Centers offer hope to expectant moms, families
    January 11 2010 by Jami Becher and Dianna L. Cagle, North American Mission Board and BR Assistant Managing Editor

    At age 17, Dawn was in crisis.

    She was pregnant and alone, afraid to tell either her parents or her friends. When she visited a Florida abortion clinic, her baby was too far developed to abort and she bore a baby girl whom she loved very much.

    BP photo

    Dawn Pate is director of the Osceola Pregnancy Center, a ministry of First Baptist Church of Kissimmee, Fla.


    When she became pregnant again two years later she didn’t wait. She walked into an abortion clinic, ended her pregnancy and walked out vowing never to speak about it again.

    Some 6.3 million women face a crisis pregnancy in the United States each year, according to the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy.

    More than 1.3 million of those pregnancies end in abortion. 

    Pregnancy resource centers exist nationwide to tell these women there is hope and a future for them and their babies in Jesus Christ.

    The North American Mission Board (NAMB) partners with 270 pregnancy resource centers, including 18 in North Carolina.

    Because of NAMB-related centers, more than 3,600 babies were saved from abortion in 2009. Additionally, some 1,700 women accepted Christ because pregnancy center staff members shared the gospel with them.

    On Jan. 17, Southern Baptists again will observe “Sanctity of Human Life Sunday,” marking the 37th anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision.

    Hope in Burnsville
    Tri-County Pregnancy Center in Burnsville was started as a ministry of West Burnsville Baptist Church 16 years ago.

    Because Mary Higgins and her husband Michael “were burdened about the abortion issue” they began to research the possibility of a center.

    The center served close to 700 clients in 2009, said Higgins, who with Michael is a Mission Service Corps (MSC) missionary through NAMB.

    West Burnsville Baptist donates money and shares center needs in the church bulletin.

    “One of the nicest things a church can do is include the local pregnancy center in their budget,” Higgins said. “It’s a great thing to call the center and ask ‘What are your greatest needs?’ Or to have someone come by and pray with you.”

    Michael had worked with social services and as a counselor in the school system. Since his retirement, Michael has begun a Bible study exploring biblical principles for  manhood.

    Serving Yancey, Avery and Mitchell counties, Higgins said, “We don’t care where they come from. We see any person that comes as a ministry.”

    She sees a greater reliance on the center from community agencies such as the Department of Social Services and the Health Department.

    “We frequently get referrals from them,” she said. “We have some of the maternal outreach workers who bring clients to classes.”

    Centers like these often help with the financial burden of counseling as well as getting supplies for parents with little support.

    “There’s a lot of people that are financially in such a bind that they don’t know what to do,” Higgins said.

    “A lot of times they are scared to come.”

    Higgins believes the earlier you can reach people, the better.

    She said the center has resources available to help youth ministers talk to their students. Higgins is also available to present the ministry in churches and to host groups at the center. 

    “It’s good for our young people to know what kind of situation their friends might be dealing with,” she said.

    “Sometimes those kids can be the very ones who save a baby’s life. If we can educate kids we can make a difference.”  

    Brevard center active
    Started 17 years ago as Mom’s Place, The Center for Women in downtown Brevard receives up to 1,200 visits each year.

    Like other centers, The Center for Women awards points to expectant mothers for coming to classes, getting counseling, keeping WIC appointments, etc.

    Earned points allow parents to get needed items from the thrift shop; anything from maternity clothes to baby clothes and products as well as furniture.

    “It’s a way to keep them connected with us,” said Wendy Kicklighter, director. “We ask them to carry their child to term.”

    A majority of the center’s clients are in their 20s but in the last couple of weeks Kicklighter said she saw 14- and 15- year-old girls.

    “It still is a major problem,” she said. “I don’t know what to say about the way the country is headed. We accept teen pregnancy too readily. Nowadays it’s something they’re proud of ... girls in school. It’s something they brag about. That’s really sad.”

    Kicklighter wishes more young mothers would make their babies available for adoption.

    Instead, those who choose abortion say they would “rather have no child than to have given up a child.” 

    Bridging a Gulf
    Renee Haugh (pronounced Hawk) is executive director of Reach Out Crisis Pregnancy Center Inc. in Gulf, a rural area.

    They saw 173 clients in 2009.

    Eight of those made professions of faith. The center, started 12 years ago by a local pastor’s wife, offers ultrasounds as well as counseling and material support.

    Reach Out serves Chatham and Lee counties, and Haugh said they want to relocate to a more populated area like Sanford. 

    They are seeing pregnant clients as young as middle school age, and women to age 40, said Haugh, who wants to gain greater ground in social networking tools, such as Facebook and Twitter. 

    “If we can’t even reach our clients it will be a moot issue,” Haugh said, because few of them consider adoption.

    One of the needs Haugh sees is reaching young men. She hopes to have some men volunteer to teach.

    Elaine Ham, pregnancy care ministries associate at NAMB, wants Jan. 17 to be not only a day of remembrance for babies who have been lost to abortion, but also a day of hope for babies and mothers who can be saved if Southern Baptist churches and pregnancy resource centers will work together to reach them.

    Dawn Pate knows firsthand the need for Christ to be the hope in the midst of a crisis pregnancy. She was that girl who had faced two crisis pregnancies and an abortion by the time she was 19.

    “It’s amazing how God works,” Pate said. “The very things we don’t want to talk about are the things He uses to bring about healing and to minister to other people.”

    Churches across the country are invited to join in The Invitation Stands by going to www.nambforlife.net to download free resources and order the video.

    Ways you can help
    Most pregnancy centers have common needs:
    • Prayer
    • Financial donations
    • Volunteers
    • Maternity and baby clothes
    • Diapers
    • Baby furniture, car seats, etc.
    • Baby food and formula
    • Hold a baby shower
    When in doubt, call and find out the current needs.

    Pregnancy centers
    Below is a list of North Carolina pregnancy care centers affiliated with the North American Mission Board:
    Contact the individual center to see about how you can help provide for the needs of their clients. 

    Related
    Editorial: Sanctity extends to end of life as well
    Center offers hope to expectant moms, families
    OPINION: Being a pro-life church
    OPINION: The abortion tragedy, in perspective
    NAMB video
    Baptist State Convention of North Carolina video
    1/11/2010 9:17:00 AM by Jami Becher and Dianna L. Cagle, North American Mission Board and BR Assistant Managing Editor | with 1 comments




Comments
Gene Scarborough
2 things I would suggest in this much needed ministry:

(1) Don't disguise yourself as an abortion provider, and then lay a guilt trip on anyone to get them to keep a baby, should it be truely unwanted.

(2) Do everything you can to assure them God understands and forgives just like he did the Woman at the Well in Sameria with the words: "Go forward in life and sin no more. Your sins are forgiven!"

Remember: even legitimate Abortion Clinics never grant instant abortions. They counsel their clients about the ramifications of the decision and require they spend, at least, a week with all things on the table before a final decision is made.
1/11/2010 8:10:12 PM

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