New Beginnings Pregnancy Center in Benton, Arkansas, has had a few new beginnings of its own over the past several years.
Originally established in 2003 as a nonprofit ministry to pregnant teens, it has grown to serve women of any age who can benefit from the ministry’s resources.
In recent years, New Beginnings has expanded to include ultrasound exams and pregnancy testing in addition to offering material resources such as diapers, wipes, baby formula and gently used clothes for babies up to 24 months old.
The center also provides confidential counseling, mentoring, parenting classes and Bible studies.
“I just think that babies are the most precious human beings in the whole wide world,” said Patti Snowden, New Beginnings’ assistant director.
As a mother and grandmother, “I feel grandmotherly towards the babies and motherly towards the young women,” she added.
Snowden, whose professional background includes 30 years as a speech pathologist in public schools, coordinates the ministry’s resource center in a small, renovated house located on a side street behind the offices of Central Baptist Association.
Executive Director Janet Dixon, a nurse with training in OB ultrasounds, supervises the pregnancy test center housed in a dedicated wing of the associational office.
“In the Central Arkansas area, there is a lot of poverty,” Snowden explained. “We do have a certain [type of] young woman who tends to come into our center needing help. Typically, they have not had a good experience in their own family.
“Most of these young women do not have much financial support,” she added. “Some are employed, some are not, but those who are employed typically are those who make minimum wage so there’s just not a lot of extra money to go around.”
Noting that “we believe that whoever comes to our door, God brought them here for a reason,” Snowden said, “Many times they have had no experience of knowing who Jesus is so we get the privilege of telling them about Jesus. That is our honor and our joy to be able to do.”
Woman’s Missionary Union groups, including Women on Mission at nearby First Baptist Church, Benton, partner with the ministry by donating diapers, wipes and other needed items.
A couple of area quilt guilds and volunteers at a senior citizens center craft homemade quilts and afghans for the pregnancy center to distribute.
‘Make much of Jesus’
As she works with volunteers and offers encouragement to the women who turn to New Beginnings for help, “my motivation is to make much of Jesus,” Snowden shared. “I want these young women to know His love.”
Affirming that Christ “captured my heart” at age 19, Snowden reflected, “Over the course of my lifetime, He has just drawn me so close to Him.”
Longing for New Beginnings’ clients to experience that same spiritual relationship, she said, “I want them to know exactly who He is and the dimensions of His love, which are higher than the heavens.”
Diana Lewis, a longtime member of Central Association’s Missions Development Council, recounted God’s clear leadership in founding the ministry and expanding in 2015 to include the test center and ultrasound.
There were “three really big things that we had to accomplish in order to be able to do the medical part,” she said the must-have list included a facility, a medical director and an ultrasound machine.
In short order, the association offered part of its facility to house the test center and Lewis discovered that her new medical doctor had previous experience as a pregnancy center medical director.
He readily agreed to serve in that role for New Beginnings.
The final hurdle was acquiring a $26,000 ultrasound machine.
A local organization offered to contribute half the money if New Beginnings could raise the other half. Lewis, a retired North American missionary and avid quilter, organized a silent auction and quilt auction.
“The next day after that, our director came to my house and we counted the money,” Lewis said. “And we had almost to the dollar exactly what we needed for our half of the ultrasound machine. … God laid before us the things that we needed most to be able to make it happen.”