|with my daughter Isabel at FLORECE (June 2018)|
This week included the privilege of taking ten individuals on three separate tours of FLORECE. Though it does not require much time to walk through our center, it is always a joy to do so while remembering and recounting all that God has done! From my personal perspective, the long version of FLORECE's story extends back nearly 20 years to my diagnosis of infertility which led to adoption and birthed compassion in my heart for the complexities of an unplanned pregnancy. Less than a year after our first daughter joined our family through adoption, I was invited to volunteer at a crisis pregnancy center in Michigan and witnessed firsthand the impact that love, education, hope and the gospel message could have in the lives of women and their families.
|daughters Isabel and Eva entertaining a client's sweet baby|
We opened the doors at FLORECE on October 1st of 2016 and not yet two years later, we have had the privilege of ministering to over one hundred women and seeing at least twenty-five babies born. The beginning weeks and months of FLORECE's ministry were exciting yet uncertain and slow as we felt our way forward and trusted God to send the first clients through our doors. When our family departed Iquique for a year stateside in June 2017, our volunteers had seen the first baby born but had not yet experienced the joy of a new spiritual birth among the women to whom we ministered. Now by the grace of God, close to twenty individuals have placed their faith in Christ for salvation! We have the joy of offering Bible studies alongside pregnancy preparation and parenting classes on a weekly basis. Our greatest encouragement is when a woman takes the next step and finds a church home, learning and growing faithfully through the preaching of God's Word and fellowship with other believers. For many of our clients this is difficult due to a lack of support from other family members or financial hardship that requires them to work on Sundays.
|a recent generous donation from a church plant five hours south of us in Antofagasta|
To our great surprise but in God's providence, our numbers multiplied with the arrival of one client not from Chile but distant Cuba. We have now added many women from Cuba to our clients representing also the countries of Chile, Bolivia, Colombia and Peru. With volunteers from Chile, United States and India, we have quite the international center! Working side by side is a beautiful representation of the body of the Christ and our call as Christians to "go into ALL the world and preach the gospel." It is also a reminder that women all over the world need the hope that only Jesus brings. We are burdened to reach more abortion-minded women before they make that final choice, and to minister to women who are hurting from decisions made that cannot be undone.
|snapshots from our center|
Our three biggest prayer requests and needs at this time are additional volunteers; a permanent home for the center; and open doors into area schools. Currently FLORECE is open for two and a half days a week (Tuesdays and Wednesdays from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Fridays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.) Additional volunteers would allow us to meet the needs of more clients and possibly consider opening an extra day per week. A permanent home is necessary for two increasingly urgent reasons. The first is simply that our initial funding was sufficient for only three years' rent, and we will soon complete our second year. The second reason is that God wonderfully and unexpectedly provided funds for an ultrasound machine which would allow a window into the womb and undoubtedly invite many more women to consider life and hear the gospel. However, our current facility does not have the necessary space to outfit a room that will meet legal/medical standards for the country of Chile.
The third need - open doors into area schools - fulfills our vision of reaching a far greater number of abortion-minded women than those who simply walk through our doors. I once heard pregnancy center ministry described as putting the pieces back together after someone had jumped off a cliff, while pro-life education in schools seeks to rescue young people before they jump from that precipice. We had a tremendous experience entering several schools last year with a one-time message but our desire is to build relationships with a number of institutions that would allow us several weeks (or months) of interaction with students. We hope to build rapport as we teach not only the sanctity of life concerning the unborn, but also valuable tools for pursuing healthy choices and relationships in their lives. Should a crisis occur, we trust God would lead them to FLORECE because they know we truly care.
There are overwhelming needs and opportunities all around us, and so many hopes and dreams yet to be realized. Returning to FLORECE has provided a time of reflection on all that God has already done. And it has fueled renewed purpose to be used of Him to reach as many people in as many places as He will allow! We seek His guidance and strength to be wise and faithful each and every step of the way.