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Saving Lives, Impacting Eternity

After waiting four hours, Marisa (not her real name) nervously followed the assistant into the doctor's office. There, she would keep her Thursday appointment to abort the life of the baby growing inside her womb. Marisa, a twenty-eight-year-old divorced mother of three, had firmed her resolve. Her pregnancy was the result of being raped. In her mind, her situation fit one of the "unless" clauses in her pro-life beliefs. Haggard and distraught, she merely wanted to terminate the pregnancy and move past the trauma.

Marisa was told she would be given a standard sonogram before the doctor's exam. The sonar images would reveal not only how long Marisa had been pregnant, but also which procedure the doctor would use as well as how much to charge.

The assistant offered a concerned look when she finally captured an image of the baby squirming inside Marisa. She summoned the doctor who evaluated the pictures and signaled his decision to treat the mid-term pregnancy as full-term. He then turned off the monitor, denying Marisa's request to view the image of her growing baby.

The assistant left. Marisa sat alone with the abortionist. After referring to a scale extracted from a desk drawer, he said, "Your procedure will cost $2,000 if you do it on Monday. The fee will increase each day you wait."

"Why can't we do it right now?" Marisa asked, frightened and despairing.

"This procedure takes three days, due to fetal development," he said. "And I don't do this on Sundays."

His last words sounded very peculiar to her. "What does he do on Sundays," she wondered. Does he go to church? Does he play with his children? What kind of man is he to be able to do this every other day but Sunday? And what kind of person am I to be sitting here with him now?

Marisa quickly left the abortion clinic, not knowing her destination. She considered driving to her mother's, then to a girlfriend's home. Instead, she found herself pulling into the parking lot of the Crisis Pregnancy Center across the highway from her work. She had passed it every day, aware of its presence, but never considering its options. This day, she entered and asked a single question.

The young mother, reaching out hopelessly to a stranger behind the receptionist's desk, simply asked, "Can you show me what my baby looks like?"

 

• • • • •

 

The Crisis Pregnancy Center (CPC), a ministry of First Baptist Church, Euless, Texas, was indeed able to show Marisa her baby with a sonogram and model of the baby's development. Unlike the Dallas abortionist, CPC provided options emphasizing life possibilities rather than deadly despair. Each month, CPC welcomes an average of 200 young women with situations similar to Marisa's, embracing them in love and offering them hope.

CPC began in February 1984, in response to then-pastor Jimmy Draper's sermon, "The Death of America." That sermon called the congregation of First Euless to do more than condemn those who chose abortion. The message challenged them to respond in love and in action.

Paula Odom, CPC director and involved since the ministry's inception, said the Lord was at work from the beginning and that positive results were immediate. "In the first month, we had sixteen girls visit. The first one wasn't pregnant, but she did pray to receive Christ as her Savior."

Word of the CPC quickly spread and it has twice moved to accommodate its need for more space. CPC now operates with a pool of almost forty-five volunteers. It offers clothing and food for babies and expectant mothers and provides point-of-contact counseling, Bible-study, witnessing, and referrals to Christian adoption agencies and Christian professional counselors.

Odom noted that the CPC also offers counseling to men dealing with pregnancies and abortions. "For every woman who has had an abortion or is considering one, there is a man who is affected, too."

The ministry has quickly grown to become a vital outreach of First Euless. Claude Thomas, First Euless pastor since 1991, said the CPC's connection to the church is vital and integral. "On the most basic level, our church believes in the sanctity of human life, as described in the book of Psalms, and demonstrated in the lives of Jeremiah — who was called from within the womb — and Jesus Christ. Our strong pro-life beliefs and the CPC's operation both exist out of those convictions," he said.

Thomas said that of the approximately 2,275 women who came in 1996, 725 were pregnant. Of those, 550 indicated they would carry the babies to term and eleven planned to offer their babies for adoption. Odom noted that the success could actually be higher, since tracking the final decision is often difficult because clients often use only first names or false names when they arrive for counseling.

"Nothing brings us a greater joy than when a woman, who we thought was going to have an abortion when she left, returns with a baby in her arms. We rejoice those times," Odom said.

Thomas said he believes the CPC's success is a result of committed, nonjudgmental volunteers who express God's unconditional love and biblical truth. "People come in telling us they feel lonely, confused, hurt, angry, and shamed. They need care, communication of truth — biblical truth, a bathing of love, and ministry," he said.

"Anywhere from fifty to 100 women pray to receive Christ as a direct result of this ministry in any given year," Thomas added. "Our volunteers take advantage of the Evangelism Explosion classes the CPC offers and take seriously opportunities to share the good news of Christ's forgiveness. They willingly and eagerly communicate how the gospel speaks to the future."

The message of forgiveness touches a deep need in the hearts of women who suffer from the guilt of Post Abortion Syndrome (PAS), Odom said. "We see women who have been shackled with guilt for as long as ten years because of abortion. They were told that 'it's not really a baby,' but every mother deep down inside knows that it was. These women never had the opportunity to appropriately grieve for the death of their baby. Our counseling to them is really a Bible study. To see PAS women freed from guilt when we share the gospel and they receive Christ is truly a glorious joy."

Odom said CPC is effective because it focuses on having a local presence, advertising in the Yellow Pages, and in local school papers. "We give these women counseling that they do not receive at other relief outlets. We give them the information to make the best-informed decisions. We do all we can to help these women choose life."

Thomas and Odom agree that patience is essential in beginning a CPC ministry. Prayer and vision are vital to success, each said. "For this to be a successful ministry," Thomas said, "the church must make it a great priority, praying to understand what its proper role should be — either heading up a CPC or supporting a CPC in cooperation with other area churches."

