More than 440 people were inspired by testimonies given by volunteers and clients of Hope Pregnancy Centers during the “Changing Hearts, Saving Lives” fundraising banquet Oct. 11 at the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City.
As a result, more than $30,000 was received from those in attendance, which-combined with $22,000 received prior to the event and another $22,900 committed during the year-brought total donations to the HPC this year to more than $75,800, reported Kathy Gibson, development representative. Also, 39 of those in attendance indicated a desire to serve as an HPC volunteer in the future, the largest number to do so from any banquet in the past.
“In recent years, the Lord has guided us through a wonderful journey,” said director Candy Hines during the program. “He has provided new buildings where we can share His word in beautiful facilities. This year, we have seen 30 women accept Christ, as the Lord has opened the door of opportunity for us. Just last week, a client brought in her new baby. We hadn’t seen her since February. She stated ‘I want to know God, and I want to go to church.’
“For years we were named ‘Crisis Pregnancy Center,’ but a few years ago we changed our name from ‘Crisis to Hope,’ and that is what we do at our centers. Our clients come to us in a crisis and they leave with hope.
“Our purpose is not just about saving a baby, it is about raising a child. We have realized that the purpose is to love that client and she, in return, will learn to love that baby, just as the Lord designs. As they see God’s love through us, they will see His love for them. This past year, our two Oklahoma City centers have seen more than 1,500 clients.”
Hines pointed out the HPC has expanded its medical program for its clients to see their babies through a new ultrasound machine at our south center and it now has six nurses, five of whom are volunteers, who are able to assist in the testing process. In the past year, 173 ultrasounds have been performed and of those tested, 145 chose life for their child.
She also praised the work of the HPC volunteers, who donated some 3,700 hours of service this year.
“We couldn’t keep our doors open without the dedication of volunteers who come week after week to meet with these clients,” Hines said. “God has called these men and women to these centers to serve in a special way. In addition to volunteer nurses, we have volunteers who counsel with clients and shop keepers who help in the baby boutiques.”
Facts and figures tell part of the story, but, the most poignant and moving words came from the clients themselves.
Magdalena, a client who has given birth to a daughter, Esmeralda, said, “The education I have received has been my life saver; each class has helped me better understand what I was going to go through when it came to labor, what was going to happen the first days home and what I have to look forward to as she grows day by day. I learned about things I never knew could happen to my baby that my mother never even knew either.
“Everyone at Hope Pregnancy Center has been like the family I never had. They have done everything in their power to help me take those big steps forward in my life that I felt like I could never do on my own. I have realized that family is everything in life and Esmeralda and I are glad that they are our family. They have been there for us when no one else could and they are there for us always, as they will be in my prayers always. Hope Pregnancy Center has been a true blessing in our lives. Thank you.”
Autumn’s testimony is a powerful story of redemption.
She attended church sporadically growing up, but described herself as “a self-righteous teenager who felt she pretty much had it all figured out.”
Without much adult supervision, she made several “friends” who introduced her to drugs.
“I remember sitting around with my friends while we were getting high and debating the meaning of life. Why are we here? Is this really all there is? Is this what I was made for? Numbness? Something inside of me just wasn’t so sure,” she said.
After splitting up with a boyfriend she had dated for about two years, Autumn ended up pregnant by another man, and eventually had an abortion.
“Everything became slow-motion. I had been wasted for so long I was actually surprised that I was pregnant. More like shocked,” she said. “I mean, I knew how babies were made, but I was simply dumbfounded that it happened to me.
“After the procedure, I woke up and was discharged from the clinic. I stopped at a drug store to get my prescriptions, went home, fell asleep, woke up, threw up, and began the first day of my denial. I was up and out that night at a friend’s apartment acting like nothing had happened. This went on for several weeks and then I just broke. I couldn’t carry on like it hadn’t happened. It had come to the surface and my guilt and my shame were enormous . . . I remember feeling so empty. I would lay there and weep and just feel as if my life was over. I couldn’t breathe. It is difficult to convey how desolate and broken I was.”
Autumn eventually reconciled with her former boyfriend, and she gave her heart to Jesus at a revival in October 1997.
“That night, I felt a weight lift off of me that I can’t really explain,” she said. “There was a peace about me that could only have come from Him. I know. I had tried everything else! I was excited and prayed without ceasing. I could not believe what Jesus had done for me. What He had forgiven me of! But He did, and has forgotten all the bad things that I did.”
She married that boyfriend in December 1999, and they now have a son and a daughter.
“While I was pregnant with both of my children, and even looking at them today, I am so overwhelmed with love for them,” she said. “I realized while I was pregnant, that it was the same thing back in June 1996. My child was growing inside of me, and I killed him. That will be a fact for the rest of my life. There is no escaping that.”
Today, Autumn volunteers with the HPC, counseling with others who come to the center.
“I’ve known I was supposed to do something with this (experience) for the longest time. I’ve started to see that God requires our obedience to Him,” she said. “I have been very disobedient to the Lord for a long time. I have been so afraid to speak up or step out.
“I was given a Scripture to read before I went on a mission trip and it has really stuck with me. It is 2 Timothy 1:7. ‘God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline.’ I know God did not make me timid. That is Satan. He wants me to hang back and not do the will of God. But, with everything that we obey and follow through with, God gives us a little more and a little more and a little more. I can look back and see the progression in responsibilities and blessings He’s given me since I really began obeying Him.”
She said she realizes that she has “to get out of my boat like Peter and not be so afraid of what everybody else will think or say. The final thing that was such a big deal to me was that it’s OK to be afraid to do the things that God calls me to do; I just have to do it afraid.
“I made a call to Hope Pregnancy Center several months ago, and here I am now telling you my story. Without a doubt, I believe that it has helped me become a better wife, mother, friend, daughter and all-around person. I will continue to be obedient to God because I know lives will be changed and blessed because of my obedience to Him. I have to tell you, being here tonight, speaking to you, is blowing my mind. It is way past my own comfort level, but my comfort level is not important. It’s not about me, it’s about Jesus. I had to get out of my boat, and I am doing it afraid.”