Baptists help birth pregnancy center
FARMINGTON—The story of the Parkland Pregnancy Resource Center here is proof that Missouri Baptist laity who live out a biblical worldview can help stop abortion by lifting up life in their own community.
Kim Nash once did the unthinkable. She got pregnant in high school by a boy who was not her husband. Worse yet, her father was a preacher.
“To go through the experience of trying to tell your Dad you were an unwed mother—that was so scary for me,” Nash said. “But my family and my church were so supportive. For me to see girls going through that who didn’t have a support base, who didn’t have anybody, I knew we needed something like that in our community.”
Nash is from Fredricktown, where she is a member of First Baptist Church. As a high school teacher in the public schools, she grew accustomed to seeing many girls go through crisis pregnancies like her own. She knew it was a huge problem in both Madison County and St. Francois County. Farmington was the city where it could all begin to change, but the hub lacked the proper facility.
“We needed something in our communities to help girls in crisis,” she said.
Nash did some research on pregnancy resource centers and sent out letters to pastors to try to get them to come to an organizational meeting in January 2004. More than 40 people representing several different denominations attended that initial meeting at a restaurant in Farmington; the vision was beginning to take shape.
Alliance for Life Missouri was instrumental in helping to bring forth the new pregnancy resource center, with its president/CEO, John McCastle, attending the very first meeting. Baptists for Life later came alongside the new group with a packet explaining how to get the center up and operating. Nash and others quickly capitalized on the momentum by starting a steering committee. Out of that came the first board members and volunteers.
They were told it would take six months for their paperwork to be approved; it took a mere 18 days. In another major development, BJC Healthcare, which owns the Parkland Health Center in Farmington, offered the center free office space. By this time Nash, who had been named the center’s executive director in March 2005, knew without a doubt that God was guiding every little detail. The new center opened on Oct. 31, 2005.
The center offers free pregnancy tests, free first-trimester ultrasounds, maternity and baby items, parenting classes tied to Bible study, and abstinence education through the curriculum Choosing Sexual Integrity (CSI). Nash is joined by two other full-time employees and about 20 volunteers in a work force that is also able and willing to go into the surrounding public schools and teach abstinence. She said many Missouri Baptists are actively participating in this Christ-centered effort to both rescue babies and save souls.
“When it comes down to it, we can give out diapers and car seats and baby items, but if we haven’t shown them the love of Christ and tried to introduce them to Jesus, then we haven’t done anything,” Nash said. “That’s the most important thing, because that’s going to affect generations.
“I always tell everybody that we have the best volunteers anywhere. They have a real heart for the girls.”
One of those volunteers is Chris Ward, a retired public school teacher and a member of New Life Fellowship in Farmington, a Missouri Baptist congregation. She enjoys teaching the women how much Jesus loves them.
“The Bible study is my heart,” Ward said. “The girls have booklets that they work through, and we give them Bibles if they don’t have one. One young lady actually has joined our church now, and she’s volunteering at the crisis pregnancy center.”
One day in September, Ward stopped to pray for an “abortion-minded” woman whom the center was about to impact. Often someone will call the center in a panic, not knowing what to expect. The center’s employees and volunteers have learned how important it is to pray for the one who is handling that call.
“The main thing is to try to get her to come in and just talk,” Nash said. “So many women are in crisis, and they see that abortion is the only way out for them. Whoever gets that call at the center, or on our hotline, they have to just be a good listener and try to give them things to think about, to let them know that there are other options.”
Jonathan Jones, pastor of Esther Baptist Church in Park Hills, serves as chairman of the board for the Parkland center. He sees its influence spreading.
“The churches in this area are embracing the ministry and are truly trying to help,” Jones said.
Ward was asked to talk about her heart to volunteer as the center approaches its two-year anniversary.
“To me,” she said, her voice breaking with emotion, “babies are so precious.”