In a small strip mall in Pine Bluff, Arkansas, HopeA Womens Resource Center
welcomes women seeking free pregnancy tests, maternity and baby items and help
with prenatal care. Hope Resource Center is the only pregnancy center in
southeastern Arkansas. While the ministry of Hope is similar to other rural
pregnancy centers around the country, one unique fact is that the center was
launched by a Southern Baptist association that views the center as a vital way
to show Christs love in tangible ways.
Volunteer Denise Haynes sorts through baby bottles at the
photo by jennifer bryant
The idea for a pregnancy care center began with Director of Missions Dewayne
Tanton. Church members, dedicated to the pro-life cause, urged Dewayne to look
into the idea.
We hear sermons about the importance of protecting life, especially on
Sanctity of Human Life Sunday, Dewayne says. As an association, our goal is to
assist our churches to be on mission with God in fulfilling the Great
Commission. We felt it was important to practice what was preached. In 2004
Sanctity of Human Life Sunday is January 18.
In the three years since the center opened, the association has continued to
be actively involved in operations. In the course of a year, Harmony Baptist
Association oversees the paid director and volunteers, works with the budget,
spreads information about the center through their association newsletter and
provides for other needs that arise.
Does your community need a Pregnancy Care Center? Consider these
Did you know . . .
There are more than 835,000 births per year to girls ages 15-19?
There are more than 20,400 births per year to girls under 15?
Approximately one-half of all teen girls are sexually active.
Recent statistics show that 57 percent of teen pregnancies ended in birth,
29 percent ended in abortion, and 14 percent ended in miscarriage.
Four in ten girls get pregnant at least once before age 20.
100 teen girls get pregnant each hour.
Center Director Cathy Williams became involved with Hope Resource Center
after finding healing from a past abortion. When Cathy heard about the
associations desire to start a pregnancy center, she felt Gods leading to get
involved. Cathy started as the director part time, while also working as a
probation officer. In the past year, Cathy has left her probation job to focus
solely on the center.
While the needs of young women in their community can be overwhelming, Cathy
is encouraged by the women the center has been able to help.
One client stands out above the others. Michele* was one of the first
clients to visit the center. Cathy knew that Michele, already a mother of two,
was pregnant, but at the time Cathy had no idea that Michele had an abortion
scheduled for the next day. During the counseling session, Cathy felt a special
connection with the young woman. By the end of their talk, Micheles heart was
softened, and she was willing to consider other alternatives to abortion.
Michele even visited an adoption agency with Cathy and considered the
possibility of making that loving choice.
Center Director Cathy Williams (right) is committed to seeing that
the women such as Michele are given hope.
PHOTO BY stella prather
The next day, Michele canceled her abortion. During Micheles pregnancy, the
two women continued to spend time together and their friendship grew. Cathy was
even present at the birth of Micheles son Joshua. I was the first one to hold
him, Cathy says. Holding that perfect little baby in my arms made it even more
real what our center is all about.
With success stories like Micheles, its easy to see why Hope Resource Center
has been welcomed in their community. The uniting of churches in the Harmony
Baptist Associationand beyondhas allowed God to reach young women who now have
a place to turn for help.
If a center like this is needed in your community, consider the following
First Five Steps
Pray, and ask others to pray with you.
Educate yourself on what women need when facing a crisis pregnancy. Realize
that to be effective as a center, youll need to be women-focused, not baby-
Join with others who have a similar vision. Gain community support from
churches and from professionals such as doctors and nurses.
Visit successful pregnancy care centers to see how they are run.
Contact national organizations such as CareNet and Alternatives for Life.
There are many great programs to assist you with training and start-up
109 Carpenter Drive
Sterling, VA 20164
Alternatives for Life
Elaine E. Davis
4200 North Point Pkwy.
Alpharetta, GA 30022-41760
Research the need. Long before Hope Resource Center opened its doors, they
sent out a research committee to assess community needs. They also visited
other centers and became educated on how pregnancy care centers work.
Determine your goals. Hope Resource Center is located in a poor area of
Arkansas with a majority of people who are on welfare. From the beginning, the
centers goal has been to help women with their physical and emotional needs
concerning a crisis pregnancy. They also seek to build relationships in an
effort to share the love of Jesuswhether its sharing the plan of salvation, or
simply offering love and compassion through all they do.
Seek assistance. Many national organizations offer help to those interested
in launching a new center, including training manuals and hands-on help. Others
even assist with funding. Also, directors from current centers are willing to
share information and resources with new start-ups.
Create a budget. When we discussed beginning this center, my first question
was How will we pay for this? Dewayne says. The association has achieved
funding in two ways. First, a Baby Bottle Campaign involves distributing
bottles to local Southern Baptist congregations. Church members then fill the
bottles with spare change. Last year this fund-raiser brought in $17,000.
The second means of support is through donations from the community. When we
began in 2001, our budget was $30,000, Dewayne says. For 2004, were looking to
approve a budget for $61,000. God has continued to open doors as we expand our
Seek community help. Hope Resource Center actively sought prayer and
assistance from local churches. When the center opened, they also sought help
with physical items such as televisions, VCRs and furniture for their
I even asked the committee to pray for ficus trees, Cathy says with a laugh.
I wanted the lobby to be homey and inviting. Even though some people where
puzzled by the request, they prayed, and in a few days God answered. Three
beautiful ficus trees were donated.
Seek volunteers. Hopes 15 volunteers are members of their associations
churches. During speaking engagements they distribute sign-up cards for
potential volunteers. Many women, like Cathy, have a concern for this cause and
are eager to redeem past experiences for good. Others have no personal
experience with abortion but recognize each new life as a gift from God and an
opportunity to help expectant mothers depend on Him in times of crisis.
Spread the word. Harmony Baptist Association knew spreading word of the
center was crucial. One of their most successful media campaigns was a
billboard ad, which boosted the number of clients. But perhaps the best
advertisement has been word of mouth. Former clients who tell others about the
loving help theyve received often refer new expectant mothers to the
Excitement about the center has spread beyond expectations. Ive had numerous
community organizations ask me to speak, says Cathy. Ive even had one group,
40-miles away, ask me to create an abstinence program for their youth. Its
great to see that others appreciate what were doing.
Pray and persevere. Whether youre contemplating the idea of starting a
pregnancy care center or are already involved with one, both Dewayne and Cathy
recommend two things above allprayer and perseverance.
Pray, pray and pray some more, says Dewayne. Have faith that God can meet
every need that comes before you. Not only will God honor your prayers, this is
the model of dependence on Him that you want to demonstrate to your frightened
And dont give up, adds Cathy. Sometimes its easy to get frustrated over
little things, but when we look at the big picture and see formerly
abortion-minded girls choosing to have their babies, its all worthwhile.
Due to Gods continued sustenance, the growth of the Hope Resource Center
continues. They are beginning a new program called Sexual Integrity, which will
offer education to high-risk clients who return for repeat tests.
As she once was helped, Cathy also helps other new center directors,
providing advice and training throughout the state. Encouraging other on
mission Christians to begin centers of their own is just another way of
continuing with the Great Commission, another way of sharing Gods love in
Tricia Goyer is a writer living in Kalispell,
A Southern Baptist Convention entity supported by the Cooperative Program and theAnnie Armstrong Easter Offering® ©Copyright 2013 North American Mission Board, SBC