Once upon a time, there was a girl who was active at church from a young age. She learned to pray and read her Bible. She learned about Jesus. She also learned a lot of rules.
Don’t smoke cigarettes. Don’t drink alcohol. Don’t wear short skirts.
As she grew older and started high school, this girl stayed in close proximity to her church friends. She never went to parties put on by non-Christians.
She knew that Jesus loves everyone, and she should talk about him, so she gave others tracts about how to get saved—but she didn’t feel confident or safe enough to just be friends with non-believers.
In other words, she didn’t know how to relate to people the way Jesus did (and does).
As she grew into adulthood and became a wife and young mother, this woman slowly started learning how to reach out to others. She chatted with her neighbors as they sat together at their children’s Little League games. She looked for opportunities to pray for people in the grocery store.
She even invited non-Christian friends over for dinner.
Still, this woman felt frustrated. Most of her time and energy, spiritually speaking, still seemed to go into helping at church. Teaching Sunday school. Leading Bible studies, small groups, and worship. Helping with the youth.
While these were not bad things, she yearned to reach more people for Christ.
Then a friend told her about the local pregnancy help center. She visited the center and started volunteering—and it rocked her world.
Suddenly, week after week, she had opportunities to minister to folks in her community whom she previously would never have met. She had significant conversations with young women and men about matters of life and death and family and spiritual things—conversations she only dreamed of having, for the most part, before showing up at the center.
If you haven’t guessed by now, that woman was me. My story bears testimony to the powerful effect pregnancy centers have in their communities.
In my educational devotional, Unleashing Your Courageous Compassion, I liken my journey into this work to crossing a river.
Before I started serving at a pregnancy center, I felt like I was standing on the shore of a wide, rushing river, wondering how to get to the people on the opposite shore. When God called me into this ministry, I had to take steps of faith into the swirling water, trusting that the Lord would help me get to the other side.
In another sense, it could be said that my local center provided a bridge for me, the “church lady,”—a bridge to reach those lost, hurting and far from God.
Now I could easily access more of the people Jesus misses most.
The church lady could sit down with the girl from a completely different background and have a meaningful—even transformational—conversation.
Think of how many thousands of times this scenario has played itself out in the world of pregnancy center ministry. It’s astounding.
Pregnancy centers help the local Church by extending the Church’s reach into the community. We also help the community by providing a safe place for those who may never darken the door of a church.
Your center is a bridge from the Church to the rest of your community. It’s a bridge between those who have the gospel and those who need it.
Do you see how important your ministry is?
You provide a place where the average church lady (or church guy) can overcome fears and repent of judgments toward unbelievers. You create an atmosphere where we learn to respect those of different social standing, and where we learn to listen well.
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You provide an environment where we become wiser about culture, and, at the same time, less fearful about the way things are.
At my local center, I learned about the dynamics of generational poverty. I came to understand the level of sexual brokenness and confusion of today’s world. I came to admire qualities I saw in young people who had yet to come to Christ and still had plenty of chaos in their lives.
I learned to ask open-ended questions. I learned how to find out a person’s story rather than simply telling them what they should do.
Ministering at my center has helped me see people the way Jesus sees them—and isn’t that the view every Christian needs?
Pregnancy centers are miracle centers. We see lives saved and lives transformed on a regular basis.
Let’s not forget that one of those miracles is what happens in the ones who do the serving.