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Help available for startingcrisis pregnancy centers

ALPHARETTA, Ga. (BP)–A crisis pregnancy is an emotionally chargedevent that radically changes a person’s life. Some argue a woman has theright to choose, but according to Sylvia Boothe, “a woman has the rightto be educated and counseled on the physical, emotional, psychologicaland spiritual aspects of all her choices.”
Staff and volunteers in crisis pregnancy ministries “have the joy”of walking with a woman through the crisis of an untimely pregnancy andhelping her discover how God can work redemptively in her situation,said Boothe, who led the North American Mission Board’s Alternatives toAbortion Ministries for 10 years, from 1988 until the end of December.
Alternatives to Abortion Ministries’ objective is to assistchurches, associations and state conventions in ministering to women whoare facing crisis pregnancies or have experienced abortion. Boothe hashelped train volunteers for 37 crisis pregnancy centers (CPC). NAMB’sAlternatives to Abortion office, established in 1987, undergirds thework of such centers by providing training and materials for workers anda nationwide database to help with referrals. In communities without aCPC, a 12-hour conference is offered to teach people how to minister toeveryone involved in the pregnancy and how to pool resources in thecommunity.
Procedures vary from one CPC to another, but typically a womancomes to the center for the free pregnancy test that most CPCs offer.
“Usually she’s scared to death and it takes the last ounce of herenergy to open the door and come in,” said Boothe, who directed a CPC inOklahoma City before joining NAMB.
Along with providing the pregnancy test, volunteers at a centerwill talk with the woman about her options and about the services thecenter can offer. They also refer her to medical and other professionalresources. What center workers hope to do is enable the client to makeher own informed decision to have her baby, knowing she does not have toface that experience alone or without support.
The centers offer more than advice. Services typically offered tothe mother-to-be include parenting classes, help to continue hereducation and become financially self-sufficient, a clothing room withmaternity and baby clothes, support groups and discipleship programs.
Women aren’t the only ones affected by crisis pregnancies. Menalso need help when their child has been aborted. In some crisispregnancy centers, up to half of all clients are men.
“I grew up in a Christian home and felt that a lot of rules didn’tapply to me,” said Steve Arterburn. “I thought I had the world figuredout. Then, I got a girl pregnant while I was going to college.”
Arterburn, co-founder and chairman of New Life Clinics, is anationally known speaker and host of the New Life radio program. Hespeaks openly and honestly in sharing his story of abortion, the shameand guilt he experienced and how he finally received forgiveness andhealing.
“All my dreams and plans seemed to be destroyed by this pregnancy.I didn’t think of it as a baby. I thought of it as a situation I had tofind a way out of as quickly as I could,” Arterburn recounted.
Arterburn scheduled an abortion for his girlfriend, and she wentalong with it. Afterward, guilt and shame set in. “I couldn’t get thebaby back,” he said. “I was sad that I had not talked to anyone who knewanything about alternatives to abortion. I started to think that Godwould never forgive me, that I had ruined my life and any hope of arelationship with God.
“As I have shared this with other men who have paid for abortions,they have told me that they have felt the same things I did,” Arterburnsaid. “I have learned that a real man is a protector of life and aprovider for the life he creates. My prayer is that every man will be ahero to the baby he does not yet know, but a baby that will one daydelight him by calling him Daddy.”
While the focus of Alternatives to Abortion Ministries has been onwomen, Boothe said future plans include an emphasis on men who arepost-abortal.
CPCs also assist in educating children and young people who areforming their morals and values as well as people interested inlong-term positive actions concerning abortion. CPC volunteers haveopportunities to provide abstinence counseling. A girl who fears shemight be pregnant is often open to what the CPC worker has to say aboutGod’s plan for sex and families, Boothe explained.
Boothe listed 12 key steps for starting a crisis pregnancy centeror ministry:
1. Pray and seek God’s guidance.
2. Determine the need in your community.
3. Form a steering committee.
4. Elect a board of directors or a supervisory committee.
5. Select a name and incorporate.
6. Establish a financial base.
7. Hire a director.
8. Establish a facility.
9. Secure advertising.
10. Recruit volunteers.
11. Conduct volunteer training.
12. Hold an open house.
These steps are detailed further in NAMB’s “How to Establish ACrisis Pregnancy Center” manual. It and other Alternatives to Abortionmaterials can be obtained by calling (770) 410-6000. Boothe alsoencourages a visit to the offices Internet site on the World Wide Web,www.celebratejesus2000.org/noabortion, for anyone interested in becominginvolved in pro-life ministries.

Reprinted from the January 1997 issue of SBC LIFE, published by theSouthern Baptist Convention’s Executive Committee. A list of CrisisPregnancy Centers which have received training through NAMB’sAlternatives to Abortion Ministries is posted in the SBCNet News Room.

    About the Author

  • Lynne Jones