A discussion guide specifically written as a companion piece to The Mother and Child Project that will prompt helpful conversations for book clubs, small groups, and others interested in the topic of women and child health throughout the world and how the church community should get involved.
The discussion guide is divided into four sessions one to complement each section of the book, The Mother and Child Project.
Each session is divided into two parts: “At Home”—several suggested essays to read from the book prior to the gathering to discuss—and “In Your Small Group”—several discussion questions, often supplemented by a pertinent quote from the book, plus a follow-up activity to become personally involved.
Dozens of influential leaders have heard the pleas of mothers and children in developing countries. Raising their voices to inspire a movement to increase healthy pregnancies and lower death rates, Melinda Gates, Kay Warren, Bill Frist, Kimberly Williams Paisley, Michael W. Smith and more speak out about why people of faith must get involved in The Mother and Child Project: Raising Our Voices for Health and Hope. Almost 287,000 women die each year because of pregnancy and birth complications. Many orphans are left behind in the wake of this tragedy, and without a mother, many of those children die as well. If only enough people knew. We have the resources to prevent this crisis, but we must take action.
Fortunately, Hope Through Healing Hands, a nonprofit organization promoting awareness for healthy mothers and children worldwide, is already spreading the word. Not only can we save lives, reduce abortions, and decrease death rates, but also we can help build healthier, thriving families and bring stability and sustainability to families, communities and nations.
The question is, will you join them?
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The Mother and Child Project Discussion Guide
By Hope Through Healing Hands
ZONDERVANCopyright © 2015 Zondervan
All rights reserved.
A Call to Compassion
The concerns surrounding maternal and child health in the developing world are broad and complex, and there are no easy answers to the reasons why millions of women and children die each year from preventable causes. But let's take a look at some facts:
Every year, more than 287,000 women die in childbirth or from pregnancy-related complications.
For every woman who dies, there are 30 more who suffer serious illness or debilitating injuries.
When a mother dies, her child is 10 times more likely to die prematurely. This contributes to the fact that 6.6 million children die each year before their fifth birthday.
The situation is tragic but not hopeless: 80 percent of maternal deaths are completely preventable.
Now that you know the foundation of the problem, let's learn more. Before you meet, read the following essays from part 1 of The Mother and Child Project:
"Miheret Gebrehiwot's Story: Ethiopia"
"Choosing Joy for Mothers and Children," by Kay Warren
"All Lives Have Equal Value," by Melinda Gates
"Contraception Is a Pro-Life Cause in Developing World," by Bill Frist and Jenny Eaton Dyer
"Family Planning as a Pro-Life Cause," by Michael Gerson
"A Mama Knows," by Rachel Held Evans
In Your Small Group
1. Read Deuteronomy 15:7. How, in your opinion, does this exhortation to care for the poor relate to the discussion of maternal health?
2. Prior to reading these essays, what was your perception of the problems surrounding women's and children's health in the developing world?
If you have ever seen this problem firsthand, share that experience and what it was like.
3. Look at the photograph of the woman on the front cover of The Mother and Child Project Discussion Guide. Think about her life experience and how different it is from your own. In what ways do you imagine it might be similar?
This woman's name is Mpendubundi, and her daughter, now eight years old, was able to attend school for the first time in 2014. Does knowing details about Mpendubundi's life make it harder to ignore her? If so, why do you think this is the case?
4. Review Mihret Gebrehiwot's story. What was the most remarkable aspect of it, in your opinion? How did healthy timing and spacing of pregnancies change the course of Mihret's life?
Last year, more than 6.6 million children under the age of five died from preventable, treatable causes. Many of these children died in the arms of loving parents who simply didn't have access to basic newborn care, simple antibiotics, vaccines, or oral rehydration therapies. For pennies to the dollar, these children's lives could have been saved. In addition, more than 287,000 women died last year in childbirth ... because they lacked a skilled attendant ... and had complications during pregnancy or delivery.
5. What was your response when you first read that more than 6 million newborns and children and 287,000 mothers will die this year? Do you find it hard to grasp how many people that is? (Note: Imagine yourself at a sold-out football game in a stadium that seats 100,000 people. Then, imagine it filled nearly three times over with mothers who will die, mostly from preventable causes.)
