By Doug Magill
Yea, the darkness hideth not from thee; but the night shineth as the day: the darkness and the light are both alike to thee. For thou hast possessed my reins: thou hast covered me in my mother’s womb. I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvelous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well. Psalm 139
“I’ve seen miracles here,” Michael Homula said. He spoke in a hushed tone in the confined space of the ultrasound examination room of the ICU Mobile van.
The converted RV was being displayed at the Alternaterm annual dinner. Michael’s soft, reverential tone was startlingly different than his normal ebullience.
Others would say that Michael himself is a miracle.
He was born in August of 1970 after his mother had been raped at an office party. The rape was at her job. Her husband was serving in Vietnam. She did not report the rape, as she had consumed some alcohol and feared she would not be believed.
She told her husband about what had happened, and drawing on a well of trust, he believed her, and told her he would do whatever she thought best: raise the child as his own, pay for an abortion, or let her give the child up for adoption. She chose adoption, spending a few hours with him after his birth, before allowing Catholic Charities to place the child in a willing home.
Michael grew up always knowing he was adopted, as was his younger sister. He has no memory of being told he was adopted. He just knew that he was and his parents frequently told him that they had chosen him, and his sister. He felt that as a child it made him feel special, and immune to the taunts of other children who had not been adopted.
His adoptive father was an electrician, eventually owning his own business. The family moved to Kent when Michael was young. There Michael played multiple sports at Kent Roosevelt High School and participated in choir, drama club, and Boy Scouts. During his junior year he was invited to participate in Buckeye Boys State, an exclusive nine-day program in government. He was class president his senior year.
The first student from Kent Roosevelt to be accepted to the United States Military Academy, Michael thrived in the demanding environment but realized that he would not make the military his career. Feeling it would not be honest to finish at West Point and leave the military after his required tour of duty, he enrolled at Kent State after his sophomore year.
Continuing to display his leadership capability, he got involved in campus politics and ran for city council while still a student where he narrowly lost to his former high-school football coach. He also worked in a presidential campaign while finishing his degree.
After college Michael felt he would be successful in business, and began a career in sales. Invited by a friend, he joined an executive search firm where he found that his outgoing personality and warmth allowed him to truly understand his clients’ needs and attract good candidates.
Attending a conference for recruiters, he was offered a position as director of recruiting for a major bank, where he revolutionized the department and totally changed the focus of the personnel there from staffing to recruiting. His approach became known nationally and his department was named one of the top recruiting organizations in the country.
Restless in his vocation, he started his own consulting company. At the same time, he underwent a religious conversion while attending a conference on how to Lead Like Jesus. Changing the focus of his work, he began to consult with religious organizations on how to recruit the kind of people they needed. Simultaneously, he continued his work with some nationally-known companies.
Michael realized he still was not where he needed to be in his life. He began to slowly shut down his business while searching for what he felt he needed to do next. Asked by a friend from church to attend a board meeting of ICU Mobile, he helped write the company’s business plan and consulted with the organization on recruiting an executive director. He was named Executive Director shortly thereafter.
ICU Mobile was founded in 2003 by Sylvia Slifko, a devout Christian working as the director of a local pregnancy counseling center. She became frustrated at the difficulty of attracting pregnant women considering abortion to her center. She knew she needed to go to those women in some way.
After praying for guidance, she felt she was given a vision of a mobile ultrasound unit to show pregnant women considering abortion their babies. Discussing it with her husband, they agreed to pursue the idea and found a relatively unused RV through a friend. Unsure of how to proceed, a number of fortuitous meetings with new friends allowed them to find a discounted ultrasound machine, a designer for the exterior of the vehicle, a doctor to be a formal medical advisor, and even a volunteer sonographer. All of them are still involved with ICU Mobile.
The project to complete the conversion of the recreational vehicle to a mobile ultrasound unit took nine months.
ICU Mobile takes a woman-focused approach to its mission. Every woman is made to feel welcome and loved once she steps on board: from the intake interview to a pregnancy test to the ultrasound to the meeting with a counselor to the follow-up call, her presence is treated as a blessing and each decision is respected – regardless of what it is.
Today, there are 14 affiliates to the Akron-based organization, with 13 mobile units operating in 12 states. With centralized purchasing, ICU Mobile has partnered with a prominent manufacturer for specialized units that are compliant with U.S. Department of Transportation and Recreational Vehicle Industry Association regulations and standards. They also are now working with a specialized design firm that focuses on international vehicles that can operate in less vehicle-friendly environments than the United States.
Partnering with local pregnancy centers, ICU Mobile can extend the reach of those organizations and go to where pregnant women live, rather than hoping that they can overcome their fear and come to a building that may not be convenient.
In a society slowly beginning to accept the horror that is abortion, ICU Mobile can claim that a number of children have been saved. Indeed, many of the new mothers have found salvation in the Word that they hear in their counseling session.
The image of an unborn baby is a powerful one, and few mothers can deny their attachment and bond once it is seen.
Seventeen-year old Crystal ran away from home after she found out she was pregnant and her parents pushed her to have an abortion. Frightened and alone she shared her story when she went to the mobile unit. “Once I saw my baby on the monitor, I knew in my heart what I had to do, and now I have a healthy and wonderful little boy.”
With wonder, Michael tells the story of Samantha, a pastor’s daughter who could not tell her parents that she had become pregnant, even though two out of five Christians have an unplanned pregnancy, and one in four of those will have an abortion. Fleeing to the ICU Mobile van, she bonded with her child and recommitted herself to a life in the Lord.
With sadness Michael acknowledges that the evangelical church has not stepped up and dealt with the abortion issue with the passion it deserves. Michael finds a way to welcome, and treasure young women like Samantha.
Desiree went to an abortion clinic to terminate her pregnancy and didn’t want to see her baby. She had to wait for a couple of hours before her abortion. Glancing out the window she saw the ICU Mobile van and without knowing why she went to it. “That changed everything. We got the ultrasound and I got to see my baby!”
It is rare that a baby is saved at the last minute like Desiree’s was. Every day, more than 4,000 abortions are performed in the United States. Fifty-three million since the Roe V. Wade decision in 1973. And every one of them unique, and precious.
Charmaine Yoest , the president of Americans United for Life, recently spoke at the organization’s anniversary dinner and reflected that “abortion uniquely undermines human community. It tears apart the heart of human compassion.”
Any baby that is saved and given a chance is to be celebrated. It is this mission to which ICU Mobile and Michael Homula are dedicated with passion and an unswerving desire to serve the Lord.
Even today, Michael sometimes recalls the short, but powerful poem that rested on the wall at his parent’s house during his childhood. Today, it motivates him and pushes him to seek out young women, like his mother, who with encouragement might have the love to offer someone else like him, life:
Not flesh of my flesh,
Not bone of my bone.
But still, miraculously my own.
Never forget for a single minute,
That you weren’t born under my heart,
But in it.
Doug Magill is a consultant, freelance writer and voice-over talent. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org