From time to time it is my pleasure to use my blog to draw people’s attention to ministries which I consider demonstrate ‘Good Practice’ among those who are in some way disadvantaged.
This report has been written by the team leaders of Alternatives Pregnancy Counselling Centre in Brighton, UK. This ministry demonstrates great love, compassion and excellence.
Called to Care
Sarah Pooley and Claire Godley
Often when we think of caring for the poor, practical ministries to people living in poverty in places like Africa and Asia come to mind. It’s easy to forget that there are people who are ‘poor in spirit’ and struggling with huge emotional issues in every street in the UK.
One such group are women facing an unplanned pregnancy. In 2009 women living in England and Wales had 189,100 abortions (source: Department of Health) and 40% of women and men will be affected by abortion in their lifetime.
Shocked at finding out they are pregnant, thrown into turmoil and unsure what to do for the best. These women need a safe place and a listening ear to come and talk about how they feel and consider all the options before making a decision.
Our immediate response can be to think of the life of the unborn baby. Saving this life is a natural outcome of helping the woman. David Reardon in his book The Jericho Plan says ‘Only the Mother can help her unborn child. All that the rest of us can do is to nurture and protect the Mother.’
Hailey (not her real name) came to Alternatives in Brighton two years ago with an unplanned pregnancy and was unsure what to do. She had a chaotic lifestyle and was in an unstable relationship, as well as being a drug user. She eventually gave into external pressures and had an abortion. The team supported her through the Journey programme as she worked through her thoughts and feelings following the abortion. And at the end of the course she found herself pregnant again. This time there was no doubt in her mind – she had the baby. Although it has been a difficult time for Hailey the Centre has supported her all the way through and she has stopped taking drugs and has a healthy baby.
So, how do we respond? Alternatives Pregnancy Counselling Centre based in Brighton was set up in 1990. And like many of the 150 other centres across the UK has links with a local Newfrontiers church.
• Free pregnancy testing
• Confidential counselling
• Ongoing support
• Post-abortion / Miscarriage counselling
• Offering space and time to women to enable them to make a fully informed decision
• Many centres also network with local agencies and try to influence and change policies on related issues such as sex education
Those involved in pregnancy counselling centres recognise that they can’t take away the pain or the suffering – only God can do that. All they can do is walk alongside the person and provide support, help them to have all the facts to make a decision and show compassion.
We know that abortion grieves the heart of God and damages the people involved. David Reardon comments ‘As members of the body of Christ we are called upon to be mirrors of God’s mercy and ambassadors of his forgiveness. We can’t do anything for the unborn child in heaven but we can help those wounded by abortion.’
Values that underpin the work of the centres:
• Respect for the women
• A knowledge that ‘there but for the grace of God go I’
• That mercy triumphs over judgement
• Serving Jesus – not fighting a cause
• Not to look at what they can / can’t do but what God is able to do in and through them.
• Prayer is a major ingredient in all aspects of a centre’s work
Care Confidential (part of CARE) is the umbrella organisation that provides support, advice, training and resources to the UK centres. In partnership with the centres Care Confidential also runs a national freephone helpline, web portal and secure online support and advice service.
Psalm 139 v 13 – 16
Isaiah Ch 61 v1 – 3
2 Corinthians Ch 1 v 3 and 4
Jeremiah Ch 31 v 15
Feedback from some Alternatives clients:
“The test was positive, I was in shock and crying. The woman explained things without bombarding me with information; listening, not judging me or telling me what to do.”
“I felt really comfortable to talk here, and very thankful for all the help you have given me.”
Find out more
To find out more about Care Confidential and your nearest pregnancy counselling centre click here >>
You can get involved supporting you local centre by praying, giving and by volunteering. All volunteers are fully trained and supported by regular supervision.
If you have been affected by any issues raised in this article and would like to chat them through with someone please contact Care Confidential on UK freephone 0800 0282228 or on the above website.