HOUSTON — The expectant mother in the room adjacent to Grady Butler’s office at the Greenspoint Pregnancy Assistance Center exclaimed with joy at the first sight of her unborn child’s ultrasound.
“The more she saw the baby inside her the more she was in awe,” said Butler, executive director of GPAC’s umbrella organization, Missions Greenspoint. The newly acquired ultrasound machine donated by the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission’s Psalm 139 Project was cause for joy.
The donation will greatly expand GPAC’s ability to reach women considering abortion when facing unplanned pregnancies, said GPAC’s director Flora Lopez. director of Greenspoint Pregnancy Assistance Center (GPAC) embraced her “baby” the day it arrived at the Mission Greenspoint ministry offices Feb. 3.
Through the Psalm 139Project, ERLC seeks to save lives by donating an ultrasound machine to pregnancy centers in cities hosting the Southern Baptist Convention Annual Meeting, held in Houston last year
Daniel Darling, vice-president for communictions for ERLC, says the Psalm 139 ministry is part of the ERLC’s mission to equip the church to live out the gospel, “GPAC is a gospel-centered ministry staffed by people who take the Great Commission seriously. We’re honored to be a part of this gospel ministry.”
Prior to the acquisition, Lopez experienced heartbreak each time she had to tell a potential client GPAC didn’t have an ultrasound machine. She wondered whether they would they seek counsel at a disinterested medical clinic or a nearby Planned Parenthood clinic? After four days of training on the Esoteric MyLab 20 Plus, Lopez expressed confidence that God will use the technology to transform lives in the center’s rough neighborhood.
GPAC is just one of several ministries operating under the purview of Mission Greenspoint in northeast Houston near the outskirts of town. Typical of metropolitan areas, its economy has at time prospered and declined. The neighborhood is composed of undereducated and economically poor families merely scraping by, under the specter of gang violence, drug dealing and prostitution. Mission Greenspoint shines in the neighborhood the light of Christ. No one comes to Mission Greenspoint or GPAC without hearing the gospel and receiving prayer, Lopez said
Most of the women GPAC encounters are not “abortion minded,” Lopez said, but see no possibility of keeping their babies. The ultrasound images provide a new perspective.
Two weeks prior to the machine’s arrival, Lopez put out the word that GPAC would be providing ultrasound examinations and needed pregnant clients to volunteer during the training period. The response was overwhelming..
The training required the two volunteer sonographers examine women at stages of six to 18 weeks gestation. Each hour a new client arrived. On the first day of training a woman called GPAC to receive the free exam. She was anxious to be seen but there were no openings. Lopez told the caller she would put her on a waiting list.
Minutes later an appointment for the next day cancelled and the other woman was scheduled for the 12:30 p.m. spot.
“That was a divine appointment,” Lopez said.
Sharee Valencia, an obstetrician/gynecologist who volunteered as a sonographer, said the woman arrived stressed and determined to have an abortion. While the woman’s boyfriend waited outside the examination room, Valencia learned he was the source of the mother’s anxiety, pressuring her to abort said. He repeatedly sent the woman text messages making it difficult for her to focus on the exam. Valencia allowed him in the room, believing it might reduce the distraction.
“He came in and the tension rose,” Valencia said. “He was not interested [in the ultrasound] and she was tense.”
The staff tried to remain calm, explaining to the woman the development of her six-week-old fetus. Body parts are not visible on an ultrasound at that stage, but the heartbeat was clearly audible.
The couple left without indicating their plans.
When Lopez followed up with the couple by phone a few weeks later, the mother said the pregnancy was progressing wonderfully.
“That told me we saved a baby,” Lopez said. “And that’s only in the training week!”
Valencia is eager to share the life-affirming message of GPAC. As a medical professional, she had learned to view abortion as a legitimate medical procedure. Then God began to work on her heart, impressing the scriptural tenet that everyone is special and created by God with a purpose for their lives.
“Just because we can do it [abortion] doesn’t mean we should,” Valencia concluded. “I just want to do my part to show [the mothers] Jesus. If they choose abortion I still want to love them and help them.”
To learn more about the Psalm 139 Project or make a contribution, go to psalm139project.org or contact the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, 901 Commerce Street, Nashville, Tenn., 37203.