Living pro-life: Serving the voiceless and their parents in a partisan world: A conversation with Holly and Aaron Snell and Lisa Freeman

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Living pro-life: Serving the voiceless and their parents in a partisan world: A conversation with Holly and Aaron Snell and Lisa Freeman

June 24, 2022 -

Summary: NOTE: This episode was recorded the day before the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade.

Dr. Mark Turman discusses protecting the sanctity of life with Holly and Aaron Snell, the executive directors of Hope Women’s Center in McKinney, Texas. They are joined by Lisa Freeman, the executive director of Thrive, a crisis pregnancy center in the Dallas area.

Specifically, they talk about:

  1. The calling to be pro-life to serve the voiceless.
  2. What it’s like today to help those in an unplanned pregnancy
  3. How will the Supreme Court’s decision affect people and ministry locally
  4. How to be pro-life where you are

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About the hosts 

Jim Denison, Ph.D., is an author, speaker, and the CEO of Denison Ministries, which is transforming 6.8 million lives through meaningful digital content. 

Dr. Mark Turman is the executive director of Denison Forum. He received his DMin from Truett at Baylor and previously served as lead pastor of Crosspoint Church.


Transcribed by

Mark Turman  00:00

You’re listening to the Denison Forum Podcast. I’m Dr. Mark Turman, the executive director of Denison forum and host for our conversation today. Thank you for being with us. And once again, if you like our podcast, please rate it, review it, share it. And we appreciate you doing that sitting down today for an important conversation around the sanctity of life. And the problem, the reality of abortion in our country so much on the minds of people don’t know exactly when it’s going to happen. But we anticipate some kind of a decision from the Supreme Court regarding Roe versus Wade. And we’re all aware of that, and concerned about that praying about that. But to focus on that a little bit more. I’ve invited some friends of mine into the studio for a conversation about the sanctity of life and protecting that at the ground level. So I have Aaron and Holly Snell, who are the leaders, the executive directors of Hope Women’s Center, which is a crisis pregnancy center, and multiple levels of ministry around the sanctity of life in McKinney, which is 25 miles north of Dallas. I also have my friend Lisa Freeman, who has history and experience and currently is leading as executive director of ministry called Thrive, which is also a crisis pregnancy center in the Dallas area, multiple locations serving Greater Dallas, and they have come to be a part of the conversation. So guys, welcome. The Morning. Good to be here. And don’t tell any of the secrets that you know about me. All right. And I won’t tell any of the secrets that I know about you deal. No secrets, all right, but we’re going to celebrate. Life is the main purpose of our conversation and protecting life as we talk about a lot at the Denison forum we talk about we believe that life is a gift from God, obviously. And that life is sacred from the moment of conception to natural death. And we believe that abortion is in so many ways the primary plague upon our culture, and has been not only for the last 50 years since the Supreme Court, found a right to abortion in the constitution 50 years ago in 1973, and the Roe vs. Wade decision, but even before that, and we are pro life, not just simply pro birth, but pro life in multiple, multiple ways. And abortion, and rolling back abortion in every good way, is what we’re really focused on. So really passionate about that. Tell you a little bit of my story about how this became significant to me. So back in the dark ages, it seemed like 19, early 1980s 81, I graduated from high school, I was a new Christian came to Christ at 17. And in those days, we were just about a decade into the reality of Roe vs. Wade, and abortions were skyrocketing in our country and abortion clinics were opening. And our church was trying to understand this issue and how to be redemptive in it in my hometown in East Texas. And it was very, very volatile. I remember there were attacks actually, in my hometown on abortion clinics, I believe that there was an abortion provider who was killed in my town. And so our church was just trying to figure out how to be redemptive in this situation. And I didn’t even I couldn’t have even told you what an abortion was. When I was a teenager until this time in our church, started providing some conversation, some resources. And I had what what I now kind of might frame is what I call a Lincoln moment. There’s a story in Abraham Lincoln’s life that when he was trying to become an elected official, that he became aware of slavery. And he commented on one point, if I ever get the chance, I’m going to hit that I’m going to hit that hard. And that’s kind of been the inspiration of my experience around dealing with not only crisis pregnancy, but abortion, how can I be actually involved and not just concerned but actively involved in helping people to choose life and life affirming decision. So the Senator that Aaron and Holly lead in my hometown of McKinney, I got to be for a time president of the board there. And that was a an amazing experience, a lot of hard work, a lot of heartbreak, as well as a lot of wonderful stories. And then in that experience, Lisa, who was leading another president, another pregnancy center at that time, became a consultant for us, and that’s where we got acquainted. And so we’ve kind of all shared some history in that. So what I want you to do, guys just kind of start off as we mentioned, the goal is to celebrate, and to affirm and just kind of describe your involvement. How did you get involved in this kind of ministry and then tell us a little bit specifically about your minutes history. So, Lisa, how about you go first and tell us? How did you get into this area of work? And tell us a little bit about Thrive? Because you’re kind of new to that just a few months into your role at at Thrive?


Lisa Freeman  05:12

Yes, I am. Well, actually, similar to your experience when I was, I was very young, like before I was a teenager, and I only remember is picking up my dad’s newspaper, and trying to clean up and there was a story in there about an abortion, and I didn’t know what it was. So I asked my mom, and she told me, and then she said, Well, I might as well tell you this. And then she told me about a family member who had recently had a baby placed for adoption. And she was, I think, 17 at the time, and I had no idea about it. And that was my first time to hear about an abortion and what it was. And so it was just that awareness and learning about it and learning about my family’s response to it that I think just made me sensitive to that even maybe on a level I wasn’t aware of moving forward. And then when I was out of college, working, and then working on my master’s degree, in counseling, I needed a place to spend some hours and get some time in and I saw an announcement in our church bulletin about a pregnancy center. And I guess it just kind of connected me back to our family experience, but then also thinking what a neat idea, because I had for years, really just thought of churches are seeing things on the news about religion, really pounding people over the head with, you know, you should not abort but not really seeing the positive response for how to help people through that crisis situation. So I loved the concept and idea and I just began volunteering there. And then you know, one thing led to another and after I finished my degree, I just really, literally one day driving home from work, had just kind of a thought in my mind about a position there and thought when I got home, you should write that down, you’re gonna forget that. And I did and I still have it from the just the outline of what I thought they needed to do to kind of work move to the next level. I presented it to the executive director the next time I was there, and I was working there within three months.


