastors are talking about it and coming from an approach where it is pro-love and it’s not seen as political. It’s all biblical. And it’s commissioned by God.

And I loved, and I’d love you to even reprise what you were telling me about the worship band for our viewers. The leader, what he was saying. And I mean, here we are, we’re at church and you hear Josh Morris preaching about adoption and then there was some little extra time and the leading worship pastor had some things to say. Can you share that? Because I think people need to understand that a lot of what we’re talking about is closer to all our immediate surrounding than we really think.

Herbie Newell: That’s right. So if people go look for that YouTube, it’s on October 2nd and like you said, Gateway People. Excellent sermon. And actually you can hear the story because I believe the one on YouTube is the actual third service. And I was at every service there at the South Lake campus of Gateway and on the third service, and every service was different, while the sermon was similar, and obviously the worship was similar, it was different, and you could just even feel the spirit moving in the room.

And on that third service, the worship pastor comes up and he says, “I’ve been singing these songs and we’re about to sing this song Abba, and I need to share about what this means in my own life.” And he said, “When I was young, my mom couldn’t take care of me. And I went into foster care, I went from family to family in foster care. And then when I was 12 years old, I finally was adopted.” And he actually said, “I’ve had four different names in my life.” And then he closed it and he said, “But the name that is above every name is to know that I’m a child of God.”

Nick Vujicic: Come on.

Herbie Newell: And he sings this song about God being our Abba father and adopting us into his family. It was powerful because it truly is what we do in life work and adoption and in foster care. It’s mimicking the heart of our God who says, “Hey, while you’re orphans, I’m not going to leave you, but I’m going to come to you. While you’re estranged, while you’re still sinning and absent towards me, I’m going to come and I’m going to give my life as a ransom for you.” And so we are being mimickers of the gospel and the reconciliation, the restoration of God when we wrap around a mom, when we wrap around a child, when we wrap around a vulnerable family.

And there are vulnerable families even… This is one thing Gateway is getting engaged with here in the DFW Metroplex, is there are families who’ve lost their kids to foster care and they’d love to get their kids back in their home, but they don’t have a system, they don’t have families, they don’t have friends, they don’t have mentors in their lives. They’re helping them to know, “How do I be the parent that my child needs me to be? How do I make the decision that’s going to allow my child to stay in my home?”

And so through a program called Families Count, that’ll happen at Gateway, these families will actually come to Gateway, come to a church, be surrounded by a family and mentors who are going to help them get their children back out of foster care. So that’s what I mean when I say when we take a stand for life, it’s us using our brains that God has given us and aggressively saying, “How can we do something that shows the love of God? That shows the grace of God and the restoration of God in the lives of these that are most vulnerable?”

Nick Vujicic: Amen. Herbie, what’s the biggest obstacle when it comes to trying to engage or open people’s minds towards the life narrative and the pro-life movement that really the time is now to take a stand and move within this onward? What’s the biggest obstacle?

Herbie Newell: I’m going to give you a couple. I think one for sure is that we have seen this as politicized. And I think believers have got to take it back to say, “This is not a political, conservative issue. This is a biblical issue.” And we’ve got to rally around and rally together what the word of God says about defending life. As scary as it is, I was on a program not too long ago from Philadelphia and it was supposed to be evangelicals and Jewish rabbis and I was the only pro-life person on the committee. And you had these people who’d been to seminary, you’d have these Jewish priests and they were trying to say, “Well, we’re not really about defending life. We’re about a woman’s right to choose.” We’ve got to go back to our pulpits and teach what the word of God really says about life and make sure that people understand it’s a biblical, salvation, gospel issue. It’s not a political issue.

