According to a study published by Guttmacher Institute, this is the total number of abortions that were conducted in the United States in 2017. In New Jersey alone, there were more than 48,000 abortions provided in that same year, with 76 statewide facilities offering the procedure.
“I think really just grappling with the darkness of the abortion industry, this was something that was a burden of ours from the beginning,” stated Pastor Brennan Coughlin.
Coughlin, previously a high school teacher and current father of six, is the lead pastor at Fellowship Crosspoint Church in Chesterfield, New Jersey.
In 2014, Coughlin and his wife moved to the Trenton area to plant a church and share their hearts for pregnancy care ministry.
“We wanted to plant a multi-ethnic church [and] we saw a need for Gospel-proclaiming churches in the Trenton area. We also had a heart for pregnancy care ministry as well.”
Coughlin continued: “We knew there was a very large, productive – from an abortion standpoint productive – Planned Parenthood in downtown Trenton, and we wanted to be able to shine the light of the Gospel and offer hope to women who were experiencing a crisis pregnancy through a pregnancy care center.”
Six and a half short years later, Coughlin and his church saw this vision come to fruition, but not without a few changes along the way.
In June 2020, Coughlin found out that, due to the ongoing pandemic, the state-owned building his church was gathering in was going to be closed indefinitely. Around the same time, another church, outside of Trenton, was experiencing decline and would soon be without a pastor.
“In God’s sovereignty, they found out about our church and the way they put it…they said, ‘We’re a building without a church, and you’re a church without a building, so let’s talk,’” shared Coughlin.
He continued: “When this potential opportunity opened up for us to acquire a church property, we said, ‘If the Lord is going to be generous with us, we want to turn around and be generous as well.’ So, the elders and I made a commitment that if the Lord was pleased to open this door for us to walk through and acquire a church property, [then] we wanted to take a good portion of the money that we had been saving towards a building…and we felt led to give away $100,000 towards pregnancy care.”
This action of generosity was not a new concept for Coughlin or his church, as, at the time, they were learning and growing in the biblical truth of “joyful generosity.”
“In 2018 or 2019, I preached a sermon series on generosity…and we were really trying to point our people to this idea that if you are a Christian and you have experienced God’s grace, [then] the tithe should be like the basement level of generosity,” explained Coughlin.
“So, when we announced to the congregation that we felt called to give away $100,000, I mean, there was like existential tension, in that, we were so excited to inherit this building, but realized that the building needed a good amount of work and that $100,000 could have been put to work like that.”
However, due to their new foundation in joyful generosity, Coughlin’s congregation became excited about giving to their community.
“Because we had sort of been building the groundwork and pointing our people towards the truth of God’s Word, and how as we’re generous it’s really just the Gospel transforming us and experiencing God’s generosity…it was really exciting and energizing for our people,” he said.
During his years of ministry in the Trenton area, Coughlin has built a relationship with Chuck Swanson, the director of a local pregnancy care center called ‘Options for Women.’
“Once the merger [of the two churches] went through, I just called up Chuck and I said, ‘Chuck, we want to give you $100,000. Let’s get after this and start up pregnancy care.”
Options for Women officially opened their doors to the Trenton community in February of this year, providing a number of services for women in the area.
“It was just so cool. We rented a church office space in Trenton for six and a half years – I went to work there every day – and now that has been converted to a pregnancy care center…it’s just been so cool to see what the Lord has done.”
Coughlin continued: “They have an ultra-sound machine, they have a director, they have a nurse…they are just getting after it for God’s glory, and it’s just been so exciting to see what the Lord has done in a very short period of time.”
Coughlin also reflected on how the pregnancy care center provided a new resource for the Trenton community.
“As I talked with other community leaders in Trenton, as I talked to other nonprofits, what we came to realize was you could get pretty much any kind of free resource in Trenton…you could get a free meal, you could get a place to stay, you could get medical care…there was all kinds of resources that were in place. But what we realized was, if you were experiencing a crisis pregnancy the only place you could go was Planned Parenthood…we just really felt strongly that there needs to be another option for women experiencing a crisis pregnancy.”
Since its opening, Options for Women has become a center for not only physical, medical needs, but also spiritual, Gospel-driven needs.
“When you put the Gospel at the center of pregnancy care, you’re not only meeting physical needs but you have the opportunity to meet spiritual needs as well,” said Coughlin.
“When it comes to parenting classes and supporting women, not only during their pregnancy but after their pregnancy as well…you can have really a profound impact on the community and advance the Gospel at the same time.”
Statistics about abortions in the U.S. and New Jersey area were provided by: https://www.guttmacher.org/fact-sheet/state-facts-about-abortion-new-jersey
Listen to the podcast interview:
The “50 Stories of Transformation” series, told in honor of the Baptist Resource Network’s 50th anniversary, highlights the many ways God has moved throughout Pennsylvania, South Jersey and beyond. Your generous support of the Cooperative Program makes this ministry possible and fuels evangelism and outreach in our local churches and all over the world! Thank you!