Local Pregnancy Centers Roundtable Discussion

by Amy Tartick

Bringing together the pregnancy centers that we partner with for the purpose of discovering more about each other, building bridges, and determining ways and possible next steps to help one another was a mission close to the heart of Steve Poissant and The Chapel’s Every Child team. Although still in the early stages of these efforts, On Mission was able to connect with these ministries for a roundtable discussion to share about who they are, some initial thoughts, and the fruit they are already seeing from building relationships with one another. So pick up your favorite coffee or tea and join us at the table with Mary Kate Bonning, CompassCare Buffalo; Cindra Enzinna, Lockport Care Net; Alice Murchie, SonRays Ministries; and Barbara Bidak, Summit Life Center. We hope you enjoy getting to know these four outstanding Christian women and the ministries they serve.

On Mission: Before we begin, could you please introduce yourself to our readers by giving us a little background on why and when you became involved with (or started) a pro-life pregnancy center?

CE (Lockport Care Net): I am Cindra Enzinna and I have been the Executive Director at Lockport Care Net since 2007. My second child was full term stillborn in 1983. I believe your ministry is found where you are broken and through this I am able to help others.

MB (CompassCare Buffalo): My name is Mary Kate Bonning. My direct involvement in pregnancy center work began in 2017 when I became the director of Southtowns Pregnancy Center in Hamburg, NY. Because of Christ, I believe there is hope in all circumstances. I am committed to seeing women empowered to have their babies.

AM (SonRays Ministries): Alice Murchie, The Lord led me to this ministry in 1982. There was an intercessory prayer outreach under the guidance of the local 700 Club. In 1983 we became independent when the Buffalo branch of the 700 Club closed. The Lord was leading SonRays to focus on ministering in the area of unplanned crisis pregnancy and educating the Body of Christ to stand for life in Christ. SonRays became “A Ministry for Life.”

BB (Summit Life Center): My name is Barbara Bidak and I am the Executive Director of Summit Life Center. I started getting involved with pro-life work in 2003 as a volunteer Peer-Counselor at my local pregnancy center. To prepare myself for this position I decided to do an online search of abortion to learn more about it. What I saw that evening was awful. I was in disbelief at what I was seeing. The more I researched abortion, the more I saw, including partial birth abortion. With a heavy heart, I asked our Lord – is what I was seeing really happening to our pre-born babies and is there anyone doing anything about it? I heard loud and clear His voice saying to me, “You – you will do something about it.” So on that day you could say I was “called” by our Lord to do something about it! I continued to volunteer for two years until 2005 when a prayer group and I started the Summit Life Pregnancy Center in Niagara Falls.

OM: What were your first thoughts when Steve Poissant with Every Child first approached you about coming to the table with other pregnancy center leaders to possibly share information, experiences, best practices, and developing strategy together?

CE: I was very excited. The PRCs of WNY have been trying to meet quarterly, as we feel collaboration makes us stronger. We are always learning and developing our programs to keep up with changing times. We are stronger together; a brighter light in the darkness.

MB: Buffalo is the second largest abortion hub in the state (following New York City). Western New York is in an abortion crisis as we anticipate the resurgence of abortion tourism due to changing abortion laws across the country. While we have always had relationships with many pro-life ministries and organizations, this opportunity opened the door for intentional, regular conversation and relationship building. We knew God wanted to do something more through the Body of Christ.

AM: Years ago SonRays Ministries started up and sponsored “Unity for Life” in the Erie County Fairfield Health Building, as an awareness and encouragement to other groups that were forming, as well as to educate the public for outreach. When we were approached, we gathered in prayer to see if this is how the Lord would direct our steps looking to 1 Corinthians 12:12 for wisdom on unity and diversity in the Body.

BB: When I was asked by Steve from Every Child to join the table with the other centers I felt so blessed to be part of this network of pro-life believers. It’s a tough ministry, because you are dealing with life and death decisions, ministering with the poorest of the poor, so having Steve and his colleagues as a support system is wonderful. 

OM: What did you see as the biggest challenges to effective cooperative efforts with other pregnancy centers?

CE: Even though the end result is the same for each center, the way we operate differs.

MB: It’s very easy to get tunnel vision: we all have a lot of urgent needs to address on a daily basis. Finding the time in our schedules to meet is a challenge, but Steve and the team have made it as simple as possible for us by scheduling, hosting, and facilitating the meetings.

AM: The biggest challenge is the time investment. Each ministry has its own design of what God has called us to do.

OM: What are you gaining as benefits from these meetings and opportunities?

CE: Making connections with churches and other sources of support is always a benefit.  SonRays, for example, has offered to go into the Niagara County Jail with me to help with the discussion of adoptions. They have been trying to go into the jail, where I have already taken the course and go each week to minister to pregnant inmates. They can go in under my umbrella and we can work together.

MB: There is great diversity in this group of men and women, but our goals are the same. We have found unity in the core values that 1) all humans are made in the image of God and 2) that all humans are equally valuable and deserving of protection, especially the most vulnerable among us. This is our work and fellowship in the gospel of Christ. Collaborating directly with others who understand the unique challenges and joys of pregnancy center ministry is a privilege.

AM: We have been getting to know the “heart” of the other ministries and pray for each other.

BB: What I am gaining from these meetings is friendship and fellowship.

OM: What was the most important or surprising element that you discovered about another pregnancy center?

CE: The merger of Northtown and Southtown, that they are going completely medical and giving up their parenting classes and material aid. We have found this aspect of our center beneficial in forming relationships.

