Christa March found herself alone and isolated in her tiny studio apartment one day, pressing a steak knife against her wrist; she was convinced in that moment that ending her life was the best path forward.
At age 18, March had previously aborted her first child — a decision that she said hurt both her and her family. She subsequently stepped out of her family members’ lives and continued on what she called a “slippery slide of other bad behaviors.”
Before long, March was depressed and alone. But it was in a moment of desperation inside her apartment that day that something transformational happened. March recalls hearing a voice in her head recite verses from the book of Romans.
“With a steak knife to my wrist I heard a voice say to me, ‘And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death not life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow – not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below – indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord,'” March told Faithwire.
It was those words from Romans 8:38-39 that stopped March in the middle of her emotional crisis. She dropped the knife and spoke out to God, saying, “Jesus … I have nothing to give you! I’ve made a mess of my life. Forgive me for all that I have done that has caused you and others pain. I give you my messed up life. If you want it, you can have it and do whatever you want with it.”
And she said that was the beginning of something incredible.
That life-changing moment led March to take her desperation — and her self-described “worst decision” to abort her child — and use those experiences and emotions to help teen mothers across America who are desperately in need of care, resources and education.
Years later, March founded Teen Mother Choices International, an organization that has worked for nearly three decades to “empower teen mothers to become independent, functioning members of society.” She told Faithwire the roots of her organization were set in 1988 when she was inside a shopping mall on a school day and started to notice teen moms with their kids.
“While sitting in the food court I began talking with a few teen mothers asking them questions like, ‘Why aren’t you in school?’ ‘What’s stopping you from returning to school?’ ‘What hopes and dreams do you have for yourself and your children?’ and ‘Do you think you’ll ever accomplish your dreams?'” she recalled. “When I left the mall some two hours later I had spoken with over 20 teen moms.”
And those conversations left March feeling incredibly sad and convicted over her own personal pro-life views and sentiments.
“I remember leaving the mall crying, saying to myself, ‘I’ve told pregnant teen girls not to abort their children but I’ve never thought about what happens to them once they give their children life and then make the choice to parent those children,'” she said.
The experience ended up being yet another life-changing moment for March, who soon started exploring how organizations serve teen mothers — and not just those that help pregnant teens. In the end, after interviewing 70 organizations, she couldn’t find any groups that worked solely to help these young women after they brought their babies into the world.
So, she launched Teen Mother Choices the next year inside her home church in Illinois to help fill that void, and the program soon spread to other churches. Before long, the organization expanded its name to Teen Mother Choices International, with programs now operating in Illinois, Indiana, Missouri, Texas, Florida and Canada. Additional states will be added to the roster in 2017.
Teen Mother Choices has four main ministry objectives. Teen moms are given mentors, they are offered weekly life skills workshops that help them with budgeting, parenting and other skills, they set goals and are offered additional services such as transportation based on the needs of each community, as the organization and church come alongside these girls and families.
“(Our central goal is to) equip more churches to empower more teen mothers to positively impact more communities,” March said. “If we’re going to continue calling this movement ‘pro-life,’ then we need to support and raise up more organizations that serve women and children after the birth. Otherwise, let’s call ourselves, ‘pro-birth.'”
March was clear, though, that she’s not advocating against fighting to abolish abortion; she simply said pro-lifers such as herself need to join in doing more to help the brave young women who choose to keep their babies.
“Every need a teen mother has, every resource she lacks can be met by someone within the local church,” she said. “Serving teen mothers provides churches with a wonderful opportunity to live out their faith and demonstrate the compassionate love of God.”
Find out more about Teen Mother Choices International here.
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