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Demonstrating Love at Crisis Pregnancy Centers

Johnston, Kristen

Journal of Christian Nursing: April/June 2019 - Volume 36 - Issue 2 - p 74
doi: 10.1097/CNJ.0000000000000586
Department: Advanced Practice Nursing

Kristen Johnston, DNP, RN, is an assistant professor at Samford University in Birmingham, Alabama. She loves volunteering at Save-A-Life, where she cares for teens and young women experiencing crisis pregnancies.

*Names changed to protect privacy.

The author declares no conflict of interest.



Five years ago, I was a nurse practitioner (NP) in a developmental pediatric practice. I longed to be involved in missions, so I prayed for an opportunity to use nursing and my love for God to care more for people. I never dreamed that his plan would mean leaving my patients. So, when a fellow NP convinced me to visit the crisis pregnancy center, I went reluctantly. I came away changed.

Fast forward a few weeks. While running, I heard God affirm my interest to serve at the crisis pregnancy center. I had doubts and questions; God provided answers and assurance. When I resigned from the pediatric clinic, I was unprepared for how God would change me as I met young women in need.

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A tall girl sat in the corner of the exam room, staring at the floor. When I spoke, she looked at me with sad, hesitant eyes. We talked about her life, her dreams, and her situation. Sexual impurity, regrets, boys, parties. Now what? She was here for help. I saw a child of God. Does she understand her worth? I told her she was beautiful. Her blue eyes glistened with tears. Has no one ever spoken the word beautiful to this precious gift from God? She seemed surprised that I would say she was beautiful—she saw herself as tainted, dirty, and unworthy of love. If only she viewed herself through the grace of God.

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Libby seemed distant. She'd run away from home at age 15. She said she didn't need anyone, and no one loved her. I didn't believe her. This young woman had sold her body more times than she could recall. She had been used and mistreated; her heart had grown cold.

Doesn't God tell us in Isaiah 61:3 that he makes beauty from ashes and gives joy instead of mourning? This sweet one needed love, compassion, and medical care. More than anything, she needed Jesus.

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Jasmine was angry, sad, hurt, and pregnant—a victim of rape. How could she live with this child growing inside her? Why did this happen?

Gradually, her heart and love for the baby were transformed! God turned this awful situation into something beautiful. As she gazed at her round belly, she smiled, anticipating holding her little one. Although conceived in anger, this child will be raised in love.

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These are common situations at crisis pregnancy centers. Young women face consequences of actions they regret or could not prevent. There are 2,752 pregnancy help centers in the United States (Hobbs, 2017). Where I serve, men and women are offered free counseling and classes. Women can receive free pregnancy tests, ultrasounds, and well-woman examinations, including sexually transmitted infection (STI) testing. In the mentoring program, a young woman is partnered with a more mature woman during the pregnancy. Nurses and NPs are trained to perform limited ultrasounds, allowing expectant moms and dads to see the growing lives. Healthcare providers care unconditionally, while providing evidence-based care.

Almost 230,000 pregnancies occurred in young women ages 15 to 19 in 2015 (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention [CDC], 2017a). Crisis pregnancy centers offer programs to support young women and assist them to succeed in school while pregnant. Teens find support, learn about caring for themselves and their newborns, and receive spiritual and emotional care.

Young adults ages 15 to 24 account for 50% of new STI diagnoses; one fourth of females in that age group have an STI (CDC, 2017b). At crisis pregnancy centers, STIs can be diagnosed and treated, reducing the spread of the STIs and diminishing the damage that STIs can cause.

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Nurse practitioners have bountiful opportunities to use their skills to serve their communities. What is your passion? Dream and pray big! God is mighty and will open doors for advanced practice nurses to serve. Where is God calling you?

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2017a). About teen pregnancy: Teen pregnancy in the United States. Retrieved from
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2017b). STDs in adolescents and young adults. Retrieved from
Hobbs J. (2017). 10 numbers you should know about pregnancy centers. Pregnancy Help News. Retrieved from
© 2019 by InterVarsity Christian Fellowship