The day 18-year-old Jenelle found out she was pregnant, she told her mom, “I know where we need to go.” She’d heard an ad on the radio for the Okanagan Valley Pregnancy Care Centre (OVPCC), Kelowna, B.C.
When they walked in, executive director Theresa White asked Jenelle how she was feeling. “Scared and lost,” she answered.
“And Theresa told me, ‘Jesus doesn’t want you to feel that way. He wants you to know that he will take care of you, that this is a miracle and everything happens for a reason,’” recalls Jenelle. “It was wonderful!”
When Jenelle and her mom realized OVPCC was a Christian organization, they both said, “This is where we need to be.”
Jenelle’s mom raised their family at Maple Ridge (B.C.) Community (MB) Church, but since moving to Kelowna, they hadn’t found a church.
The recent loss of Jenelle’s brother’s child rocked their family’s faith.
“We weren’t turning to God for answers,” says Jenelle, “but when I found out I was pregnant, there was nowhere else to go.”
Throughout Jenelle’s pregnancy, OVPCC offered her maternity clothes and somebody to talk to. “I had bad morning sickness and wasn’t able to work a lot, but I always knew if I needed anything – groceries, a gas card or a sweater that would fit me – they’d be there.” She took their cooking classes, first aid training and parenting course.
“When Synnovae was born, the care centre was one of the first places I took her,” says Jenelle. “She still loves seeing her name on their wall.” All newborns connected to OVPCC receive a baby gift basket, and Theresa would look through donated baby clothes for items she thought would be perfect for Synnovae.
Jenelle wants other young mothers to know “OVPCC is a place you can go with no shame, no judgment, just complete acceptance. They care so much, and they want to see you succeed.”
Jenelle and Synnovae, now five years old, have begun attending Theresa’s church, Kelowna Gospel Fellowship (MB). “The way people greet you, you feel God; he’s there,” says Jenelle.
“I’m dealing with medical issues, feeling overwhelmed” says the full-time legal administration student. “I need to get back to church, to commit myself.”
“I need God. He’s the answer and always has been,” says Jenelle. “In times of chaos, we need him the most.”
You can hear more of Jenelle’s story in this video interview with KGF pastor Mike Penninga, which launched the church’s annual Baby Bottle Campaign fundraiser for the care centre.