Neither Sheila Wier or Linda Brossett knew anything about running a pregnancy resource center in 2009 when they first began thinking about doing just that in the Kingsland, Texas, area.
“My husband and I were invited to a fundraiser for a pregnancy center in Austin, and on the way there, I asked my husband, ‘What is a pregnancy center?’ He said that he didn’t know either, but, ‘I guess we’ll find out.’”
On the way home that night, Brossett felt a tug.
“God started speaking to my heart about starting one,” Brossett recalled. “I said, ‘What?’”
But she listened.
When she announced the decision to her congregation at First Baptist Church of Kingsland, Beth Stahl and Wier saw a need for such a center and stepped forward to help.
Brossett and Wier were among the two dozen people who gathered July 14 at the Highland Lakes Pregnancy Resource Center in Kingsland to celebrate its fifth anniversary. Though the women started planning it in 2009 and many others quickly came aboard to help, the Kingsland location didn’t open until 2011. There is also now an office in Marble Falls.
“More,” Brossett said when asked if the Highland Lakes Pregnancy Resource Center has become what she hoped it would be.
The center provides a number of services and resources to women considering abortions, struggling with post-abortion issues or just looking for help during pregnancy. This summer, the center started a new chapter by offering services to men.
All this, Wier said, is just the community spreading God’s love for everyone who walks through those doors, no matter their circumstances or past decisions.
Wier knows firsthand the importance of God’s love and acceptance for women who have had abortions. She has had three.
“It’s a very dark secret that a lot of women have,” she said. “Post-abortion trauma is very real. But a lot of women, they don’t know how to get (support) or where to get (it). So they just go carrying all this burden, and it just keeps weighing on them. It’s a very hard place to be.”
There was a time when Wier didn’t know her own value as a person, so, she said, how could she value the life of an unborn child? But when she surrendered herself to God’s love, she began the healing process.
It’s something she wanted to help other women who have had abortions find.
The Highland Lakes Pregnancy Resource Center offers a place of unconditional love and acceptance. Wier said the center, the staff and volunteers provide ministry, services and other programs for women who have had abortions, but it also offers support to women who are pregnant and need information and resources.
Jessica McRee-Grabert, the center’s executive director, explained that one of the biggest things staff and volunteers do is simply focus on building relationships. One thing she has noticed is there’s a wealth of resources in the community, but the center’s clients don’t know about those services. The center's staff and volunteers work to educate themselves about all the available services within the community so they can connect their clients with those resources.
“The more resources they have in all the areas of their lives, the freer they are when it comes to making decisions and being a parent,” she said.
McRee-Grabert said staff and volunteers follow the best teacher when it comes to building relationships and accepting people with unconditional love: Jesus.
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Since the doors opened at the Kingsland location five years ago, the center has grown. The need, especially in rural areas, has always been there, but before the pregnancy resource center, there weren't many — if any — options for women.
Richard Goertz, the co-chairman of the center's board of directors, said the work it has done over the past five years has been amazing.
But, he pointed out, it’s not the board’s center.
“When we talk about the center, we say ‘your center,’ because that’s what it is,” he said. “It’s the community’s center. And the community has really responded to help it.”
Looking back, Brossett and Wier said the rewards of starting the center have been incredible. But the work is not done.
The center recently added a male component: the Fatherhood Fraternity. McRee-Grabert pointed out that pregnancy and abortion don’t just affect women. Men are part of the equation and often find themselves hurting or seeking support in their role as fathers, she said.
The addition of the Fatherhood Fraternity, however, means the center could use some male volunteers willing to work with the men who come through the doors.
And while the center serves clients in 17 different counties — it started with just Burnet and Llano counties — Wier is taking the ministry international with the Iganga Pregnancy Resource Center in Bosaga, Uganda. She first became acquainted with the village through mission trips with First Baptist Church of Kingsland.
She saw so many young girls with babies that she decided to bring the Highland Lakes Pregnancy Resource Center model to Uganda. The Rev. David Kisaame of Uganda shared her vision, and the two — with support from the Highland Lakes center, First Baptist Church and others — opened the Uganda facility in October. Wier is heading back to Uganda as well as Kenya for up to six months to work at the center and promote the mission and ministry.
“It’s just sharing God’s love and helping the women and girls understand that they are valued, they are important,” Wier added.
Whether in Kingsland, Marble Falls or Uganda, the Highland Lakes staff, volunteers and board members understand the ministry isn’t of their fruition.
“It’s a God thing,” Wier said during the anniversary celebration.
And even as she celebrated the fifth year of the Kingsland location, Brossett didn’t accept any accolades herself. She simply pointed up and said, “God did this.”
Go to www.hlpregnancycenter.org for a complete list of services, volunteer opportunities or to support the center. Go to touchinglivestogether.com for more on the Iganga Pregnancy Resource Center and to help support its mission.
The Kingsland center is located at 226 Nob Hill, while the Marble Falls office is located at 1016 Broadway St. in the T. Q. Brown Building.