In 1986, my world came crashing down when the nurse told me, “Congratulations, you’re pregnant.” Words that were intended to bring happiness and joy, brought fear and devastation. As a 20 year old, unmarried, Christian couple, my fiancé and I were so afraid of what people would think of us and of losing my college scholarship, we chose to have an abortion. Believing the lie that everything would be ok and no one would have to know, we buried our secret, never speaking of it.
How it all began...
Tim and Debbie Shultz, Founders
We married the next year and had our first child. The joys of motherhood were blemished by the barrage of internal accusations, including “You’ll never be a good mother,” and “You don’t deserve this baby.” Believing these lies, the weight of our decision became heavier and heavier.
A key foundational element of our marriage - trust - had been shattered, and so our marriage began to deteriorate. God blessed us with two more children, but the baggage of guilt and shame was a wedge in our relationship that I couldn’t see past. Divorce was not an option, Tim and I were merely co-existing in the same household.
In 1997, God transformed my husband’s life, through the death of a close friend. As we both began seeking God in deeper measures, a healing began and we grew closer together.
As I actively pursued God in new ways, I felt like there was a wall in my spirit. This wall was separating me from Him. When I asked Him what the wall was, He gently answered, “You need to forgive yourself for the abortion.” At that moment, I forgave myself, and the wall came tumbling down!
However, bound by the secret that shackled me on the inside, I still was not willing to tell others about my past.
Not long after, I attended a weekend women’s retreat and God met me there in a truly powerful way. As the leaders were praying over me, taking authority over the spirit of heaviness and shame, I began to weep uncontrollably. It was as if 15 years of poison that had been bottled up inside was pouring out of me through my tears. I immediately wanted to share with the group about the abortion and what God had done. He completely took away all guilt, shame, and heaviness. He brought healing, forgiveness, and freedom! The devil no longer had a hold on me. I was FREE!
As I sought the Lord regarding His plan for my healed life, He showed me a sea of women, as far as I could see. He spoke very clearly, “All of these women are hurting from the pain of abortion, and I want to use you to help them find healing.”
As a result, I began volunteering at a local pregnancy resource center as a peer counselor. Three years later, God called me and Tim to start a pregnancy center, focusing on reaching women who are facing an unintended pregnancy and considering abortion, or being pressured to abort. Also, He called us to help those who have already had an abortion to find the same healing and freedom that I have.
Through much prayer and support from our church family, on July 2, 2007, we began Lifetime Pregnancy Help Center, inspired by Psalm 30:5, “His anger lasts only a moment, but His favor lasts a lifetime.”
After 15 months of prayer, paperwork, making connections, raising funds, training volunteers/board members, searching for and remodeling our facility, we opened on October 20, 2008. Thanks to our faithful staff, volunteers, board members, supporters and prayer partners we have ministered to almost 600 pregnancy test clients, the majority at-risk for abortion, empowering them with accurate information, embracing them in a caring atmosphere, and encouraging them to receive Christ’s love and destiny for their lives.
Understanding that we can be more effective in helping our patients make a life-affirming decision, we began our transition to offer ultrasound services in the fall of 2013. During the 8 month journey through the conversion process, with the guidance of NIFLA, we learned and applied Best Practices, hired our Nurse Manager, secured our Medical Director, completed training, and received generous donations from local churches and organizations to purchase a new laptop ultrasound machine. As a result of this team effort, we are thrilled to see a patient’s face light up when she sees her unborn baby’s heart beating on the big screen, connecting her mother’s heart to her precious baby.
Three years later, God provided a beautiful, state-of-the-art Mobile Medical Unit, along with compassionate staff, in order to take our life-saving services to the streets of our community. Since April, 2017, our Medical Missionaries are effectively serving the Springfield area, offering convenient, quality sexual health services on the MMU, meeting our patients where they are.
In 2019, God provided a wonderful, passionate new Executive Director, Julie Korell, for me to pass the baton! Tim and I have moved to Tennessee to care for his 91 year old parents, and we are being led into full-time abortion recovery ministry to help more women, men and families heal after abortion. We are thrilled and excited about the future of First Step Women's Center with Julie at the helm and for our family!
We are thankful to be celebrating 12 YEARS of hope and healing at First Step, and for the INCREDIBLE support and efforts of God's people!
TOGETHER, we ARE making a difference.
Debbie Shultz, Founder & Board Chair
United for Life: A united group of pro-life organizations in Springfield that have agreed that together:
we will be God's love with our sisters in Springfield
we will save babies and their mothers in ways we could never do, working apart
we will create new ways to advance the culture of life here in central Illinois
As a Care Net affiliate, Lifetime is part of a network of well-respected pregnancy and health centers that uphold a high standard of care.
The National Institute of Family and Life Advocates (NIFLA) is a charitable 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization which exists to provide life-affirming pregnancy help centers the best legal education, consultation, and training possible.