Teenagers. They come through crisis pregnancy centers on a regular basis. They come requesting pregnancy tests. They come requesting abortions. They come requesting birth control. They come requesting counseling. However, teens are now showing up at the doors of centers with another request. They want to help. They want to know what they can do to join the battle against abortion. They want to be there for young unwed mothers. They want to play a role in the process.
These teens, possibly more than adults, know what it's like to face the harsh, cruel realities of the world around them. They have teenage friends who are sexually active. This gives them an edge over adults when it comes to understanding the mentality of teenage sexuality. They may appear fragile to some, but most Christian teens are rock solid in their desire to make a difference in their world.
They are stronger than we think. When Christian teens come together in a project like a pregnancy center, they are infused with energy to work toward a common goal. They are up to the challenge!
"I feel really good when I get involved. When I pray about things that are going on at the center and then hear about all of the good things that are happening, it reminds me that God is listening and that my prayers can make a difference" (Courtney, 19).
Another reason teens are more interested now in playing a role in the fight against abortion is teens are becoming more conservative sexually. It is no longer an embarrassment for a teen, Christian or otherwise, to say: "I'm not having sex." According to The National Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy, close to six in ten teens surveyed recently said that sexual activity for high school-age teens is not acceptable, even if precautions are taken against pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases. In fact, the vast majority of teens (87 percent) surveyed said that they do not think it is embarrassing for teens to admit they are virgins.
Sexual purity is in! This is great news for those of us in the fight to prevent abortions. It is also an indication that years of affirming the message of sexual purity just might be paying off. With this in mind, how does a center go about encouraging teens to participate? Here are a few practical ways:
When your representatives speak to women's groups at local churches, encourage teens from the congregation to attend. You will be surprised how many come, and you will marvel at the depth of their understanding and desire to help. Be sure to take any and all materials with you -- even pamphlets that you wouldn't ordinarily take for an adult crowd. Meet with the church's youth pastor. Ask to speak to the youth group. It is likely they will be even more receptive than adults.
Invite teens to tour your facility and encourage them to pray while they are there. Bringing them in as a group is a plus. Be prepared for the predictable rush of tears. They will often react to the facility with strong emotion.
Educate these teens, just as you do the ones who come to the center for help. This aspect of sex education from a Christian point of view will remain with them throughout their lives. Don't be afraid to show them the same abortion videos you show others. They can take it. In fact, it very well might provide them with critically important information that they won't get anywhere else.
Put teens to work collecting items for the center. Teens love to gather baby clothes, bottles, food, and such. This is something they can do easily, and they will find satisfaction knowing that they have helped. Once items have been collected, have them help organize the items.
Recruit young people and their youth groups to raise funds for the center. Put empty baby bottles into their hands to be filled with change. They will use your idea and probably come up with some of their own.
Let teens know that, as a vital part of your ministry, they can affect lives for the Kingdom of God. Discover their individual gifts and put them to work. If one has knowledge of computers, put him to work on one! If another likes to gab on the phone, place her in phone ministry! If one loves to sew, find a place where she can do just that. There may even be a gardener in the bunch!
Be prepared to learn from the teenagers that God sends your way. Don't take them lightly. Ask a lot of questions. Get inside their heads. Don't be surprised if God uses them to teach you a thing or two.
Be flexible with them. If your teen volunteers want to try something new, at least be willing to consider it. They might come up with an idea that will make a real difference.
Let the teens know that you care enough about them to spend time finding ways to let them serve the ministry.
Don't limit them. Remember the words of Helen Keller: "One can never consent to creep when one feels an impulse to soar."
Many teen volunteers are ready to soar. They're just waiting for the right moment, the correct opportunity. Will you be the one to provide it?
Janice Thompson, a free-lance writer and teacher, has been an avid pro-lifer for most of her adult life. She enjoys taking teens to the local CPC in Houston to learn more about how they can be used to save the lives of the unborn. Janice can be contacted at MThomp1595@aol.com.