Thursday, February 13, 2014
pro-life is a ministry
One of the most common criticisms I hear from the left is that people who are pro-life only care about the baby. And they only care about the baby in the womb (although they, of course, would never use the word baby). Once he or she is born, we simply stop caring.
I have to ask, how did you come to this conclusion? I mean, have you ever even stepped foot into a Pregnancy Resource Center? Do you even know what they do? What their mission is? What services they provide?
I can only assume the answer is "no." Or the answer is, "what's a Pregnancy Resource Center?" Or that the only time you've heard the term was in an article from NARAL or Planned Parenthood that was entirely inaccurate.
But before I get into that, I want to consider the left's claim and show where they are incredibly wrong.
When a liberal says, "You don't care about the mom or the baby once it's born because you offer no support to them." What they are really saying is, "You don't care about the mom or the baby once it's born because you don't support the government supporting them." Do you see the difference there?
When a liberal says that we (the pro-life side) need to support these babies and mothers, what they are really saying is that we need to support broad, expansive government-run social programs. We should support welfare all the time. Because, you see, the liberal believes that the government is the best entity to help out the impoverished and the person in need.
And that is where their argument fails.
Just because we, conservatives, don't believe in government assistance for all doesn't mean we don't care. In fact, we care more than that. We care so much, that we dig into our own pockets, we open our own homes, we give our own time without compensation, to these mothers, fathers and babies in need. Why is that? It's because, we believe that the best charity, the best assistance, comes from individuals, from the church, from the community, from the private sector, not from the government. The liberal on the other hand, believes in charity so much that he thinks the government should use someone else's money to help a person in need. Not his or her own money.
Now, I could stop here and get into a whole long discussion about why the government is not good at running social programs and why charity should come from the people instead, but that would take this post in a whole other direction. Perhaps we'll revisit that at a later time.
Instead, I want to focus on what the pro-life community does to minister to mothers in crisis, fathers who are often left completely out of the equation and unborn babies whose lives are at risk.
I want to show how pro-life is a ministry more than it is a political ideology, belief or platform.
At the beginning of this post I mentioned Pregnancy Resources Centers. If you don't know what they are you can read more here. If you google it, Planned Parenthood will pop up and I assure you they are not a PRC. In fact, they hate what we do. They have launched campaigns across this country in an attempt to shut us down. They have been unsuccessful. In fact, there are currently 3 times as many PRCs in the United States as there are abortion clinics. That is awesome news.
A Pregnancy Resource Center (or PRC for short) is a non-profit organization that assists women in crisis pregnancy situations. These are mothers who find themselves pregnant and are considering abortion as either their last or only option. A pregnant mother who comes to a PRC for free services will receive a pregnancy test and a counseling session, all free of charge. In many cases, if the center is equipped, she will also have a chance to get an ultrasound and see her baby in real time. Often she can see and hear the heartbeat. Again, all services are free.
(Contrast that with Planned Parenthood which charges $25 for a pregnancy test and around $100 for an ultrasound).
From that point forward, she will be supported during her pregnancy and long after the baby is born. No, most of these centers are no equipped to offer prenatal care, but if she is in need of medical care, the counselors will help her find any programs for which she qualifies in order to get assistance and they will refer her to a local, pro-life OB/GYN. If she is in need of a home, they will assist her in finding one. Many cities also have pro-life maternity homes for teenage, low-income or at-risk pregnant mothers. The people who run these homes are amazing and I think have the biggest hearts of all. If the mother is in need of work, the center can help her find job training or a job placement company.
During her pregnancy, the mother will also be offered parenting classes, prenatal care classes, information about WIC (women, infants and children) and she'll be directed to other informative classes she'll need like CPR and infant safety, infant massage, breastfeeding, prenatal exercise, etc. If she needs maternity clothes, many centers offer these as well.
But, as the left claims, I suppose that is where our assistance to these mothers ends.
Wrong. Way wrong. If you spend any time at a PRC, any time at all, you'll notice one thing that occurs on almost a daily basis: Mothers who chose life for their babies come back to visit. Often. Many of them continue to attend weekly classes for free and in doing so earn items that they desperately need for their children: clothes, diapers, formula, toys, books, bouncers, cribs, you name it, they can earn it.
Many PRCs use a program called Earn While You Learn. It's amazing. I would encourage you to take a minute to look around their website, especially at the broad range of curriculum. The purpose of a program like EWYL is to assist mothers in need by also educating and empowering them as parents. Could we simply give them free stuff? Absolutely. The pro-life community is amazing at donating items. In fact those are the very items these women and men (yes, the fathers are often included) earn. However, we find that working for something is so much more empowering and meaningful. And in this case, the work these parents are doing is incredibly educational and beneficial, especially to their children. So by working to earn material items, they are also learning how to be better parents to their babies, toddlers and so on. And that will impact a child's entire life.
