I grew up in Valdosta. It was a happy childhood, you could even say sheltered, as I never had to live through any real trials growing up. But when I was 28, my father died suddenly from suicide.
I am certain that Jesus held me in the palm of his hand during this time. I now have a deeper appreciation for people who feel hope is lost and want to be a vessel for them to experience the healing hand of the Father.
We attended Northside Baptist Church in Valdosta, but it was not a priority for me. As I spent more time in the youth group, I realized many of the kids had a peace and joy that was missing in my life. I came to know Christ when I was 14.
I graduated from Valdosta State University in 2004 with my Bachelor of Science in Nursing and later earned my Master’s in Nursing. My husband, Wes, and I met and married in 2004. We have three children and are members of First Baptist Church in Tifton.
Our church supported the local pregnancy care center, so I reached out to them about volunteering as a nurse. I did this once a week for two years. Then the center asked if I would be interested in coming on as staff. It has been three years and I am so grateful for the opportunity to use my skills to love women who are alone and scared.
Many women who come to us are carrying burdens that I cannot imagine. An unplanned pregnancy is overwhelming, even for women with a healthy support system. For women who have been hurt and abandoned or never known what it is to grow up in a healthy home, pregnancy can feel like the end.
The enemy, along with our culture, can be very convincing that choosing an abortion is the best option. Some people feel that abortion is a selfish choice. But the more stories I hear, the more I see that abortion is merely the result of lies that come straight from the great deceiver.
However, what these women don’t always know is that they are of precious value to their creator. And that Creator is always victorious over sin, lies, trauma, and every form of darkness that entangles us.
With permission of this patient, I would like to tell you her story. Angela (name changed) came to see us two years ago when she was very early in her pregnancy. She was not married and still in college. She did not want to be another “statistic” and end up as a single mom without a degree, as she watched her mother struggle in the same way and swore to never do that with her children.
Nearing the end of our visit, I felt the Lord speak to my heart that I needed to tell her what I had been thinking from the moment we met. I grabbed her hand and said, “Angela, I don’t know what you will decide and we will be here for you no matter what, but I think that you would be an amazing mother.” She completely melted and hugged us, saying her biggest fear is that she wouldn’t be good enough since she was not given a healthy example of parenting growing up.
Covid-19 has changed many things in the world, including our efforts to reach women. The heightened anxiety right now may cause women to feel even more pressure to have an abortion quickly and not “waste time” coming to see us first. Pray that we are able to be more known in our area.
Also, pray that the Church will do more to love and support women in unplanned pregnancies. Many patients have told us that they were most judged by their church family or Christian parents. Our prayer at the center is that local churches begin to rally around these women like never before.
As easy as it is to judge the woman in an unplanned pregnancy, we are commanded to be love and grace to those who are lost, knowing that without the power of Jesus, we would all be without hope.
Shannon Ross is the nurse manager for The Pregnancy Care Center of Tiftarea and a member of First Baptist Church in Tifton.