When Kirk Walden first became involved with the pro-life movement some 30 years ago, there were 2,000 abortion clinics across the United States. Today, “there are less than 800,” he told a Monday night audience of more than 600 people. “Hope and love are back in style,” he added. “I don’t know what’s going to happen with the law (Roe vs. Wade), but I believe in the next 10 years we could see abortion become obsolete. If no one chooses abortion, the centers won’t stay open.”
Fargo is home to the only abortion clinic in North Dakota. Three states, Ohio, Missouri and Mississippi no longer have abortion clinics at all. “They have closed for lack of patient volume,” Walden said.
There’s proof right here in Grand Forks that many young women are having a change of heart. In 2014, 88 of 96 who walked through the doors of the Women’s Pregnancy Center decided to choose life rather than go through with an abortion.
Many times that change of heart comes when the mother sees the image of her developing child via ultrasound. What she sees is that at six weeks of development, the baby is already the size of a lentil. Its circulatory system has formed, the heart is beating and visible on the ultrasound, the kidneys have appeared and the cranial nerves have formed.
When seeing the ultrasound, Walden has witnessed a pregnant girl exclaiming, “I had no idea it was a baby!”
Walden, founder and President of Life Trends, an organization that works with crisis pregnancy ministries, came from Nashville, Tenn., with his accent in tow, to be guest speaker at the Grand Forks Women’s Pregnancy Center’s annual fundraising banquet in the Alerus Center.
“Listen slow because I’m from the south,” said he who is inspirational, statistical, comical and devout in his Christian faith.
As Walden was attempting to fulfill his dream of playing professional golf, he heard a sermon on the sanctity of life that changed his life. After becoming the director of a pregnancy care center he knew, “this is where I need to be.”
Today he’s one of the country’s most sought-after banquet speakers. As he shares his passion for life with audiences, he has played a major role in raising more than $25 million for America’s pregnancy help centers in the last decade.
Walden shares his personal story of overnight becoming a single dad with three small children ages 3, 5, and 7. His first wife just walked out on them and a couple days later called saying she was never coming back.
“The family of God picks up hurting people in an amazing way,” he said. “I got picked up by the family of God (at his church). They took someone who was broken and told him he still had value.” After marrying Jennifer, his second wife, two more sons have been added to their very happy family.
Picking up hurting people and educating them to make life-affirming choices that will have a positive effect on their future IS the mission of the Grand Forks Women’s Pregnancy Center.
The center opened in 1987 and just this summer moved from its downtown Grand Forks location to its beautiful new space in the Grand Cities Mall, 1726 S. Washington Street, Suite 70. It’s right across the hall from the wonderful aromas that float over from the O For Heaven’s Cakes Bakery.
Their website is: www.gfwpc.org. The phone number is: (701) 746-8866.
Lorraine Helgeson is executive director of the center, a non-profit Christian agency which serves clients ranging in age from 15 to 35 from Grand Forks and surrounding counties.
Necole Frances Johnson chairs the board. Others on the board are Destin Coles, Tana Thorfinnson, Randy Schoenborn and Carter Johnson. Members of the staff are Leah Mahlen, Rachel Gothberg, Kristi Gieseke, Medora Decker, Tamara Leetun, Suzanne Bethke, Dr. Eric Pearson and Dr. Jody Treuer.
Services offered by the clinic include pregnancy testing, first trimester ultrasounds, STI (Sexually Transmitted Infections) testing and treatment, options counseling education on the physical, spiritual and emotional effects of abortion, post abortion support, youth education services as well as prenatal classes, parenting classes, abstinence counseling and Bible study.
Nearly countless are the volunteers who give of their time to help the center’s staff. And long is the list of underwriters who generously supported and sponsored the banquet so that every dollar donated Monday night goes straight to the pro-life ministry of the center.
That total is “over $100,000,” Lorraine Helgeson said, “and our monthly giving is up so Kirk Walden really helped with that. It was so much fun. I didn’t want the evening to end.”
Women’s Pregnancy Centers, all 800 left in the country, are the only agencies I know of whose goal it is to close their doors – permanently.