Knitted Together: Ministry’s Generational Impact

This past February at the Love Walk, three women whose stories have been intertwined for multiple decades crossed paths once more. Three unique experiences combine into one beautiful story that testifies of the work God has done and continues to do through Assurance.

Left to right- Beth McDonald, Patty Gilpin, Heidi McDonald, George Gilpin

Beth: “That their hearts may be encouraged, being knit together in love, to reach all the riches of full assurance of understanding and the knowledge of God’s mystery, which is Christ.” Col. 2:2. God used Assurance to knit His plan that would impact my life for generations to come. During my senior year in high school, I met a man and fell in love. I felt someone finally cared about me. All I wanted was to be loved; I would have done anything not to lose that. When he asked me to “show” him that I loved him, I did. Four months after graduating from high school, I found myself in an unplanned pregnancy. My own life had started out unplanned and in crisis, but what affected me most was the destructive pattern of addiction and abuse, which I found myself falling into. God used this precious child growing inside me to save me from a self-destructive life. He showed me what real love is—that He loved me enough to give His only Son.

But I was still in crisis! When I told the biological father I was pregnant, he told me if I didn’t terminate the pregnancy, he would leave me, which he did. My father also told me to get an abortion because “No man will ever love you with another man’s child.” Despite pressure to abort, I knew that wasn’t an option for me; however, I didn’t know what was next after choosing life. One day, I saw a program called “Save A Baby,” which shared information about a local crisis pregnancy center, Women for Life (known now as Assurance), but the pregnancy center had not opened yet. In my desperation for help, I began calling different pro-life centers for help. They advised me to quit work and take government assistance—not something I wanted to do. Though it was not yet open, a friend encouraged me to contact Women for Life. I met two wonderful women, Patty Gilpin and Ann Wilkinson. Patty went with me to my first OB appointment. I spent a lot of time with Patty; she became a dear friend and mentor. On July 7, 1985, I delivered the most beautiful baby girl, Heidi. She was the joy of my life! I had the weight of medical bills and haunting thoughts that I would be a single mom raising Heidi alone, but God was still at work, knitting a plan in place. Through incredible generosity from multiple individuals and my church, the financial burden of my pregnancy was lifted, but what meant the most is how Patty, Ann, the doctors, and several others showed me Christ’s love in their unconditional love for me (John 13:34-35).

The pattern God was knitting did not include single motherhood and lack of a father for Heidi! Shortly after having Heidi, I met a loving man. He loved us deeply and asked me to marry him and to adopt Heidi. Patty’s children were in our wedding; we have been happily married for 32 years. God took one frayed thread of yarn and beautifully knitted together the assurance of His love for me. The impact that Assurance has had upon my life will have a ripple effect for generations to come! [/box]

Patty: At this year’s Love Walk, God sent a memorable surprise when I glanced up, and there was Beth, the second girl to receive services from the Pregnancy Center before it technically opened in March 1985. As we hugged, I opened my eyes to see her “product of conception,” Heidi, a beautiful young lady and current volunteer with Assurance. This was the nutshell of our ministry and the indescribable gift God had given me on this day. This recent winter’s cold, snowy days reminded me of the year Beth came to us. She had an appointment with Dr. Hicks one snowy day, I was to meet her there. My husband warned me of snow drifts and told me not to go to Clay’s Mill extended, but I chose to go this route since it was the closest way to meet Beth. As I turned on Clay’s Mill, I noticed a man stopping traffic. I impatiently told him I had to go through. He said to look in front of me where a car was buried under snow. As I sat there and prayed, the person buried in the snow was attempting to get his door open while yelling my name. It was my children’s youth minister, Brewster McLeod, stuck in the snow, and he had the message notes Wayne Smith was waiting for at Kerr Bros., where he was to perform a funeral. There was no way to dig the car out in time; I was the only available person to deliver the message to Wayne. I told the person at Kerr Bros to call Dr. Hicks’ office and let him know I was on my way. God met Wayne’s need for his written material, and I made the appointment with Beth. The following Sunday, Wayne encouraged women to obey their husbands except when the Holy Spirit is instructing them otherwise, as HE was when I took Clay’s Mill. George’s advice continues to be trumped every now and then by the Holy Spirit.

