The Word Among Us

Advent 2010 Issue

Ordinary People—Extraordinary Work

Bringing Jesus to Women in Desperate Need

By: Emily Nelson

Ordinary People—Extraordinary Work: Bringing Jesus to Women in Desperate Need by Emily Nelson

Every Monday morning, I drive to a big old house in a nearby downtown area. It isn’t a fancy place—everything, from the couch to the coffee mugs, is donated—but it’s cheery and welcoming, just like the staff and volunteers I work with there.

We begin the day with prayer, asking God to bless our work and every woman who will come seeking our services. We ask him to help us meet their practical needs and bring Christ to all we meet. Then we open our doors.

A Haven in the Storm. That big house is a Christian pregnancy resource center, and there are thousands like it throughout North America and in many other parts of the world. But it wasn’t until I became a volunteer four years ago that I realized what tremendous pro-life work these centers have long been doing.

The women who come to us in unplanned pregnancy situations are often scared and confused, not knowing what to do or where to go. Some feel alone and abandoned; some are plagued with shame, guilt, and remorse. Some have never realized that there are options like adoption; they think abortion is their only way out. We encourage them to make choices they will not come to regret. Without being overbearing, we tell them about God’s great love for them and for their babies—that they are special to him and to us, and that they have dignity.

We provide many practical helps: pregnancy tests, sonograms, health and nutrition information, parenting and life skills classes, and referrals to government agencies and other providers for medical, housing, and financial assistance. Because some women have already had abortions, we support postabortion care that addresses the emotional, psychological, and physical damage they have suffered.

Choosing Life. All of us who staff these centers and clinics—health professionals, peer counselors, and volunteers—are praying and working to save lives. And by the grace of God, we have many success stories. One young woman who came to us had just missed having an abortion (her appointment fell through), but was planning to reschedule. Instead, she talked to one of our counselors, had a sonogram, and decided to carry her baby to term.

The sonogram, which is always administered by a licensed health professional, has helped many women to make this decision. Being able to see your baby in the womb, right down to its little fingers and toes, makes it impossible to deny that this is a real person! It also enables a mother to bond with her unborn child.

Give and Take. My job at the center is very hands-on, and I love it. I greet each woman, review her file, and then gather up the items she needs—everything from baby clothes and bottles to cribs, car seats, and maternity clothes. It’s an opportunity to share the love of God not only with the mothers but also with the children who come in with them. A warm hello, a smile, a hug, a game of peek-a-boo—it all seems to make their visit a little brighter.

These visits enrich my life, too. One woman who touched me started coming for food and children’s clothing when her little girl was very young. As the child grew older, mother and daughter would sit down together, read the books we make available, and choose one to keep.

One day I asked the child what school she attended. She smiled and said, “I’m homeschooled.” And with an even bigger smile, she added, “Then I’m going to college!” What expectant hope and motherly care that statement reflected!

Another woman, who had been into drugs and alcohol, inspired me by her courage and resolve to change. She gave birth to a daughter, who had to remain hospitalized for quite some time. “Your beautiful baby is a real fighter,” I told the mother one day. “God must have a plan for her.”

“Yes, that’s true,” she answered. “I have not been on drugs or alcohol since she was born. This baby was a gift from God to straighten me out!”

Meeting Jesus. Like other volunteers at these centers and clinics, I feel privileged that God has called me, an ordinary person, to do the extraordinary work of bringing Jesus to people in desperate need. Though it can be trying and challenging, that is nothing compared to the joy of seeing lives transformed.

I think of a woman who fled to America after being terribly abused by her husband in Africa. Pregnant, penniless, and alone, she somehow found her way to the center. Volunteers took her under their wing, making sure she received the support she needed to bring her child into the world—even a job and a place to live. This woman was so touched by God’s love in them that she has become a Christian, too.

Again and again, we see God intervening to rescue people from seemingly hopeless situations. And so our hearts cry out: Jesus is alive! n

Emily Nelson lives in Frederick, Maryland.

A Future Full of Hope

More than anything else, women who are in crisis pregnancies or in agony from the effects of an abortion need to know that God loves them and wants to give them a future full of hope. This is why The Word Among Us Partners has begun supplying Christian pregnancy centers and postabortion programs with subscriptions to The Word Among Us. One center director told us, “We will share this incredible resource in our waiting areas. . . . And our staff is so grateful for their own copy. Our work is especially difficult, and the meditations are a powerful way to ‘fill our cup.’”

Thanks to generous readers like you, Partners has long been working with dedicated prison chaplains, supplying them with The Word Among Us and other materials that now reach 49,000 inmates.

Through dedicated military chaplains, Partners also serves 16,500 Catholics in the armed forces, in more than 200 locations around the world.

By making The Word Among Us available to Catholics in prison, in the military—and now, to women in crisis pregnancies and post-abortion distress—we hope to encourage ongoing conversion, a deeper relationship with Christ, a life of prayer and Scripture reading, and more active participation in the sacraments.

But on all three of these fronts, so many more are asking for our help!

Will you pray for our ministries and become a Partner? You can make a tax-deductible donation—of $100, $50, or whatever you can give—online by clicking here, , or by sending a check to:

In the U.S.

The Word Among Us Partners, 9639 Doctor Perry Road, #126N, Ijamsville, MD 21754

In Canada

Metanoia Outreach Attn: The Word Among, Us Partners, Box 1107, Station F, Toronto, Ontario M4Y 2T8 (Canadian donations are tax deductible only if sent to this address.)

In Australia

Evangelisation Resources Down Under

A Ministry of Petrie Catholic Community

38 Armstrong Street

Petrie, Qld 4502