When Rosa* first visited the pregnancy center where I volunteer, she was accompanied by her husband. He spoke only a little English, she 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, on my part as well as her husband’s, 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. One of my fellow volunteers saw Rosa not too long ago 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
Our pregnancy center, like others across our nation, advocates for the life of the unborn. We counsel women in crisis pregnancies about their options: abortion, adoption, or parenting. Increasingly these conversations are occurring on the telephone, particularly with abortion-minded clients as women search online for abortion providers and land on our site.
As advocates for life, we also provide resources to help moms with items they need throughout their pregnancy and the first year of their baby’s life: maternity clothes, diapers, wipes, etc. We offer free pregnancy tests and sonograms, parenting classes, post-abortive counseling, Bible studies, and a fatherhood class.
The largest percentage of our clients come to us for the material resources we offer. Many of our clients are poor, and their need is often great. Thus many, like Rosa, come by frequently. As we get to know them, we greet them by name. We ask about their children and their job. We ask if they know Jesus and where they go to church. Nearly half our clients, like Rosa, are Latino. We recently added a translator to our team, multiplying our ability to befriend and serve our Spanish-speaking clients.
Our need is real, and it is great, but greater still is the life and hope Jesus offers.
Diapers, wipes, clothing, car seats—these are our cups of cold water that we give 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 in our door is a divine appointment sent by God for the help and hope we offer.
Stories of change and stories of struggle
Leslie and Frank* came to us for a free pregnancy test, and the proof of pregnancy required by the health department to register for government services. At the time, Leslie was working retail; Frank had been laid off. 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, we saw them quite often and were able to help them with 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 are 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 whom we have 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 would become one of our most enthusiastic ambassadors, bringing many other women to us for help and support.
There are, of course, sad stories too. The client who called us 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 have I read in the newspaper of a client’s arrest.
To some, our 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 unborn; it is also offering hope and help to the mom.
I’ve discovered that my clients and I are the same in so many ways. Certainly there are differences in ethnicity and background and socioeconomic status. But, we have 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.
Sometimes when I’m talking to a client this realization of commonality overwhelms me. My breath catches as I tell her of the truest and best help—our only hope in life and death—Jesus. I am struck anew by the real-ness of the gospel. 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