Odom added, "When a church catches fire to minister to crisis pregnancies, the urge is to start immediately. They should realize it sometimes takes six months to a year to acquire funding, location, provision, and education to equip the ministry appropriately."

Churches interested in starting a CPC should visit other churches with CPC ministries to see what works and what does not, Thomas said. Odom added that Andy Merritt, minister at Edgewood Baptist Church in Columbus, Georgia, travels nationally, teaching churches how to begin CPC ministries. Also, the North American Mission Board offers Alternatives to Abortion Ministries training, led by Sylvia Booth. "These steps allow a CPC to have a necessary, stable foundation," Odom said.

Odom and Thomas also agree that CPC's ministry can be reduced to simple, basic elements. The ministry changes the lives of the parents and saves the lives of their unborn infants. The ministry says much about the church, Thomas said. "This ministry loudly proclaims, 'What we say we believe, we demonstrate in love.'"

Odom concurred. "Everything boils down to God. As a ministry of the church, as a ministry to these people, we show them what is best and what is right. We show each woman her Lord and present her with the gospel. Then the Holy Spirit will go to work within her and she can have an encounter with Christ."

 

• • • • •

 

Justin (his name has been changed to protect his identity), Marisa's four month old baby, laughs readily and smiles at his mother and strangers alike. He is alive, healthy, and happy. Though he doesn't know it, he owns a future full of promise. Marisa entered CPC scared and hopeless. After sharing her problems with Paula, who mostly listened, Marisa left, feeling a peace she had "never before experienced."

"I left knowing God would take care of me and that I was going to deliver this baby. He took care of my fears along the way. I wasn't sure if I could love Justin if he looked like the man who raped me. God gave me the ability to love him because I was so filled with God's love," she said.

All the "unless" clauses have been removed from Marisa's pro-life stance. "The abortion issue is very clear to me now," she said. "Before, I had 'but' or 'if' conditions. Now I see very clearly Satan's part in it all. I am no longer deceived by his lies or by the propaganda of the abortion industry."

Marisa added. "The crisis is now over. God is still strategically placing people in my life to show me that He loves and cares for Justin and me. God continually gives me assurance I made the right choice. I had tough questions for God and He stepped up and answered them all. I am at peace and Justin is my perfect baby. Through the work and prayers of the Crisis Pregnancy Center ministry, God took care of my troubles."

 


 

NAMB Trained CPCs

ALABAMA
Elmore County Pregnancy Center
Wetumpka, AL
(334) 567-1955

ARKANSAS
Crisis Pregnancy Resource Center
Hot Springs, AR
(501) 624-2273

Pregnancy Help Center
Paragould, AR
(501) 239-0331

FLORIDA
Pregnancy Care Center
Leesburg, FL
(352) 787-8839

Alternative Pregnancy Center
Merritt Island, FL
(407) 454-9853

A Crisis Pregnancy
New Smyrna Beach, FL
(904) 428-5136

Center for Pregnancy
Orlando, FL
(407) 648-2701

St. Petersburg Pregnancy & Family Resource Center
St. Petersburg, FL
(813) 896-9119

GEORGIA
Fayette County Crisis Pregnancy Center
Faytetteville, GA
(770) 719-2288

Henry County Crisis Pregnancy Center
McDonough, GA
(770) 957-8288

INDIANA
Hope House
Connersville, IN
(765) 825-1244

KENTUCKY
Central Kentucky Pregnancy Support Center
Campbellsville, KY
(502) 465-4330

Pregnancy Help Center
Richmond, KY
(606) 624-3942

LOUISIANA
Beauregard/Vernon Crisis Pregnancy Center
DeRidder, LA
(318) 463-9500

ABC Crisis Pregnancy Center
Lake Charles, LA
(318) 494-0089

Crisis Pregnancy Center of Natchitoches, Inc.
Natchitoches, LA
(318) 357-8888

Crisis Pregnancy Center of Ruston, Inc.
Ruston, LA
(318) 255-7377

MAINE
Alpha Crisis Pregnancy Center
Sanford, ME
(207) 324-5752

NORTH CAROLINA
Caldwell Pregnancy Care Center
Lenoir, NC
(704) 757-9555

Wilkes Crisis Pregnancy Center
Wilkesboro, NC
(910) 838-9272

OKLAHOMA
Pregnancy Testing & Guidance Center
Chickasha, OK
(405) 222-5483

Life Time CPC
Duncan, OK
(405) 255-6654

Crisis Pregnancy Center of Southwest
Oklahoma
Lawton, OK
(405) 355-6777

Crisis Pregnancy Center
McAlester, OK
(918) 423-6121

Crisis Pregnancy Support Center
Muskogee, OK
(918) 683-2020

Crisis Pregnancy Center
Oklahoma City, OK
(405) 755-5433

Metro South Crisis Pregnancy Center
Oklahoma City, OK
(405) 682-1595

Pregnancy Center of Tahlequah, Inc.
Tahlequah, OK
(918) 456-4440

Crisis Pregnancy Center
Tulsa, OK
(918) 622-3325

The Pregnancy Center
Woodward, OK
(405) 254-2805

TEXAS
Crisis Pregnancy Center of Midcities
Bedford, TX
(817) 267-3375

Pregnancy Help Center
Clute, TX
(409) 297-3622

Choice Pregnancy Center
Fort Worth, TX
(817) 534-9947

Fort Worth Crisis Pregnancy Center
Fort Worth, TX
(817) 924-9110

Center for Pregnancy
Friendswood, TX
(281) 482-5683

Crisis Pregnancy Center of NW Dallas
Lewisville, TX
(972) 436-2273

Crisis Pregnancy Support Center
Texas City, TX
(409) 945-2888

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January 1998 Edition
Volume 6, Issue 4
January 1998