Mark Turman  07:17

Wow. Okay. So tell us about Thrive.


Lisa Freeman  07:20

Well thrive. It’s been it’s really been, people have asked me, you know, how’s it going at Thrive since I’ve been there just a few months. And I always describe it as a pleasant surprise, I wasn’t necessarily looking for that opportunity, but so thankful for it, because they and I should say, we now are doing just some amazing work helping women across the Dallas area, we do have four locations to in Dallas, one in Irving one in West Dallas. And I would say just the compassionate response by the staff and volunteers there to help women who are just truly in great need has just been really such a joy to be a part of. And we have I think right now currently, eight nurses on staff some full time some part time, that are there to do the, you know, the full medical workups and the sonograms, and the client advocates who, in large part are volunteers who are just so amazing to work with these women and men. And that’s been a really exciting thing we just had the first ever, we have a Mother’s Day event. Well, we just had our first ever Father’s Day event for some male clients, and it’s very small, but you know, you’ve got to start somewhere and just seeing the impact on them. And the impact then on the family. You know, the criticism is always you only care about the baby. Well, we, we all I know in this room care about the families and their wholeness and well being. And that’s a lot of what I see it thrive,


Mark Turman  08:48

right because an unplanned pregnancy and obviously an abortion reverberates love a lot further than most people realize in into a family and into a network of people. For sure. It does.


Lisa Freeman  09:02

And actually, there’s a client story, I’m thinking of it thrive, but also one from my my previous position. And I always think of this particular client, she she was not American, she was from another country and she just had the most beautiful accent. And when she came to us, she just said several times because she had had an abortion. And she said I actually did not want to go through that again. And that is the story of so many. And so we are there, you know, to make sure they don’t have to go through that again.


Mark Turman  09:30

Right. Well, and thanks for the stories. Please go so tell the stories of some of the people that you’ve had a chance to engage and interact with. So Holly Aaron, how did you guys get into this world and tell us a little bit about hope?


Holly Snell  09:44

Well for me. I experienced a lot of tragedy and loss in my life as a young person and I had went to school at Moody Bible Institute married my college sweetheart, we started a Christian organization and ministry to teens. In 1999, in in the year of 2000, my husband as well as my brother in law passed away in a tragic ministry accident. And my dad had died nine months before that. So in nine months time, all the men in my family were gone. And that’s really the beginning of the Lord propelling me into women’s ministry. My sister and I wrote a book together, just depicting, just that loss, learning to love the one who gives and takes away. And and so that kind of began the beginning of what I didn’t know what the Lord was setting up for the future. And so the Lord took that and then fast forward to where we are today. I eventually remarried to my sweetheart here, Aaron, who’s sitting beside me. We helped plan a church here in North Texas, about 12 years ago with two other couples. And my heart was for ministry. But during that time, in planning the church I needed, what we make jokes with air quotes, a real job. And the Lord put me into this incredible opportunity to become Vice President of Marketing for an organization that does fundraising for major nonprofits across the country. So during that time, I was really building my skill set in fundraising and marketing. And while I was there about five years, I was thankful for that time, but I knew that the Lord had really done he was working in me to show me that there was more, there was still more to come. And so it was shortly after some tears and prayers, crying out to the Lord, that He opened up the opportunity for me to be executive director at Hope Women’s Center. I didn’t understand how it was all coming together until I was actually in that role, and really began to feel kind of a mantle of a calling upon my life where I could see, the Lord was taking my experiences of loss and pain. And even though I personally don’t have an abortion story, the Lord was showing me that as I was sitting knee to knee with these girls who were in their crisis, that I had the opportunity to share with him my story of how the Lord is so near the brokenhearted that he saves the crushed in spirit that he is with you, in your lowest times. And just as as He was with me, and the loss of my husband, my dad and my brother in law, he can be with them in this crisis. And so, and then taking also the marketing and the fundraising experiences, the things that I had learned, he began to pull it all together. And as Lisa had also shared, just seeing how we weren’t just pro baby, but we were pro life. And it was seeing how this movement was coming around these young women and men who were finding themselves not knowing what to do that we were able to provide just medical services, educational services, through parenting, prenatal childbirth classes, but now to where God has positioned us where we have adoption services, full time on site, as well as a Christian Counseling Center on site. And so the Lord, we are holistically coming around these young people, showing them that we’re not just here for you to make a decision about your pregnancy. But we’re here to walk this journey with you as long as you need. And that’s powerful.


Mark Turman  13:18

And to help them do well. Long term. That’s right. Yeah. Aaron, how did you get caught up in


Aaron Snell  13:24

this? For me, I never in a million years would have guessed that I would end up doing this. You know, being a pastor for 20 years. I thought that’s where I would be and but living this ministry through Holly, the Lord began to really confront me with my silence as a leader in my apathy in this area. And it was a really painful process as I began to really search my heart and say, How did this happen? Like, why is this not more important to me as a leader, and I wish I had your, your testimony of from such a young age, this being that important, but that it just wasn’t for some reason. And it began to search my heart. You know, I just I’ve grown up in a time where there’s just this moral fog, you know, it’s like, when something is wrong, and the laws of the land also say it’s wrong, that’s easy, it’s wrong. But what do you do when when you feel like something is wrong? And the laws of the land say it’s okay, then there’s this moral fog, this moral tension, and that’s where a lot of Americans and Christians have found themselves for the past 49 years. And so we’ve just silently accepted this culture of death, and we’ve just kind of went with it. And so for me as a, as a pro life pastor, you know, what that really looked like was that impacted how I vote. And I would attend the local crisis pregnancy center banquet once a year, maybe do a baby bottle campaign, and that was about the extent of it. And so as I began to just hear these stories every day of these young girls Coming into the facility and we began to talk about, well, man, what if we could also reach the guys, the boyfriends, the fathers who are part of this, the Lord began to really awaken that. And it was a really beautiful thing. It’s really painful thing. And so still never saw that I would I would join her just began to volunteer there. And just through the providence of God, the Lord saw fit to bring me in to come alongside her and God has done amazing things is now is meeting with the men and a lot of times the dads of these girls, we’ve just seen some incredible results. So I love it. i It’s the greatest honor of my life. It really is.


