By Lonnie Wilkey
Editor, Baptist and Reflector
MORRISTOWN — Lanette Breeden was a stay-at-home mom with a small child and a baby on the way when she became a volunteer at the Pregnancy Crisis Center in Morristown.
Two years later, she became interim director and within a few months, she was the director. Twenty years later, Breeden is as passionate about the ministry to help mothers with unplanned pregnancies as she was in the beginning.
Breeden was basically a new Christian when she began volunteering at the center. She accepted Christ as an adult at the church where she was raised, Highland Baptist in Whitesburg. While attending her first business meeting, she saw a list of ministries offered by Nolachucky Baptist Association and the Pregnancy Crisis Center caught her attention.
She recalled that at that time volunteers basically worked one day a month. She felt she was having to relearn what she was to do every month, so she decided she would work once a week.
With the support of the association, which began the center in 1988, and the director, Breeden helped establish “Promise,” a class designed to have an ongoing relationship with the girls and young women who utilized the resources of the center.
“Twenty years later, the class is still going,” Breeden said, noting adjustments had to be made last year during the worldwide pandemic. “We began doing Zoom classes and have continued them through this year because of the uncertainty of the new strain,” she said.
Though Breeden did not pursue the director’s position when it opened, she is convinced that was God’s plan for her life.
She recalled that she asked God specifically to show her that the position was His will. She had left a good job to stay home with the children so she asked God to have her husband, David, talk to her and encourage her to take the position. She mentioned it casually one day but he didn’t respond.
A few days later, however, he told her he had been praying and thinking about it and suggested that she take the job.
At the same time, Breeden had her first taste of spiritual warfare as some things happened during her first few weeks as interim director. “That made me more determined than ever before,” she recalled. Though she was experiencing opposition from Satan, “I knew the Lord made it clear (that she was to accept the full time position).
“The Lord equips us when we are not ready,” she affirmed. “I knew I couldn’t do it, but I knew the Lord could.”
Over the past two decades the Lord has taken Breeden out of her comfort zone many times, she said.
And, she affirmed, “He has built my faith through it. I know I can trust Him.”
The center has grown during the past 20 years. In the beginning, it basically offered only pregnancy tests and a small clothing closet.
Today, the center still provides free testing and a much larger and expanded clothing and materials assistance. In addition, the center provides referral services, adoption referrals, new mother support groups, post abortion support groups, a ministry with an interpreter for Hispanic women, limited obstetrical ultrasounds and a “newborn basket” to any client who receives a positive test and agrees to attend a parenting class, said Breeden, who is now a member of First Baptist Church, Morristown.
All services are free and the center receives no government funds, she stressed. Area churches, individuals, businesses, and the Nolachucky Baptist Association provide the funds needed.
What’s more, the community has rallied around the center, especially with donations of baby supplies and clothing. “Our community is extremely generous and loves and supports the center,” she said.
Breeden noted that the center could not operate without its dedicated volunteers. “We would never make it without them,” she said, adding that God always “has the right volunteer available for each client. They are divine appointments,” she affirmed.
“A pregnancy center is one of the most effective, practical and God-honoring ways in which an association or network of churches can partner together and minister to families and communities,” observed David Hawkins, director of missions for Nolachucky Baptist Association.
While services may have changed over the past 20 years, the goal and mission of the center remains the same: “We are here to see babies born and mothers born again.”
Hawkins observed that by “God’s grace and love, that godly desire is being accomplished. Countless families have been ministered to and numerous babies have been given the precious gift of life — all for the glory of God,” he added.
Breeden said there are usually decisions for Christ made every year as a result of the ministry. There were 13 recorded decisions in the year prior to COVID, she related. “We don’t have large numbers but we thank God for every one of them.”
She noted that many of the center’s clients have no knowledge of God or the Bible. “Sometimes, we just sow seeds.”
Like every other organization, COVID-19 forced the center to rethink how it did ministry. The center had to reduce its days open during the early days of COVID, but “we never missed a call,” Breeden said.
Breeden would meet with clients over the phone or schedule an appointment. For those who needed baby supplies or clothing, the center provided curbside pickups. “We would pray with every person. They were so appreciative.”
With COVID cases beginning to spike once more across the state, the center has maintained its COVID protocols, Breeden said. “We will keep doing what we are doing. We are helping high risk women who are pregnant and some have infants with them.”
She observed that not every result that happened because of COVID was necessarily bad, especially as it related to the center. “COVID slowed everything down and made us focus on what was essential. It simplified the ministry and made it more personal.”
Two decades of leading the Pregnancy Crisis Center has not diminished Breeden’s love or passion for the ministry. “I’m so glad I gave my life to the Lord. I wouldn’t have missed this for the world. I love these girls and their babies,” she affirmed. B&R