Beth’s wedding: Left to right, Patty’s children Chad & Cora, then baby Heidi.

Beth was determined to do the things that she needed to do to provide for her baby girl. She grew spiritually, worked hard, and had many people praying for her. Beth experienced God’s mercy; his provisions through others, and the love of God demonstrated in miraculous ways. Beth met a Christian gentleman who loved people as he loved the Lord. He and Beth were married in August 1985, with Heidi being a part of their ceremony. Heidi quickly won the hearts of family members on both sides of the family; no one could imagine life without this miracle. Everyone around Beth watched as God turned ashes into beauty! God has continually blessed me for my involvement, and I am confident this is an eternal blessing! I can only imagine what is waiting for our faithful staff over the years as they serve daily, showing Jesus Christ to all who walk through the doors. On behalf of our Lord, I want to say, “Thank you.” 


Birth announcement for baby Heidi

Heidi: Crisis Pregnancy Centers have always been held in high esteem as I was growing up. As a young child, I heard how my momma found out she was in a crisis pregnancy and how, in a vulnerable state, she saw a commercial of Assurance’s services, at that time known by another name, and called them before their doors had officially opened. I heard how she was welcomed in and loved in ways she didn’t know existed. For my momma, abortion wasn’t an option, but she didn’t know what her options were. She was encouraged by relatives and my biological father to abort me and told that hope for a future family was void, saying, “No man could love another man’s child.” Despite these negative influences, she chose life and began to look for support. She found Assurance and the hope to continue to press forward for herself and me, her unborn daughter.

My momma always spoke highly of Mrs. Patty Gilpin, one of the founding members of the Pregnancy Center back in 1985. She had been influential in encouraging my momma in those hard and trying months. My momma began to hope for a glorious future with her daughter rather than loneliness, poverty, and despair. Indeed, the Lord had a much bigger and glorious plan for her than she could ever have anticipated! A little while after I was born, my momma met my daddy, who fell in love with us both! By the time I had reached the ripe old age of one year old, I had two parents who loved me and a daddy who legally adopted me and made me his own daughter! Mrs. Patty’s children were in my momma’s wedding, and it is such a testament of how good the Lord is and how His plans are beyond what we could ask or think—even in crisis. I’m so thankful for the part Assurance had to play in my mother’s life and, in turn, mine.

Momma was always diligent to serve in our local crisis pregnancy centers. When I moved back to Lexington as an adult, I was eager to join in the endeavors of the Crisis Pregnancy Center, which had been instrumental in my momma’s and my life! I wanted to give back in whatever ways I could and to join these women and men who fight for both the temporary and eternal life of their clients! I see them in the trenches, faithfully clinging to the Gospel as they love on these men and women in crisis. They rejoice over those who are choosing life for their children and weep for those whose hearts are yet hardened while praying to the Lord on their behalf! They are living out the Gospel in ways many of us could only imagine! In volunteering at Assurance, I have seen firsthand how they have been faithful in following the example of their Savior. They offer themselves up as a sweet savor to the Lord (2 Cor. 2:15), and I pray that their fragrance rubs off on me so I can be a “Mrs. Patty” who loves on someone like my momma and sees the next generation of Christ’s children serving Him!

Patty Gilpin continues in active support of Assurance, now having witnessed 33 years of miracles. Heidi serves at Assurance as a hotline volunteer and regularly cleans our clinic and offices. When her mother Beth is in town visiting, she joins Heidi helping to clean and attends events like the Love Walk, which took place earlier this year. All three of these women serve as a walking testament to the goodness and faithfulness of our Heavenly Father to the generations.