Mark Turman  15:40

That’s awesome. Awesome. Tell us a little bit about the recent history of hope. Because it’s it’s been quite the ride, not just in the pandemic. But tell everybody a little bit about the the recent journey that you guys have been on? Yeah.


Aaron Snell  15:54

So last year, last February, Texas experienced just kind of an unprecedented storm where our power grid shut down 1618 months ago. Yes, exactly. Yeah. And so we at the end of that week, Holly and I, we walked in just to pick up something at the clinic, and we walked into complete destruction. It wasn’t just like sprinkler damage, it was every ceiling down two and a half feet of water just spewing out. We lost, you know, 15 years of patient records, files, ultrasound machines, every single thing gone. And


Mark Turman  16:30

a true total loss total, there was loss of nothing, there’s a


Aaron Snell  16:34

total loss. And that was a rented facility that was 4000 square feet. And, and yet, honestly, in that, in that moment, God, he really immediately put us at peace. And we kind of we split, she went one direction, she went down the medical side, and I just went and sat in her office, and I’m listening to her weeping and sobbing as she’s going from room to room surveying the damage. And as I’m sitting at her desk, the only thing that survived directly across was a painting that her sister had done. And it was, you know, lopsided on the wall. But it was Isaiah 4319. And it just said, Behold, I’m doing a new thing, remember, not the former, well, and just sat there. And I just stared at that. And so she came in the room. And I just pointed out and we sat in silence for like five minutes and just took that as the word of the Lord. And God just did incredible things that could we could tell you stories. We don’t have time for all that he did so quickly. But we lost everything. And so some national organizations came around us overnighted, an ultrasound machine to our house. And so we got that a day later.


Mark Turman  17:39

Not too many people receive one of those that trial from the Amazon truck, right? We weren’t


Aaron Snell  17:43

doing ultrasounds in our living room. Dining room table


Mark Turman  17:46

here. We wonder what the guy delivering?


Aaron Snell  17:49

Yes. But they also found us a mobile clinic that wasn’t being used in Georgia. And so we hightailed it to Georgia brought that back remodeled it, wrapped it with our information. And so for one year, we set up shop downtown McKinney used that mobile unit as our brick and mortar. But meanwhile, our board began to look well, you know, what’s next for him and center. And literally across the street from where we were, there’s two brand new buildings, shell buildings, 9000 square feet that were being built. And the Lord opened up the opportunity for us to purchase those and the community has come around us. And so we moved in about three months ago now. And so like Holly said, we now have 9000 square feet adoption on site Christian counseling, we’re able to greatly expand our medical services, our capacity has quadrupled in the amount of patients we’re able to see. God took what the enemy meant for evil, and he has used it for good and really pushed us down the road tremendously. And we’re just we’re so honored,


Holly Snell  18:50

that you’re holding on for dear life all just


Mark Turman  18:53

one big fast roller coaster and you own these buildings. You don’t rent these buildings. Right. Right. Yeah. Great, but


Holly Snell  19:01

turns out to be more affordable for us. Is that right? And renting what we had and half the space.


Mark Turman  19:06

Wow. Wow. That is just amazing. So share some stories. We don’t just have time for stories today, but we definitely what are what are you kind of experiencing kind of day to day right now? What are some of your concerns? Let me kind of frame this a little bit. I think it was in a conversation with Aaron or Holly I can’t remember but this couple things. All three of you who have helped me to understand over the years about the reality of of abortion issues. One is the the guys the dads, and the parents of these young people that are experiencing an unplanned pregnancy are often missed. They’re often invisible. That’s one of the things that I’ve come to appreciate much more is how do you work with that another thing that I’ve become much more are aware of his post adoption ministry, those that have experienced that the travesty and tragedy of abortion carry this for the rest of their lives and oftentimes are experiencing an impact from it decades later. Another thing that I that you guys have taught me is, these people are in our churches. Yes. And I, I remember, this the Sunday I went to preach on a sanctity of life Sunday with the new awareness that there were probably dozens, if if not triple digit numbers of people who had somehow been directly involved in an abortion situation, or an unplanned pregnancy situation. And they were sitting in front of me. And I might know one or two stories, but I didn’t know the magnitude, the numbers, percentage wise, or stats wise, is pretty astounding. And then spiritually, theologically, one of you in the last couple of years shared this statement, hey, the devil meets a young person, a young couple, at the front door and the back door of a of a crisis pregnancy center. The devil meets that young couple, in their romantic moment of, hey, this is okay, this feels right to you, this is exciting, you should do this. When they discover that they’re pregnant, then the devil starts saying, Oh, you need to end this, you need to get rid of this, this is inconvenient, this is going to be embarrassing, this is going to be humiliating, this is going to ruin your life, you need to get to an abortion clinic as fast as you can. And then if they choose that pathway, he meets them at the back door when she’s being wheeled out to the car to go home, saying how could you do this? You killed your baby, you you and it just that reality, that picture of how the devil works with us in not just this but in other kinds of choices as well was just incredible. So that’s my spill. So what are you experiencing? What’s the ministry like now thrive at Hope, kind of on a daily basis.


