(Editor's Note: This article was first published in the January/February 2022 print edition of The Stand. Pictured above is volunteer Tom Robb inside an ICU mobile unit.)
“For what we proclaim is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, with ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake” (2 Corinthians 4:5).
ICU Mobile (ICUM) RV units diligently minister to rescue two hearts at a time by applying its three-fold mission of serving women, saving lives, and sharing Christ.
“You need somebody with a passion for life and the gospel,” Greg VanBuskirk told The Stand. VanBuskirk is executive director of the Akron, Ohio-based ministry.
By providing free pregnancy tests, ultrasounds, and an opportunity to hear the gospel, ICUM serves abortion-minded women who, as a group, historically avoid pregnancy centers.
The idea was conceived in 2003 by Sylvia Slifko, chairman of the board and founder of ICUM. It took nine months for the first RV to roll out ready to serve, a time frame Slifko thinks was no coincidence.
Since 2016, more than 40 units have served countless locations throughout the U.S., helped save 13,000 babies’ lives, and inspired 800 decisions for Christ.
A certainty of need
Even if state laws limit abortion or if Roe v. Wade is reversed, VanBuskirk said these mobile units become more important because of the ease of securing chemical abortions. Acquiring abortion pills online may not go away or may even grow.
“So if you are not in [a pregnant woman’s] community, out where she does life, you’re going to miss the opportunity. And that’s where our strength is. Christ didn’t wait for people to come to Him, so we go [to the people] too,” said VanBuskirk. “They can walk in or make an appointment and do so discreetly.”
ICUM’s Loving Life Initiative has a goal of launching at least three to five units as a base in the few states that make up half of the United States’ abortions: California (157,000/year), Florida (76,000/year), and the eastern states (257,000/year) of Virginia, Maryland, Delaware, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and New York.
If a local pro-life group or church considers purchasing a mobile unit, ICUM pays room and board for local representatives to attend its two-day Discern the Call Retreat. This event helps attendees understand the call, the cost, and the commitment a mobile ministry requires.
“We want to share everything with you on what it is going to be like to have a mobile ministry,” explained VanBuskirk. “We bring in people already doing the mobile ministry so you can ask questions.”
The local ministry purchases the RV mobile unit and is responsible for its operation. Thus, it is imperative that such a ministry be of God’s calling.
A case in point
An ICUM unit will arrive in Greenwood, Mississippi, this spring. Pastor Joseph Parker, AFA director of intercession and outreach, initiated the campaign with Greenwood Pregnancy and Hope Center to raise funds to purchase the unit.
Parker wasn’t looking to head the project, but after years of praying, he felt prompted: You do it! So he took the lead to secure a unit for use in the underserved Mississippi Delta, a strip of land stretching north to south through west Mississippi.
ICUM works with local sponsors from the beginning – helping raise money, equipping the unit, training staff, selecting the best location(s) to park a unit, and launching the service while it is in each location.
Regardless of where these units are parked, ICUM seeks to make sure whoever is serving or being served is parked within the lines of God’s will.
For more information, contact ICU Mobile at icumobile.org or 330.745.4070. See additional pro-life feature stories on pp. 14, 19, and 24.