This article was written by Gracen Goudy. Gracen is currently a junior at Ouachita Baptist University, where she is pursuing a major in Mass Communications and minors in Graphic Design and Christian Studies. She is from Benton, Arkansas and attends Geyer Springs First Baptist Church.
Life-affirming ministry is what executive director, Valerie Long, gets to do every day. However, she describes it as more – upholding it as God’s work that she gets to be a part of. Having this leadership position for the past four years at Options on Main, she and those involved have seen God at work daily. But His faithfulness was clearly experienced this year despite the pandemic. Instead of setback and discouragement, God transformed their year through His provision and guidance.
Options on Main is a pregnancy care center located in Jonesboro that began in 1980. Since then, they have been serving women and men who need guidance and assistance when it comes to choosing life for their baby. The center provides numerous services including pregnancy testing, information on abortion, adoption and pregnancy options, post-abortion support, and maternity and infant supplies as well as support and empowerment groups. Options on Main has also grown into a clinic with a full medical staff including a nurse manager, an ultrasound technologist, and medical director. With this medical staff in place, Options is able to provide limited ultrasounds to determine if a woman has a viable pregnancy.
“When they come to us, we have the opportunity to discuss life affirming options and hopefully help encourage and empower them to choose life for their babies,” Long shared. “We offer empowerment/parenting classes and different individuals from the community come and share their expertise on various topics including labor and delivery, infant safety, car seat installation, financial planning. Some of our clients will have the desire to return to school and finish a degree. We want them to know that having their baby isn’t necessarily a negative thing at all. It may change their plans temporarily, but it doesn’t have to detour what they want to do in life. We want our clients to know we are there for them no matter what their choice but that a life-affirming choice is always the right answer.”
Options on Main was among 11% of pregnancy centers across the nation that did not close their doors during the pandemic. The only change the center experienced was a transition of the empowerment and parenting classes from in person to an online platform. Client numbers increased from the end of March for the next two to three months.
“Some of these girls were happily married and out of fear were believing it was a terrible time to have a baby; even those who professed to be a Christian,” Long shared. “We got phone calls from women in Texas, Mississippi, and Louisiana that were seeking abortions whose abortion clinics had temporary closed. It was the grace of God that they even landed on our webpage. It gave us an opportunity to have discussions with them on the phone. Some of these women even drove from out of state to our center. Our paths crossed with people we would have never come in contact with because of the pandemic.”
Not only did client numbers increase during the first few months of the pandemic, but economic support continued to remain consistent. During this time many churches and businesses came alongside the center looking for ways to support them. Through it all, the center received new donors and laid the groundwork for enlarging their territory in January 2021. God continued to meet their needs month after month, and every time the center was right where they needed to be financially.
As God kept the doors of Options on Main open through the pandemic, He asked them to take a leap of faith. A pregnancy center in Paragould served the community for 25 years until it had to close its doors 18 months ago. Options on Main was asked to open a second location in that community.
“We were praying that we would for sure be able to keep our doors open at Options on Main in Jonesboro, but if the Lord provided a way for us to go into another city we would certainly do that,” Long shared. “In the middle of a pandemic we really felt the leading of God that told us ‘now is the time to open a second center because you don’t have the money for it, because it’s not in your budget, and because you can’t do it without my help. Now is the time to do it.’ We launched and God is faithful. We are moving forward with that work and are reminded daily that it is not ours anyway. It is God’s, and we are privileged and humbled to be asked to come alongside Him in this life-saving ministry, one that I believe is the most noble and critical of our lifetime.”
The pregnancy center located in Paragould has plans to open January 18 under the name Options in Paragould. Long and those involved are eager to get the word out in Paragould and surrounding areas in order to build a strong donor base that will ensure sustainability of the ministry there for years to come. Both Options on Main as well as Options in Paragould are funded through private donors, businesses, and churches in the communities they serve. They accept no government money and are able to offer all services free to their clients thanks to committed monthly donors.
“Committed monthly donors are our bread and butter for keeping the doors open,” Long emphasized. “It’s God’s work, and it will continue one way or the other. We want to partner with churches, businesses and individuals who want to co-labor with us in the ministry. This helps greatly to raise awareness about what we do, who we are, and the services we provide.”
Both pregnancy centers are always looking for women to come alongside them as client advocate volunteers. Volunteer training is provided by the clinic and follows a Christian-based curriculum through CareNet called “Compassion, Hope, and Help.” Options in Paragould will host an open house on Sunday, January 17 from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. at 322 S. 12th St.
One way that anyone can be involved with the center is through daily prayer. The staff and volunteers ask for prayer that they would have the right words to speak to their clients and particularly those who are abortion minded. Those at the clinic serve as first responders when the calls come in. They want these women to know beyond a shadow of a doubt that God has created them to give life. For anyone who wants to be added to our daily prayer request text messages, they can simply type “PRC” to the number 51660 to be added. They also ask for prayer for enlarging their donor base, that God would send the right people, and they would continue to be faithful to do God’s work with one mind and in one accord.
Options on Main has seen the Lord be faithful by not only sustaining their center throughout the past trying year, but also by providing everything they need to open Options in Paragould. During this past year, Options on Main had around 489 client visits. From those visits, 45 clients chose life for their baby and there were 14 known salvations. These numbers increase daily as they make follow-up calls and can share even more testimonies of clients choosing life.
“I believe that as people say ‘yes’ to a pro-life cause, by sowing seeds into the lives of these young moms, dads and their unborn babies, they will reap what they have sown in the lives of their own children, grandchildren, and generations to come. Those seeds are something that will last beyond our own lives. It is a ripple effect. I cannot think of any other cause that affects eternity in the way that pregnancy resource centers do. Pro-life ministry truly touches the heart of God,” Long said.