Over-churched and under-reached.
That’s how pastor Dean Inserra described his city of Tallahassee, Fla.
“There are a lot of church buildings, but not a lot of people in the churches. Christianity around here is much more cultural than it is convictional,” he explained.
The Sunshine State’s capital city is also host to two major colleges: Florida State University and Florida A&M University. And this gives the local Church multiple opportunities to reach the “under-reached” in that area.
But not in the way we might think when we think of college ministry.
Between both schools there were approximately 3,000 reported pregnancies last year. Statistically, 40 percent of pregnant college students have abortions.
Inserra’s wife, Krissie, is the former Campus Coordinator for A Women’s Pregnancy Center, a local crisis pregnancy center. As a liaison between the center and the two colleges—a worker on the front lines of the pro life movement—she brought home story after story of the fight for the sanctity of life. Krissie now cares for her newborn at home while Briley Cotton, another City Church member, is the new coordinator.
Inserra and his 2,000-member congregation, City Church, responded and decided it was time to roll up their sleeves, open their wallets and put hands and feet to their conviction that every life matters.
Like several other established churches in the area, City Church began supporting A Women’s Pregnancy Center through monetary donations that fund the purchase of ultrasound machines.
Inserra wants the Church to find more ways like this to be actively, tangibly pro life: “I have always been passionately pro life. Sometimes we need to figure out what it means and how we should carry that out. As a Christian, I want to be able to put feet to that position and make a difference.”
And the difference has been astounding. From January through June of 2014, 120 women were given ultrasounds. Of those women, 53 of them were abortion-minded prior to the ultrasound. After the ultrasound, 35 of those abortion-minded women chose life for their unborn babies.
Inserra is energized and encouraged by these results.
“It is mind blowing to see how many women chose life because of the ultrasound experience. It is a game changer because no one can deny what it is; when you see the baby, you see it’s a life,” he explained.
City Church supports the center by participating in other efforts, such as their annual Walk for Life, fundraising banquets and general volunteer work.
Inserra said his church also offers a helping hand and assurance to the moms-to-be: “We tell these moms, ‘we will walk alongside you and be here for you. We will help you raise this baby or we will help you place this baby for adoption. We care about your baby and we care about your soul.’”
The ministry goes beyond the woman and the baby. A men’s ministry was started to reach the fathers of these unborn babies.
“A woman is more likely to carry the child if the father is on board. One of the reasons a woman walks into an abortion clinic is because the guy is telling her to do it. In her mind, she is going to raise this baby all by herself,” Inserra explained.
“If the baby’s dad can get on board, the mother knows she has support. And then lives can be saved.”
As a believer that abortion is the greatest social justice issue of our time, Inserra urges the younger generation of believers to see it for what it is—and to be vocal and active.
“I see a generation that seems to be all about social justice: wearing this bracelet and liking that cause, but they seem to be largely silent about this issue,” he said. “Crisis pregnancy centers across the country are actually ground zero for social justice.”
Referring to abortion as “our generation’s holocaust,” Inserra looks to 2 Corinthians 5:14-15 as the motive to speak out and take action on behalf of the unborn.
“We are compelled by the work of Christ—the love of Christ—to care about the most vulnerable and least of these. And the most vulnerable and voiceless are the unborn children,” he explained.
“As gospel-believing people we will speak on behalf of the unborn. We are going to be people who are about justice. And you cannot be about justice unless you start there.”
Inserra is hopeful that more in the Church will see abortion as a gospel issue rather than a political issue. He wants to see the power of the gospel infiltrate the abortion industry and change lives.
“We have seen the gospel restore broken people who have come into the center. They finally realize that the blood of Jesus covers not just our sin in part, but the whole. I’m not banking on a court reversal of Roe v. Wade