When Rosa* first visited the pregnancy center where I volunteered, she was accompanied by her husband. He spoke only a little English, and she spoke none at all. She stood somewhat behind him as he and I attempted to communicate, her gaze fixed on the ground. After much gesturing and pointing, we were able to figure out what size diapers and clothing they needed for their children. Rosa never said a word.
Over the next few years, Rosa and her husband would come by regularly for diapers and other things. We learned that they were believers active in a local Hispanic church. Her husband would sometimes ask us for a Spanish Bible he could give away to someone in their church.
Rosa slowly gained more confidence both in her ability to communicate with us and in our center as a safe and welcoming place for her and her children. Eventually she felt secure enough that she came in alone. Another volunteer saw Rosa in the parking lot of a local business. Rosa called out and waved, greeting the center volunteer as her friend.
An offer of help and hope in Jesus’ name
The pregnancy center where I volunteered, like others across our nation, advocates for the life of the preborn. They counsel women in unplanned pregnancies about their options: abortion, adoption, or parenting. Pre-Dobbs, these conversations were increasingly occurring on the telephone, particularly with abortion-minded clients as women searched online for abortion providers and landed on the center’s site.
As advocates for life, the center also provides resources to help moms with items they need throughout their pregnancy and the first year of their baby’s life:
- Maternity clothes,
- and more.
They also offer:
- Free pregnancy tests and sonograms,
- parenting classes,
- post-abortive counseling,
- Bible studies,
- and a fatherhood class.
The largest percentage of the center’s clients go to them for the material resources offered. Many of the clients are poor, and their need is often great. Thus many, like Rosa, go by frequently. As the volunteers get to know them, they greet the clients by name and ask about their children and their jobs. The volunteers ask if they know Jesus and where they go to church.
Nearly half of the clients, like Rosa, are Latino. Several years ago, a translator was added to the team, multiplying the center’s ability to befriend and serve their Spanish-speaking clients.
Diapers, wipes, clothing, car seats—these are the cups of cold water given in the name of Jesus. Each visit, each pack of diapers, each pregnancy test are opportunities to develop a relationship as well as to share the gospel. Every client who walks through the door is a divine appointment sent by God for the help and hope the center offers.
Stories of change and stories of struggle
Leslie and Frank* came to the center for a free pregnancy test, and the proof of pregnancy required by the health department to register for government services. They were living together but wanted to get married. In addition to maternity clothes and items for the baby, Leslie needed a car seat. She agreed to do a Bible study comprised of four booklets she was to complete on her own and bring in to discuss with a counselor. Frank joined her for many of the discussions. Their eagerness to read the Bible and learn what it had to say was exciting.
Over the course of Leslie’s pregnancy and after the birth of their baby, they came in quite often and were able to get diapers, clothes, and formula. We prayed with them for a job for Frank and praised the Lord with them when he found one. We also prayed the Lord would lead Leslie to a job working at home so she could care for the baby. The last time I saw her she had just completed training to do IT work out of her house. They married and started attending church regularly.
It was a great joy to have a front-row seat to the work of God in their lives!
There are many other clients I had the privilege of serving and of seeing the Lord work in their lives over the course of many months. One young woman I counseled was contemplating abortion. She had discovered the baby’s father was married, and she felt abandoned and overwhelmed. We had no idea what she decided, that is, until about nine months later when she brought her baby, Angel, to the center.
“My angel from God,” she told us.
She became one of the center’s most enthusiastic ambassadors, bringing many other women to the center for help and support.
There are, of course, sad stories too. The client who called sobbing and gasping for breath after leaving the abortion clinic. The young girl pregnant from being raped by her uncle; another young girl pregnant by the “coyote” who promised to transport her across the border. The distraught mom in tears crying out to the Lord in Spanish as our translator prayed for her daughter and for her marriage. More than once I read in the newspaper of a client’s arrest.
To some, these clients are merely nameless, faceless political pawns. But we see their faces. We know their names. The Bible instructs us to care for the widow and the orphan—those without a voice, who cannot advocate for themselves. This is true religion, James asserts.
To advocate for life is more than advocating for the life of the preborn; it is also offering hope and help to the mom.
I discovered that I was the same as the clients I served in so many ways. Certainly there are differences in ethnicity and background and socioeconomic status. But, we had much in common: we’ve made bad decisions, done wrong, had people do wrong against us.
What we—all of us—need and most want is hope and forgiveness and grace. We need Jesus. Our need is real, and it is great, but greater still is the life and hope Jesus offers.
*Names and details have been changed for privacy