By Katie Sobiech
“We see miracles every day in the people that God brings in for us to talk to,” Kaye Gauder, Executive Director of Akron Pregnancy Services (APS), said.
“In our classes, when people have that ‘aha’ moment, and begin to really see what’s going on in their lives and want to make a change, there’s nothing bigger than that to me,” she continued.
APS, a Christian, non-profit, non-political, social service agency, is designed to help women facing unplanned pregnancy. Their doors are open to women from their initial pregnancy testing appointment, throughout the pregnancy with classes; and continues with mentoring and support after childbirth.
“We take abortion minded calls. They come in and talk to us, because a lot of people think we’re an abortion clinic. So they just call to schedule an abortion, literally,” Gauder explained.
But many hearts have been changed along the way.
“Every once in a while you will get them to come in and actually change their mind. It’s like ‘Wow, that’s God!’ To see God change lives and people actually turn and go in a different direction and be hungry for Gods ways,” Gauder shared.
Leading Younger Women
Throughout the years, since their beginning in 1984, APS has been growing their ministry to be multi-faceted, meeting the specific needs of women and their families.
“What we’ve been seeing is God has been developing the educational end of the ministry, because we’ve come to a generation that they are several generations from being in church or having a two-parent home and any influence in their lives spiritually,” Gauder shared.
“The Lord has just helped us to develop more into being the older women teaching the younger women, and what it is to love their husbands, their children, and what that looks like. What it is to be a godly woman and to follow God in that leading, because that’s totally distorted in today’s culture,” Gauder said.
“And with being a godly woman there is no room for abortion in that picture. It’s much more on the restoration and prevention,” Gauder continued.
They accomplish this in a variety of ways including classes, long-term, one-on-one help sessions with their two social workers on staff, and by plugging them into a program called Getting Ahead Program.
Their classes include basic parenting and prenatal, but continue to grow.
“We’ve done this for probably 12 years, but it’s expanded and we believe God is expanding it more,” Gauder said.
And they have different areas of focus, including spiritual, nutritional, financial freedom and crafts.
Crafts and Career Ideas
“Years ago I had one woman say to me ‘Ok I didn’t abort my baby, now how are you going to help?” Gauder shared.
“That’s what the Lord is building our programming and everything towards helping women to be all that they can be so that they don’t have to abort their babies or even think that they have to. There’s a support system around them,” she continued.
Open M is looking into bringing “Cincinnati Works” to Akron with the goal being to get people into jobs and have job retention after one year, bringing down unemployment.
“All women who are dealing with single motherhood and ‘how do I work at another pregnancy if I can’t afford what I’ve got?’ They need hope. Not just spiritually, but some hope for being able to get a job,” Gauder explained.
“We believe that we play some part in (Cincinnati Works) too. Our classes are geared to building women spiritually and emotionally so they have the confidence that God has a plan for their life,” Gauder continued.
As for now, Gauder says “Everything is in the infancy stage but we really see and believe that God is going to bring different businesses out of some of these crafts so that women can help supplement their income or get off of the system.”
Raising Up Healthy Men and Fathers
Another aspect of the ministry is making sure that the men are healthy and involved in their family.
“Our focus is women, but our mission statement is ‘championing God’s design for life’, so we understand that involves family and the men too. We have a father’s group so they can talk about some of their issues and be encouraged in their role as a father,” Gauder said.
“The whole thing of ‘what does a healthy relationship look like?’ ‘What does a healthy marriage look like?’ You have to get into all of those things,” Gauder explained.
Bill Thompson with Toolbox Ministries (www.toolboxmen.org) heads this up.
“The mentoring has been so important here. We’re such an intergenerational ministry,” Christa Runion, Director of Children’s Ministry, added.
Children’s Ministry Grows
As the ministry grows, more attention is being paid to both the fathers and babies – not just mothers. That being said, their children’s ministry is growing.
Runion has a big vision for the children’s ministry.
“Children are more of a focus now than they have been in some time,” she explained.
As for her role, Runion says “Sometimes it’s just a matter of holding them, rocking them, and loving on them. Other times it’s speaking scripture over them or ministering to them in prayer and godly identity. We place a huge emphasis on God’s word being taught to them. They’re coming in from various types of situations and have different emotional and physical needs.”
To keep all of these wonderful, free services going, APS has an upcoming fundraising walk “Rebuilding the Wall of Righteousness”.
“The vision is taken from Ezekiel 22:30 where it says ‘He looked for someone to rebuild the wall of righteousness that guards the land, someone to stand in the gap’,” Runion said.
“We say ‘let it not be said of us that He’s found no one’, and so our commission and cry this year is to come together and stand in the gap with ourselves and our lives as a representation of what fills that gap in the wall of righteousness. And recognizing the vital role that this generation of children and youth have in the rebuilding of that wall,” she continued.
“It’s a focus on this generation and every generation coming together in unity and learning from one another and helping.”
Registration for the walk begins at 9 a.m.; the walk starts at 10 a.m. at APS (105 E. Market St, Akron, OH 44308).
“We believe God has huge plans for our area, for this city. We see the para-church ministries and individuals coming together and being Kingdom like we’re supposed to be –across denominational lines, racial lines, age lines, whatever lines there are. And I believe God is in the process of doing that,” Gauder said.
“The body of Christ coming together (is so important) and recognizing the breaches that the enemy has caused and that we’ve allowed, and just standing and reclaiming this territory and Akron for the cause of Christ,” Runion said.
For more information on APS please visit http://www.apsatwork.com.