Pro-life ministry is educating students across US on fetal development

Heart of a Child Ministries gained attention in 2020 when it began showing live ultrasounds to high school students in Omaha, Nebraska. The ministry was founded in 2012 by Bernie and Nikki Schaefer and has continued to grow.

Nikki Schaefer spoke with Live Action News about the ministry, which now reaches seven different states. It has also developed a certification program, allowing other pregnancy resource centers (PRCs) to bring this pro-life education to other states.

Pro-life education model

“Our model of pro-life education, we have four different age-appropriate presentations,” Schaefer said. During their presentations, they have sonographers and pregnant volunteers, meaning children get to see a preborn baby in real-time. “We have over a 50% conversion rate; what I mean by that is, we survey middle school kids and up,” she explained. “So when we get into the abortion issue, which happens at middle school on up, we survey kids before and after the presentation to find out if they’re pro-abortion in any way. And out of the kids who indicate they’re pro-abortion in some way, over 50% of them have a change of heart, based on the model of education they’re using.”

The presentations use scripture and science, including fetal development facts, as well as licensed photos of preborn children in the womb. The “Baby Olivia” video is included as a summation of fetal development, and the presentation concludes with the live ultrasound and stories. Younger children sing songs and talk about what it means to be created in God’s image and discuss fetal development facts in an age-appropriate manner.


“We’ll have them put their hand on their heartbeat, and I’ll say, ‘I want you guys now to look at the period at the end of the sentence,'” she explained. “‘Did you guys know that your whole body was only the size of that period when your heart started to beat?’ And they’re like, oh my gosh!'” She said they also love seeing images of preborn babies, as well as a 3D ultrasound donated by the Knights of Columbus.

Helping moms and babies

Depending on the age group being given the presentation, there are numerous speakers schools can choose from — former abortion industry workers, people who refused eugenic abortions, people speaking about the beauty of adoption, and more. Schools also do diaper drives or fill-the-bottle drives, which benefit PRCs chosen by the schools, directly supporting women and families experiencing unplanned pregnancies. Kids in middle and high school can submit questions to panels of speakers, which include a medical expert, as well as someone from PRCs and maternity homes. “Those panels are so rich, and we have seen great movement of heart within kids when they hear from people on the front lines,” said Schaefer.

READ: Theologian Carl Trueman discusses ‘What is a human?’ with Lila Rose

Schaefer has a master’s in social work, which includes art therapy and parenting groups that have helped her when she began to form the ministry. “It was started through my seven-year-old daughter in prayer, on the anniversary of Roe v. Wade,” she said. “We were at a holy hour for life in 2012, and after the holy hour, I look over at my kids, and my seven-year-old had a tear in her eye. I said, ‘Grace, what’s wrong?’ And she said, ‘Mom, I just don’t understand why anyone would do this to a precious baby. Those babies may be small, but they are people, too.’ And I just got right down on her level, and I asked the Holy Spirit to give me the words to answer her. And I just said, ‘Grace, I know this is so hard to understand, but I used to talk to those mommies, and they’re not doing it to be mean. Many of them are just poor and afraid that they won’t have the money to buy diapers and things like that, so we are called to help them.'”

Grace decided she wanted to make something she could sell to help these moms, so they didn’t feel that abortion was their only choice. “I asked her what she wanted to make, and she said very distinctly and clearly, ‘Mom, I want to sew a cross, and I want to stuff that cross, and on the cross, I want to put a baby, because those babies are suffering like Jesus suffered on the cross. And I want to put a heart, with rays of light coming from that baby.’ And when she said that, the Holy Spirit gave me an image of her when she was sleeping holding her pillow in one hand and her rosary in the other, and I felt like that was a sign that the stuffed pillow and the stuffed cross were meant to be incorporated.” She and the girls began drawing the pillows. A seamstress came to teach them all how to sew, and when she was told about the pillow, the seamstress revealed that her parents had forced her to have an abortion at 16 years old.

The original pro-life prayer pillow, from the Heart of a Child Ministries website.

“I show her the drawing of Mary holding the baby, and she starts to cry,” Schaefer recounted. “‘I struggled my whole life with that abortion, and finally sought counseling at a Project Rachel retreat in my 40s, and I received healing. The image I saw is that exact image on that pillow.’ She said, ‘I saw Mary holding my baby in the palm of her hand, and I heard very clearly on my heart that his name was Michael. So can we devote this ministry to Michael, and I’ll teach your family to sew?'”

Since then, thousands of the pillows have been sold, with tens of thousands of dollars being donated to PRCs. That eventually led to the education model being added onto the ministry as well, when people began requesting them to come into schools and share Grace’s mission.

Roe v. Wade was overturned in 2022, and though the pro-life movement has come under attack in many ways, this ministry is still thriving. “We have a waiting list for this year, and we have invitations to go more places,” she said. “What I do see is that the other side is pushing back harder; they’re trying to do all that they can to get abortion rights in the constitutions of every state. It’s drawn up even more anger and more fire on the other side, but that shows the need to educate our students effectively on this issue, as the other side rages even more for the hearts of our children.”

The DOJ put a pro-life grandmother in jail for protesting the killing of preborn children. Please take 30-seconds to TELL CONGRESS: STOP THE DOJ FROM TARGETING PRO-LIFE AMERICANS.

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