DALLAS (BP) – Crediting God’s tenderness and compassion, Leanne Jamieson says pregnant women in crisis often stick to her very soul, causing her to take their concerns to God’s altar.
The executive director of the Prestonwood (Baptist Church) Pregnancy Center meets hundreds of such women each year.
“I will sit with a client and so often, they stick to your soul and then you have to leave them at the altar, because you fall in love with them, and you realize that the world is a broken place, that God allows us to see them like He sees them, and that tenderness and compassion,” Jamieson said.
“I guess when I sit with a young woman, I guess I know I could have been one decision or, have a different family, or not (have) been raised in the church – there’s a whole host of things where I could have been that client, even though I’m not.”
Jamieson spoke to Baptist Press while preparing for the May 31 opening of the Prestonwood Family Resource Center that will allow expanded and extended care for mothers, fathers and children, with pertinent resources through perhaps the fifth year of life.
“What I love about the resource center is it really is a flag to the world that the accusation that we are merely, as believers, pro-birth is not true, that we are pro-life in both word and action,” Jamieson said. “And that when we say to a young woman or a young couple that we are there to support them and to walk alongside them and to equip them through this parenting journey, should they decide to parent that child themselves rather than looking at adoption, this is just very … tangible proof of that.”
As the U.S. Supreme Court seems primed to return abortion law to the purview of state legislatures, Jamieson suspects the Prestonwood ministry will attract more women in crisis. Texas is among 13 states with laws on the books that will immediately outlaw abortion if the decision is returned to the states.
Prestonwood, under the leadership of senior pastor Jack Graham, is among numerous churches continuing various pro-life outreaches.
Ashland Avenue Baptist Church in Kentucky, where most abortions would also become illegal if Roe v. Wade is overturned, is displaying 2,500 crosses on its front lawn in memory of the approximately 2,500 babies aborted daily in the U.S. as recently as 2019, senior pastor David Prince told Baptist Press.
Ashland Avenue asked its members to give at least $4 per cross for the display, raising $14,000 to give to a local crisis pregnancy center in Lexington. The church borrowed the white crosses, each about 2 feet tall, from Arkansas Right to Life. Children helped their parents and other members plant the crosses on Ashland Avenue’s front lawn May 15 for a two-week public display.
“We hope it reminds Christians and even those who are not Christian who understand the value of human life to speak and to call to an end to Roe v. Wade,” Prince said. “We hope it helps remind Christians to pray to that end, but also to serve those who are in the midst of precious pregnancies.
“So we want to be a voice in our city to speak about issues of unrighteousness and this is …one of the most significant of those issues that we speak to,” Prince said. “And we also wanted to accomplish our continued support of the local … crisis pregnancy center.”
Ashland Avenue’s members are active in fostering and adopting, and many have thanked Prince for the church’s work.
“One Sunday after church a lady came up to me,” Prince said, “and she said I want you to see this baby. And she said I want you to know this baby is only alive because of your church members. Some of our members had reached out to her at a time when she was thinking about aborting her baby, and they said, ‘We will financially help you through this whole process and we’ll be there for you, to serve you.’ So this lady said, ‘My child is only alive because of the way your church members have served me.’’’
At Prestonwood, Jamieson has been in women’s ministry two decades and credits God with giving her a heart for ministering to women. The Prestonwood Pregnancy Center – with locations in Richardson and South Dallas and a mobile clinic – has 36 staff members and attracts about 140 volunteers each year. The center received a total of 19,943 visits from about 1,200 clients in 2021, Jamieson said.
“I understand for a lot of our clients, there’s a lot of just difficulty and heartache. They have a lot of struggles, and there’s just a compassion,” Jamieson said. “And just the offer for them to do better, that there is a better way (than abortion), and there’s a better option, and to watch the Lord do miracles, is a privilege. It’s a privilege to be able to sit across from a woman and have her trust you.”
Ultrasounds, pregnancy testing, guidance counseling and classes on topics including fathering, relationships and the cost of parenting are among services at the pregnancy care center. The resource center will add services needed after a woman or family chooses life, Jamieson said, including professional Christian counseling; a boutique with pregnancy clothing, diapers, cribs, strollers, baby clothing and clothing for children through age 4 or 5; and classes in childbirth, parenting, lactation preparation, prenatal and perinatal care. The resource center will be open to anyone in the community in need, in addition to Prestonwood Pregnancy Center clients, all at no cost.
A crisis pregnancy creates uncertainties for women who have grown up in the era of Roe v. Wade., Jamieson said.
“A lot of times people think that when a woman comes to a pregnancy center and she sees the baby on the sonogram that that’s when the decision for life happens, and often we do see that. We see that woman see her child or hear the heartbeat and the wall, the barrier to parenting, comes down,” she said. “But sometimes, it’s a longer process than that.
“We continue to work with our women from the moment they call us until well after birth, whether that means through ongoing meetings with the nurse or client advocate, to encouraging them to be in classes, we call and check in. We have a schedule when we touch base with them, so that they’re not lost.”
Serving expectant mothers in crisis requires patience and care.
“When a woman has been abortion vulnerable, it would be very unwise of any of us to think” all of the mother’s concerns will be resolved. “Even after choosing life, she’s still somewhat vulnerable. We want to continue to remind her of why she made that decision and do that through contact, and that’s another beautiful thing about the resource center, is it gives us one more reason to continue (the relationship).
“There’s something anticipatory for a mama as that child is being knitted together in her womb by the Lord, there’s something that’s nurturing and nesting to be able to think about the preparation for that child, and it actually is bonding.”