For what we preach is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake. For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ. But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. 2 Corinthians 4:5-9

   What a privilege God has given me to be involved in this treasure we call the Ithaca Pregnancy Center as the director since April 1999 and later over the Cortland Pregnancy Center as well. This will be my last newsletter as Executive Director, as I retire at the end of this month!

  Through these 21 years the most important thing I have learned is to recognize my complete dependence on God for absolutely everything! Like a newborn baby on her parents. I cannot conceive of trying to care for broken people without the ability to entrust them to the sovereign LORD of the universe who loves them much more and much better than I ever can. I also have learned that Christian people really are different, like scripture says “we are a peculiar people”. Christians serve the LORD tirelessly and with gladness.  Because Jesus changes everything. Through these years, I have been supported by an amazing group of staff and volunteers including the ever changing board of directors.

  There is great power from the Holy Spirit when a believer is praying for healing for another person in an area of sin where God has given them victory. This concept is critical in Pregnancy care ministry because it creates understanding, trust and connection between counselor and client.

  My testimony of becoming a Christian is one of looking for love in all the wrong places. I was raised in the church, I prayed to receive Christ as my savior when I was in 7th grade. In high school, my nuclear family fell apart – my church going parents got divorced. It was a very bitter divorce and each of my parents were confiding in me – I was too young to handle it. Soon after my mom moved out, it was time for me to go to college. I moved into the dorm on campus Freshman year at Purdue University. For 4 years of college and into my young adult years as an Engineer for Dupont. I ignored Jesus’ call on my life. Drinking, lots of boyfriends, moved in with one of them, engaged to be married twice, broke them off… Eventually I had had enough of my empty life… I started going to Alistair Begg’s church and there, I re-dedicated my life to Christ and was baptized. I journaled all the scriptures about sexual purity and became a new creation. Jesus changes everything.

    I told God that I would remain single if that was his will for me. I moved to Cornell to go to graduate school. I met Barth Mapes my first day in town. Jesus changes everything: he gave me the desires of my heart. I married Barth 7 months after meeting him. We have 4 beautiful daughters. I’ve been married 35 years to my best friend and encourager.

  From my own life and redemption, I developed a passion for sexual purity, recognizing the sexual revolution or, the current culture of sex as recreation, as the underlying cause of abortion. Abortion is a bandaid for sexual immorality. Jesus changes everything. He redeemed me. She who has been forgiven much loves much.

   During my ministry at CPCFL, I’ve collected a handful of client “friends for life.” One friend I met more than 10 years ago—when SHE was looking for love in all the wrong places. She visited IPC often and was loved on by many different mentors. Over and over again, she was told about God’s love for her and her value as a child of God. She went through two pregnancies and several relationships with support from IPC and CPC. She met her husband 8 years ago and together they began going to Groton Assembly of God, where they met Jesus. Now they have been married for 5 years. For several years, they have been in the process of adopting a young son with special needs, who incidentally was born to another IPC client. They have also fostered a baby girl from that same client and continue to be involved in her care. Jesus changes everything.          

    I follow another former client on instagram. She is a mighty Christ following mother of 3, married to a Godly man. I met her when she was an Ithaca College student that came to IPC for a pregnancy test. She was a “back slidden” Christian who was drinking and making bad choices. We connected. Thankfully, her test was negative back then, and eventually God grabbed ahold of her and gave her another chance.

    What a joy to watch these transformations. It is a great privilege to love and care for the people he sends us. God uses us in areas where he has healed us. Jesus changes everything.

    A wonderful Billy Graham quote summarizes how we are to interact in the world. “It is the Holy Spirit’s job to convict, God’s job to judge and my job to love.” God is the judge, the holy spirit convicts, Jesus saves and we love. Love through action.

   Jesus is God. He can see through into each person’s soul. We are not usually able to do that. Which is why to love like Jesus loves, we need to listen and learn in order to CONNECT. To value every human being as the child of God that they are.

   I’ve also learned and seen first hand that women don’t regret their children, but they almost always regret their abortions. This truth was exemplified in a client who came to IPC for her pregnancy test, went through our mentoring program with Barbara and then through childbirth classes with volunteer nurse Gail Peck. They became friends. Later, this young woman found out she was pregnant again when her first baby was only 5 months. Overwhelmed, she wanted an abortion. She found out she was carrying twins. Even more overwhelming. Gail ministered to her and brought her to IPC where she was also encouraged and supported – she ultimately chose life. Now, I get to be in contact with her regularly and watch her three beautiful children grow. She cannot imagine life without them and is so thankful. She also became a believer and tries to get to church with her three little ones.

