OSCEOLA, Fla. (BP)–When Dawn Pate talks with women seeking help from the Osceola Pregnancy Center, she understands what they’re going through. She’s been there.
As a young adult looking forward to a career as a flight attendant, Dawn “began to make some wrong choices and got into a situation I had no business being in,” she recounts in her recorded testimony, “and I got pregnant.”
She “absolutely did not want to be pregnant” and recalls telling herself, “Maybe if I don’t think about this, it will go away.”
About 14 weeks into her pregnancy she concluded something would have to be done.
Though her boyfriend offered to marry her, “I didn’t want to get married just because I was pregnant. I just wanted out of the situation,” she said. “So I decided to have an abortion.”
But when she went to an abortion clinic for consultation, “the doctor examined me and then told me without hesitancy, ‘You’re going to be a mother whether you like it or not. You’re too far along to have an abortion. Sorry.'”
She called all over Florida seeking a clinic that would do the late-term procedure. She finally found one in Miami, “but even though I called and called, I somehow never got through.”
She gave up, and a few months later, gave birth to a nine-pound, 14-ounce girl she named Leah.
“Unfortunately, I had not learned my lesson,” she acknowledged, and about two years later, “I became pregnant again.”
This time she went through with the abortion.
“I left the clinic that day feeling relief and I returned home and carried out my normal routines, planning never to think of it again.”
Some time later, she began sensing a need for change in her life. About the same time that she met her husband, William, she also met Jesus Christ, accepted Him as Savior and began attending church.
In 1989, she learned that her church, First Baptist of Kissimmee, was looking for someone to direct a brand-new crisis pregnancy center. Though she did not feel qualified, or even interested, she felt God leading her to make herself available. She was surprised when she was called for a second interview, and even more surprised when she was selected.
It was not until two years after becoming director of the center that she began to realize that “I’d never fully dealt with my own abortion.” She still was feeling anger, depression and fear of pregnancy, all tied to that experience.
With the help of friends, and through a time of prayer and fasting, she began dealing with the pain, and God’s forgiveness finally became real to her.
The Osceola Center, which celebrated its 10th anniversary last year, has been instrumental in guiding more than 700 women to change their minds about having an abortion, choosing parenting or adoption instead, Pate noted. And 600 to 700 have made professions of faith.
The center, which offers free pregnancy testing, sees 30 to 40 clients a week, about half of who test positive, Pate said. Most are not married. Most are white, middle-class and in the 15- to 25-age bracket, though some clients are as young as 11 and a few even are median adults.
Pate and other volunteers take time to talk even with those whose pregnancy tests are negative, encouraging abstinence if they are unmarried. Pate and her daughter, Leah, now a teenager, also have promoted abstinence through an area middle-school program called ENABL (Education Now And Babies Later).
For those who are pregnant, the Osceola center offers encouragement and spiritual counsel, referrals to medical services and adoption services or parent training, and a “Wee Care” clothes closet.
Recently, the center has begun staying open some evenings, allowing more opportunity to work with the fathers involved in the pregnancies.
Another facet of the ministry is a support group-type class dealing with post-abortion issues. The 12-week Bible study is concluded with a memorial service led by pastor Tim Wilder.
Through that process, the women deal with their grief, experience God’s forgiveness and discover, as Dawn Pate has, that “He now works through my tragedy for His good.”