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Written by Amy Scherschligt   

Fotolia 54304344 SEditor's Note: Many years ago Presbyterians Pro-Life caught a vision for Shepherding Homes. We organized an effort called "Care Churches." Churches and individuals willing to offer support and housing to a woman who was pregnant and in need responded to PPL and a list of such churches remains on our database today. It's a much needed ministry as this article from Amy Scherschligt of Fair Oaks Evangelical Presbyterian Church shows. Read her letter about the need in Sacramento County.

The Shortage of Housing for Homeless and Displaced Pregnant Women in Sacramento County

Our Biblical Mandate: Defend the cause of the weak and fatherless; maintain the rights of the poor and oppressed. Rescue the weak and the needy; deliver them from the hand of the wicked." Psalm 82:3,4

"If this (maternity) home had not been here, my baby would be dead."

So said a 19-year-old pregnant woman in 2004. She was the adopted daughter of a pastor and his wife. She is now married and raising multiple children.

Thankfully, this woman was referred by the local pregnancy center to Love Them Both maternity home, where she found a safe and loving place to live. The home was supported by churches, Alternatives Pregnancy Center and the caring community.

Today, that maternity home is closed. Yet with abortion rates falling as more women choose life for their unborn children, there is an urgent need to help house these displaced and homeless pregnant women.

Recently, Murray received this phone call from a young woman:

"I am four months pregnant and I must move out of this shelter. I am looking for a place to live and have my baby. Can you help me?"

Due to the shortage of housing for homeless, pregnant women, it is hard for Murray to succeed in finding her a place. Bishop Gallego's is the only maternity home in Sacramento County and it houses 12 women. Their waiting list has 25 women on it and they only house women from 7 months pregnant until delivery.

The need is great and churches can help pregnancy centers find ways to solve this critical need for housing for pregnant women who are homeless or displaced. Many have come from the foster care program; nearly 50 percent of girls who age out are pregnant within one year and without resources, leaving them highly vulnerable. A high rate of abortions exists among homeless women. Also, many are pressed into sex trafficking by predators.

In Sacramento County not a single church has taken on the task of reaching these women. If a home is not available, the pregnant mom feels hopeless. Abortion may seem a reasonable, though possibly undesirable, option. Some even rationalize abortion as a compassionate alternative for circumstances. This is especially true in cases when the woman is counseled by professionals, family, the baby's father, and/or well-meaning friends who do not view life with God's perspective - "You shall not kill."

An Opportunity for Ministry
The members of the Pacific Area Chapter of Presbyterians Pro-Life believe this is an opportunity for Christian Evangelical churches to take an active role. We believe we can start finding and opening Shepherding Homes (SH) and Transitional Homes (TH) in Sacramento County. The main operational difference is that the pregnant woman is only in the SH until her baby is born. Then she may be eligible to stay for a longer time as needed in a TH. A startup plan might be to start the SH and then get the TH started. With this plan, we are sure that many babies will live and moms will enjoy this new life and be changed by the Gospel.

What is a Shepherding Home?
Individuals, retirees and families with a spare bedroom make their home available to provide a family setting and role model. A woman lives there for a few months and the cost is much less than if she were housed in a maternity home.

The Christians in these Shepherding Homes touch the lives of the pregnant moms forever. They come into a woman's life at a critical time and this opens the door for deep and lasting relationships where we can influence them to a lifetime with Christ the Lord. It also gives the opportunity to share our faith with the woman's family and friends.

What is a Transition Home?
A Transition Home program offers increased hope to mother and child for stability in the long term. They would move there after leaving the Shepherding Home and stay for a longer period of time. A Transition Home extends the time that Christians can seriously impact her spiritual growth and way-of-life training. A quality program needs a transitional time to help establish the mom's stability. The life problems that bring a mother to a pregnancy care center in the first place are not fixed by quick solutions. Through the Transition Homes women are encouraged and supported in their mandated efforts to achieve an education and/or to become self-sufficient through gainful employment. Transition Homes can be funded by the women themselves because of their income from government assistance. Training and support will be available before a pregnant mom is assigned to a SH. An interview would precede moving a woman and baby into a TH.

How can you and your church help?
The Pacific Area Chapter of PPL is actively looking for private homes that have the proper training to take in these women. Both parties would have background checks and signed rules of conduct, as well as a drug test for the pregnant mom. Other churches across the country may wish to contact their local pregnancy centers to learn if a similar need exists where they live. It's a great opportunity to offer a viable alternative to abortion and extend the love of Christ to a vulnerable young mother bringing an eternal change for her and life for her child.

If you live in the Sacramento area and want to be involved contact This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it . Others across the nation who want to be on PPL's Caring Churches list should contact This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

 

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