We live in a world where a person’s value is often determined by circumstances beyond their control: whether or not their birth was planned, whether or not they have a disability, or what color their skin is. What much of our world is missing, though, is the recognition that every life is inherently valuable.
This week on Family Policy Matters, hear part one of Ryan Bomberger’s keynote address at NC Family’s 2022 Winston-Salem Dinner, where shares his story about the beauty of possibility.
Ryan’s story is a shining example of this message. His biological mother was raped, and yet made the courageous decision to carry him to term and place him for adoption. Ryan was adopted into a large family, and now is an adoptive father himself. He and his wife, Bethany, co-founded The Radiance Foundation, because, as Ryan shared, “we wanted to combine what God had given us as an educator, as a creative, and do three things. We want to illuminate, educate, and motivate.”
The foundation of Ryan’s message goes down to the concept that every life is a gift. He shares that, “embracing the truth that every human being is made in God’s image, it changes the way that we see people. It changes the way that we react to situations.” He goes on to add, “When you see someone as being made in the image of God, you change the way that you behave.”
Prior to co-founding The Radiance Foundation, Ryan was a creative director at an ad agency. Now, he uses those same skills to share messages that value human life. He and Bethany have written books, including two picture books for children. In addition to this, they have put together massive billboard campaigns exposing the dangers of abortion, they have created videos with catchy jingles and important messages, and put together resources that educate people on topics like race and abortion. “[Christians] are the ones who have the truth that can set people free. So I love creating stuff that’s fearless, factual, and freeing.”
Please note that this was a multimedia presentation. You can watch Ryan’s full presentation here.
RYAN BOMBERGER: All right. How does everybody feel tonight?
MULTIPLE VOICES: Good.
RYAN BOMBERGER: That wasn’t really convincing. I heard this side, but I didn’t really hear the left side, which does make sense. Everybody feel alive? Glad to be alive? Good. It is awesome to be alive. It is a gift that none of us should take for granted. Thank you, John, and your entire team at NC Family for inviting me to speak. I love your vision statement. I just want to read this again, “A state and a nation where God is honored, religious freedom flourishes, families thrive, and live is cherished.” You cannot flourish without the truth, and we live in a culture today that constantly tells us, well, that’s not my truth, that might be your truth. But there is no such thing as my truth or your truth. There’s just the truth. Can I get an amen in here?
MULTIPLE VOICES: Amen.
RYAN BOMBERGER: We have a culture that is so broken on so many levels. We are all broken, but thank goodness we serve a Creator who redeems and rescues all the time. What we have to do is — embracing the truth that every human being is made in God’s image, it changes the way that we see people. It changes the way that we react to situations. When you see someone as being made in the image of God, you change the way that you behave, and so when we do that, instead of looking through the broken lenses of the world, and the world has a lot of broken lenses: the lens of race, the lens of socioeconomic status, the lens of 72 genders, whatever it may be now, but we have to look through the breakthrough filter of Christ. And so what we do through the Radiance Foundation is we love doing that. My wife was an educator for 13 years. I was a creative director in the ad agency world for the same amount of time. My wife taught in both public and private schools. In fact, she’s now a home-schooling mama. She’s also the co-founder of the Radiance Foundation. But we wanted to combine what God had given us as an educator, as a creative, and do three things. We want to illuminate, educate, and motivate.
We want to illuminate the truth that every human life, whether your planned, unplanned, abled, disabled, whatever beautiful hue of skin you have, every human life has God-given purpose. And we want to educate on these culture-shaping issues. We talk about the easy stuff: abortion, racism, fatherlessness, poverty, gender radicalism, basically the war on common sense. Have you noticed that there is a war on common sense. So we illuminate, we educate, and then we motivate because what good is your knowledge, what good is your faith, if you don’t put it into action? How many of you are good at motivating other people, just by a show of hands? Wow, that’s kind of depressing? We’re supposed to be influencing the world. We’re salt and light, right? Maybe you’re better at self-motivation, right? Self — maybe not either, I don’t know, but we want to do these three things because we live in a culture where too often the world is screaming a lie. And Christians cower in a corner somewhere being silent. We are the ones who have the truth that can set people free.
So I love creating stuff that’s fearless, factual, and freeing. This is some of the stuff. You can go to Radiance.life. It’s the easiest way to get to our website. We have infographics. We have memes. We have weekly op-eds written for Christian Post and Townhall. We have a lot of content videos and just stuff to equip you to feel confident to engage in conversations. Sarah mentioned earlier I am a factivist. There’s a difference between an activist and a factivist. I applaud those who sense injustice and want to do something about it, but you cannot act without the facts. It leads to dangerous consequences. And so we want to make everyone factivists. We have other tools, too, like books that we have written. Actually, this is written by my favorite author on the planet. It’s my wife, Bethany Bomberger. We spend so much time trying to change the mind of an adult, but we wouldn’t have to do that if we taught children an age-appropriate, pro-life worldview.
