I Visited Choices Life Resource Center
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
I arrived at the New Albany campus of Choices Life Resource Center right as the weekly staff meeting was wrapping up—just in time to join their circle for prayer. As they shared requests and news, the tone in the room easily bounced between jovial and somber, reflecting the balance the ministry walks. At any given moment at each campus, there will be joy, laughter, and celebration co-existing with difficulty, tension, and grief. It’s in the nature of the ministry.
Choices offers safe, confidential pregnancy testing, options consultation, and ongoing education, resources, and support. They also provide STD/STI testing and referrals, plus a program for women who have chosen abortion in the past. There are three campuses in Southern Indiana: New Albany, Corydon, and Salem.
When a woman suspects she has an unplanned pregnancy, she may come to Choices and take a test. Once the results are confirmed, an Advocate meets with her to discuss her options. They also share the Gospel and make sure the mother knows that she is loved and valuable.
If a woman is even the least bit uncertain about what to do next, Choices will happily provide an ultrasound and show the mother her baby. Almost always, if a woman sees her child on the screen, she will choose life for her baby, either through adoption or parenthood.
Even if the woman wants an abortion, the Advocate can explain the risks and effects in a loving and pressure-free environment. If a woman is abortion-minded, Choices would rather be the ones to explain what that means than have that woman learn about the option at an abortion clinic, where there are direct financial benefits when a woman chooses to end her pregnancy.
While they are careful to never manipulate, shame, or pressure women, the staff at Choices certainly wants each pregnant mother to know the truth about their pregnancy and options. In the ultrasound room, there are tactile models of each stage of pregnancy, so women can see and hold a replica of what their baby looks like even in his or her earliest weeks. It’s a powerful visual tool for explaining the true miracle of the life growing inside her.
As Mary, the Client Services Director at the New Albany campus, gave me the grand tour of the facility, she got positively giddy when we walked into the ultrasound room. “This room is literally covered in Scripture!” she whispered joyfully, conspiratorially. Before the flooring tile was installed, people saturated the floor with written verses and prayers in anticipation of the lives that would be at stake in that very room every single day.
Once a woman decides she wants to continue her pregnancy, Choices can really begin their journey with her. The potential obstacles are endless and can seem insurmountable: opposition from the partner, financial insecurity, lack of support, poor examples, inexperience, health concerns, and more. Choices offers a whole program to help walk through these issues and more.
Women who participate in Choices’ StepUp life skills and parenting program receive ongoing mentoring, training, and resources as they navigate pregnancy and parenthood. There are more than 360 individual trainings available, from financial planning to potty training and everything in between.
Each woman will meet with an Advocate twice a month for ongoing mentoring and care. In addition to the skills she’ll learn, she’ll have a team of people praying with her, sharing the Gospel, reinforcing a Biblical understanding of her value and role, and walking with her in grace. She’ll learn that God loves her deeply and He wants her to know and worship Him.
There is even a track for the men who want to be the best dads and husbands for their families. The ManUp Program provides holistic training, intensive mentoring, and honest community for the men who participate. Through the program, the dads can gain tools, resources, accountability, and confidence to serve their families well into the future.
For each session a mom or dad completes, they can earn “bucks” for items in the Choices Blessings Boutique, including diapers, clothes, blankets, toys, wipes, formula and baby food, and more! There are even classes they can take to receive a car seat and pack-n-play. If they are faithful to participate, they can easily earn everything they need for their baby while simultaneously gaining valuable life and parenting skills that might change the direction of their lives.
Each Story Matters
After a day of asking questions and observing the ministry, I sat down with Rose, the Executive Director for Choices. Like many who find themselves in local ministries, Rose’s journey to her role is full of surprising twists and turns. Each small act of obedience led her deeper into God’s heart for the broken and hurting, and when Choices opened its doors, Rose found herself at the helm.
Even after all these years of serving in this role, Rose still cares about each woman, man, and unplanned baby that Choices gets to serve. It’s not just another unwed mother, another unprepared father, or another saved child. While it would be easy to routinely process each client, Rose and her staff are invested in the people, and each life impacted is valuable. They celebrate with each step forward and they grieve with each loss.
As I talked with Rose about some of the stories she’s experienced, she knew countless women who had chosen life for their babies and gone on to become amazing mothers and women redeemed by Christ. But she also knew the sad stories. As she remembered a mom who, after making huge strides, accidentally overdosed and died, Rose wiped steady tears from her eyes. The loss was still heartbreaking for her, even after all these years.
That story was heart-wrenching, but Rose’s tears were so encouraging to me. It impacted me to know that the people running this ministry really, deeply care about the families they’re serving. To them, God has provided a way to stand at a crossroads in people’s lives, even between life and death. It’s a responsibility they aren’t going to take lightly.
For more information or to get involved, visit choiceslrc.org or choiceslrccares.org.