MB: Hearing testimonies of how God is using the unique strengths of each center is truly amazing. One center has developed a great men’s ministry, another is serving one of the neediest neighborhoods in Niagara Falls, and another is using its staff’s background in fighting human trafficking to enhance their ministry. There is no limit to how God uses His people’s specific giftings and passions. 

AM: SonRays learned that we can come under Lockport Care Net to work together in the local prison. We heard firsthand of how Northtowns and Southtowns have merged with CompassCare. We were surprised that agency adoption is chosen over the consideration of private Christian adoption. We are certified adoption liaisons by New York State. Over the years, many birth mothers have come to know Christ because of the extensive, long-term relationship and prayer provided.

OM: With the New York State legislature now embracing some of the most destructive, non-restrictive abortion laws in the country through the Reproductive Health Act, what are your goals for the coming year? Has this changed anything in the way that you provide services for women?

CE: We are in the process of looking for an additional nurse to provide ultrasounds. Our mission has not changed, we have just stepped up our game to provide accurate information, love, and support to both men and women during this time. We feel strongly that when the man is involved in the decision making, that baby has a better chance. They are both the parents and we need to be focused on the entire family.

MB: Northtown Pregnancy Center, Southtowns Pregnancy Center and Buffalo Pregnancy Care Center have all consolidated under the leadership of CompassCare to cut Buffalo abortions by 50% in five years replicating the effectiveness of CompassCare in Rochester where a 58% reduction in abortions occurred over eight years. To do this means we need to develop a centrally located medical office with a team of nurses that can serve at least 25% of women considering abortion every week. The goal is to see Buffalo abortions cut by 50% in 5 years. The three locations have already consolidated and continue providing ethical medical care, to women at the point of abortion decision. Already since April we have seen a 38% increase in lives saved and 16 women submit their lives to Christ! There are many significant changes occurring as the organizations consolidate and standardize operations which makes this a very exciting and busy season for all involved.

AM: How we serve has not changed—we are continuing to serve faithfully with the love of Christ. However, we are extending our reach to the community to ensure people find us for help. Through the transforming love of Jesus, people have been set free of worldly lifestyles and are learning to follow Him in daily decisions.

BB: With the New York State legislature now embracing some of the most destructive, non-restrictive abortion laws in the country through the Reproductive Health Act, our goal at the center is to continue offering free ultrasound service to anyone in need, expand our hours, and network with other pregnancy centers.

OM: In this past year, where have you seen God move in a significant way in or through someone’s life in relation to your ministry?

CE: One of our clients, who I initially met in the jail, got married this March. The man was coming in to see our male peer counselor while she was in jail. Their marriage is Christ-centered and we were blessed to watch them take this step. We rejoice with first-time professions of faith, adding to the Kingdom. 

MB: A young woman came into CompassCare Buffalo (currently the Northtown Pregnancy Center location) considering abortion. During her appointment, she saw her eight-week-old baby on ultrasound and began to doubt her decision to get an abortion. A few days later, during a moment of weakness, she went to an abortion clinic and took the first pill in a chemical abortion (RU-486). Full of regret, she searched for a way to reverse the effects of the pill. She got in touch with CompassCare’s supervising OB/GYN who assisted her in getting pregnancy-sustaining progesterone therapy. Multiple ultrasounds since this intervention have shown a healthy, growing baby. The young lady has received Christ as her Savior and is preparing for her new life as a mother.

AM: We are seeing commitment in prayer, provision, and building trusting relationships which have often taken sacrificial time of “building up” in encouragement. We teach them to know Jesus so they will know His direction, hear His voice to see their potential in life skills which was placed within them even while in their mother’s womb.

BB: In this past year so far the Summit Life Center has helped 38 mothers who once were abortion-minded choose life for their baby because of our services. God moves in a significant way through our ultrasound service, bonding mothers with their baby, along with our staff speaking the words of life to each one.

OM: Living missionally means that every day we are intentional to bring Jesus and the truth of the gospel into where we live, work, worship, and spend our spare time so that others can know Christ. Basically, “. . . faith expressing itself through love.”[1] What are some of the best ways we can flesh this out to impact our culture for life that would support your efforts in the community?

MB: A pro-life ethic must be rooted in the gospel. We are pro-life because, as sinners before a holy God, we are as helpless as the pre-born baby. Without Jesus as our Advocate, we would perish. So, to follow in the footsteps of our Savior we too must spend our new found power, voice, and resources from God the Father, not on ourselves, but for those who need it most. Our culture believes that women need abortion. We know that no sane woman ‘wants’ to have an abortion. She feels stuck, like she ‘needs’ to have an abortion. The reality is there are many real needs pregnant women and parents have which the church can help meet. Advocacy for the preborn must meet her first at the point of decision and then give her a vision of her future after having a child through effective care and support for her family, as well as clear communication of the gospel. Christians can express their pro-life convictions by supporting the work of pregnancy decision centers like CompassCare as well as pregnancy resource centers while living out a consistent pro-life ethic to their family, neighbors, co-workers, and beyond. As we do this work together, our culture will see and embrace a better way: Erasing the culture’s ‘need’ for abortion once and for all.

AM: We need to be diligent in prayer always, praying for our nation and leaders, all of us seeking the Lord’s direction to guide us and find our place to impact life in Christ.  . . . Now is not the time to remain silent.

Thank you for spending time with us at the table. We hope you will join us in praying for these ministries and the individuals and families they serve. To learn more about a specific ministry, please check the volunteer opportunities and directory information in this edition of On Mission.

[1] Galatians 5:6