Lisa Freeman  22:11

I would say right now, first with the heartbeat law in Texas. I know previously, you know, when I was involved before with with pro life work, there was always if a woman came in for a sonogram. And let’s say she was six weeks pregnant, and was considering abortion, we would just encourage her to come back for a second sonogram. Take time to think through your decision. Of course, we would counsel her on on consequences effects of abortion and all of that, but there was time she had the benefit of time. Well, I think an unintended consequence of the heartbeat law, though it is it’s wonderful to have an in place is that you don’t have the benefit of time to help them mentally, and emotionally, psychologically get through it, they know that they have a very limited window, they know that if there’s a heartbeat, there’s no other opportunity for an abortion. So the timeframe by which to reach them and counsel them and help meet them with with the truth is really diminished. So and because of that they’re panicked, they come in much more fearful, they’re calling I don’t know if you guys are experiencing this, but they’re calling so much earlier, not even thinking they might be pregnant yet. But I might be you know, in a few weeks I might be and what am I going to do? And how do I get that abortion pill, which you know, so many are going to rather than a procedure, just an in home right pills. So that has really added a lot in terms of just the dynamic that we’re working with the attitude and just the demeanor that women are coming in with that they’re just they’re very fear driven. And so it’s it’s really taken a lot for our staff, the nurses, especially the client advocates, to know how to talk with them really calm them down first, honestly, just to be able to have the conversation. And I will say probably now more than ever, what we’re starting to see in here are the girls who do get the abortion pills from all over the world, have it delivered to them here, have an abortion, and then we’re seeing them come back within just a matter of months pregnant again, and saying what we often hear. I don’t want to go through that again. That was the most awful experience of my life. And so now um, now help me help me have this baby. But that’s a lot of what we’re seeing. So


Mark Turman  24:35

yeah, so we we would all celebrate the heartbeat bill, but kind of the unintended consequence is this change of timing? Yes. And in the sense of urgency or panic even panic of I don’t have time to think about this, though the way they might have before the heartbeat bill.


Lisa Freeman  24:55

That yes, that end and we’ve seen in some cases again In my mind, this being a person who would want to very carefully, no matter what the procedure was, you know, want to research it and go through it pick, pick the best physician, you know, for anything that I might need medically, I, we’ve seen them, not hesitate on contacting a doctor, we suppose in Germany, perhaps who will give them a prescription for medication from India. And well, if you by the time you get this, you might be eight weeks now. But by the time you get this and can take it, you’re probably 12 weeks? Well, so you would take X number of pills, we’ll just increase it by x number, it should be fine.


Mark Turman  25:42

Supervised completely unsupervised.


Lisa Freeman  25:43

And if something happens, where’s where will you receive your care? You have no one providing the care here. And you know, trying to help them understand there could be unintended consequences for you, for you physically. But yet, in that moment, in that mindset, it doesn’t seem to penetrate that there is a real risk to you, potentially. So. But yet, we are starting to hear from those who have experienced that. Oh, yes, that was that was it was frightening. It was scary. It was It was horrific. It was painful. It was the worst experience of my life. And I don’t want to do that again. So back to the right. I don’t want to do that again. Yeah.


Holly Snell  26:19

What are you guys seeing at Hope? Well, in just a tag real quick on to what Lisa was saying. I’ve heard someone say that the abortion clinic of today is the women’s bathroom. And because they are getting these abortion pills, whether illegally or legally, they’re not seeing doctors, and they’re walking through this process alone and not being cared for medically, emotionally,


Mark Turman  26:43

spiritually, majority of abortions now are chemical. Absolutely, yeah, I know


Holly Snell  26:47

here in the state of Texas, they’re like 54%. And that may mean that’s an older number, like because they’re always like three years behind in stats, but we know that that’s only climbing. So it’s it’s a tragedy, in a sense, and but we certainly do celebrate the heartbeat law, we will celebrate. If if roe is overturned, we will celebrate, because it’s something we’ve prayed for most of our adult lives. And so, but it doesn’t mean that it makes what we do easy. It’s very challenging. We know that as far as the abortion minded women that are walking through our doors there for us, they seem to be more belligerent. Really, they test our volunteers and staff with intense language, and a lot of them are adamant about not getting an ultrasound, they don’t want to see the heartbeat, they don’t want to see that child on the screen. Because they know that once they do that, that makes it more challenging for them to get the abortion that they’re wanting. A lot of women that we see have already made the abortion appointment across state lines. But they’re just coming in to kind of double check before they do that. So I mean, it’s it’s created a whole nother set of conversation points that we have to have when we are meeting with our patients. But I will say this, it is not all dark. I mean, the Lord is moving. And we are seeing live saved as well as lives and hearts surrendering to Jesus. And we know that ultimately for us, that’s the greatest transformation piece there to see hearts turn to Jesus, and that will forever transform that future family.


Aaron Snell  28:28

Yeah, and just the reality that whoever comes through our clinics there, they’re not there by accident. Whatever brought them in, I mean, it is at the end of the day, people say all the time, how do you how do you get them to come through your doors? Yes, we all do marketing and all those things. But it’s the sovereign providential Hand of God that has brought them in in the Lord is entrusting us with their crisis and allowing us an opportunity to speak into their life because, as Holly said, many of them already do have the appointments and other states for abortion. And so what an opportunity that we have one last chance to fight for the life of that child as well as the soul of that mom and that dad. And so it’s just, it’s incredible how oftentimes, these these girls can come in on what they think is one of the worst days of their life. And it turns out to be one of the best days of their life is they make a choice for life for that child and sometimes oftentimes, eternal life for themselves as they submit to the Lordship of Christ. So we love it. We really do.


Mark Turman  29:27

Yeah, always, as as you know, as we all know, when we’re dealing with people in ministry settings. When they let you into their pain and into their fear, they’re letting you into some of the most sacred part of their lives. And even when they’re doing it in angry and intense ways, often that anger and that intensity is being driven by the fear inside them. I remember 1015 years ago, I had discovered that anger was a mask for fear, like okay, they’re not really mad at me. They’re just scared to death and they don’t they don’t know What to do with this? And they’re mad. They’re scared. Yeah. But but the fact that they would let you into that experience with them at any level is really a sacred thing. Right? A very special gift.


