The Centers for Hope reach lost through counseling, pregnancy help ministry and thrifting in Bowling Green
Published 4:28 pm Thursday, September 28, 2023
By Tessa Redmond, Kentucky Today
BOWLING GREEN, Ky. (KT) – A nonprofit that began as two separate ministries of a Kentucky Baptist Convention church is faithfully reaching the lost in Warren County.
A counseling ministry that started for members of Living Hope Baptist Church in 2016 soon expanded into the community. Local churches began asking questions about what the Center for Biblical Counseling provided.
“We are here to help your congregation, the people who are sitting in your pews, be healthy,” Brandy Moore, executive director of The Centers for Hope, would explain. “We want to help them be healthy believers, living life according to the gospel, glorifying God – because when they do that as individuals, then they do that in their marriage. Then their marriage affects other people, but then it affects their children. Then their children affect … they have their circle of influence.”
Healthier believers have a greater impact on the community, Moore added.
As the counseling center gained traction, the church opened a pregnancy resource center in 2019. Shortly after, both ministries became a separate nonprofit organization.
“Early in the spring of 2020, we were officially the Centers for Hope, which consisted of the Center for Biblical Counseling and the Center for Pregnancy,” Moore said.
As counselors worked with believers from Living Hope and surrounding congregations, ministry leadership were prompted to explore the difference between discipleship and counseling.
“Because we can’t send everybody to the counseling center who just needs to be discipled through the Word,” Moore explained.
While discipleship addresses the Christian life as a whole, biblical counseling deals with specific issues or problems in the lives of believers.
“I have sat in a room with people that are extremely strong believers, that whatever has hit them has hit them to where they just don’t feel like they can move,” Moore said. “At that point, counseling is very specific to that situation or that presenting problems. And so we attack that at the root with the gospel and then we can send them back to their church, and then that’s when their discipleship process continues.”
The Center for Biblical Counseling employs eight part-time counselors, all of whom are either certified by the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors (ACBC) or in the process of obtaining their ACBC certification. On average, the Center provides 3,800 hours of counseling each year.
And counseling services are free because “the gospel is free,” Moore noted.
In fact, everything The Centers for Hope do is built upon on the good news of Jesus Christ crucified and resurrected for sinners.
“It all comes back to the gospel because without that, we have nothing really to offer people,” Moore said.
In addition to the gospel, the Center for Pregnancy offers material resources, pregnancy tests and ultrasounds, parenting classes and mentoring relationships where client advocates can share the love of Jesus with pregnant women who lack support networks.
“Outside of the gospel being shared, I think that is one of the biggest benefits in the pregnancy center, is being able to love on these mothers like Christ loves them, and help affirm for them their role in motherhood,” Moore said.
The Center for Pregnancy speaks into the lives of approximately 300 women each year, and Moore estimated around 95% of those women are parenting-minded and either don’t have parenting role models or lack a biblical foundation.
“We’re not there to save everyone, but we are there to plant seeds,” Moore added. “Our job over there is to plant seeds, continue to share the gospel, love on them the way Christ would and just pray that the Holy Spirit works in their life.”
Moore thinks about John 10:10 a lot, where Jesus said: “I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.”
That life — eternal, not merely physical — is the big picture driving ongoing ministry at The Centers for Hope.
“Over in the pregnancy center there is physical life that is happening. But it’s that ministry to the mom’s heart and soul that brings about an eternal life,” Moore said. “And it’s the same ministry in the counseling center, to the heart and soul of the individuals that we walk with that brings about an eternal life.”
And that picture frames the Centers’ new thrift store, which opened on Aug. 23.
A partnership with Crosslands Community Church opened the door for a community project that would both support the Centers financially and provide inroads within the community to share the hope of Christ. Five years later, the thrift store will celebrate with a grand opening block party on Oct. 14.
“It is so much more than a store,” said Olivia Reed, the community engagement coordinator for The Centers. “The gospel has been shared multiple times. Physical needs have been met multiple times.”
Moore added that while the thrift store helps financially support The Centers, meeting spiritual needs is their goal. “This is just an avenue to bring them in the door so they can encounter people who love the Lord and love them for who they are,” she said.
And those who work at the thrift store are already building relationships with people in the community, forging pathways to gospel conversations.
“We know their names and we know parts of their stories and we chat with them and it matters to them so much. And that gets lost a lot of the time in our world and in our culture and in our busy,” said Reed. “And so that is sometimes the biggest witness or vessel to share the gospel…to know somebody’s name and ask them how they are, truly. They’ll tell you if you ask them.”
Learn more about The Centers for Hope at centersforhope.org.