The little four-door Suzuki sedan had its “quirks” but was dependable and roadworthy. The 74-year-old widow decided not to trade it in when she bought a newer car. 

Instead, she said, “The Lord had put upon me to give the car to a veteran or a young mother.”

So, she waited on God’s direction. 

This decision to wait came amidst a busy season in the life of her church, First Baptist Church of Weddington. As she prayed over the car, FBC Weddington held a week of prayer and fasting for the unborn. In partnership with the organization LoveLife, several members of the church began to engage, or re-engage, with ministries in support of life.

A holistic approach

For FBC Weddington, the goal has been to take a holistic approach to these pro-life ministries.

“It is absolutely crucial for churches to have a holistic approach to pro-life ministry,” said Jordon Willard, Pastor of FBC Weddington. “Yes, there is a battle to be won in helping expecting mothers choose life. But if getting a woman to choose life is the extent of our ministry to them, then we are woefully lacking.”

It is Scripture that underlies FBC’s holistic approach, according to Willard.

“We want to have a faith that works, as James says. What good does it do if an expectant mother chooses life and afterwards needs real help, and we only say to her, ‘Go in peace, be warmed and filled?’” Willard said. “This kind of ‘faith’ is dead. We want to be those who help expectant mothers choose life and help them to experience a better quality of life. 

“But, we don’t want to merely help her choose life, and then empower her to a better quality of life, without introducing her to Christ who can give her eternal life.”

It was this holistic approach, a widow’s prayer, an expectant mother and a used Suzuki that were about to meet each other in the providence of God.

The great need

The prayer effort and subsequent ministry were timely. Following the Supreme Court’s Dobbs decision in June, law changes resulted in fewer abortions in some states but more in others. North Carolina was in the latter group. After Dobbs, North Carolina has been seen as a “safe haven” for those seeking abortions in the south.

Jonathan DeVore, director of LoveLife, said women driving from outside North Carolina for abortions is not unusual. In fact, owing to trigger-bans in several states, “The normal 150-200 abortions a week in Charlotte has jumped to more than 500 a week,” DeVore said.

While Willard and DeVore agree that about half of the women who come seeking an abortion are not ambivalent — their minds are made up — the other half are not so confident in their choice. 

“They are afraid and insecure,” said DeVore. “Many face coercion and pressure to abort from the biological father and/or family members, many of whom claim to be Christians. Some are literally in the position of being made homeless if they don’t abort the child.”

Willard believes this is where churches can really make a difference. 

“A church will prioritize what is important to them,” Willard said. “If these needs are constantly put before the church alongside the biblical call to care for the most vulnerable among us, then it should become unthinkable not to make changes to help these women in some capacity.”

One of the uncertain women was a 25-year-old expectant mother who had traveled from a neighboring state to get an abortion in Charlotte. She had no job, no transportation of her own and no help. Even with all that seemed to push her toward getting an abortion, she still was not sure it was the right thing to do. As with many other women the ministry volunteers encounter, she was seeking a sign from God not to abort. 

She got more than one, among them a car.

Standing in the gap

The car donor realized how the challenges of unexpected motherhood pile up, and how having dependable transportation can help. 

“If you are taking the bus everywhere, you can have childcare in one place and your job in a different place,” the donor said. “It’s a lot more difficult to get where you need to be on time. These are the kinds of situations that cause expectant mothers to feel like they can’t do it. Having their own transportation gives them confidence that they can.”

Women who face unexpected pregnancies have many needs. Some have not been to college or do not have a good job, health insurance or clothes for a newborn. Some are homeless or are approaching homelessness. 

Things for which stable families tend to be prepared — doctor visits, formula, prenatal vitamins, a high chair, toys, a car seat, a place to live — are often out of reach for a woman in poverty who is unexpectedly pregnant. Churches can step in by supplying these needs directly or by partnering with pregnancy resource centers. 

As abortion becomes less accessible, the needs of women with unexpected and crisis pregnancies will grow, opening the door for churches to meet increased physical and spiritual needs. The Weddington member who followed God’s prompting to give her car encourages others to pray about doing the same. 

“Often trading a car isn’t worth it, anyway,” the donor said. “If you really don’t need the money, a free, dependable car can make a difference in a person’s life. Maybe two people.”

by Marty Duren, N.C. Baptist Contributing Writer