Crisis Pregnancy Centers, Our Under-funded Missionaries on the Front-lines of the Pro-Life Cause

On Thursday, January 17 of this year I was privileged to have an interview with the Executive Director of ChoiceOne Pregnancy and Sexual Health Resource Centers. ChoiceOne has offices in Lawrenceville, New Jersey and in Levittown, PA.  The ministry began over 30 years ago in New Jersey by evangelical pastors as a reaction to the political event of the Supreme Court Roe v. Wade decision.

As stated on their website, the Gospel is central. Their mission is “to act as a positive change agent in the areas of human sexuality, family unity, and pregnancy; to provide women and girls along with their partners, practical assistance and positive alternatives to abortion; as well as to provide STD screening, STD support counseling, abstinence training/school-church programs, bereavement counseling, parenting classes, relationship counseling, family counseling, father’s program, GED, employment training, medical assistance, and referrals for housing and adoption.” Their vision “is to be the first choice for women who are not only facing unplanned pregnancies but also those who are vulnerable to the consequences of sex (physical, emotional and spiritual) outside of marriage in the Mercer, Burlington, Northeast Philadelphia, and Bucks County areas.

Carolyn Gilmore’s history at ChoiceOne began 23 years ago when she became a client services director. Since she was 5, Carolyn can remember wanting to be a missionary. Her passion from the beginning of her service at ChoiceOne was to share the Gospel.

When she started, she didn’t work weekends, when her husband was off, so was she. She had all sorts of boundaries. Now, she says with a laugh, she runs to the office when her husband is off and she works weekends.

While the ministry began as a response to a political event, it too has transformed. Carolyn speaks of “every divine appointment;” that’s how she sees the girls and women who come to ChoiceOne. God sent them. They have been drawn there. Over 30 years without a product to sell, without being a church, God has provided abundantly.

Among the services the ministry provides are pregnancy testing and counseling, sexually transmitted disease testing and treatment, relational and family counseling, parenting classes, material assistance for infant care, post-abortion recovery and even guy-to-guy talk to minister to the men in these women’s lives. A Straight Talk program is the preventative side of ChoiceOne which uses innovative and, interactive presentations that challenge students to make smart decisions regarding sexual experimentation. Everything that ChoiceOne does is focused on sharing the redeeming Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Even though God does provide and the ministry is seeing lives changed, it does not come without financial challenges. The staff that works at ChoiceOne gets paid “very little,” states Gilmore. There are too many weeks where the executive director is concerned about Friday’s payroll. If she could have that burden taken “off the table,” as she puts it, then more focus could be given to “the outside world’s need of salvation.” Her staff is a thrifty bunch and as if to underscore that she talks about the shaking of the toner in order to maximize the amount that is used per cartridge and a particularly difficult time where 2- ply toilet paper was unrolled and re-rolled so as to make it last longer.

I asked her how churches and individuals could help. Her immediate response was to pray. She stated that the number one tool of Satan against them is to attack the families of the staff. How does he do that? It is in the areas where they are ministering: sexual immorality and poor decision-making in their children.

Gilmore feels that when we pray, our resources tend to follow. Where our hearts are, our treasures are found. She stated that the baby bottle campaign is huge. Thousands of dollars per year have poured in through that creative program. It provides much needed money for cribs and car seats and the like.

Other ways that people can help are as diverse as the needs. There are 127 volunteers yet more still could be used. Paper and other office supplies like the toner mentioned earlier are most helpful. Each expectant mother gets a baby shower complete with streamers, cake and gifts. The cribs, especially the mattresses, have to be new. Car seats are to be no older than six months due to the ever-changing standards. One individual comes every 6-8 weeks with a truck filled with diapers.

ChoiceOne operates a parenting program in which points are earned for lessons, memorizing Scripture , choosing a church, going to church, pricing out diapers, getting a budget done, walking through how they would handle a fever, etc. Then they give a wish list for their baby which usually includes one big ticket item. “My token economy is that if they earn the points, they get what they want,” states Gilmore.

“And then we have a baby shower for them. For many of them, it is the only baby shower they have and it’s done streamers, cake, everybody comes to say we love you. We have good sources for cribs and car seats, so we get it at a very good price. Stores at time will donate their overstock. Every 6 weeks or so, a gentleman brings a truckload of diapers . . . That’s what I need the most, the diapers, the onesies, the bibs, formula,” Carolyn Gilmore passionately rattles off the consistent needs.

From where do these girls and women come? All kinds of women come their way and from every conceivable background. Catholic school girls have come in sets of three or four in order to get tested for pregnancy. Tragically, a teen will come who is pregnant from a youth pastor. A lesbian couple came with a child as a result of a pregnancy involving a third party. These are just a few examples of the many that bring people to ChoiceOne’s doors. Girls come from what would be considered relatively good backgrounds and others from very heart-breaking ones. Each one is counseled without judgment and with the Gospel by a caring, trained counselor.

Does this sound like a ministry with which you would like to be involved? You have been given a peek at the inside of one crisis pregnancy center. It is my hope that you search your own heart and give in some way to ChoiceOne or to a crisis pregnancy center near you.

You can give your prayers, your financial gift or one of the things already listed here. Let’s not be pro-life in word only but in deed and in truth. God bless you for what you do! If you do give to ChoiceOne and can communicate with them, let them know that Beacon2Light sent you. Thanks and God bless!

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