LAWRENCEVILLE, Ga. (BP)–Serving as a volunteer at the Pregnancy Resource Center of Gwinnett for the past six years, Christine Hobafcovich has seen hundreds of women in need come through the doors of the center outside Atlanta since her first night on the job.
Each woman comes with her own specific needs and fears in dealing with an unplanned, unexpected and often times, unwanted pregnancy. It is the job of volunteers like Hobafcovich to come alongside these women as they face the reality of their situation head-on and process their next steps carefully.
“We see a lot of women here,” Hobafcovich said, “and our primary goal is to minister to these mothers. I pray before every shift that God will help me reach the women I come into contact with that night and allow me to minister to them in a way that will allow us to make a connection.”
When she met high school senior “Priya” (not her real name) some two years ago, Hobafcovich knew instinctively this was the kind of connection for which she’d prayed.
“Every person that comes through the door is important, but certain people are special and touch you in a certain way,” Hobafcovich says. “I can’t explain it any other way — when Priya walked in, I just knew this girl was special.”
Pregnant at 17, Priya came to the center — which is supported by the Gwinnett Metro Baptist Association and 100 percent faith-based — looking for information and support she couldn’t find at home. Her family came to America from Bosnia, fleeing the area when Priya was only 9 and landing in the United States as refugees.
Though not devout, her family’s heritage is deeply rooted in the Islamic faith, and their daily lives are influenced by the Muslim culture. Though they weren’t practicing, Priya knew the culture of her family wouldn’t accept her current situation easily.
“She told me she was pregnant and she was worried, mostly about her father,” Hobafcovich said. “She wasn’t supposed to have a boyfriend at all, let alone an American boyfriend from a Christian background. She was certain that if she told her father about this baby, she would be banned from their house and their lives.”
Hobafcovich spent the next hour talking with Priya, attempting to connect in any sort of way.
“I wanted to feed into her personal faith, however small it might be. I just kept asking her, ‘What do you think your religion says about the value of the life inside of you?’ I wanted her to tap into that sanctity, that value of human life in her heart. By the end of that hour we had turned a corner.”
Priya returned the following week to meet with Hobafcovich, this time with her boyfriend, “Derek,” in tow. A practicing Catholic, Derek brought to the table a biblical understanding of the sanctity of human life and was encouraging Priya.
“She had been attending church with Derek and I could tell when the three of us talked about Christianity and who Jesus was, that she was coming around to an understanding of faith,” Hobafcovich said. “I could see God working in their lives before they even knew He was there.”
With the continued support of Hobafcovich, Derek and Priya made the decision to keep their baby.
“God just allowed a special relationship to form between us and when they made that decision, I was so proud and excited for what was to come,” Hobafcovich said.
The news of their impending child was not met with the same joy from their own families. As expected, Priya’s father banished her from the home and Derek’s parents offered a similar response. Quickly, the two teens found themselves living in a dilapidated trailer on the outskirts of the city. Both dropped out of high school and opted to work toward earning GEDs in order to be able to take jobs to support themselves and their baby on the way.
For Hobafcovich, this turn of events was not unexpected. She and husband, Mark — along with several members of their own church — decided to rally around Priya and Derek in their time of need. Members of the Hobafcovich’s small group prayed weekly for the couple and came together to collect and donate many necessities for their home, offering things like furniture, a washing machine and baby supplies. The Hobafcoviches themselves took on a more parental role over the couple, mentoring them as they prepared to become parents themselves and celebrating each day’s triumphs with them.
“Mark and I came together and really took a stance on our relationship with Priya and Derek,” Hobafcovich said. “Rather than tell them what they’ve done wrong, we wanted to be an encouragement, to love them as Christ does. We made a habit of telling them how proud we were of them and celebrating each step of the process with them.”
Through their friendship with the couple, the Hobafcoviches have seen God’s continued presence in the young couple’s lives. Upon the birth of their child, the couple began attending church and growing in a knowledge of Christ in their own lives. At Mark and Christine’s Christmas party last year, Priya arrived with the news the couple had been praying to hear.
“She told me quietly that she had been studying God and truth and that for the first time this year, she was celebrating Christmas the way it was supposed to be celebrated: as a Christian rejoicing in the birth of Jesus.”
The couple is planning to marry and enroll in college this year, facing the difficulties in their circumstances as best they can. The next big hurdle on the list of obstacles? Priya must tell her parents about her newfound Christian faith.
“She is back in contact with her family now that the baby is here,” Hobafcovich said, “but she knows that could all change again when she drops what she calls the ‘Jesus bomb’ on them.”
To many, the potential damage this news could have on the recently repaired relationship might seem reason enough to keep quiet about her faith in Christ, at least for the time-being. But for Priya, the risk is not worth her silence.
“I don’t think she is sure what exactly this will mean to them, but she has told me so many times that she can’t risk her eternal soul, their eternal souls, by not telling them and helping them see the truth as well.”
For now, Christine and Mark continue to support Derek and Priya in both the journey of parenthood and their journey of faith in Christ. The young couple has seen the blessings of allowing God to work things together for their good — using a baby they weren’t even sure they wanted to change their lives.
“Priya told me this summer she is certain that without this so-called tragedy of an unplanned pregnancy and baby, she would not have found Jesus,” Hobafcovich said. “She has come so far since I met her that night at the center and I can tell you it is a true transformation in Christ.”
Sara Shelton is a writer for the North American Mission Board. You and your church can get involved in the fight to save the lives of women and their unborn babies. Many churches celebrate “Sanctity of Human Life Sunday” this Sunday, Jan. 23. For information, visit www.sohls.org or for ideas on how your church can connect with a pregnancy resource center, visit www.namb.net/pregnancy.