In 2018 a report was issued by Susan B. Anthony List (SBA List) President Margorie Dannenfelser and Moira Gaul on behalf of the Lozier Institute, presenting data on the work done by pregnancy centers across the U.S. Here are some interesting facts from that report which is titled “A Half Century of Hope, a Legacy of Life and Love” (from https://lozierinstitute.org/pro-life-pregnancy-centers-served-2-million-people-saved-communities-161m-in-2017/).
- In 2017, pregnancy centers provided almost 2,000,000 people with free services, with estimated community cost savings of at least $161 million annually.
- 2,752 center locations nationwide provide vital services including medical services, parenting programs, and sexual risk avoidance education.
- More than seven in 10 locations offer free ultrasounds (up 24 percent since 2010).
- 400,100 hours of free services were contributed by credentialed nurse sonographers and registered diagnostic medical sonographers in 2017.
- 100 mobile units with ultrasound are on the road to bring services to women out in the community.
- 67,400 volunteers serve pregnancy centers, including an estimated 7,500 medical professionals who freely give of their time and skills.
- Centers carried out 679,600 free pregnancy tests in 2017.
- 295,900 moms and dads attended parenting courses.
- 24,100 after-abortion support clients were seen in 2017 (services include support, counseling, and referral to professional help when appropriate for both women and men).
These are only some of the services provided by pregnancy resource centers (now more often called pregnancy centers) that began to offer hope to women facing crisis pregnancies in the late 1960s. Their purpose both then and now is to offer an alternative to women considering abortion by listening to why they want to make that choice, educating them to understand that pre-born babies are very much alive with beating hearts and organs all in place just days after conception, and offering practical help and encouragement through pregnancy, birth, and early years.
BRPC's new location on Old Forest Road in Lynchburg.
These centers are dealing with mothers and fathers at a grass roots level and have been instrumental in saving thousands of unborn lives. It would be interesting to gather a random group of mothers together and find out just how many of them have used the services of a pregnancy center. Or to be able to discover how many children in a given classroom might have been saved from death by the intervention of a pregnancy center and its support for them and their parents at the beginning of their lives.
My ministry spotlight this month is on one such center. Blue Ridge Pregnancy Center (BRPC) in Lynchburg, Virginia has been providing services to that community since 1999. Executive Director, Susan Campbell says that at that time, “concerned Christians in the area felt a strong need to provide a support center for women in crisis pregnancies.”
The center recently moved to a new location that is much more spacious than where they’ve been for the past 20 years and will be able to assist clients even more efficiently. They have a medical clinic staffed by a medical doctor and three registered nurses. They offer hospital grade urine pregnancy tests, limited obstetrical ultrasounds, and they can also assist in abortion reversal if a client has begun taking the first dosage of the abortion pill. Twelve trained volunteer client advocates also counsel first clients, listening as they tell their difficult situations, offering compassionate care, and sharing the hope of the gospel.
Campbell says that BRPC “exists to save lives, comfort those involved in unplanned pregnancies while furthering the gospel of Jesus Christ.” These were the intentions of the original mission and Campbell says that they “continue to hold fast to the original mission.”
BRPC staff and volunteers. Executive Director, Susan Campbell is third from right.
BRPC cares about fathers as well as mothers and has an active men’s ministry implemented by male volunteers that “speaks to the hearts of the fathers of the baby.” Once the client has made a decision to carry her baby to term and she has heard the gospel and/or even professed Christ as Savior, the client is entered into a life skills program. This curriculum will prepare clients for the rest of the pregnancy, giving birth, and parenting the first months and years. They will also be able to utilize a baby boutique and will be given several needed supplies for their babies.
BRPC is reaping excellent results. To put it more accurately, God is abundantly blessing their efforts. With five universities in the Lynchburg area, BRPC sees over 800 new clients annually. Most of their clients fall into the 17-24 age range. In 2021, 180 babies were saved from abortion and 32 clients made professions of faith in Christ.
