When Joe and I had just one child, we fell upon hard times and got evicted from the house we were renting. In response, a woman from our church moved out of her townhouse, moved in with another single woman from the church, and she paid the rent for three months. For another two months, we lived with a couple in the church because we needed more time to get on our feet financially. We could not have survived that trying season without the help of our church, and it is the backdrop that moves us to pay it forward when we see needs around us.
A crisis certainly calls for just this kind of unity, action, and monetary support. It means churches, pregnancy centers, and other nonprofits should partner more deeply to meet the needs of mothers who are poor. Together, we can offer longer-term solutions for moms who truly want to keep their babies, but who see no way they could do it financially. We must be willing to sacrifice more than we currently do. A promise of diapers, formula, and discipleship classes are not enough. We have to help these women develop sustainable, practical plans for raising their child, not just birthing it.
Keep in mind that the focus of this series is the 75% – the majority – of women who choose to end their children’s lives. So much ire and contempt is directed at women who abort for other reasons that we fail to invest our energy where we can actually help abortion numbers decline: among the poor.
Every church that claims to be womb to tomb should adopt a family. In my prior post I mentioned the criticism directed at pro-lifers who don’t adopt, but we don’t have to raise the baby to adulthood. Instead, we can galvanize a team of servants ready to act on its behalf. Each team can be assigned a focus area like housing, childcare, food, transportation, or employment, and work together to meet needs and offer counsel.
First, the church should take up an offering specifically for this ministry or reserve a percentage of collections annually. This provides funding so that teams can provide for the mother for a year after she has her baby. Two years would be better. This gives the mom ample time to recover from the birth and see to her baby’s vital early years. It gives the ministry team a chance to build a relationship if they choose, though anonymous care is also an option. The point is, we oversimplify the crisis if all we do is invest in the decision phase of an abortion-minded woman’s life. Raising a child costs money. If we care about saving the baby, we need to care about what his life will be like after he is born.
So how will this work?
The transportation team can help the mom with car repairs or someone can donate a car. Or the team can pay off her current car, freeing up funds for other important areas of her life. As the director of a nonprofit, I am fortunate to have a church friend who uses his gas points to fill up the gas tank of our agency van. This is such a practical gift that supports the low-income families we transport to school and activities.
A housing team can improve a mother’s living situation. In fact, someone in the church likely has land where a modular could be built, or rental property the mom could reside in while she gets her education or secures stable employment with living wages.
A childcare team can offer to babysit to give the mom a break and ensure she practices self care.
The essential needs team can see to the family’s food and clothing needs. Christians are notorious for meal trains. Keep the train going in the form of grocery cards so the mother can have autonomy in her shopping.
The discipleship team can focus on spiritual needs. Maybe the mom is working through a relationship with the father of her child or recovering from abuse and trauma, so pastoral counseling is in order.
The employment team can ensure a mom has an education and job skills to maximize her chances for gainful employment and self-sufficiency.
Churches and pregnancy centers that build meaningful, lasting relationships in low-income communities will have a great advantage in this process. Brainstorm with the local nonprofit about shared activities that may have nothing to do with abortion, but that provide an avenue for building relationships. It’s far better to know a woman before her crisis than to enter her life during her highest point of need. Pregnancy center counselors have a small window of time to change a woman’s mind about abortion. Someone with a relationship and a team backing her up with tangible support will have an even greater influence.
To have these relationships on the front end will mean partnering with nonprofits that don’t have an explicit Christian mission. But not only are God’s people working at these nonprofits, having one’s needs met is to experience the love and provision of God. Jesus taught us this in Matthew 14. After a long day of ministry, the disciples didn’t want to take responsibility for the hungry crowd even though they had been willing to minister in spiritual ways. Jesus would have none of this selfish disregard for the people’s needs. He commanded the disciples to find a way to feed them and God blessed their willingness to sacrifice. What I am proposing challenges churches to sacrifice in ways that align with our Christian calling and no one has to change the way they vote. But if you think this is too much work for a congregation of hundreds, then imagine what a single mother or poor couple thinks about the prospect of raising their child.
There’s a crowd of abortion-minded women — about 600,000 annually — who might just keep their babies if they could get a helping hand from the people who vote against their right to abort. Caring for these women in tangible ways is not socialism, nor is it fostering unhealthy dependence. In the Book of Acts, members of the early church went to great lengths to ensure “there were no needy persons among them” (Acts 4.34). If the prolife community becomes a poverty-fighting community, we can save the lives of babies and save their mothers from a lifetime of regret.
I was hungry and you fed me,
I was thirsty and you gave me a drink,
I was homeless and you gave me a room,
I was shivering and you gave me clothes,
I was sick and you stopped to visit,
I was in prison and you came to me.’
37-40 “Then those ‘sheep’ are going to say, ‘Master, what are you talking about? When did we ever see you hungry and feed you, thirsty and give you a drink? And when did we ever see you sick or in prison and come to you?’ Then the King will say, ‘I’m telling the solemn truth: Whenever you did one of these things to someone overlooked or ignored, that was me—you did it to me.”