The following interview is adapted from a Christian Worldview Thinking interview with Joe Baker on the origins of Save the Storks. The full audio interview is available here.
Summit: I want to focus this conversation around the question “how does an ordinary person do something extraordinary,” like saving the lives of thousands of babies? Take us back to the origin of Save the Storks and share the story of how it started.
Joe Baker: I think my life moved from ordinary to extraordinary in high school. I was working at this summer camp, and the director said, “What in your life is going to matter a thousand years from now?” For me, every once in awhile you get asked a question that really sticks and gnaws at you. I knew I was a Christian and that I loved God, but nothing in my life was going to matter even 10 years after I die. That evening, I remember praying, “God, I don’t know what you want to do with my life, but I’m available.” That was a monumental moment. It wasn’t a moment where the clouds suddenly opened up and light came down, but it was a direct shift in my willingness to be open to what God has for my life.
What happened that got you to actually start Save the Storks?
In 2010, I was in New York City with a pro-life group. They had very shady-looking mobile unit that was just a retrofitted shuttle van equipped to the sonogram machine. I was there observing when a woman comes up to me and says, “I’m here for my appointment.” She thought I was working for the abortion clinic. I immediately began stuttering and said, “I don’t work for the abortion clinic, but I hang out with these folks with this van. If you’d like a free sonogram, they’d love to give you one.” This girl says, “Sure.” I said, “Really? That’s it, you’re going to come aboard?” To my astonishment, she did. I couldn’t believe it.
I walked her over to the van. I took some time to pray, and in about 45 minutes, she came off. I could see tears in her eyes. I went up to her and I said, “Who are you calling?” because she was dialing her phone. She said, “I’m calling my mom to tell her that she’s going to be a grandmother and to get some help.”
Something happened to me that day. There was something in my bloodstream I just couldn’t get enough of. I knew this was what I was going to do with the rest of my life, and I remember calling my fiancé at that time (she’s now my wife) and saying, “I think there’s a different direction for our lives. We could do this, we could launch these all over America, and we could do it with the kind of excellence that this requires to be successful.” We started right then. When Ann and I got married in 2011, instead of buying a house like everybody else, we put a Mercedes Sprinter van on our credit line. We put our sleeping bags in there and went on tour around the country to cast this vision of launching mobile units all around the country.
When you’re available to the Lord, he invites you into the most dangerous places. I think God does that because he wants to give us a crucial role in the story, but he wants the starring role.
In a lot of ways, we would have never made it. At one point, Ann’s parents set us down and talked to us about bankruptcy, because we were so in over our heads — risking everything to make this happen. The Lord really blessed that. He blessed the risks we took and the level of commitment that we had, and he made it happen.
It’s amazing to hear that. I’m afraid people are reading this right now and thinking, “Joe wasn’t an ordinary guy, I could never do something like that.” What would you say to that person who is thinking, “I could never risk that much, I could never put myself out there.” What do you say to them?
Fortunately, that’s not the call. The call isn’t to go out and risk it all. The call is to say, “God, I’m available.” When someone becomes available to God, they begin to realize there are resources available that far exceed what they could imagine. It’s not your role to ask “how am I going to accomplish this?” That’s God’s role. We just have to show up and do what he’s calling us to do. God will take care of the rest.
God doesn’t invite us into safe places. He doesn’t tell us, “You’re just going to sit on the couch for the next 10 years watching TV, and I’m going to provide a ministry for you.” It doesn’t work like that. If you’ve lived a life of faith and risks and walked with God, he will up the stakes because he wants to be the starring role in your story.
What role did Summit play in where you’re at today?
Summit is the foundation of where I am in so many ways. Summit allowed me to really see the why of what I believe. I grew up in a family where I knew what to believe, but I didn’t have the grounding foundational concepts that are at the basis of what I do today. Many young people leave high school with their parents’ views and values. Then they get to college, and college doesn’t so much attack their views as it attacks the foundation of their views. If the foundation of their views begins to erode or be destroyed, their true and core values of the faith are lost as well.
Summit is a very important aspect in who I am today, and I look back at it helping to form a worldview that now encompasses everything we do.
How can people get connected with Save the Storks?
First thing: Find us on Facebook and like our page. That’s number one to keep up with who we are and what we’re doing. Sharing what we post on Facebook helps us more than you know and I can’t encourage you enough to do that. Second, we want everyone to engage in their own backyard with crisis pregnancy centers all over America. Lastly, partner with us. We divide the cost of a bus by the number of babies we think it can save in a year, and that amount comes to about $350. That comes out to about $30 a month to be able to save one baby. Your lifestyle wouldn’t have to change much at all to meet that, and it really is a matter of life or death whether we’re there at the abortion clinic or not.
Joe Baker is the President, Co-Founder, and CEO of Save the Storks. Save the Storks is a nonprofit that partners with pregnancy resource centers all over the nation to provide them with powerful tools and training so they can more effectively reach and serve abortion-minded expectant mothers.