DBU 15th Annual Community Partners Luncheon Honors Local Non-Profit Embrace Grace

Community partners photo
(L-R: Dr. Adam C. Wright, DBU President; Amy Ford, President of Embrace Grace; Desi Henk, Assistant VP of Career & Professional Development)

DBU's Annual Community Partners Luncheon brings together leaders of various local non-profits, churches, and schools throughout DFW to celebrate their important work, provide networking opportunities and, most of all, offer spiritual encouragement. These organizations also represent the many places where DBU students serve during their college years, allowing them the opportunity to learn the joys of serving others. The day is also a special time to recognize a distinguished community partner. This year, the 15th annual luncheon was grateful to honor Amy Ford, President of Embrace Grace.

After a cordial welcome from Desi Henk, who serves as Assistant Vice President of Career and Professional Development, and a prayer of invocation from University Provost Dr. Norma Hedin, words of appreciation were shared by Dr. Adam C. Wright, DBU President. He especially encouraged attendees to remain faithful through the hard times, even when their efforts go unnoticed, for the pleasure and glory of God alone.

Bishop Aaron Blake of Harvest Family Life Ministries delivered the keynote address. Blake served as senior pastor of the Greater Faith Community Church in Brownwood, Texas, when he began to develop both a personal heart and strategic pastoral vision for his church to minister to vulnerable children through foster care. The ministry grew, and in 2003, he and his wife, Mary, launched Harvest Family Life Ministries.

Blake's message to the luncheon guests emphasized the calling of Christ to His disciples to be salt and light in and for the world. "We are light reflectors," Blake said. While salt adds flavor but is unseen, the light of Christ working in and through us makes our good works visible for the world as a witness to the glory of God at work. Blake shared how there were certainly many times he wanted to give up, including a difficult night when one of his foster children accidentally burned down their family home. "We are no one special," Blake said about he and his wife, recognizing God's delight in accomplishing extraordinary things through ordinary people.

Following Bishop Blake's remarks, Desi Henk returned to the podium to introduce the 2022 Community Partners award recipient. Embrace Grace is an organization devoted to providing spiritual and practical care for unplanned pregnancies and needy single mothers. Founder and President Amy Ford is also the author of Help Her Be Brave: Discover Your Place in the Pro-Life Movement. Ford experienced her own unplanned pregnancy in her teens and remembers that in her loneliness and shame she developed a passion to enact change. Beginning as a small support group at Gateway Church, Embrace Grace was established as a non-profit in 2012, and since then has helped churches across the nation and around the world adopt a pro-love posture toward pregnant women. "As I reflect on the tremendous hours of service our DBU students put in, it's encouraging to know that we have partnered with excellent ministries like Embrace Grace," says Henk. "The heart of Embrace Grace is to make the church one of the first places a young woman runs to instead of the last because of shame and guilt, and that is the heart of Jesus."

Ford's desire is that the local church be the first safe place women choose to go to receive holistic compassion. "It is God's kindness that leads us to repentance and His goodness that draws us to His side," Ford stated, receiving her award with gratitude. Ford then shared a story of a young woman who was not a Christian who went through the 12-week Embrace Grace discipleship program, which includes the hosting of a baby shower. Although the woman did not give her life to the Lord during the program itself, Ford learned to hope in the planting of a spiritual seed and was encouraged by the fact that this young woman had even walked through the doors of the church week after week. Later on, that same young woman asked God one day to be real to her, and a stranger walked up to her where she was employed, being moved by the Lord to tell her that God sees her and loves her. That day she went home, read back through her Embrace Grace curriculum, and became a follower of Jesus.

There are countless other stories like this of pregnant women who, encountering the grace rather than the judgment of God's people, have become believers and disciples – sometimes during the baby shower. "Just keep being obedient to the Holy Spirit's leading, because you never know what is happening with the seeds that you are planting," Ford stated. "God will always work through us as we hear, believe, and obey."

Written by Dr. Michael Whiting

Dr. Michael Whiting is the Director of Written Content in University Communications at Dallas Baptist University.