Crisis pregnancy care digs into her heart
EDITOR'S NOTE: Jan. 15 is observed as Sanctity of Human Life Sunday in the Southern Baptist Convention.
FORT WORTH, Texas (BP) -- A tiny hand seemed to wave at everyone in the room on a small TV screen inside a watermelon-slice-shaped window. Then a face of the same black-and-white image became visible. A heartbeat, meanwhile, thudded rhythmically on a bedside monitor, signaling a life that had begun six weeks earlier.
Unfortunately, not all lives get the chance to continue; well over 1 million pregnancies end in abortion each year in the United States. With the help of Diane Montgomery and her colleagues at the Fort Worth Pregnancy Center, though, some of those lives will have a chance to grow up and a chance to make their own choices.
"[These mothers] don't know what to do," Montgomery says. "They need someone to listen to them. They need someone to care about them because everyone else is just saying, 'Do what you've got to do for your own self. It's your body.' And nobody is really listening to the emotional troubles they are having. ...
"Because we care for them and listen to them, it opens a door for not only the potential of lives to be chosen, but for her life to be changed, for the Lord to influence her life and spiritually to be changed as well."
Montgomery, who began volunteering at the center shortly before she took a staff position there in August, says the Lord used her seminary studies to prepare her to minister to the women in crisis.
"I was applying all that I was learning here [at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary] into writing and ministry, so I was applying a lot of the academic stuff, but I wanted to apply the practical [aspect] -- to get down to the women of the real world -- and I wanted to give back to the community," Montgomery recounts. "You're poured into so much here at Southwestern, and I wanted to pour into other women who have no clue what they're missing out on."
With women aborting 6,000 babies each year in Tarrant County where Southwestern is located, Montgomery says the center is in constant need of help, be it time, money or prayer.
"We always need volunteers because it breaks my heart when we have to turn away women because we don't have enough volunteers and we don't have someone that can meet with them," she says. She hopes more Southwestern women will become involved as volunteers "because whether they're a wife of a student or they are a student, they're getting the training, they have a heart for ministry, and they understand the practical side of helping people in crisis."
The center doesn't just need women, but men, too, says Montgomery, whose husband Alex also aims to get involved in the crisis pregnancy ministry.
"He wants to become a volunteer to help those guys who are sitting there in the waiting room when their girlfriend is with us, who just say, OK, yeah, it's your choice. You can do whatever you want. I support you.' And they have no idea what an abortion really means," Montgomery explains. "We have guy counselors that go in there to encourage them to know how to support their girlfriend or wife in this situation and to educate them on what's going on in their girlfriend's body, in their mind, what would happen with her during an abortion or adoption and just kind of how to be a man in a relationship."
Though she and Alex plan to deploy as missionaries to Colombia, South America, sometime in 2012, Montgomery plans to engage in crisis pregnancy ministry there as well.
"Legal and illegal abortions are rampant," she says. "There is no pregnancy center that gives these women alternatives. They feel like they are stuck there. I just hope that I touch not only women in Tarrant County but also women in South America because it is a huge issue."
Montgomery came to Southwestern after graduating from Tarleton State University in Stephenville, Texas. A tennis player with dreams of opening her own bakery, she never imagined God would lead her into ministry, but she followed willingly wherever He led her.
"I started out in the master of arts in Christian education degree," Montgomery recounts. "After taking Mrs. [Dorothy] Patterson's [course in] Biblical Theology of Womanhood, I just wanted more. She spurred me on to want to know more, to grapple more with Scripture, to know more about women in Scripture. It was the Lord doing a work in me."
That spurring led Montgomery to switch to the master of divinity in women's studies, earning her degree in May 2011 and describing her involvement in Southwestern's women's programs as developing skills and ministries in her that she never would have predicted for her life.
"The program offers you so much education and preparation that you can do anything. Because of the women's program here, the Lord developed in me a writing ministry that I never thought I'd be able to do," says Montgomery who, with two other women, writes content for their UnlockingFemininity.com website, which she says also entails a soon-to-be-published book.
From the pregnancy center to her writing to meeting her husband in a personal evangelism class, Montgomery says the Lord has determined her path. Whether participating in door-to-door evangelistic efforts or working at the pregnancy center, Montgomery strives to share the hope and truth of Scripture that can battle what a sin-sick culture says about life and how to live it.
"That is kind of how I got turned on to the pregnancy center, was my love for women and ministering to women and then also a love for the Gospel," she said. "It's the perfect opportunity that I can love on women, that I can help them and that I can share the Lord with them. It's just kind of the perfect place for that."
Sharayah Colter is a newswriter for Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas (www.swbts.edu/campusnews).