And so this is one of the resources that we have. Actually, it’s at the table right outside the door here, and, also, I can’t even believe that we have to even create something like this, that we even have to say this but this is our newest book coming out on December 5th. It’s called, “She is She.” It’s all about undeniable, biological, beautiful her. That’s available at SheisShe.com or just go to our main website. Everything that we do, everything that we create, and I know that this is the motivation, too, for NC Family, is 1 Corinthians 13:6. It says, “Love does not delight in evil, but it rejoices in the truth.”
How many of you remember where you were on June 24th? Nobody. Wow. Okay, so I remember because that was the day that the Dobbs decision came out. I was by myself, which was a rare occurrence. My kids were at camp. My wife was at the pro-life women’s conference. Our staff was actually with her, and all of the sudden the decision comes down. My wife calls me. She’s crying on one end of the phone, and I start crying because it was just a reminder from God that even in the political climate, even when it seems in the natural that things are impossible, we serve a God of the impossible all the time. And so although Roe was aborted, yes, and I understand we have to fight state after state. I know this recent election there were some really disappointing ballot initiatives that were approved in other states, but we can never give up.
I thank Heaven that slavery abolitionists never gave up because I would not have made a good slave, I’m just saying. Never, ever give up — which is why I love talking about the beauty of possibility. My family is the tangible representation of that. Sarah mentioned that there are 15 in my family. It’s your typical American family. I have six brothers, six sisters. Ten of us were adopted, and it’s interesting because people often ask me, well, what motivated your parents to adopt? What influenced them? You kind of hear the sub-text to it. It’s like what possessed your parents? Well, two things: love and brokenness.
My mom had an alcoholic father. She grew up in a trailer park. She had an alcoholic father who was emotionally and psychologically abusive, and my mom was placed in a children’s home for one year at the age of five. We often underestimate young people, and I love that John recognized the groups of young kids that are here, the teenagers that are here. Never underestimate youth, and I’m sure someone probably would have underestimated my mom at five years of age. That’s where she got the heart for adoption. In fact, at this home, there was a little girl who had physical disabilities, and no one came to visit this little girl. No one came to hug her. No one came to be with her. My mom had her parents to visit her separately, but no one came for that girl and that’s what broke a five-year-old’s heart. And as my mom tells us the story, she remembers getting down on her knees one night and just praying to God, “God, help me be a mommy to those who don’t have one,” and I know sometimes people think, well, I couldn’t do this, I couldn’t do that, I couldn’t be an adoptive parent, I couldn’t do — whatever, fill in the blank — because you feel like things have to be perfectly lined up. But, see, life is never picture perfect, and that’s actually what makes it so beautiful.
RYAN BOMBERGER: Our society tells us that children are a burden, but Scripture tells us that children are a blessing. See, my family is filled with those exceptions that the world would so easily write off because we didn’t fit the picture of perfection. We weren’t planned. We had disabilities. We had…
But I thank God for parents who loved the mess out of us. I grew up in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. Anybody ever been to Lancaster County? So you know about the Amish, right? Apple dumplings, whoopie pies, good stuff — stay away from the scrapple. Although maybe people like scrapple here, I don’t know. But I grew up on ham loaf, and my wife is from New York City, and she’s like what is ham loaf? It’s good stuff.
What’s funny is I travel all around the country, and I’ve been asked several times, well, are you Amish? I’m like no. I like electronics. No, I’m not Amish. I love the Amish. My grandparents were Mennonite, which is kind of like Amish-light. So I guess that’s close enough, but I loved growing up where I grew up. You know, there were 13 kids, and usually the whole neighborhood was on our farm here and you see just a portion of our farm. Oh my goodness, if these walls could speak. Actually, I’m glad walls don’t speak because too much stuff they would reveal, but there was so much love in this home. And I will tell you, growing up in a family of 15, we had in the beginning one and a half bathrooms. Just let that sink in. I had six sisters. One and a half bathrooms doesn’t really work out so well.
