By Susanne Maynes
In many towns and cities across the U.S. and around the world, small non-profit organizations provide services to a slice of the population facing a certain crisis.
For over forty years, pregnancy help centers have reached out to women and men facing unplanned pregnancies.
These centers, also known as pregnancy centers or PHCs, offer accurate information on pregnancy options, free lab-quality pregnancy tests and ultrasounds, life skills classes, material assistance, support for dads and much more.
Every community has its fair share of organizations that help people in need in various ways. What makes pregnancy help centers unique—and why are they so important?
1. Pregnancy centers are the best first step for a woman dealing with a pregnancy crisis
When she visits a PHC, a woman facing a pregnancy decision finds a safe place. She can explore her options without fear of judgment. She will find a listening ear and a compassionate response to her situation.
Further, she will not be charged for her pregnancy test, options consultation, or ultrasound. She has nothing to lose in visiting a pregnancy help center.
2. Those who serve at pregnancy help centers are trained to serve the whole person
A woman is free to talk about her circumstances as she tries to sort out how she got where she is and where to go from there.
If she wants to explore topics of a spiritual nature or ask for prayer, she is free to do so. If she doesn’t want to go there, she doesn’t have to.
Either way, she’ll sense that the person listening to her actually cares about her as a person.
3. Pregnancy centers can connect with folks who would likely never darken the door of a church
Some people are uncomfortable with church, either because it’s unfamiliar, or because of negative associations. That doesn’t mean they don’t care about spiritual things.
A conversation that begins with circumstances surrounding a pregnancy can end up focusing on how a client feels about God—and sometimes that’s her biggest takeaway.
In my years of PHC work, I’ve seen God meet people in the client room in astounding ways.
“Lori,” who dives into the new Bible I offer her, starts reading John 1, and suddenly has a revelation of why the Word of God can be trusted.
“Emma,” who weeps healing tears of relief because she realizes she’s never forgiven herself for the abortion.
“Brea,” who recognizes God has led her every step of the way right into our appointment, and that He is revealing Himself to her in a powerful way.
4. Pregnancy centers not only minister to non-church goers—they also bring churches in a community together under the banner of life
Annual fundraisers for local pregnancy centers may be one of the best opportunities Christians have to lay aside doctrinal and denominational differences and stand united in Christ.
God loves this. He is pleased when Christian sisters and brothers work shoulder to shoulder to serve the least of these.
5. Pregnancy centers provide protection for the most vulnerable members of our community
By reaching out to those in a pregnancy crisis, we offer compassion and practical resources which give parents the hope they need to choose life for their unborn children.
This is our core mission.
To review briefly, we see that pregnancy centers are the best “first step” for a woman in a pregnancy crisis. Her appointment there is not about a transaction, but a relationship.
She has the freedom to explore her options, thoughts and feelings in the presence of a caring, compassionate listener. She may even encounter the love of God amid her difficulty.
Behind the scenes, in order to make this ministry possible, the churches of the community pull together. Brothers and sisters recognize God is the author of life, and it is our privilege and responsibility to protect His most vulnerable image-bearers.
We roll up our sleeves, pray and sacrifice time, talent and treasure together. We gather to celebrate what God is doing in our communities, rejoicing in the children who’ve been rescued.
To consider the impact the average pregnancy center has on a community, imagine what would happen if that center suddenly disappeared.
No place to go for the woman who needs clear information on all her pregnancy options. No free services. No caring, compassionate listener helping her sort out her situation without benefitting from her financially.
She may not feel safe, familiar or comfortable at church, and now there’s one less place where she can encounter a loving God—the ultimate source of hope and transformation she so desperately needs in the valley of decision.
The churches in the area don’t have the center’s annual banquet (or walk for life event) to attend and support, so there’s one less wonderful opportunity to band together. One less chance to experience unity in a beautiful, practical way.
Finally, think of the children who wouldn’t be rescued.
Maybe it’s a whole Kindergarten class, or two, or three—each year. One year after another. Preborn babies disappearing into the black hole of abortion, because no one is reaching out to their mothers and fathers.
It’s a quiet, invisible, beautiful work, this labor of love done by PHC’s.
This ministry brings hope to the despairing. It transforms individuals and families. It connects hurting people with God. It brings together the whole Body of Christ.
And it saves the lives of God’s beloved, pre-born image-bearers.
Keep up the good work. Your ministry is vital.
Editor’s note. This appeared at Pregnancy Help News and is reposted with permission.