The House that Hope Built
We started a crisis pregnancy center with a borrowed room and a cell phone. Our goal was to simply help young, pregnant girls, yet God’s dream proved grander. It soon was clear that hope was not only something we gave, but also received.
“I’m busy enough with my call as a writer,” I told Kathy when, for the hundredth time, she brought up the subject of starting a crisis pregnancy center. Didn’t she see that I was already working hard for God’s kingdom? Didn’t she understand that just because I had faced two crisis pregnancies as a teen didn’t mean that I wanted to center my life on them now?
“We just need you for ideas. Your writing proves you’re a great idea-person,” she said.
“Okay, but that’s as far as it goes, right?”
Kathy nodded and led me to the small group of volunteers.
Before I knew it, I fully involved. My God-given leadership traits somehow pulled me in. As a writer I had learned to be organized, and they needed organization. I had also experienced numerous times God’s ability to pull an idea together. Those traits were beneficial as well.
Within months, the vision became a reality, and we started our crisis pregnancy center with a borrowed room in our church (a half-office, really) and a cell phone. The plan was to put a 24-hour hotline number in the newspaper and provide free pregnancy tests for those who called in. Kathy had volunteered these services before. She knew the need was great, and the closest pro-life center was hours away. Seemingly overnight, the calls began to come.
A young teen, Amy, called for a pregnancy test. She was a Christian girl who had made some bad choices. After counseling, Amy decided to have her baby and face her parents.
Another time, a nurse called, encouraging us to speak to a woman in her thirties who had canceled her doctor’s appointment, wanting instead to have abortion. We were able to counsel her in time, and nine months later Shannon had a healthy son.
Each appointment was unique, yet God’s hand was felt in the office. Life stories were shared and heart-connections were made. It somehow seemed as if every counselor was handpicked for each girl.
We also received an abundance of baby clothes and furniture for the new moms, as well as numerous requests from the community. Would we be interested in speaking on the radio or at pro-life rallies? Kathy was always eager to share our cause.
With each speaking engagement, came those interested in volunteering. Could we provide training? Was there a need for more hands? Of course! I soon discovered that the North American Mission Board provided training for new start-ups such as ours. The director of Alternatives for Life was soon at our church providing training for 35 women.
Where did they all come from? I wondered as I scanned the room that first day of training. Baptists, Lutherans, Catholics, and Pentecostals all joined together for one common goal—to give hope to troubled girls. It was clear that God had brought us together for His good purpose.
It was also soon apparent that our half-office would not be big enough. Baby clothes and furniture were stacked from floor to ceiling. There was barely room for the counselor and the teen to sit around the office desk.
“We need a bigger space,” I told the volunteers at our monthly meeting. “Start looking around and see what you can find.”
I received calls about possible office spaces. I checked out a few. One seemed adequate for our needs—it had room for counseling and storage for baby items, but the rent was $750 a month. Our center relied solely on the contributions of others, and we were happy to receive half that amount in a month’s time.
“Just keep praying,” I told the volunteers. “God has the perfect place in mind for us, we simply have to wait for Him to lead us there.”
We prayed, but for a time it was hard not to be discouraged, especially when we learned that Kathy, the visionary, was moving across the country.
“God has raised up a mighty force here,” Kathy told me one day soon after her husband lost his job due to a mill closure. “I suppose He has work for me to do somewhere else.” She looked me in the eyes. “Keep up the good work,” she said.
It wasn’t easy saying goodbye to Kathy, yet how could I question God when He had provided thirty women to take her place?
The breakthrough in our office dilemma came when one of our volunteers heard that her church was looking for a ministry to make use of their parsonage.
“They’ve decided not to rent it out anymore,” Leona told me one day.
“Maybe we should inquire about it.”
When I pulled up to the house to take a look, I couldn’t believe my eyes.
“It’s more than I ever hoped for,” I whispered to myself as I climbed out of the car. The large, yellow Victorian rested on a corner lot only a few blocks from downtown. A white, wrap-around porch was warm and welcoming. Inside, glass doors lead to a formal living room and dining room. Upstairs were four, empty bedrooms.
Could this possibly be ours? I wondered.
A few of us volunteers met with the church board. The group of men was impressed with the growth and accomplishments of our center. Many abortion-minded girls had chosen life for their children after receiving counseling—what greater testimony could we have than that?
We proposed that we use the house rent-free in exchange for remodel work. I held my breath as the board considered the proposition. Tears blurred my vision as they agreed.
So this is Your plan . . . I thought as I drove away from the meeting. I glanced at the house through the rear-view mirror and hope filled me. If God could give us a house, surely He could furnish it too.
And He did exactly that. Churches, families, and organizations sponsored rooms, completely painting, decorating and furnishing them. One businessman in the area offered to pay for a complete, new living room set. One women’s group paid for our carpeting. Checks flooded in from around the community, and around the country. The house was soon completely furnished, and on opening day radio and television crews broadcasted from our location as dozens of visitors toured the new facility.
Sometimes it’s hard to believe that it’s only been a year and a half since Kathy provided the first pregnancy test in the borrowed office. Now “Hope House” stands as a testimony to her vision and her assurance in God. Most importantly, volunteers from many denominations are still united, still excited, and still working together for our common cause.
Not so long ago when we were deciding on a name for ourselves, “Hope Pregnancy Center” seemed to strike a cord with us all. At the time, we believed that hope was for the girls that we helped. Hope for a future, hope for the new life they carried, hope in God. Yet in this short amount of time, we’ve also discovered that hope was for us too. Hope in God’s plans that bonded us together. And hope in God’s goodness that transformed a half-office into a home.
And as for me, I’m still a writer. I’m still taking care of God’s house, and He’s faithfully taking care of my writing work. Only these days, I have more to write about. I now share a story about how hope built a house that bears its name.
Interested in starting a Crisis Pregnancy Center in your community? Here’s what YOU CAN DO:
2. Become educated.
3. Organize others of like concern.
4. Put ads on Christian radio stations or in newspapers seeking volunteers for a start up.
5. Talk to your pastor about facilities for training, meetings, or support groups.
6. Contact the North American Mission Board for information about free training and resources (address below).
7. Rally community support through professionals such as doctors, local businessmen, and other churches.
8. Find a Christian attorney willing to help you establish a non-profit status.
9. Contact an organization such as the National Institute of Family & Life Advocates that equips crisis pregnancy centers with legal counsel and support.
10. After receiving training, find an office space (possibly donated) where your center can begin offering free pregnancy tests and counseling.
11. Seek free or discounted services from printers and advertisers.
12. Gather resources such as books, films and brochures for your center.
One great place to start is the Focus on the Family, Crisis Pregnancy Ministry. To receive their benevolent resources, simply write to Focus on the Family on your center’s letterhead and ask to be added to their CPC mailing list (address below).
13. Collect and distribute quality baby clothes, baby furniture, and maternity items.
14. Watch what God does through you!
For More Information:
Crisis Pregnancy Ministry
Focus on the Family
Colorado Springs, CO 80995
Alternatives for Life
Attn: Mrs. Lura Sheppard
4200 North Point Parkway
Alpharetta, GA 30022
Attn: Lynn Bisbee
109 Carpenter Drive, Suite 100
Sterling, VA 20164
Attn: Peggy Hartshorn
7810 Olentangy River Road
Columbus, OH 43235
National Institute of Family & Life Advocates (NIFLA)
Attn: Tom Glessner
P.O. Box 42060
Fredericksburg, VA 22404