With trembling hands Sandra* dialed the number of the Pregnancy Care Center in Cobb County, Ga. Afraid she might lose her nerve, she rushed into her incredible story.
The twenty-year-old former college student feared she was pregnant. With a new life beginning inside her, Sandra began to reevaluate her life - and her lifestyle.
The child of devoted Christian parents, she reveled in the independence an out-of-state college in a metropolitan city offered. But Sandra possessed a fierce streak of pride. When money ran out, she made a tragic choice. Instead of turning to her parents, she turned to the nightlife of Atlanta - and prostitution - to fill the void.
Beth Stedman happened to be the counselor on the other end of the phone that day. She scheduled an appointment for Sandra and hung up the phone shaking her head.
"I can't do this," she said to a fellow volunteer. "I'm just not prepared."
Stedman had been working as a crisis pregnancy volunteer less than two months, and recalls feeling "grossly inadequate" to assist the tearful, troubled girl who obviously needed an experienced counselor.
"The other counselor and I decided that I would not be her counselor that day," said Stedman. "Although that center usually operates on appointments, we do accept walk-ins and, as luck would have it, we ended up having a walk-in visitor that day that messed up the schedule.
"Or at least we thought the schedule was messed up," she said with a laugh. "Actually, God knew what was going on; and He wanted me to be Sandra's counselor that day."
When the pregnancy test confirmed Sandra's fears, the petite blond began to cry. For a full ten minutes the tears flowed and deep sobs shook her body.
"I think that's where I made the first connection with Sandra. I didn't say anything. I just let her cry - and I held her," said Stedman.
According to Stedman, even in the midst of her fear and shame Sandra knew she wanted to give the baby up for adoption. "She knew abortion was wrong, but she knew she didn't want to be a parent either.
"At that point I knew that's why God let her talk to me."
At the age of sixteen, a pregnant Stedman had released her own daughter to adoption.
"I think that's another way we found a connection with one another, because I had done what she wanted to do."
Holding hands, the women talked and shared their lives with one another.
Offering Sandra's tears a chance to dry, Stedman shared The Heart of the Matter, a short video presenting a dramatic view of the preborn child's development, abortion procedures, and addressing post abortion trauma.
Then Stedman began to introduce Sandra to the plan of salvation. At this, the girl raised her head and smiled, "No, no, Beth. I know I'm saved," said Sandra. "I've just turned away."
That day Sandra rededicated her life to Christ.
She began accompanying Stedman's family to church and became part of the Stedman family.
Later, Sandra returned to the Florida home of her parents. Though shocked and disappointed at first, they supported her wholeheartedly throughout the pregnancy and guided her through the legalities of a partially open adoption.
Over the past five years Sandra has received a letter from the adoptive family on her son's birthday. She rejoices when the letter arrives detailing his life and the exploits common to an active young boy.
Meanwhile, Sandra returned to college and has begun dating a Christian. She openly shares her testimony with her own church and in congregations in her community.
"She's a wonderful young lady," said Stedman with obvious fondness. "She's full of life now. God just really changed her. Coming from the gutter - which is really where she came from - the transformation in her life is incredible."
And Stedman, who still volunteers at a pregnancy center in her North Carolina hometown, has accepted that the hand of God sometimes arrives as a gentle push.
"I knew that God wanted me to be her counselor. I knew it that day after she left," she said.
Through a nationwide network, Alternatives for Life and Pregnancy Care Centers work each day to save the unborn. If volunteers share a common prayer it may be simply, "Lord, just one life," they plead quietly. "If I can just save one life it will all be worthwhile." Sometimes the blessing is two-fold, as volunteers save the lives of a mother as well.
For information about Pregnancy Care Centers or to start a center in your community contact Alternatives for Life at (770) 410 6000, or write North American Mission Board, 4200 North Point Parkway, Alpharetta, GA 30022-4176.
To order The Heart of the Matter call LifeWay Customer Service Center at 800-233-1123.
*The mother's name and baby's photograph have been changed to protect privacy.
• The Elliot Institute reports that about 40 percent of abortion cases involve coercion.
• A survey of members of the organization Women Exploited by Abortion showed 33 percent were encouraged to have abortions by their boyfriends - higher than even the percentage (27 percent) pushed in that direction by abortion counselors.
• Fifty-four percent of the respondents also said they felt "forced by outside circumstances" to have an abortion.
• Nine percent of respondents indicated their husbands pushed for abortion.
Insight, May 3, 1999
Tracy Simmons is a freelance writer from Shelbyville, Tenn. January 16 is Sanctity of Human Life Sunday. For promotional materials call the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission at 615-244-2495.