Lisa Freeman  30:12

Just on that. I know a lot of times as I’ve met with people, donors and friends of the ministry, we all say, you know, it’s hard to imagine doing that, you know, how could someone abort a baby. And yet, I think if we do step back and put ourselves in the shoes of, of the woman who is sitting there full of fear, for some very, very valid reasons, it’s easy to understand how she would consider that. And so it is our job to help her sort through all of that. But I think it helps us, you know, on the side of working with people to always remember to try to put ourselves in their shoes to remember where they’re coming from. And some who have some incredible life experiences, sad life experiences, that, really, I think the reason that they do sometimes make, the choice that they make for life, is we have taken the time to build relationship, and we might be the only great or good relationships or trustworthy relationships in their life. So it is so much more than just coming in for a pregnancy test and a sonogram and we’re really working to build, like you’ve said, I think, a lifelong relationship,


Aaron Snell  31:22

and also just in understanding their, where they’re at in life. I mean, for us, our average patient is 15 to 24 years old, we obviously see them, you know, up to sometimes in their 40s, sometimes 1112 years old are walking through our doors, but you know, I sit with the boyfriends every day. And so when I’m sitting across from a 15, or 17 year old that says, I’m not ready to be a dad, well, yeah, I get it. But I’ll always say back to them. The reality is, you know, if you’re here and your girlfriend’s pregnant, you already are dead. And so now the question is, what kind of data you’re going to be? Are you going to fight for the life of your son or daughter? Are you going to terminate that life and and kind of, as we said earlier, I’m just amazed at how many of them they don’t really know what they’re considering. And so as we begin to really unpack what abortion is, here’s what a chemical abortion is, here’s what’s going to happen, you know, your girlfriend is going to see your child expelled from her, and she’s got to flush it down the toilet. And, you know, here’s what a surgical abortion looks like. I mean, I just I was sitting with a guy not too long ago, and he was 19 and had that conversation with him. And he set up at one point and kind of he kind of bowed up at me, and he just said, No one’s ever talked to me this way. And I thought I had offended him wasn’t trying to just try to be very honest. And we ended in prayer is a great time. And then they came in, got him for to go back for the ultrasound to be with his girlfriend. And right as he was stepping in the room, he turned around in front of everybody. And he said, Hey, can I get your phone number to me? He said, You’re the nicest person I’ve ever met. Well, and so we exchanged numbers. The next morning, we were driving around, and I asked Holly, I said, Hey, can you shoot? Cameron was his name? Can you shoot him a text and just say, hey, great meeting you yesterday, I hope you have a great day. I’m praying for you today. That was all. So sent that text. I mean, 30 seconds later, he texts me back and he said, Great meeting you as well. can’t quit thinking about all that you said, we’ve made the choice to keep this child. And it was just from being being completely honest of what they are. Were thinking about doing and his eyes were open to just there is something moral inside of every person. Eternity is written on the hearts of man. And so when we can just sit in front of them and really kind of push back and speak truth in love. It’s amazing how God will use that.


Mark Turman  33:48

Just so beautifully illustrates Oh, stories illustrate how ministry how faith, how the message of Christ moves at the speed of relationship, right? And all of life moves at the speed of relationship. But just curious. Every story is unique. Every context is unique, whether it’s Dallas, or a suburb or anything like that. But do you see trends are typical, you know, I errand to your store. I’m kind of glad that that teenager didn’t know what abortion was. He’s kind of like me 40 years ago. Okay, what is I don’t even know what this is. And I’m kind of glad that he didn’t know what it was and that you had an opportunity to explain it to him in in clear and simple terms. Let’s talk about clearly what this is. This is not something ambiguous. This is this is a medical procedure. This is a life this. But it’s kind of the experience I had when my church facilitated, okay. We don’t want to. We don’t want to be explicit, but we want you to understand clearly what this actually is. Right? I’m just simple, good information. But whether you’re in Lisa, one of your centers that thrive or now you go 25 miles out from a major city into a suburban type area. Is it typical that you said the Ark most of our clients are in this age range? Is it the young ladies walking in by herself? Is it tip? Or is it more typical these days that the boyfriend or a parent is coming, or a good friend, what is their kind of a profile that you all see that your clients are coming in? This is often what we see.


Holly Snell  35:37

I know for us, it is kind of a split as far as race, we’ve got about 33%, white, 33%, black, 33%, Hispanic, so it’s kind of as far as that goes, it’s just kind of a level. It’s the same in all those categories. But I know as far as background, most of them do come from broken homes, the majority of them, a lot of them have never heard that their life matters. So when you’re trying to talk to them about the life that they carry, it doesn’t compute because they don’t understand the value of their life. And so that’s part of it. Incidentally, trends that we’re seeing, at least at hope is that we’re seeing an uptick in witches, and those involved in the Satanic Temple. And so even recently, we saw a girl who, in her teen years was bred to have pregnancies, and then for her children to be sacrificed. And so that was her teen teenage years. And so it’s been really interesting, you know, you see our, our volunteers come back, you know, why does a sheet after they’ve just heard something that they’ve never heard before. But again, it’s just what we really train our team is just, you know, just to be very discerning, you know, letting the Holy Spirit guide your words, we have our table stakes, you know, in our conversations are things that we want to make sure that we cover, but also we just want to be spirit led in what we do, but, but as far as the trends and things that we’re seeing predominantly single for sure. Broken Homes, absolutely. They don’t understand even the value of their own life. And most obviously don’t have insurance. They haven’t thought about their future. And a lot of times, it’s their parents who have also had abortions and so you just have this history of abortion in the family, and not understanding the value of life. And so that’s where it does, at the end of the day, it does come back to helping helping them see the value of their life, but also that there is a Creator God, who values their life. And once they understand the value of their life, they’ll be able to value their child’s life.


