Photo by Nicole Tarpoff
When I was growing up my family didn’t go to church. But I wanted to. I was saved at a youth convention when I was 12 years old. It’s been a long journey, and there have been times that I haven’t been as close to God. But I’ve always felt His hand on me and I have felt His guidance.
After I retired as a high school librarian in the public school system, I became a librarian at a local college. During this “retired” season of my life, God began to lead me on a new journey. I’ve always had a heart for teenagers and I saw in the newspaper that a lady who had a pregnancy center about an hour and half away was coming to our town to see if someone would open a pregnancy center in our town. Her center was the closest one to our town and she had so many girls from our county that she couldn’t serve them all.
There were seven of us that met with her about starting a center in our town. We decided that we would open a pregnancy center and I would become the director. Initially, we had no money but God put together a caring board of directors who had experience and talents that really helped. We raised $18,000 through a baby bottle drive that allowed us to lease a building downtown for the center. We had spent nearly all the money preparing the building and preparing for our clients. We had no other money coming in and no one really knew about us. We didn’t have many clients—I think we had had one client, and I wasn’t sure she was really even a client. We had no donors. I was pretty discouraged. I thought, “What have we done?” I went to the post office to see if we had gotten any donations in the mail. None. I walked back and went into the back room of the pregnancy center. I prayed, “God, I feel like you called me to do this but I’ve always been a librarian. I don’t know if this was in my mind or your calling.”
Just then the doorbell rang and a lawyer walked in. He said,“There’s a group of us that have gotten together and we love what you are doing and want to support it.” He handed me a very large check. This was an immediate answer to prayer and the confirmation and encouragement I needed. We have never looked back. God continues to provide and His timing is always right.
The pregnancy center has been open 12 years now. We are in the far-most corner of Eastern Kentucky, and we had nothing like this in our area. We serve both men and women of all ages from 12 counties and three states. What we do for each person varies because each person is different and has different needs. We are part of Care Net, a national group founded in 1975 by Dr. Harold L.J. Brown with the advice and encouragement of the late Rev. Billy Graham and the late Dr. Francis A. Schaeffer. We had to take training to be an affiliate.
We teach GED classes and try to get the young women to finish high school and get into college. We teach parenting and life skills classes and we have a fatherhood program. We even have a new grandparent’s classes because so many of our clients have been addicted to drugs, and the grandparents raise the children,so we are trying to help the grandparents. A lot of things have changed since they were parents. We host a girl’s night out and a grandparent’s night out. We have a program for ladies who have had abortions, to help with guilt. We provide counseling and a Forgiven and Set Free class they can take. We have a lot of hurting people in Appalachia that need material items, so we have a Bundle of Joy room/store in our center. The room is filled with light and organized beautifully by a volunteer by item type, size, and gender. We have many clothes, blankets, shoes, and other items that food stamps and WIC (Women, Children, and Infants Federal program) doesn’t pay for—like wipes, diapers,and even new car seats. Clients earn baby bucks to shop, by doing things like taking their baby for a wellness check or taking a parenting class.
The main thing we are doing is trying to save lives. We are very gentle when we talk about saving baby’s lives. We want to let the girls know that God hasn’t given up on them because family and friends have given up on them. Girls feel embarrassed, scared, and hopeless, and we minister to them at a brokenhearted time. They often feel very alone. I imagine my 16-year-old granddaughter in that situation. I wouldn’t want her to be judged and alone. I would want her to have support, compassion, and love.
Shortly after we opened, a pregnant teen came to us for help. Her parents were so angry that they disowned her and she lived with her grandmother who also wasn’t very happy with her. When she delivered her baby, we took a collection of brand-new baby clothes and accessories as a gift to her in the hospital. Her room was dark and she was by herself. I said, “Hi! We’ve come to celebrate your baby!” She said, “Nobody has celebrated my baby.” I showed her the gift we had brought and her face lit up. As I held up each tiny garment for her baby, I could see hope on her face. That’s really the main thing I want to give the girls…compassion and hope. This young woman went on to become a nurse and her baby is a thriving 10-year-old girl! We saw her not long ago and she told my husband, “You wouldn’t believe how my life was changed because of the pregnancy center!” This is just one example. I have seen God change so many lives through the center.
I remember one evening after the center was closed and I was working late, a young woman came into the center because she saw the light on in my office. She had been on her way to get an abortion. God’s timing is always perfect.
Another time a teenage girl came to the center very upset because she wanted to keep her baby, but her mother was adamant that she have an abortion. I talked with both the girl and the mother together but there was no resolution. I had done everything I knew to do. I asked the mother if I could pray and she agreed. When I prayed, I laid my hand on the mother and said, “God I’m praying for things that are not as though they will be. I pray that you will reveal to her that this is her grandchild.” His Spirit filled the room. The woman was not a Christian, and she got saved that day. Her grandchild is now is 1 year old.
We get no federal or state money to run the center. God provides through His people. We have three big fundraisers, a baby bottle drive, the banquet for life, and a golf tournament. You can just see what God has done. I have discovered that God’s mercies are new every morning. His faithfulness is great. I know that things that are not possible with man are possible with God.
A Million God Stories is a Christ-centered ministry which offers a platform for Christians from all streams of Christian faith to give praise for how God has worked in their lives. Christ heals in infinitely creative ways and we acknowledge that His way of helping may differ from person to person.