But that's not the only assistance we provide as a community. I received this email (all names and addresses have been whited out for privacy reasons) last July:
It's not uncommon to read something like this or hear it through the grapevine among the pro-life community. Stuff like this happens all the time. Families opening their homes to mothers in need, others writing generous checks for assistance or buying months worth of groceries. This happens whenever the need arises. But I'm sure the left is completely ignorant of it. Willingly, I'm sure.
There is also the wonderful blessing of adoption. You may or may not be familiar with a story from last fall in which a mentally handicapped woman became pregnant and was facing the possibility of the court forcing her to abort the baby. During the course of the investigation by the county and the court proceedings, several couples came forward to adopt the child. In the end, the court ruled she would be able to carry the child to term and in the end, the beautiful, sweet baby girl was in fact adopted.
But aside from giving material assistance, free education, food, housing, and a number of other services, aside from stepping up to adopt babies who need homes, there is one thing that PRCs do that is indispensable. It is the most important ministry of them all. Pregnancy Resource Centers share the gospel of Jesus with their clients.
I'm absolutely positive that the left would not consider the gospel and the hope of Jesus, the salvation of one's eternal soul, to be the support these women and children need. However, we know the opposite is true. And for this reason alone, pro-life is a ministry.
Consider a young woman, pregnant, scared, alone. Perhaps, from a Christian, perspective, she lives a questionable lifestyle. This woman doesn't know where to turn for help. Her friends are of no assistance, her family wants nothing to do with her and she hasn't stepped foot into a church in over a decade.
Where does she go?
I assure you, in most cases, she will not be walking through the doors of a church. She knows, or at least she assumes, she'll be judged in that place. People will look down on her and even if they are nice to her while she's there, she knows they will whisper things about her once she's gone. At least that's her perception. And honestly, I'm not sure she'd be wrong.
This is where a PRC comes in. You see, Pregnancy Resource Centers are an extension of the church. Whether the church recognizes it or not, what we do is exactly what Jesus called us to do. We help the needy, without judgement, and we share the gospel. We save lives, both here on earth and for the sake of eternity. A woman who might never walk through the doors of a church for assistance would easily find herself in the counseling room of a Crisis Pregnancy Center. And while in that place, she will always receive the love of Christ and more often than not, she'll hear His good news as well.
From there, she'll be encouraged to take a discipleship class. Earn While You Learn offers a great one. Other centers use other great studies. From there, she'll be encouraged to find a church so that she can get plugged into her community, serve others and continue to be bathed in the truth of scripture.
But let's consider another young pregnant woman. This woman is also scared and feeling alone. Yet, she is a Christian. She's already in church every single week. At one point in her life she believed in Jesus and got saved. But slowly over time she fell away even though she continued to attend church. She found herself doing things she regretted immediately and spending time with people who were not building her up and edifying her. And suddenly she was in a place that she would consider to be rock bottom. She's pregnant and considering abortion. After all, it's the only option that she has to hide her sin of sex outside of marriage. What will the people in the church think when she begins to show and after she has the baby? They will certainly judge her and whisper things about her when she leaves the room.
Where does she go?
I assure you, in most cases, she will be walking out of the church. And again, this is where a PRC comes in. A woman in this situation, who would never seek assistance or help from a church would find herself walking through the door of the Pregnancy Care Center down the street. She will receive the same love and care as the previous woman described. All women who come into a PRC receive the love of Jesus. Because, we are the hands and feet of Christ! She will be offered all the assistance she needs to carry her baby and give her life. And she will also be encouraged to join the discipleship class where she can return to Christ and seek His forgiveness, His love and His redemption.
You see, the pro-life community is about so much more than simply saving the baby, although, that in itself is a worthy cause. We believe that all life is precious: the baby in the womb and after he or she is born, the mother who needs love, compassion and assistance, the father who doesn't feel like he has a voice. They all deserve respect and hope. And guess what, we don't just believe, we do something about it, we act on our beliefs.
But to those who are pro-life because that's simply what you believe, I challenge you to act on those beliefs. I challenge you to see pro-life as a ministry, not just an idea. There are a zillions ways to be involved, to make a difference, to serve, to minister, to show the love of Christ, to be His hands and His feet to those in need (if you need some ideas, start here). Because, it's only when we work together to care for those in crisis pregnancy situations that the "crisis" part will be eliminated. And with it, the perceived "need" for abortion.
If you are pregnant and considering abortion, or know someone who is, please know that there are other options. You can find a local pregnancy resource center here. And if you have abortion in your past, know that there is always hope and healing available to you if you repent and believe that Christ died for you. Please go here to find a local resource center and get the help you need.