PRC dinner a big success last week

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

By Karen Hall


The big meeting room at the Lewisburg Rec Center was packed with at least 250 people last Thursday as the In His Image Pregnancy Resource Center held its annual benefit dinner.

Executive Director Shirley Lowe stated in an email, "The receipts were $13,065, with receipts prior to the event, but due to the event, are (an) additional $2,595, bringing it to a total of $15,560. There were also pledges for future receipts not included in these totals."

People probably would have attended, and pledged just as much, but this year the PRC's event had the benefit of a really special speaker, Sheila Harper, founder of SaveOne.

"I'm so impressed with the turnout," exclaimed Harper. "Shirley, you are a rock star!"

Harper told the crowd her own story, starting in 1985, when she was a 19-year-old in Chattanooga, who got pregnant, and chose abortion. She said she was struck by the faces of the other women in the recovery room that day: "None of us looked happy."

For seven years after that fateful day, Harper said, she was out of control, using drugs, alcohol, and shopping sprees to keep her mind numb. She even attempted suicide.

Then, while driving, she heard a radio ad for a clinic offering a class for women suffering from abortion.

"I thought I was the only one," she exclaimed. "I will always be indebted to pregnancy centers. I got back with God and He forgave me. It was liberating."

Harper went on to teach a class herself, but when she and her husband moved to Nashville she thought maybe that phase of her life was over. Not a bit of it -- she got back into teaching, and wrote her first book, a guide to help the women in the class.

Then men started asking her for the book, too, and she realized, "Loss of fatherhood is unnatural. We have to invite men back into this subject. It's an atrocity what we have done to these fathers! The pain is still the same, and the pain is great."

So she wrote a book for men too.

Harper went on to say, "Christians have to take this issue back from politics. We have to reach out and love them back to Jesus. We must allow God's word to heal the gaping wound, and politics will follow US."

Right now, however, abortion is a key issue in Tennessee, with an amendment on the November ballot that would bring the Constitution back to neutral on the issue of abortion. This would allow legislation to protect women, for instance, mandating a 24 or 48-hour waiting period before an abortion, requiring informed consent to the procedure, or instituting strict licensing requirements for clinics.

"It should be a little bit harder" to get an abortion, asserted Harper, urging her audience to vote "yes" on Amendment 1.

Similar legislation has already been passed in surrounding states, forcing some clinics to close, and making Tennessee an "abortion destination."

Harper praised the people attending the dinner. She said when she got involved in Chattanooga, she learned that the pregnancy resource center which put on the radio commercial held a banquet to raise money for it.

"I wanted to thank those people because they reached me," she said, tearfully. "God worked through their giving. They reached out to people who are hard to love. God multiplies what we do, and He loves that you are here."

"Thank you Sheila for those inspiring words," said PRC Board Chairman Mike Sherrell when the applause subsided. "There is another choice besides abortion, thanks to the center."

He went on to explain the PRC's next goal is training technicians to use the ultrasound machine they were given so the pregnant women who are thinking of abortion can see life growing and thus be less likely to "murder that baby."

"The people of this area have the biggest hearts when it comes to supporting a good cause," Sherrell continued, noting that money is always welcome, but volunteering time and labor is also acceptable.

"Shirley will give you something to do," he assured listeners.