2017: A Year in Review
2017 was a year of watching storytelling unravel in ways that we could never have imagined. We saw hope handed to over 30 million people on social media. We experienced joy and heartache, but we grew through the courage that we see storytellers embrace every single day. We learned that to make an impact in the LIFE discussion, we have to give of ourselves, listen to stories, and allow room in our hearts for change to happen. And, we believe that the Lord isn't done yet.
So, together, we wanted to take a look at 2017 in review!
January 2017 marked the 44th anniversary of Roe V. Wade. In an effort for change, thousands gathered in Washington D.C. for the annual March for Life. Stand for Life headed to D.C. this year and chose to serve in a local pregnancy resource center while the March was taken place. We were given a behind the scenes look at the inner workings of pregnancy centers and left encouraged by the fact that there are thousands that need to hear the stories that we are so honored to tell.
We were also given the opportunity to engage in something different : Evangelicals for Life. Evangelicals for Life is a gathering of people that believe that all life matters because all life was created in the image of God. In 2017, we set up a booth to share the impact that is being made for human dignity through Stand for Life storytelling and sat curbside before the March and simply listened to people’s stories. In 2018, we will set up a booth again, listen to people's stories, and our very own, Hannah Sultemeier (Stand for Life’s Director) was asked to speak on a panel addressing milliennials and the life discussion! What an honor for our team. It’s not too late if you want to join us this year! Here’s the link to sign up : http://www.evangelicals.life
For the second time, the door opened for Stand for Life to bring the Life discussion to a college campus. We spent one evening at Dallas Baptist University conversing with a local sorority about how they can engage in the discussion in their context. We loved seeing young people excited about the Life discussion and eager to learn. Our hope for 2018 is that the doors open for us to enter more school campuses and empower the next generation to value all life.
In an effort to create a foster a more holistic life conversation, the Stand for Life team served with Human Impact, a homeless ministry located here in Dallas. We were humbled to learn stories of how individuals ended up on the streets and walked away believing that no matter what life has thrown our way, we all have stories and value to bring to humanity.
In 2018, we have exciting plans to expand our partnerships with life affirming organizations across the United States. Have one that you are interested in? We would love to know! Click here: https://www.standforlife.org/partner-with-us
On Friday, April 7th, #StandforLIFE received an Instagram message asking for stories to share with a young woman who had scheduled an abortion for April 24th. The #StandforLIFE team shared seven stories. Seven stories of hope. Seven stories of promise. Seven stories revealing the value of every single life.
Because of your support, our team not only shared stories, but was able to point this young woman to incredible resources in her hometown. On Friday, April 21st, we received a message that said, “She’s keeping the baby! . . . Thank you for the part that you played in this wonderful miracle!”
We were so humbled! Though this one stands out to us, we engage in these conversations quite often. We love seeing how stories are a constant source of encouragement for those that need them!
Mother’s Day brought us the perfect opportunity to celebrate Moms everywhere. We shared stories of birth moms, foster moms, adoptive moms, teen moms, moms who have lost, and so much more.
Stand for Life was also approached by CBN for an interview. We were able to encourage some of our storytellers to share their story on a much larger platform and were so encouraged by their bravery. Our SFL photographer, Amanda, graciously photographed the birth of the little girl of some dear SFL friends, who ended up loosing their sweet little girl. We walked through loss and heartache, and have seen this dear family walk forward with grace and peace that only the Lord can offer.
In an effort to steward our money wisely, we moved out of our office. If you ever see us at a local coffee shop, please say hi! We would love to get you know you!
Stand for Life founder, Jess, took a three week sabbatical. Her version of resting, was giving of herself. She was given the opportunity to donate her bone marrow to a little girl in London with Leukemia. Her actions taught us all that to value life, sometimes that means actually giving of ourselves to others.
Valuing life looks different for all of us, but the simple truth is that we all have the power and ability to value life wherever that we may find ourselves.
With the natural change of pace in the summer, July challenged our team to slow down, to rest, and to trust our storytellers a little bit deeper. We began to understand the need to create space for storytellers to share more details about their stories. We realized the importance of sharing details of storytellers journey's as an avenue for deeper conversation and to encourage those walking similar paths.