Aaron Snell  37:50

And I would say those in terms of when the male accompanies them to the appointment, it’s probably about 20% We do everything possible when the girl makes the appointment to get the male influencer to come in whether it’s a boyfriend, her dad, whoever that is, but it’s very difficult. And so oftentimes, we don’t even know that there’s a male coming with her until she walks through the door and then boom, there’s a boyfriend or her dad and so for us we have a group of guys who office on site who are just there at all times willing ready, prayed up to walk into these conversations because we have found when we sit with the man the male influencer as well the chance of them choosing life goes through the roof and it really does, you know, so for us at home nearly 70% of our patients choose life. But when we are able to sit with you know the male influencer, it’s nearly 90% It’s you know, 88% Something like that. Choose life. So it’s it’s a very significant part of our ministry trying to get the male influencer through the door to give us the opportunity to sit in front of him because oftentimes the guys are putting so much pressure on these girls to have the abortion.


Mark Turman  39:00

Lisa, what are you seeing similar trends are some things that are unique


Lisa Freeman  39:05

similar, excuse me similar trends but I would also say we’ve had quite a few where the guy was very pro life or wanted to get them to parenthood of the baby but the woman was very adamant that she was going to have an abortion so it was great again though to have them both there have him there, you know, in the sonogram room have been there together so that we can then talk about the decision. You know for them as if as a family and it’s been great because that has worked to help them connect with their girlfriend and say I’m you know, I’m not going anywhere. I’m going to be here. Through all of this I want to be a dad and it does permeate and makes a difference but so we do the same. We try to get the guys to come in we don’t always know and they don’t know you know when they come in they think the appointments for her but they have one taste because we do have the the male volunteers who are just invaluable. We have a guy who leads it. His name is Ari. He He’s our men’s coordinator. And I describe him as a walking smile emoji, which is exactly what he is. And he’s, and because of that he’s just so incredibly disarming. I mean, nobody can refuse him. And so they’ve really built some amazing relationships. And it has helped tremendously to include them in that process, of course. And I would say, as far as our client that we’re seeing, it’s, it’s maybe a little bit older than your than what you guys are saying we have, I’d say 20 to 24 is our number one group, but large and largely black, Hispanic, they’re probably evenly split, and then 15 to 20%. White, we do have the same with most, I would say, single digits that have any insurance or ability to take care of anything themselves. Most are either on Medicaid, but really most need to be on it if they find themselves pregnant, and we’re helping them you know, through that process, and we only see that growing, if if the court decision goes the way we think it will, we know that the need for those types of services, more hand holding from us and help with resources only grows, which we do provide, earn while you learn program education program that they can learn from on how to be a better parent, but also spiritual mentorship. So as they work through that they’re earning things for their babies clothing, you know, car seats, diapers, things like that. So we’re trying to help them with practical resources, but then also to help them on the medical side to just take away some of those back to the fear factor. Some of the things that they’re struggling with that seem to be in the way of them choosing to just,


Mark Turman  41:42

you know, it’s still the truth, right, that not only are they over, emotionally overwhelmed about am I emotionally mature enough to handle taking care of a child, but the financial responsibility, the what they perceive as the financial burden. And kids are expensive. And you know, the bottom line is kids aren’t


Lisa Freeman  42:02

many of them already have children, or they just say I can’t do it again, I can have another one. And I will say the one other thing that we’re seeing, I don’t know if you are but we have a fair number, who come in and it’s obvious they’re on drugs, you know, clearly marijuana but other things too. So that’s, that’s a difficult thing to deal with, while they’re sitting in front of you, or you’re trying to have a conversation with someone that you’re hoping is mentally present to be able to have the conversation with you. And sometimes that’s just not the case.


Mark Turman  42:29

Not always the case. So, obviously, Roe versus Wade is a big, big topic these days. And we’re anticipating could be as soon as today that the Supreme Court releases their decision, a lot of anticipation because of the leaked draft, that they’re going to overturn Roe vs. Wade, which we would all celebrate, but what are your What are your thoughts, concerns hopes around that? And do you? Do you think it changes much of your day to day experience? How are you thinking about the implications of Roe?


Holly Snell  43:08

There’s a lot of questions around that I know everywhere we go, we’re getting getting asked that question. But for us, I think we just have to stay focused and keep the main thing, the main thing, no matter what plays out, we know that there’s still going to be unexpected pregnancy happening. And the question is, are we going to be there for them. And so that doesn’t change even though the laws may change. We also know that as we mentioned earlier, just these young people, they are getting the abortion pill. They there’s websites that they can pull up, and they can just order it and have it delivered to their house. And so, so no matter what the law says, you know, there’s going to be folks who are trying to find ways around it. And so, again, we just have to love them, well help them see the value of their life. I do expect there’ll be challenges along the way, just like with the heartbeat law when that passed last September here in the state of Texas for us. Immediately beginning September one our patients were scared to come in. They didn’t know if there were going to be people reporting them if they were interested in having an abortion wanting to move forward. They were scared to have the ultrasound scared to have medical care. And and we saw a huge increase in our no show rate for a while and we were all just we were reaching out to other pregnancy centers here, particularly in the DFW metroplex, what are you seeing what are you experiencing? How do we navigate this? So we’re all kind of linking arms and trying to figure out how to better serve this population. But we saw the dust begin to settle.


Mark Turman  44:52

People were initially like, Oh, they’re gonna report me.


Holly Snell  44:55

Exactly. Yeah, some are gonna come and arrest me. But But thankfully we saw That kind of settle. And then girls, we saw the increase start to come back. But it did decrease for for us for a short short while. And I would imagine we may feel something like that, again, just as there’s can be confusion around the law and what what goes, what doesn’t go. But at the end of the day, we know that there will always be unexpected pregnancy and girls are going to want to undo that situation, particularly as culture is telling them that abortion is easy and okay.