  I’ve learned that in Ithaca, pregnancy center ministry is a world wide mission field. Largely because of Cornell, we have met and ministered to pregnant women and families from China, Africa, South America, Puerto Rico, and many more.

     One dear woman that stands out in my heart was a Fulbright Scholar from Vietnam. She found IPC by exploring Ithaca and came for a  pregnancy test. Her test was positive. She had aborted a previous pregnancy even though she wanted another child, because she had been so ill during it. She came back to IPC 2 weeks after her positive test, exhausted from nausea and migraine, vomiting in a yogurt cup. Because Lynne and I were both at IPC, I could drive her to the ER and speak to the medical staff on her behalf until she was stabilized. The doctors prescribed some medicines that took the edge off her nausea. Through the course of her pregnancy Martha Stipanuk and I took turns driving her to OB appointments and developing our friendship through many great car ride conversations. At IPC she completed Expectant mom’s mentoring with Juliana Kan. After her beautiful daughter was born, she came to visit us at IPC. I was having back problems that day… I’ll never forget sharing the good news of Christ with her while she was serving me by giving me a back massage in the IPC living room! She was literally being Christ to ME! She prayed to receive Christ as her LORD and savior right then.

     A few weeks later, Juliana and I went to their home and shared Christ with the whole family. The husband and 10 yr old daughter prayed to receive Christ as Lord and Savior. She came for 3 bible studies at IPC before she and her family went back to their home country. She had these words for us: “Thank you is not enough but it is all I have. I believe that the women at Ithaca Pregnancy Center have saved, are saving and will save many other pregnant women in desperate need. Their kindness, friendliness and effective aid make a difference in Ithaca community. A million times over and forever thank you, IPC.

  At church a few months ago, a friend came over encourage me. She told me that the 16 year old girl they have living with them from another county would not be alive if it weren’t for IPC. This girls parents were IPC clients 17 years ago and were going to abort. They chose life because God sent them to IPC and they understood this child was a gift from God.

  Finally… a very special client that changed my life forever! Lynne Merchant came to IPC for the first time about 10 years ago. Her story. like mine, includes divorced parents and a series of misguided sexual relationships. She was a pregnant, recovering addict. She was no longer in a committed relationship with the father of her unborn child. Lynne began coming every week IPC for mentoring. I didn’t even meet Lynne until those mentors suggested she should be a client testimony at our banquet. Lynne and I connected deeply and immediately. God uses us to help people in the very areas he has healed us. She stood in front of you at the 2010 IPC banquet with her little Molly strapped on front and told her story.

     We asked you to pray for them that night. I’m pretty sure you did, because a few weeks later, Lynne prayed to receive Christ in our counseling room at IPC. I remember telling her that I was committed to her and Molly for the long haul… I knew in my Spirit that she was important to me and to IPC. Lynne often shares that her decision to choose abstinence until marriage from that point on in her life was very important and healing to her. Jesus redeemed and reconciled her and made her a new creation, just as he did for me.

     Lynne was embraced and encouraged by everyone at IPC and then by everyone at People’s Baptist Church. She grew in Christ rapidly under the preaching, prayer and care of Pastor James Depue. Within the year I hired her – first as administrative assistant at IPC, but she quickly earned the role of Center director, allowing me to pass on to her many day to day responsibilities that had become difficult for me to balance in my part-time role and frankly she was just better at those tasks.

     Walking away from this ministry, as I tried to do several times unsuccessfully in the past, is very different than joyfully being released by God. My ability to be released from my role as Executive Director is possible because God has provided Lynne to take it on. We will have had 10 years together – allowing this whole faith community to feel confident in her leadership.

  Fatih community: I present my beautiful friend, this servant leader to you. The Crisis Pregnancy Centers of the Finger Lakes is in good hands. In fact in the best of hands: hands that have been called by our mighty God, the Lion of Judah. Please pray for Lynne and support her as she leads this ministry into the future.

Everybody needs Jesus Jesus Saves, Jesus redeems and reconciles, Jesus heals. Jesus changes everything, He is the Answer!