MARY REICHARD, HOST: Today is Tuesday July 26th. You are listening to WORLD Radio and we thank you for listening! Hello. I am Mary Reichard.
NICK EICHER, HOST: And I’m Nick Eicher. Coming next The world and all in it: the next episode of the WORLD’s Hope Awards for Effective Compassion.
Today, WORLD correspondent Addie Offereins takes us to a pregnancy center in Niles, Michigan that focuses on strengthening the whole family.
ADDIE OFFEREINS, REPORTER: Breanna Brittain carries her son in her right hand. In 2017, his left hand was amputated.
BRITTAIN: It was an accident at work. I was cleaning up at the end of my shift. So I worked at night. It is therefore 6:05 a.m., I would like to go under the saw to extract this fiber. And somebody went and pressed the buttons on the control panel, and the table moved forward. And it just sucked my hand into a chain and sprocket. Think like a bike, but industrial size.
After the accident, Britain did not want to get out of bed. She contemplated suicide and was admitted to a psychiatric ward for five days. A few months later, she learns that she is pregnant.
One day as Brittain walked down East Main Street in Niles, Michigan, she noticed a small sage-green Victorian house with white trim. A white sign backed by a purple wooden frame read “LifePlan” in big purple letters and below: “you + baby + family.”
BRITTAIN: I walked past. And I say to myself, I need a life plan.
life plan aims to take the “crisis” out of the “crisis pregnancy center”. The department offers traditional pregnancy center services. But staff and volunteers also work to strengthen the family from the ground up.
Inside, the center is warm and looks freshly painted. Worship music plays in the background. A meticulously curated boutique is full of baby clothes racks. White shelves hold other baby items.
When Breanna Brittain arrived at LifePlan, staff matched her with Teri Stark, one of the center’s counsellors. They met once a week to review life matters curriculum – covering everything from how to keep your home clean, to staying within your budget, to what to expect from a newborn. At first, Brittain didn’t know what to do.
BRITTAIN: I was really leaning towards abortion…
Stark listened and shared his own story of God’s redemption.
STARK: I got pregnant before I got married. And my baby was born early. And I didn’t even know who God was. I didn’t even know the gospel. I didn’t know Jesus died for me. And my baby was born early. And I remember crying out to God. As if you were real, please let my baby live. And God brought Christians into my life. And I was saved and. And even though my son didn’t live, I was saved. And God just did a total miracle in my life.
life plan offers ultrasounds on Thursdays and testing for sexually transmitted diseases on Mondays and Thursdays.
AZUCNA: But we also talk about prevention. So now you can see we have a Men’s Ministry. We go to schools. OK. And then we talk not only about your pregnancy, but about your relationship.
This is Lyndon Azcuna, life plan executive Director. Last year, life plan has partnered with a local church to host a youth conference that helps teens understand sexuality from a biblical perspective. Each year, the organization sponsors an anti-pornogrpahy campaign.
Life Project also does a lot for men. Azcuna says it’s hard to overcome the stigma that pregnancy centers are for women only.
AZCUNA: 67% to 70% of women who decide to have an abortion depend on the father. And so we want to be family oriented. That’s why we are thinking of you, the baby and the family.
Men can sign up for coaching with older mentors from local churches.
But Azucna says it’s not easy to get the men involved.
AZCUNA: And I want to tell you that the ministry of men is very difficult in our context.
Usually they have about three in the books, but today not a single man showed up. And when they arrive, they don’t open easily.
Katrina Patrice is Director of Operations in Benton Harbor, Michigan— life plan second location.
PATRICE: So one of the things that motivates me is, you know, the very last verse of the Old Testament says that Elijah would come and turn the hearts of the fathers back to their children. And that’s what John the Baptist said then, he quoted that verse. And so that was his job. And that’s why our men’s ministry is important. Because if men don’t see the value in children, then they won’t see the value in their wives, girlfriends, to take care of children or to have children. So that’s an important part of what we do.
When a woman completes a parenting or life skills course, she can choose eight items of clothing and earn $10 shop dollars, the equivalent of a pack of diapers. If a male also attends, the rewards are doubled.
But women like Breanna Brittain come back for more than baby items. The relationships they build with their mentors are lifelong. Brittain still meets Stark every two weeks.
BRITTAIN: She’s such a precious woman. Like, I love it. I look at her as if she were my mother. She is like a mentor. He’s my mentor. But she looks more like my mother. And my adviser.
Her son Mark was born on March 1, 2020.
BRITTAIN: And he had all this black hair and he was so cute. Jessie were and now you are just a handful.
Brittain married Mark’s father in November 2020. They live a few blocks from life plan. Mark is now a spunky two-year-old in a yellow jacket struggling to sit still.
BRITTAIN: I looked back and thought to myself how could I love conflict like an abortion like, you know, and then see him like seeing how precious and beautiful he is, even when he’s a freak. Like, I know I made the right decision. I know I made the right decision coming here because who knows what I would have done if I hadn’t quit.
Reporting for WORLD, I’m Addie Offereins in Niles, Michigan.
MORE : life plan is one of our four semi-finalists for this year’s Hope Awards for Effective Compassion. We’ll feature two more ministries this week, then ask you to vote online for which ministry you think should be this year’s award winner.
You can learn more at: wng.org/compassion.
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