The clients who profess faith in Christ aren’t just sent home to be on their own but are encouraged to partner with a local church. This happens during their six-week life skill classes which are taught not only by BRPC staff, but also by three or four mentors from various local churches. This allows the clients to be introduced to a church body which they will be invited to become a part of. At the end of the Life Skills program, the church holds a baby shower for the client—pulling out all the stops, inviting church members as well as the client’s friends and families. Every client is gifted at least three of their biggest needs.
This impressive program is a great way for the churches involved to become an active part of the work of BRPC. Other volunteers are also needed in various positions in the work of the center. To learn more, please visit their website: www.brpcfriends.org. I forgot to mention that in all pregnancy centers, as with BRPC, all services to clients are free. So financially sponsoring the center is a worthy undertaking for individuals and churches. Probably many of you are also familiar with the popular baby bottle campaigns of pregnancy centers—just another fun way for a family to give to pregnancy centers.
As a former Executive Director of two pregnancy centers, I know firsthand how real the financial need and volunteer need of pregnancy centers are. I know the tremendous amount of good that these centers are doing—not only in saving lives but also strengthening family units—another huge need in today’s culture. I remember well the heartbreaking stories of clients that came to us, and I can attest to lives being changed and turned around as a result of pregnancy center ministry. My years in this work were the most rewarding of any job I had throughout my life. I assure you, God’s blessing on these ministries is not only being invoked daily by the staff and volunteers, but it is undeniably evident in what transpires in the lives of the clients.
I asked Susan Campbell to share her favorite client story so that you would have some idea of what I am trying to convey. This is the story she told me. A woman was in a terrible head on collision on her way home from picking up her wedding dress. Her wedding was just weeks away at the time. The woman suffered traumatic brain injury, was in a coma for several weeks, and was hospitalized for over two months. She never will fully recover, but she and her fiancé went forward with the wedding, even though she had to be pushed to the altar in a wheelchair.
BRPC is visited by actress from the movie "Unplanned".
Her husband took on extra shifts at work to pay for all the hospital bills that were incurred. He also began using drugs to stay awake to be able to do that. The woman became lonely, at home alone for hours at a time, unable physically to work at this point. She accepted the comfort of a family friend which soon evolved into something more. That’s when she turned up pregnant at BRPC. For her, it was a matter of learning how far into the pregnancy she was, so that she could determine who the father was. Using the dates provided by an ultrasound it was determined to be the friend, not the husband; so the woman very much wanted an abortion. However, through the counseling she received at BRPC, she decided not to terminate her pregnancy.
But what followed was difficult. Her husband was extremely angry and threatened to kill her, for which he actually spent time in prison. She continued through the programs of BRPC and eventually after a divorce and the birth of the baby, she married the father of the baby. Their marriage has proved stable and they now have two more children. He is a good provider and it is evident that he cares deeply for his wife and family.
It might be hard for a person unfamiliar with pregnancy centers to understand the difficulties of a woman that finds herself in a situation like that client. It reminds me of one of the comments from my last blog. As Christians we are called only to live as vessels sharing and showing God’s love to those around us. If we expect for abortion to end, we must love those who feel the need to abort—even those who go through with that choice. That’s what pregnancy centers do so well. Who knows if their clients—many coming from deeply troubled lives, will not become future disciples? (https://www.livingletters.life/blog/post/keeping-our-faith-by-standing-firmly-for-truth; quote by Richard Wurmbrand).
As I was researching the facts that I used for the introduction to this blog, I was dismayed and yes, angry, at some of the false news that kept popping up when I Googled certain questions: lies about what pregnancy centers actually do, how they are religiously affiliated and only try to proselytize, how they talk down on abortion, even trap clients in counseling rooms while trying to get them to change their minds about having an abortion. Nothing could be further from the truth, and there are thousands of pregnancy center current clients and former clients that happily and eagerly attest to the good help they received. No one pressures anyone. These are all desperate attempts from life opposition to cover and disguise the truth—to make it go away and not disturb them.
There is definitely some way that everyone can support pregnancy center ministry. If you don’t live in the Lynchburg area, find the pregnancy center nearest you. Believers, it’s time for all of us to get involved!