EDITOR’S NOTE: Sunday, Jan. 17, is Sanctity of Human Life Sunday in the Southern Baptist Convention.
AUSTIN, Texas (BP)–Nine-year-old Sierra still gets a little nervous if her mom isn’t home on time. But these days mom is never more than a cell phone call away.
“I always pick up when she calls,” Amanda Ortiz says. “I reassure her that we don’t live the way we used to anymore and she doesn’t have to worry.”
Ortiz is in the process of allowing God to rebuild her life — a life that went terribly wrong when left under her control.
In her early 20s, Ortiz had pulled herself together. Drug addiction, abuse and dysfunction dominated her teen years and she did not want that for her children.
“I felt I had my life in control. I was a dedicated wife and mother and even considered myself a Christian,” she says. “Yet inwardly, I found myself on a trip downward, heading back for a breakdown of my self-control.”
Ortiz desperately wanted to be there for Sierra and her son Jordan. She vowed never to be like her own mom — a drug addict — who lost her children to Child Protective Services when Ortiz was only 3.
Yet in mid-2007 Ortiz relapsed into addiction; her husband left with Sierra and Jordan; and she was in jail — again — for stealing money to support her habit. “I completely lost myself,” she says. “I hit rock bottom and lost everything that had meaning in my life.”
She was all alone — or so she thought — until the jail’s routine health evaluation revealed she was carrying a little life inside her.
“I was so scared,” Ortiz recounts. “I was afraid of what I had done to my baby by using drugs while I was pregnant. I was afraid of giving birth to her in jail and of not being able to provide for her when I got out.”
Ortiz needed a change. Not just a change in behavior or circumstances, but a heart change. She found that change through a Bible study called “Road to Freedom.”
“I finally learned the meaning of true repentance and surrender,” she says. “Now I choose to keep Christ before anything and in every choice and decision I make in my life. I know without Him I’m lost.”
God is rebuilding Ortiz’s life. “I cannot count the blessings God has given since I truly gave my heart to Him,” she says.
Her sentence was reduced so that she was out of jail when baby Eliana was born on Dec. 11, 2008. God provided a loving Christian family to take her in when she had no home of her own.
And then Ortiz met Lorna Fike, a Mission Service Corps missionary working with the Austin (Texas) Pregnancy Resource Center. “I had no clothes and no medical care when I got out of jail,” Ortiz says. “The center helped with material goods, Medicaid problems and spiritual encouragement. They became family to me.”
Most important, God has restored Ortiz’s relationship with her children.
“I’m able to show them the love and attention I couldn’t before,” she says. “And I’m very careful what I teach them. It’s all about loving them and planting a solid foundation in their hearts.”
Things are still going well for Ortiz and her children. Little Eliana has celebrated her first birthday and is beginning to walk and talk. Sierra is an honor student at her elementary school and Ortiz was elated when she was recently awarded joint custody of Jordan.
“God has been so good to us,” she says. “Sometimes I worry about the future, but when I look back over all God has brought us through, I know he will carry us the rest of the way.”
The Austin Pregnancy Resource Center played a vital role in helping Ortiz.
The North American Mission Board partners with 270 pregnancy resource centers throughout the United States. Last year those centers received 156,292 visits from women in a crisis pregnancy. Whether it’s helping a woman choose life over abortion, helping a teen learn mothering skills or helping a troubled young mom make the transition from life in jail to new life in Christ, pregnancy care centers are there to provide hope and healing in the name of Jesus.
Because of the NAMB pregnancy centers, nearly 7,000 babies were saved from abortion in 2009. Additionally, more than 3,900 women accepted Christ as pregnancy center staff members shared the Gospel with them.
Some 6.3 million women face a crisis pregnancy in the United States each year, according to the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy. More than 1.3 million of those pregnancies end in abortion. Pregnancy resource centers exist nationwide to tell these women there is hope and a future for them and their babies in Jesus Christ.
On Jan. 17, Southern Baptists again will observe Sanctity of Human Life Sunday, marking the 37th anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision. For ideas on how to connect with a pregnancy resource center or to start a center in your community, visit www.namb.net/pregnancy and www.nambforlife.net.
Jami Becher is a writer for the North American Mission Board. This article is reprinted from the board’s On Mission magazine.