I Visited ALC Shelbyville
In this series, we're visiting Southeast's Mission Partners to understand their vision and how God is using them in the community.
By Carla Williams
At 18 years old, Diana was unmarried, pregnant, and terrified. She felt hopeless and scared, and she thought her only real option was to have an abortion. In the months following her decision, she spiraled into anxiety and severe depression.
Eventually, Diana went to a local pregnancy resource center and asked if they could help her with her grief. She went through their post-abortive care program and eventually began leading it, offering Christ’s hope and forgiveness to other women in her position.
Today, she’s the executive director at A Loving Choice (ALC) Shelbyville. As I sat in her sunny office, I learned more about her family’s story of God’s faithfulness through unspeakable suffering. Years after the abortion, God carried them through the loss of a perfectly formed stillborn daughter and the unthinkable tragedy of a 20-year-old son’s fatal car accident.
Because of the desperate valleys she has traveled, Diana is uniquely qualified to walk with the women and families who come through the doors at ALC Shelbyville. The staff and volunteers who serve with her have their own windy roads that led them there, too. And yet, I’ve never met a team of people more excited to show love to families in crisis.
Services and Impact
ALC Shelbyville is a community resource for women and families facing unplanned pregnancies. They provide pregnancy testing and ultrasounds. Their nurses and mentors will talk through the options a woman has regarding her baby and her next steps.
Women can return weekly for mentoring and training, and they can participate in Bible studies, baby classes, and parenting classes. All services are free, and participation earns “bucks” to use toward baby clothes, diapers, wipes, and other supplies.
On the day I was there, ALC Shelbyville hosted a “Baby Basics” class. Women from a nearby program for pregnant/new mamas recovering from opioid addictions arrived in a frenzy of laughter and baby cries. Two of the women had teeny tiny babies in tow, and the others were at various stages in their pregnancies. Though the recovery program they’re involved in is not specifically faith-based, the women actively participate in many facets of ALC Shelbyville’s services. And it didn’t take long to notice that the team at ALC Shelbyville profoundly loves these women.
After the class, I sacrificially snuggled a two-week-old baby while the women spent their “bucks” in the store. They collected cute baby outfits, measured maternity clothes over their growing bellies, and admired one another’s purchases. The mama whose sleeping baby was curled up in my arms mentioned that she transitions out of the program soon. As she checked out with her supplies, she commented, “This is one of the reasons I’m staying in this area when I transition out. I know that ALC is my support team.”
When I told Diana what I’d overheard, fresh tears immediately filled her eyes. That’s why she’s there. That’s why ALC Shelbyville is there.
An Avalanche of Diapers
One of my favorite things about the day I visited ALC Shelbyville is that I was there when the truck from Southeast arrived with three pallets of diapers. As one of the recipients for a recent Basic Needs Drive for diapers and wipes, it took every pair of hands in the building to unload the haul. And this was their second delivery from Southeast—they’d already unloaded a truck full the week before!
We filled the entire waiting room full of diapers and wipes in a matter of minutes. There were literally hundreds of packages. As we were sorting them into sizes to be transported to various storage rooms in area churches, the staff told me that Southeast provides a huge percentage of the diapers they distribute each year.
Some days, the hope of diapers is what keeps women coming back to ALC Shelbyville month after month, which opens the doors for more prayers, more encouragement, and more relationships. For many women, their connection with ALC Shelbyville is the difference between parenting alone and walking with a community of encouraging friends. It’s also one of the most tangible examples of Christ-like love and commitment that some of these families will ever experience. Each diaper donated, truly, can change a whole life.
There was something really connective about being there on behalf of Southeast while we unloaded box after box of diapers from Southeast. I was on both sides of the gift, seeing the truckload as both sender and receiver. The feeling was overwhelming as I navigated this parallel sense of gratitude and honor. I was so thankful for the generosity and thoughtfulness of the Southeast family, and I was humbled to stand in as a meager representative of the church that had given so selflessly.
Unity and Purpose
As I went through the day, each staff person and volunteer I talked to at ALC Shelbyville reiterated that their main purpose for being there was to walk in love with every woman, man, and child that God brings to them. Their vision is unified and their purpose is clear, so it’s no wonder that the ALC Shelbyville team continually impressed me with their unity and community.
They serve one another while serving together. On each great day, like when a scared and desperate mama chooses life for her baby even though she doesn’t know how it will work out, they all celebrate. And on the unthinkably awful days, like when an unborn baby is lost, they hold one another and weep, then move forward bravely together. They’re a team in every sense.
At the end of the day, Diana and her team know that life and death are in God’s hands. They’re just really grateful that He’s given them the opportunity to love each and every person who walks through their door. It’s a job they never take lightly.
To learn more or get involved, visit alcshelbyville.org.