Abortion facility now a Baptist office
SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (BP)--What a difference two years -- and the Hand of God -- can make.
In October 2005, the building at 1837 East Cherry Street in Springfield, Mo., was home to the Springfield Healthcare Center, one of four abortion providers in Missouri.
Fast forward to December 2007, and 1837 East Cherry Street –- once a house of darkness and death –- is now the Springfield office of the Missouri Baptist Children's Home.
"God has taken a building that was used to destroy life and given it over to help restore the family and give children hope and healing," said David Burch, office director. "It's one of those things only God could do."
When Gov. Matt Blunt signed a bill in September 2005 that required abortion providers to obtain hospital privileges within 30 miles of their clinics, the Springfield abortion clinic was soon forced to close its doors since its doctor, who commuted from St. Louis, did not have local hospital privileges.
After it closed in October, the owner of the property donated it to the Pregnancy Care Center, a Christian crisis pregnancy service. But the center was not in immediate need for the space and it sat empty for two years.
Meanwhile, less than a quarter mile away, Burch was working out of a very small office attached to the Greene County Baptist Association offices. His staff of 23 and their duties were scattered across town at various churches and other sites.
"We continued to grow and we needed space," he said. "I was praying about it constantly."
The Pregnancy Care Center and the Missouri Baptist Children's Home have shared a good relationship in the past, sharing referrals and supporting each other. A few months ago, the Pregnancy Care Center's board decided it wanted to lease out the 5,860 square-foot building. God put Burch in the right place at the right time to jump at the opportunity.
"I would have never guessed when I prayed that our ministry was out of space, I would never in my wildest imagination He would do it with a former abortion clinic," Burch said. "It's just like Ephesians 3:20 says, 'Now to Him who is able to do above and beyond all that we ask or think -– according to the power that works in you.'"
The Missouri Baptist Children's Home's Springfield offices offer a variety of community-based services including recruiting and developing Christian foster and adoptive parents, therapeutic foster care, traditional "family" foster care, family reunification services and a transitional living service for older teens. In total, they work with about 120 children at a time.
"We are very blessed and very excited," Burch said of the new facility. "Because of the cramped conditions, we had no way to do everything in one place. It's incredibly nice now to have rooms set up for child and family visits, conferences, all at the same time."
Brian Koonce is a staff writer for the Pathway, the newspaper of the Missouri Baptist Convention.