She arrived pregnant and desperate. Without a job, a home or a husband, *Cristina had considered dropping her baby off somewhere and walking away forever. Instead, by God’s grace she ended up at the doorstep of the FLORECE Prenatal Center, a crisis pregnancy ministry in Iquique, Chile, which opened its doors in 2016.
At FLORECE, Cristina received reassurance and practical help. Not only did she give birth to a healthy baby girl whom she chose to raise, but she faithfully completed her weekly visits, maternity class and Bible study course.
The center’s staff continue to see Cristina seeking truth for her life, after coming out of the confusion of Jehovah’s Witness teachings.
Cristina’s story represents many other women in Chile—where, although not legal until recently, abortions are commonplace and the after-effects of a crisis pregnancy can last a lifetime.
As one great-grandmother emotionally shared of her abortion experience from decades ago. “They say they will take care of the problem here,” pointing to her womb, “but not here, or here,” pointing to her head and heart.
Run by ABWE missionaries and national believers, FLORECE—which means “to blossom”, is the only known pregnancy center of its kind in a country with a desperate need for a Biblical perspective on marriage and the sanctity of life.
Not only do FLORECE staff desire to see unplanned pregnancies blossom into new life, but they strive to see entire families blossom into spiritually healthy homes through counseling from God’s Word.
In 2012, the number of divorces in Chile exceeded the number of marriages for the first time. This pattern repeated itself as recently as last year, when government sources recorded 10,000 more divorces than marriages. By far the number one reason for divorce in Chile is infidelity.
Then there are the heart-breaking stories of trauma and abuse that are pervasive throughout the city—like that of a new-born baby in intensive care with syphilis because, unknown to her mother, the father had been carrying on an affair. Or the 8-year-old girl who suffered repeated sexual abuse from a trusted adult. Or the teenage daughter and her mother, both pregnant at the same time and by the same man (the mother’s boyfriend.)
FLORECE staff desire to enter into the broken lives of those in their city and offer biblical and family counseling, prenatal care, and abstinence education to meet the complex needs of those around them. “Crisis pregnancy centers,” FLORECE director Stephanie Garcia says, “are places where the pieces are compassionately put back together when people’s lives fall apart.”
“Crisis pregnancy centers,” FLORECE director Stephanie Garcia says, “are places where the pieces are compassionately put back together when people’s lives fall apart.”
This work isn’t easy in light of the culture in Iquique, where moral decay and promiscuity are commonplace. The FLORECE ministry is working to expand its pro-life efforts by connecting with young men and women, before the consequences of their actions lead to crisis, through abstinence education in local schools. Sadly, two recent news stories emerged of young women who in their desperation, attempted to have clandestine late-term abortions using chemical concoctions. One baby died and the other remains on a ventilator, with both mothers legally prosecuted.
Though the heartbreak of these stories is real, so is the hope that FLORECE provides.
When a “FLORECE baby” was born to a mother who came to the center for guidance, she sent a heartfelt note to the staff. “Friends from FLORECE,” she wrote, “I share that today my baby was born at 5:45 a.m. We are both well and very thankful for what you were and are in my life. Now my son will have the knowledge of faith that I so desired to show him.”
Recently two generous gifts provided the monies needed to purchase an ultrasound machine so that FLORECE could expand its outreach even more. To do so, however, the Chilean government requires certain building modifications to meet medical standards.
“Purchasing our existing or similar property has become an urgent need to proceed with providing ultrasounds,” Stephanie shares. “We are specifically praying for God’s provision of a permanent home for FLORECE, and for a full-time Spanish-speaking Biblical counselor. With the legalization of abortion in Chile, the need is greater than ever.” ▪
LEARN HOW you can care for women in crisis, like Cristina—click here.
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