Not long after Jim and Linda Augspurger adopted their daughter and son in the early 1980s they realized that the number of their children’s peers had declined compared with previous generations.
“From the beginning, we knew we were sharing a precious commodity,” Linda recalled. She expressed how blessed they were that the children’s birth families had decided to make an adoption plan.
“We had adopted our kids, and then realized that a lot of their peers weren’t around,” she added. “They had been aborted.”
She shared this concern with a friend during an exercise class, and their discussion turned to the topic of abortion and how it could be avoided. The two women, with their husbands, sprang into action.
Armed with a crisis pregnancy services resource kit from Focus on the Family, they hosted a meeting at a community center in Columbus.
“We invited [people from] the evangelical churches in the north half of the county,” she recalls. But the core group and many of those involved were from the Grace Brethren Church (now Grace Polaris Church, Mike Yoder, lead pastor) on the north side of the Columbus metropolitan area (and Franklin County).
They realized that those of the Catholic faith were further ahead on this journey and were already providing some crisis pregnancy services in the region. “We’d never thought about Catholics and evangelicals working together,” she laughed.
“This group of people had the same vision and heart that we had,” she said. They joined forces to provide services for young women with unplanned pregnancies.
“They bring a different faith tradition,” admitted Linda. “We bring our faith tradition. We’re not always all right, so we give each other grace to work on our mission together and respect that they were on the ball before we ever woke up,” she added.
“The influx of all of those evangelicals changed the flavor of what became Pregnancy Decision Health Centers,” she said. “Then we added the medical services and changed the name to include the broader scope.”
More than 35 years later, the Pregnancy Decision Health Center, on the north side of Columbus, sees more than 5,000 visits a year with services ranging from pregnancy testing, ultrasounds, and prenatal care to treating sexually transmitted diseases, abortion pill reversal, and post-abortion counseling for both women and men. From a single location in the beginning, they now operate in multiple neighborhoods, working to offer alternatives to abortion and to empower women and families.
During that time Linda, who worked as a case worker before finding faith in Christ, has done it all – almost. “Everything but the financial part,” she said with a smile. A board member for most of those years, she has stepped in to fill wherever she was needed, serving as executive director, teaching the abstinence program in local schools, and even creating a software program that she says is now used in hundreds of similar agencies around the world.
Members and attendees of Grace Polaris Church continue to be involved in the outreach. “It’s not a para-church organization,” she noted. “It’s the church.”
This article first appeared in the Fall 2019 issue of GraceConnect magazine. Click here for more information.