"The highest distinction is service to others." --King George VI
CHANGE OF HEART
Interview with Renee Clark
Director of Creative Choices Pregnancy Center
Nags Head, NC
Our appointment was at 3:00pm. The familiar ping on my phone told me that may have changed. It did, but just by 30 minutes, if all went well. Appointments for Renee Clark, the Director of Creative Choices Pregnancy Center, are sometimes written in sand, ever changing. Making room for the day’s plans to suddenly shift is just part of this community ministry. Today it was an unscheduled trip 28 miles away to deliver diapers and formula. Mom, dad and baby greatly appreciated the gift.
What’s it like being on the front lines and on the cutting edge at the same time? After spending time with Renee, I’ve found it to be both hard and tragic, joyful and exciting, overwhelming and worth it. It’s a place where she has learned to walk on her knees. I had to ask, Why would Renee take on such a challenging and often angrily opposed ministry?
Renee refers to the unborn child as ‘pre-born’. Mark Twain said, “The two most important days of your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why.” I asked Renee, “What does this [quote] mean to you about the ‘pre-born’?”
Renee: “Before we were even conceived, we were in God’s heart, wanted by Him and loved by Him. God has a plan and a purpose for everyone. His Word says we were intricately woven together by Him in our mother’s womb. (Ps 139) In His eyes, from the very beginning, we are perfectly complete. That’s the Good News of the Gospel. Even more amazing, we carry in us generations yet unborn. Abortion kills not only babies, but the generations to come.”
If I have had an abortion, these statements sound pretty grim, even shaming and condemning. If I wasn’t a believer, I don’t think I would understand what you are saying.
Renee: “My heart is to be a good listener and a coach, not a judge. Every mom is loved by God and He has a plan and purpose for her and her baby. God is a loving and forgiving God. He is our Healer. The same love God has for her baby, He has for her. Even if someone has had an abortion in the past, He still forgives. He still has a plan. He still heals. He never changes.”
How do you handle pushback from nonbelievers as well as Christians and Churches?
Renee: “To anyone, Christian or not, who may make excuses or turn a blind eye, I would pray that what may have made sense in the past, would now, no longer make sense. The shocking realization that approximately 62 million+* babies have been legally aborted in the US alone since Roe v. Wade, should be a wake up call for every American. No matter what a person believes, everyone should believe in the sanctity of life.”
Renee shows me a quote from plannedparenthood.org, “When looking for a place to get an abortion, beware of ‘crisis pregnancy centers.’ These fake clinics seem like medical centers that offer abortions or other pregnancy options, but they’re actually run by people who want to scare or shame people out of getting an abortion.”
Renee continues, “We are NOT a fake clinic. We have a medical director, nurses and trained staff. Our web site gives accurate information about us, our center and the unborn without coercion, shaming or scare tactics. Planned Parenthood’s statement is untrue.”
Mark Twain’s quote says the other important day of your life is the day you find out why you were born. For you personally, how is this ministry an answer to the question “Why am I here?”
Renee: “When I heard about the job for director here at the Center, I told myself I was not qualified to apply. I was just a little country girl, a country preacher’s wife, but qualified? I didn’t think so. I was a wife, mother, grandmother, juggler of many plates at one time, but nothing that I thought would fit the job description. I talked with my husband. I was surprised when he said, “Go ahead an apply. I believe you’ll get the job.” Still praying, I began to let God have His way with my heart. Every time I passed the Center I felt I was suppose to be there. Little did I know God was moving me into the direction of His purpose. I applied and they hired me! It was very humbling. I have learned to say, ‘Renee is in the chair, but God is in charge.’”
What is the hardest part of ministering to the women who come to the center?
Renee: “For me, it’s letting them freely choose. We never want to shame or condemn, but to be kind, caring and compassionate. We offer options, truthful information about fetal development and offer free classes and supplies. We strongly believe that no mom should have to choose between their baby and a budget. If they choose abortion, I try to leave them with this advice: ‘Find someone you trust. Share with them your story.’ To keep it secret will be too much for them to carry alone. They can come back anytime if they need us. Whatever their decision I want them to know we love them.”
What’s your favorite story of a mom’s change of heart and choosing life?
Renee: “We had a woman come into the center who was already very abortion-minded. She agreed to have an ultrasound which is a free service we offer here at the center. She could clearly hear the baby’s heart beat. Even after the ultrasound, she proceeded to move forward with the abortion. She made the appointment. Went to the clinic. Checked in with the front desk and sat down to wait her turn. What happened next was a miracle. As she sat waiting, all she could hear was her baby’s heartbeat. The thought of ending the life of her child was more than she could bear. She couldn’t do it. She walked out. Later she told her story to a friend who had become pregnant and was thinking about an abortion. Her testimony changed the heart of her friend. She also came to the Center and two more lives were saved! That’s my favorite! That makes everything we do here worth it!”
As Jesus said, “Inasmuch as you have done it unto ONE of the least of these you have done it unto Me.” Matthew 25:40
Reflecting on Renee’s comments, I remembered a story from my own past. My mother once told me two things about my conception and my birth I will never forget. It forever changed my understanding of Who God is and my significance in His eyes. Evidently, someone had implied that due to my parent’s older age, I was a mistake, an unplanned pregnancy, an unwelcome surprise. I must have heard the comment and one day my mother made sure I knew the truth. She took me aside and softly, but emphatically said, “Alice, you were no accident. You were planned for and wanted.” Then she told me this.“When your Daddy first saw you,” he said, “She’s exactly what I wanted.” This is how God loves each of us. We are not an accident. We are planned for and wanted. No, I would declare to you today, we are EXACTLY what God wanted.
“I thank you, God, for making me so mysteriously complex! Everything you do is marvelously breathtaking. It simply amazes me to think about it! How thoroughly you know me, Lord! You even formed every bone in my body when you created me in the secret place; carefully, skillfully you shaped me from nothing to something. You saw who you created me to be before I became me! Before I’d ever seen the light of day, the number of days you planned for me were already recorded in your book. Every single moment you are thinking of me! How precious and wonderful to consider that you cherish me constantly in your every thought! O God, your desires toward me are more than the grains of sand on every shore! When I awake each morning, you’re still with me.”
Psalm 139:14-17 - https://www.biblegateway.com TPT
*The +62 million abortions since Roe v. Wade is an approximate number. An accurate number is difficult due to regulations that differ from state to state. The CDC web site gives information which is public and can help anyone who is interested get a better idea of the number of reported abortions.