Mark Turman  45:31

And it’s going to be confusing as well on this podcast. We don’t know exactly how far and wide it goes. But it does reach beyond Texas, depending upon where you are, what state you are in. And the idea that, you know, for whatever we remember about our civics class when we were in high school or college, okay, well, what does it mean? They’re pitching it back to the States. And now we’re watching this very kind of strange, weird will this state, the states are saying that it’s completely outlawed or kind of outlawed. Yeah. And then these states over here are saying no, come come here to have an abortion if you want one. Very, very confusing on multiple levels around that. And so it’s gonna get contextualized in terms of that confusion as well.


Aaron Snell  46:15

It’s been amazing how many people I think, have not understood, roe. You know, there’s been so much just hostility and people just thinking that abortion would be completely abolished, if that’s overturned, rather than understanding that it just goes back to the States. And the fact that probably half the states will keep abortion services, and many of them expanding their abortion services. I mean, they’re doing that right now. California, we know is now made abortions free come to us. Some, some states are debating right now infanticide, where after a child is born, you have 28 days to decide then if you want that child. And so, you know, our patients can still very much get abortions in our country if they desire that. And so it’s kind of what we’ve been talking about. I mean, we praise God for any pro life legislation. At the end of the day, though, this is a heart issue. And so we’re just praying for God to revive hearts, renew our land. So that as you said earlier, abortion would just it would truly be unthinkable.


Mark Turman  47:16

No, I know, there’s even in the Dallas area here. In recent months, there have been pregnancy centers, like the ones who lead that have had external attacks of graffiti and that everything. Are you concerned about that? Are you making provisions for doing everything you can to be as safe as you can?


Lisa Freeman  47:38

We are I think it would be irresponsible at this point not to take the threats very seriously. Some of the threats. I mean, they’re very credible. And we know that they’re planning a, quote, night of rage, the day of the verdict, I guess, regardless of what the verdict is probably. And you know, the groups have very much said Our goal is to get rid of pregnancy centers, I think, whatever that might mean. So we definitely are doing some things to increase security measures. It’s it’s a sad time for us to think that we have to do that. And it may, you know, not be the same. One of the drawers I think of a pregnancy center. One thing that’s appealing to the women, they’ll often say, No, this is not like Planned Parenthood, this was not like the clinic, it was cold. And no one really talked with me and I come in here and it’s warm and friendly and walk in. There might be some, you know, security measures where we have to see your face at the door before we let you in, you know, things like that, that I think might not feel great on the front end, but it protects everyone on the other side, volunteers, staff, other clients babies when they come in. So we definitely are taking it very seriously.


Mark Turman  48:51

Right. So lots lots to be aware of and prayerful about. So I wanted to make sure we had some time to give our audience just imagining probably everybody that listens to the Denison Forum Podcast is spiritually concerned, engaged morally, and culturally concerned about this issue in a lot of issues. But kind of I know you guys get to talk in churches and in other environments, talking about what this ministry is, again, another one of the things that I’ve learned from you and from others, they’re just so many multiple ways that a compassionate concern believer can get involved. And we obviously obviously would say yes, we want you to be praying with us about all of these kinds of issues and praying about people embracing life as we all know that this problem doesn’t get solved by legal decisions. You know, the whole time I’ve been involved in this kind of ministry, especially when I was the board chairman at Hope I slept in You’re saying to lead something you wish didn’t exist, that you wish didn’t need to exist, and to consider to continue to pursue and as to desire that heart change would come to the point where there was no need for a crisis pregnancy center like you lead. I’m sure you’re aware of the Notre Dame study that’s kind of kind of considered, in many ways, the gold standard of understanding abortion, and the practice of abortion in America these days that across the board, regardless of how you felt about Roe versus Wade, or anything else, no person on any side of this considered an abortion event in their life, their experience or their family to be a positive thing. Everybody agreed, even if you thought it should be legal and allowed. Also, some interesting numbers that we saw even these this week, in terms of, we’ve been on a pretty downward trend of actual abortions, as far as we can tell. But a recent uptake is an interesting phenomenon that’s going on in our country. But talk about a little bit. Some of the ways people can be involved. Obviously, we want people to be praying, we want people to be contributing to a ministry like yours, like yours, and, and feel free to tell us where they go on on the web to make a donation to either of your ministries or to both of them. Because crisis in center, ministry needs funding. It needs resources, both in terms of dollars, and in terms of volunteers, but talk to our audience a little bit about, hey, you can be engaged in this. And you need to be engaged in this on a local level. How would you encourage people to think about that?


Aaron Snell  51:44

Well, I’ll let Holly and Lisa talk about volunteering. I would say one, though, that the body of Christ has to speak up, they have to a scripture is so abundantly clear, there’s a lot of things theologically that we can disagree on, there’s room for that. There’s not room when it comes to the sound


Mark Turman  52:02

of Bill weather issue. That’s right for us as believers, right. So no biblical


Aaron Snell  52:06

worldview, and Scripture is very clear that we are to speak up be a voice for the voiceless. So we have to speak, defend the defenseless, protect the powerless rescue, those being taken away to death. And so these are dark times we’re living in and that shouldn’t surprise anyone of Scripture tells us to expect that these would be dark times. But in Ephesians, five, we’re called children of light. And so part of what I think the problem that we feel in our culture, it’s not just the existence of darkness, because again, we’re told to expect that part of the problem is the lack of light. And so that’s our charge. As believers we are to be light in darkness. And so we have to engage in this we have to speak up. And so I’m not advocating for online fights and being you know, Facebook bullies or any of that. But there are so many opportunities in our daily life to truly speak up. For the most vulnerable, there’s nothing more vulnerable than a preborn child, no rights, no voice, no ability to defend themselves. And that’s why we have to be that for them.


