In 2002, I found myself in an all-day training session to become a peer counselor at my local crisis pregnancy center. Looking back, I have no idea how I even knew about the opportunity. Perhaps I heard something about it from my church or by word of mouth, but I was there, listening. As I listened to all the possible scenarios the center finds itself ministering in and heard about the immense need for caring and compassionate counselors, something clicked. This was my calling! I was getting a minor in psychology, so of course my 21-year-old self thought that made me an expert on all things counseling. I knew this was what I was meant to do.
Because I was in college, I was assigned to the moms and babies room, where material assistance is provided for mothers who have chosen life for their babies. Every Thursday night, I would go up the stairs above a little Italian restaurant in a Winn-Dixie shopping center and spend two hours volunteering. I would fold baby clothes, read pamphlets and articles, and spend time getting to know these precious pregnant moms. I had so much to learn.
I wasn’t quite the counseling gem that I had imagined myself to be. One client was making conversation and asked if I had any children. My reply was, “Oh, no, of course not. I’m still in college and I’m not even married!” She was also in college and not married. Open mouth, insert foot. She took my comment with grace, but I still shudder when I think about it. Clearly, God had much to teach me about ministering to the vulnerable.
About a year passed, and I had to leave Tallahassee and the center that I had grown to love. I was getting married, and we were moving to Kentucky for my husband to go to seminary. Life got busy there, and I immediately began working and never gave the pregnancy center much thought. A year and a half later, we wound up back in Tallahassee for my husband to take a job in ministry. I was still working full time and within a few months, we were pregnant with our first child. It was an incredible surprise because we had reason to believe that pregnancy would not come easy for us. Our son was born with what we understood to be major complications, so that took all our time and energy. Again, no thought was given to the pregnancy center.
As we saw God’s miraculous healing hand over our son’s life, we decided to try to have another baby. This was the proof of what we initially thought: getting pregnant was no simple task. While I was in the phase of begging God for another baby, it seemed that everyone around me was getting pregnant effortlessly. I started remembering my time at the pregnancy center and began to feel angry. Here I was, trying to follow Jesus with all my heart, and yet there was this incredible longing that wasn’t being fulfilled.
Meanwhile, there were countless women who found themselves with an “unwanted” pregnancy. My heart ached for those babies. I would have adopted any one of them in a heartbeat. It was around that time that my pro-life passion began to actually develop. I was provoked by the ever-increasing pro-abortion culture. Something needed to be done.
In God’s perfect timing, we had another son. We were overjoyed to bring another baby boy into our family. This time, he was healthy, and life as we knew it seemed perfect.
About a year and a half later, my husband, Dean, called me as I was dropping our oldest off at preschool and started the conversation with, “Okay, before you say no, I just need you to hear me out.” Great opener.
He had just attended an annual prayer summit at the same pregnancy center where I volunteered in college. His assignment was to pray for the right person to be hired in the as the campus coordinator for the center, which is located on the campus of Florida State University and minutes from two other colleges and universities as well. With a small staff of five women, they needed someone to focus on marketing to the roughly 75,000 college students within a three to five mile radius. That year, there were over 2,000 reported pregnancies at Florida State alone. Dean prayed over this petition, and when he was finished, he looked at the director and said, “I have your campus coordinator…my wife.” It was the fastest prayer request answer of all time.
This was not on my radar. After all, I had two young boys at home, and Dean was the pastor of a rapidly growing church plant. But I felt compelled to minister to these pregnant women and their babies whose lives hung in the balance. I knew that roughly 10 percent of college students each year are involved in an unplanned pregnancy. I knew that around 25 percent of women ages 20-24 have had abortions. I may not be great at math, but I know that’s a staggering number of babies in my city.
This “cause” became very personal. Suddenly, I felt an incredible urgency to join in. As I got to work, I quickly realized that it was not enough to simply have compassion for the babies. I was trained (again) to counsel women in a crisis pregnancy situation. God began to do an incredible work in my heart. Instead of being angry with these mothers for even considering ending the life of their child, I began to truly hear their stories and see the paralyzing fear that had overcome them.
I was quickly able to see Satan’s lies that had them trapped: “You have your whole life ahead of you. If you have this baby, it will all be over. You’ll have to drop out of school. Your parents will stop supporting you financially. Your boyfriend will leave. You will be all alone with no support.” They got deeper and more cutting: “If God is good, how did he let this happen? He will never accept you now. You’ve already had an abortion in the past; God cannot forgive you for that, so you might as well solve your new problem, too.” I saw these women as Jesus sees them, “harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd” (Matt. 9:36).
Our mission was not merely to go into the counseling room and change the mother’s mind about her pregnancy. We certainly did see that happen many times, but this ministry was bigger than an ultrasound room where the women could get a glimpse at their squirming, very much alive babies, and choose life. Our greatest reason for existence as a pregnancy center was to tell these women and men (we see fathers, too) about the incredible saving love of Jesus Christ and to show them that he actively pursues them in grace.
I recently had lunch with a friend who wanted to talk about “pro-life issues.” She had always been supportive of life in the womb, but had not taken the time to get involved—that is, until the series of undercover videos came out exposing some of the heinous practices of Planned Parenthood. “I just can’t turn my head away anymore. I have to do something,” she said. The issue had become personal to her.
Sometimes the motivation to be involved in the pro-life movement evolves over time, like it did with me. However, sometimes it’s in a moment where you decide you simply can’t look away any longer. Either way, they are just good intentions until you do something. Find a local pregnancy help center that is not only helping women and men to see the truth about the life that God created inside of them, but one that is also drawing them to know and follow that Creator himself. When, by God’s grace, they receive eternal life, choosing life becomes personal to them.
This excerpt comes from Women on Life: A Call to Love the Unborn, Unloved, and Neglected.
Krissie Inserra is the former campus coordinator for a women’s pregnancy center in Tallahassee, Florida, and she currently volunteers there as a crisis counselor. She is married to Dean Inserra, the founding pastor of City Church Tallahassee. They have three children, Tommy, Ty, and Sally Ashlyn. (Dean is among the speakers at this week’s Evangelicals for Life event in Washington D.C.)