We, as Americans, can choose to prevent these deaths with our personal and governmental support for maternal, newborn, and child health and healthy timing and spacing of pregnancies in ways that honor God. Our voices can and will make a difference. And, in doing so, we choose joy.
6. Do you believe God cares about our reproductive lives? How does providing assistance to mothers for increased maternal, newborn, and child health honor God?
How is it possible to choose joy in the face of such tragic statistics? And how can people of faith be responsible for providing joy to those who are suffering?
7. Why does systemic change take both personal and governmental support? What are the benefits of leveraging governmental funds for these issues? What are the benefits of supporting individually through a nonprofit? What might be the negatives? (Note: Half of all Americans believe that over 25 percent of the US Budget goes to foreign assistance. Fact: Less than two-thirds of 1 percent (0.6) actually goes to international foreign assistance, and only 25 percent of that to global health.)
To help women and children fulfill their potential, we need to make sure they can receive the right kind of health care at every phase of their lives. Each aspect of reproductive, maternal, newborn, and child health connects to the next. To take one example, when women plan for healthy timing and spacing of pregnancies (HTSP), they are more likely to be healthy, and they are more likely to have healthier babies. Healthy babies are more likely to grow up strong and become productive adults. It's a virtuous cycle.
8. Melinda Gates discusses the "virtuous cycle" of intervening in women's health at each stage of their lives. What do you think she means by "virtuous cycle"?
What can people of faith do to ensure that a virtuous cycle is possible?
For those of us who identify as pro-life, it's not enough simply to oppose abortion. We must also actively advocate for and invest in actions that save the lives of women and children worldwide.
Rachel Held Evans
9. What does it mean to be "pro-life"? Why is it not enough to simply oppose abortion? What might be a more comprehensive "pro-life" ethic for the world's poorest women and children?
10. Two-hundred and twenty million women in developing nations want to avoid pregnancy but lack the family planning information, education, and resources to do so. What are some consequences of this?
Do you believe Christians should care about women's access to contraception? Why or why not?
When we talk about voluntary family planning in the international context, what do we mean? The definition [we] use is enabling women and couples to determine the number of pregnancies and their timing, and equipping women to use voluntary methods for preventing pregnancy, not including abortion, that are harmonious with their values and beliefs.
Bill Frist and Jenny Eaton Dyer
11. What do you think of when you hear the term "family planning"? (Note: "Family planning" here includes the broad range of resources — from contraceptives to natural family planning techniques — that help women prevent pregnancy. Family planning does not mean abortion. In fact, the Helms Amendment of 1973 prohibits the use of U.S. governmental foreign assistance funding for abortion. Do you believe this is widely known in the faith community?)
The words "family planning" light up the limbic centers of American politics. From a distance, it seems like a culture war showdown. Close up, in places such as Bweremana, it is undeniably pro-life.
12. What kinds of situations do the women of Bweremana face when delivering their children that we do not typically face in the United States?
13. How does healthy timing and spacing of pregnancies, or "family planning," save lives? And how can we, as people of faith, begin to look "close up" at the importance of global family planning and engage in healthy dialogue on this issue in American politics?
Take Action: Pray
We hope you're inspired and motivated to take action to help the 287,000 women and 6.6 million children who will die this year because they don't have access to the same medical care Westerners do. But before you jump into a plan, take time to think and pray about how God might be calling you to be involved.
Lord, give me the knowledge to learn more about the complications of a life lived in extreme poverty. Give me the courage to understand the daily trials of those living in the developing world. And give me the wisdom to know my calling to help the world's most vulnerable—the women and children. Amen.
Excerpted from The Mother and Child Project Discussion Guide by Hope Through Healing Hands. Copyright © 2015 Zondervan. Excerpted by permission of ZONDERVAN.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Table of Contents
Week 1 A Call to Compassion, 9,
Week 2 Healthier Moms, Healthier World, 19,
Week 3 A Day in the Life of a Woman in the Developing World, 27,
Week 4 How People of Faith Can Help, 35,