Holly Snell  53:13

And as far as people getting involved, being that light, a good place to start would be even going to their local church, the church that they call home, asking, you know, if there’s a local pregnancy center, that they’re supporting a pro life ministry that they’re a part of, and then begin the investigative work, I can tell you that most pregnancy centers can always use more volunteers on some level. And so they’re always looking. And so whether it’s meeting with the patients, whether it’s data entry, answering phones, I know we’ve got a group of women who are answering calls through the evening, just to be available, knowing that women are more likely to schedule an appointment if they can talk to a live person. And so there’s there’s all kinds of ways to be involved. But one thing I also want to add, knowing that there’s people who are hearing this podcast today who have experienced abortion themselves or even contribute or paid for an abortion, just want to encourage them also, to reach out to their local crisis pregnancy center. There’s so many incredible groups that are being offered from these pregnancy centers of people who are walking through just being forgiven and set free from that past decision. And it’s such a powerful thing. When when I see them go through that is one of my favorite things that we do is is seeing people who are Christians, because most of the women who attend and men who attend our post abortion groups do go to church who who do identify as Christians and believers in Jesus, but the enemy is still whispering. Just the accusation in their ears and the won’t share it with with even sometimes their best friend or even their spouse, because they’re so ashamed of that decision in the past. So just encouraging while you’re looking to become a volunteer at your local Enter, also encouraging you if you are a person who has experienced this. And the enemy has kept you kind of caged with this past sin and shame, you can be forgiven and set free today and just encouraging you to find a local group where you are around people who have also experienced this and be set free today. So just my encouragement to those who have hearing this


Mark Turman  55:24

coming to take God at His word, right. And to realize that grace is always wires, I think it is, and, and that and that God never waste hurt. He can bring something beautiful and good out of this, do let him


Aaron Snell  55:37

God God is just as eager to forgive the sin of abortion as he is any other sin. And so you know, you talked about earlier just deception and accusation. That’s how the enemy works. And so whether it’s abortion or any of our sin, I mean, it starts with deception. Hey, this is good, this is better. And then once we move on that it switches to accusation instead of surrendering that to the Lord, there’s healing, there’s victory. There’s grace. So, Lisa,


Lisa Freeman  56:04

well, I would underscore, you know, respect to the heart issue, regardless of how the law goes, I just read yesterday, I think that the surrounding states, the increase for their abortion clinics was from people from Texas, not just generally but women from Texas was 800%, in the last four months of last year, after the heartbeat bill was enacted, so and then states Yes, like California, who are not only saying come, but we will pay to get you here. Yeah. So there will always be options and alternatives. So for people who think in the law, yes, if it changes would be, honestly something I didn’t know would ever happen. I mean, it’s it’s really wonderful. But at the same time, it does not do anything to lessen the need for pregnancy centers. And I think what will be just be a growing need. So we would love to see people, we lost some volunteers during the pandemic that many came back, thank God and we’re thankful to have them serving, but not everyone did. So there are some holes, you know, that need to be filled with volunteers, man and women. But if you know certainly being in the client room is not for every person. So if they want to serve in a different capacity may be coming into our store and helping sort baby items, do some diaper drives, things like that talk Yes, talk to your church and find out if you don’t have a pregnancy center is there one locally that you support, and if not be the advocate for that within your own church to get the church involved directly. That is, that is just one of the best things you could possibly do. And then maybe there’s an event or something else you want to serve on. But there are numerous ways to get involved, just come tour, a pregnancy center, just see it for yourself. Many people are, I think blessed and surprised by what they see when they when they come visit. And then that alone, kind of gives them some ideas of what they might want to do or host someone at their home just to come talk about it. Because really just I think sharing more about it. And understanding it helps people have those conversations with others, help them helps them, you know, be the light when they’re talking with people, and they don’t really know what to say. So I think those are all great ways to get involved, if anybody wants to check out our website, which is actually being redone at this point. But we’re still up at Thrive women’s And then we also have vine for support. We try to keep those separate.


Mark Turman  58:29

And we’ll try to put those in the show notes website for Pope Women’s Center.


Holly Snell  58:32

Yeah, for our partners is stand with And so that’s where they can get more information. And then what’s geared more towards our patients is my Yeah,


Mark Turman  58:44

okay. Yeah, we’ll put those in the show notes for people to find as well. Yeah, just so many different ways to get involved. Like said, as a pastor, where we focused on this, one of the things I was most proud of our church, embracing this. But having that person in my church that was willing to be the liaison and the foot soldier, hey, I’ll facilitate that baby bottle fundraising campaign, I’ll go get the bottles, and I’ll collect them. And I’ll represent us in the lobby on a Sunday. And somebody that was willing to do that was was priceless to me to have somebody so willing to be a part of that. And yes, there are ways to get involved legally, if you’re geared that way advocacy on a legislative side, there’s lots of things you can do in that. And they’re you know, this may be places where you said some people, some people do well, they they thrive by being that that client advocate and sit down with that young lady or with that young man and have that sometimes awkward but difficult conversation. But some people are geared for that. But every one of us probably knows somebody who needs some support. And and even if you’re not going to be the client advocate in the room with you Young lady and a couple is trying to work through this. Do you know a single mom, do you know somebody that is trying to raise a family and they’re struggling and you could go by and buy them a cup of coffee or you could take them up a grocery gift card because diapers are expensive. And if you know somebody that is vulnerable like that, go make a front what we sometimes call front ports visit Hey, I’m not here to interrupt your day on a here to hijack your day. I just want to bless you. Is there anything I can pray with you about can I, you know, here’s a Starbucks card. I believe in you, I think you can do this. You’re not alone. All of those are expressions of the presence of God and the love of God into people’s lives and all of us know somebody like that. And, and when you do that, you’re you’re actually being a pro life advocate in those. Guys, thank you for your time today. I think this gonna make a real difference in some people’s lives. And I think hopefully, get them connected to all kinds of issues of pro life and sanctity of life. Just want to thank you for what you do. Thank you for who you are. And thank you for letting me be involved with you and I hope this makes a difference. Thank you so much.

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