These are the original Bombergers, my parents, Henry and Andrea Bomberger, and the three biologically-related children. The homemade ones, I’m not sure what to call them, the original ones, but this was — when people look at this picture, they think, well, that’s picture perfect. But, see, God new better. My mom, thankfully, met a man who shared the same heart because if you’re going to adopt 10 kids you should probably be on the same wavelength. So the most amazing man that I’ve ever known, and they say often a picture is worth a thousand words. This is actually the first moment my mom was able to hold me. I know I was cute at one point, but sometimes you still have to explain that picture because you can’t tell from this picture what my mom had to go through in order to adopt me. In fact, her father was involved with our family, the original Bombergers, for those few years, but the moment they talked about adopting me — my mom knew her father was broken, didn’t realize he was also deeply racist. And so he said if you bring — I’m going to clean up the language — but if you bring that black child into your home, you’re going to ruin your family. And so my mom literally had to lose a father in order to gain a son. So the moment they adopted me, he had nothing to do with our family. He missed out on 13 amazing grandkids. He could have loved us. We would have loved him back. He missed out.
I will say my parents chose well, they chose me. Thank you, mom and dad, and that just highlights when I talk about the beauty of possibility, it’s impossible to talk about that without talking about the beauty of sacrifice, but not the way that the world understands sacrifice because the world understands sacrificing others. See, that’s easy, but self-sacrifice, not so easy. Are there any parents here who have ever sacrificed for your kids? Some of you? Yeah. Maybe sometimes those kids don’t fully appreciate those sacrifices. Any of you have a stubborn child, a strong-willed child. If they’re here, please don’t raise your hand, I’m just saying, but I would encourage you because I was one of those children where my parents didn’t know exactly what to do with me. I think my first mission in life was actually to test their strength as parents, see how far I could push them. But I would just say just wait for about 20 to 30 years, and that stubborn-willed nature will become something constructive. I’m still on my apology tour to my parents. Seriously, I don’t know how they put up with me.
This is my father. The reason why I love being a dad, the reason why I love being a husband, my dad was a man who loved Jesus, and when you love Jesus, that natural outflow is loving people. See my dad was a father who loved those that other men abandoned. He was the same man at home as he was outside of the home, and I know not everyone can say that about their father. But I had an amazing father in my life, and this graphic really defines our family’s journey. It says here, “Color isn’t what binds us, love is.” There are so many people who would tell my parents, well, how are you going to raise a child who isn’t the same color as you? I didn’t realize you had to be the same color as someone to love them. And I think my parents just defied all of the naysayers, and I will say a lot of us probably lost someone that we loved or knew of someone close, a friend we lost during the height of the pandemic. My dad passed away on the anniversary of Roe v. Wade the 22nd, in 2021. That was the hardest thing I’ve ever been through, and I will tell you that really tragic anniversary of Roe v. Wade, I feel like his death redeems that day for me. He left behind an incredible legacy of love and faith, and I hope to be a fraction of who my dad was.
When I talk about the beauty of possibility, I love shattering some of these myths, and this is actually the DNA of the abortion industry, that unplanned equals unwanted equals unloved. It’s what they thrive on. But yet my parents shattered the myth of the unwanted child. This is an old article, and I love it. They didn’t do many interviews, but this was one of them and I love the title. The journalist actually understood what they were sharing about adoption, and then you see the title here, it says, “‘Unwanted Children’ Find They are Wanted.” See, there’s no such thing as unwanted. We may have been unwanted by a biological parent or parents, but we are all wanted by someone. And I’m the one in the bottom middle, a handful right there, but I was the favorite in the family. Anybody else have that title? It’s a good title to have. My youngest daughter, Aliyah, is always saying that she’s the favorite in the family, and it’s hard to respond when she says that because I have four favorites. I love them all. They’re loved like crazy.
This is all of the siblings, all of the Bomberger kids, like everybody’s got an afro. Even the white people in the picture have got an afro. It’s just these are all of us. We’re white. We’re black, white and black, Native American, Vietnamese, abled, disabled. Everyone in this picture has special needs just like everybody in this room tonight has special needs, which are to love and to be loved, and I thank God that we had parents who never, ever gave up didn’t listen to all the naysayers, didn’t listen to the world saying you can’t do this. And one of the most powerful things in this picture — have you guys ever heard the word “diversity”? Anybody? Just making sure. It’s a rare word. It’s hardly ever spoken. This is, obviously, a picture of diversity, but it’s more than just skin color. It’s experiential diversity. Some of my siblings came from some horrific backgrounds, but I’ll tell you one of the most powerful acts of racial reconciliation is bringing a child of a different color or ethnicity into your home and loving them simply because they deserve to be loved. And that’s why one of the foundational tenets of the Radiance Foundation is this: we are one human race. Can I get an amen in here?
This is not a call to be colorblind. God is a colorful God, but he didn’t create color for us to separate ourselves by it. He created color for us to enjoy and to celebrate. Acts 17:26, “From one blood he created us all,” and so I love that my family is this representation — our family is like the reward of abolitionists. It’s the reward of the Civil Rights Movement where it says we are all equal.
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