We spent the second half of the month preparing for Kelly and Jimmy Needham to take over our instagram feed and were really inspired by their journey to bring their son home from India. Through the process, we learned more about adoption and Kelly's words really struck us when she shared, "Over time, we waded into the waters of waiting and wilderness of uncertainty. Unlike pregnancy, adoption doesn’t have a definitive end. It’s risky and unpredictable. It’s full of uncertainties, and our story was no exception." Did you miss their story? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org - we would love to share!
The end of summer took the Stand for Life team to the big apple! The door opened for an opportunity for Stand for Life to have a unique partnership with YoungLives. We spent a day in the city, and then headed upstate to Lake Champion, a Young Life camp, to take portraits of teen moms and their babies and tell learn their incredible stories. For those of you who don’t know, YoungLives is a branch of Young Life that runs headfirst into the chaos of teenage motherhood with the hope of Jesus. If you’re interested in serving in your community, we would love to connect you!
In August, we celebrated two years of Stand for Life, introduced a limited edition LIFE filter, held a website photoshoot as a part of our rebranding, and were given the opportunity to speak at a Young Leaders for Life luncheon. It was a fast and furious month that led us straight into a busy Fall.
As the colors turned to Fall, Stand for Life experienced the largest change to date. Our dear founder, Jess Barfield, transitioned out of the Director role. After faithfully giving every ounce of herself to Stand for Life for two years, Jess followed the Lord’s leading to step away for a season in order to spend more time with her husband and her two sons. Though sad, Jess is still our biggest advocate and the team loves her deeply! In her place, Stand for Life’s former Operations Director, Hannah Sultemeier, stepped into the Director role.
On social media, we began to share the stories of brave teen moms from all over the country. We educated the Stand for Life community in hopes that we would all see teen moms, and moms in general, for what they truly are : brave, driven, worth, and valuable individuals. Four months later, and we are still learning of the affect that the teen moms had on our community. The hope for social media in 2018 is to move these stories into the hands of people in a tangible way.
After many hours of hard work, Stand for Life launched a new website! We spent the Fall tweaking our vision, tightening our message and studying the current state of the life discussion. As culture moves forward, engaging in the life discussion is becoming a more common rhythm, but it still makes people uncomfortable. Our hope in revamping our website was to give you more resources and more stories in order to empower you to engage the life discussion in your own community. We have seen you all exemplify boldness and courage, and we hope to continue to deepen the amount of resources that we are able to provide you with.
Not only did we launch a new website, we experienced the joy that comes from celebrating individuals who have a Down syndrome diagnosis. We told countless stories of hope, encouraging everyone with the truth that diagnoses do not define. If anything, they add more fullness to life.
In an effort to thank all of you for your courage and bravery in telling your story, we hosted two Faces of Storytellers photo shoots, where we were given the chance to thank many of you for your support through free family photos. Alongside of these two events, we also spent the whole month celebrating adoption in honor of National Adoption Month!
In a crazy turn of events, Stand for Life reintroduced the original LIFE filter in November in an effort to further build a community of people on the internet engaging in the Life discussion. The original filter brought unity that people loved. When we began receiving messages asking for it to come back, we gladly bought it back. It’s been one of the best things we’ve done!
In August, a dear friend of the Stand for Life community found herself in a crisis pregnancy at age 27. When she mustered the courage to tell the guy she had been dating, he suggested an abortion multiple times. While knowing that God is the giver of life, she was heartbroken and felt tempted to hide everything and move on. She reached out to us a few weeks ago, and let us know that the Lord used the teen mom series that we shared in September to sweetly remind her that she was His, that He created the life she was carrying, and that He would give her what she needed to raise the little life that He was growing inside of her.
We were so humbled to hear our friend's story, because as storytellers, our role is to simply be the vessels that empower people to speak up about their stories. And stories are really changing stories! What a gift.
Needless to say, 2017 was one for the books. We’re eager and expectant to see what 2018 brings! Stay tuned — we can’t wait to share the details and for you to read our friend's powerful story of LIFE this spring. It is one that you will not want to miss!
Thank YOU for being a part of our family and joining us in changing how generations understand the significance of human dignity.