But then I think the second thing, especially when we look at people leaning in, is we kind of put things into boxes. So people that might even be listening right now will say, “Well, I don’t have the capacity to be an adoptive parent,” or, “I don’t have the capacity to be a foster parent.” But there’s still so much that you can do. And so it’s taking that first step. We need people to take the first step to say, “What’s the first thing that I can do?” And I know it’s trite at times, and it may sound simple, but we need to start praying for the vulnerable. And we need to start asking the heart of God to make our heart break for the things that break his heart. We need to start praying for that mom who is in a crisis place and doesn’t know where she’s going to turn. We need to start praying for those children around the world, 153 million orphans around the world and the 424,000 kids here in the United States in foster care. And we need to ask the Lord to break our heart for what breaks his.

But then, maybe the most dangerous step. We need to ask the Lord, “What do you want me to do?” And then we need to be faithful to where he has us to be. So there are women that are listening today that what the Lord wants them to do is go work at their crisis pregnancy center. There are families today that what they want them to do, and I know you spoke with Amy Ford, is to wrap up love boxes to send to women who are walking through these times. There may be some doctors that are listening and they need to go volunteer at a clinic that’s helping give ultrasounds and tests to women, to help them see that this is life within their womb. There’s so much that we can do. We need to take the next step for where the Lord has brought us, for the way he’s gifted us. And we need to be faithful to use that gifting in standing for life.

Nick Vujicic: Herbie, me and my family, we support Lifeline. We believe in Lifeline. And I want to tell you for the very first time, face to face, that me and my wife one day will be filing papers to be adopting parents through Lifeline.

Herbie Newell: Amen.

Nick Vujicic: And we love you and we want to encourage you and your team to keep on going. And thank you for stepping out. Thank you for boldly, with humility, aggressively, actively seeking how God can use you to help the church really open up like never before to have the conversations, to understand it’s not political, to understand it’s biblical, that every life matters and life begins at conception. And to then move.

Herbie Newell: That’s right.

Nick Vujicic: Engage the body of Christ. Go out there and be the hands and feet. Herbie, is there anything else that you, someone’s watching right now and there’s just something stirring in them, speak to someone right now into that camera who wants to be part of this somehow. Just give them a word of encouragement.

Herbie Newell: Yeah. I’d say when the Lord calls us to do something, so many times our adversary tries to put excuses in our mind about why we shouldn’t. And I would say when the Lord calls, “Step out in faith,” knowing that he will equip you to what he calls you to do. And we need the body of Christ now more than ever. And so again, I’d say maybe you’re someone who has the cell phone number of your pastor, and your next step is to call your pastor and say, “Hey, can we, from God’s word, preach about life this Sunday or a Sunday upcoming so that our people can know what God says about life?” Take that next step. Don’t be afraid and know that the Lord always equips those that He calls and he will equip you to what he’s asked you to do. And we need everybody in this space.

We need people who are going to reach out to women right now who are struggling with what they should do. We need to come alongside of women who have already taken a chemical abortion pill and studies show that within 24 hours she has great dread and regret. We need people who are going to step into her life and say, “Hey, there’s a reversal for that.” We need men, women, boys and girls who are going to come alongside of these women and say, “We’re going to be with you, not just until you give birth. We’re going to be with you and walk with you because that’s what Christ Jesus did for us. And we’re going to be engaged with you. We’re going to be passionate about you, and we’re going to show you that we are pro-woman, we are pro-life because we are pro-gospel and we are pro-Bible. And we’re going to live that out because it’s the truth that’s unlocked a reality and a passion in us, and it’s truly given us life.”

And Nick, even like what you said, I’ve been given a purpose. And our purpose is to live out the mission of Christ. And he gives us the joy that even when life is hard, even when things come that we aren’t expecting or we look at this fallen world and we say, “Things aren’t quite the way they should be,” the joy comes from knowing that we have a savior who loves us, who gave his life as a ransom for us.” And didn’t just do that for us to sit on the sidelines, but did that for us to get engaged. And so I’m grateful for your voice. I’m grateful for the way that you have used this voice to say, “Hey, life is precious. Let’s live it to the fullest.”

Nick Vujicic: Amen. Herbie, thank you so much. Give our love to your team and your wife as well.

Herbie Newell: I will. Thanks for having me.