Ryan Bomberger co-founded The Radiance Foundation with his wife, Bethany, to be a voice for the weak and downtrodden in society. His story started with a courageous birth mom who experienced the horror and the violence of rape, yet she chose life for her baby. She not only enabled Ryan to live, she gave him the incredible gift of adoption – and he became one of 13 children in the Bomberger family. When people ask what inspired him to be pro-life and to be an adoption advocate, Ryan answers, “Being born after being conceived.”
CVB: Tell me how the idea for The Radiance Foundation came to you.
Ryan: My wife is a teacher and I’m a media professional and we wanted to do more to tackle tough social issues. We wanted to confront the issue of abortion. We wanted to talk about adoption, and fatherlessness, and poverty, and racism in the context of God-given purpose. So we created The Radiance Foundation to illuminate, educate, and motivate; to illuminate the truth that every human life has purpose; to educate people about a myriad of social issues; and then to motivate people to take that knowledge and put it into action.
We felt called by God to creatively illuminate that life has purpose, whether you’re planned, unplanned, able or disabled, red, yellow, black, brown, or white.
The genesis of The Radiance Foundation is from my story of adoption, being conceived in rape. But it’s also my wife Bethany’s story, in that the name comes from our oldest daughter who is named Radiance.
My wife was a single Mom for almost two years and faced the same fear and confusion of single women who find themselves in an unplanned pregnancy. She was in a tough situation with a man who did not care for her and was unkind to her. She left the relationship and discovered she was pregnant. She never wanted Radiance to be ashamed of how she came to be. She wanted her to understand that she is loved by God, and so her name is from Psalm 34:5 – “they looked upon them and their faces were radiant, and they never were never covered with shame.”
But luckily I came into the picture and became her Dad just before she became two. I officially adopted her when she was five. My little girl is no longer a little girl – she’s 14-years-old today – but she has a beautiful testimony because her mom chose to be stronger than her circumstances.
CVB: So what is the vision of The Radiance Foundation?
Ryan: When we first began we launched billboard campaigns to deal with the issue of abortion. We decided to take the two easiest topics, race and abortion, and combine them (laughs). My wife is from New York City and I’m from Lancaster, Pennsylvania, and we were living in Atlanta – in the South where there can be some tension. When we launched this campaign it was called TooManyAborted.com. We dealt specifically with abortion’s impact in the Black community where abortion rates are up to five times higher. We did not expect the kind of media firestorm that this ignited. We placed about 60 billboards in the Atlanta area with the help of Georgia Right to Life.
It was insane – New York Times, CNN, USA Today, MSNBC, NPR – they couldn’t handle that this guy is brown, and he’s pro-life, and he’s adopted, and he’s an adoptive father. So what they would typically do was talk about the campaign and demean it and demonize it, but they would leave me out of it.
NPR interviewed me for 45 minutes about this campaign and why I created it and why we launched it. When the story played on their show, All Things Considered, apparently they didn’t consider me, because they omitted me from the entire three-and-a-half minute piece about the campaign I created and my organization launched.
We became more savvy as time went on.
Practically, we create messaging through billboard campaigns and social media campaigns. We raise millions of dollars for pregnancy centers across the country. We do extensive research and journalism – we call it “factivism” – where we write about culture-shifting issues. We are passionate about providing opportunities for people to be set free. We’re not afraid to talk about the tough stuff.
Too many times Christians are not equipped to talk about these issues and so they hold back in conversations where they are so desperately needed. Our heart is to empower and equip people to talk about these culture-shaping issues because we don’t have the luxury of being silent.
CVB: There has been a backlash against you. How has that affected you over the last ten years?
Ryan: I had never received a death threat, but during that first campaign we got lots of them.
We were sitting across the table from Dr. Alveda King, the niece of Martin Luther King, Jr., and I’m thinking, “God, only you could orchestrate this. Someone like me who story is such that even some Christian pro-life folks would say ‘I can understand abortion in those cases’ – here I am sitting across the table from someone who carries the torch from Martin Luther King, Jr.” The whole point of the meeting was to get churches involved in our campaign before we launched it. There were representatives from mega-churches in that area. They were willing to support us in that boardroom, but they would not sign on publicly.
I thought, “You are the church. You are supposed to be the one taking the bold stand.”
When we launched our first wave of billboards, Planned Parenthood held a national conference with journalists and bloggers to figure out a way to counter our messaging. It was such a David and Goliath thing.
How do you respond? Our commitment is always to be bold and compassionate and that is a delicate, difficult balance. But we can’t shy away, no matter the resistance, because we know that people are being set free. We know that lives are being saved.
CVB: What’s next? Where do you go from here?
Ryan: We’re going to continue doing billboard campaigns. We’re going to launch a new podcast. We meet so many amazing people with such phenomenal stories. We want to convey those stories.
We want to continue our “factivism.” One of my slogans is “less activism and more ‘factivism.’” So we are expanding that through a new video series. We will continue equipping people to do what we do, because we want to replicate it.
There are so many people, especially Millennials, who ask us, “How can we take what you do and do it on our campuses?” So we’re really excited about being able to expand what we do to impart that to others. We want to keep loving people enough to speak the truth.
A foundational verse for The Radiance Foundation is James 1:27: “Pure religion is this – take care of widows and orphans,” but people often don’t quote the last part of that verse, which is, “and do not allow yourself to be polluted by the world.” Part of the corruption of the world is adopting its broken worldview and ideology. So many Christians have done that.
We’re just saying, “look, we need a savior.” Let’s walk with you on this journey. That’s why we raise millions for pregnancy centers, because they are the ones who walk mothers and fathers on this journey through an unexpected pregnancy. They understand that we can do all things – we can be stronger than our circumstances – but we do that through Christ (Philippians 4:13).
We are huge proponents of Christians stepping up and being that love and support – being that voice that breaks through the noise to say there is freedom, and redemption, and wholeness, and healing. And it’s only in Jesus.
Learn more at www.radiance.life