Fire destroys Little Rock pregnancy center, but it is already rising from its ashes


When Nicole Lashbrook, Executive Director of Arkansas Pregnancy Resource Center, received a phone call on May 20 from a board member indicating that a motion detector had gone off in the office, she assumed it was only the Sunday cleaning crew . She was shocked to stop at the center that evening to see fire trucks, community leaders and news anchors surrounding the building where her ministry has been located for the past decade.

“We had been in this place for almost 10 years, so when the fire was there we were like ‘Oh my gosh this is our job,’” said Lashbrook.

The fire, which was deemed accidental by the fire marshal’s office, destroyed everything in the building: the centre’s ultrasound, all of its medical supplies, all office equipment and Baby Boutique donations. Even an authentic piece signed by Mother Theresa donated to the center and hung in Lashbrook’s office was burned in the fire.

“Everything has been completely lost, Lashbrook said. “We are really starting from scratch. “

Yet the biggest loss was the location of the center in Little Rock, directly across from the abortion center, Little Rock Family Planning, which, thanks to the United States Supreme Court, has become the only center for state abortion just days after the fire.

Tuesday May 29, the Supreme Court refused to hear a challenge to an Arkansas abortion law that requires any facility performing chemical abortions to contract with a physician who has hospital admitting privileges. As a result, Planned Parenthood of Arkansas has stopped performing chemical abortions at its Little Rock and Fayetteville sites.

Today, Little Rock Family Planning is the only facility providing abortions, not only in Little Rock but throughout Arkansas.

“If anyone wants an abortion in the state of Arkansas, they will have to go to the abortion center, which is located where we were before the fire, Lashbrook said. “Our ministry has found it very important to always be in front of the abortion facility. We wanted to be that last place for women changing their minds so it was very useful and strategic for us.

In fact, the ministry began in 1987 as a group of prayer warriors on the sidewalk just outside the abortion facility. In 2008, with nearly 20 regular prayer warriors on the sidewalk, the ministry partnered with Heartbeat International, hired staff and opened a pregnancy center across from the abortion clinic.

Today, hundreds of clients flock to the Arkansas Pregnancy Resource Center for pregnancy tests, ultrasounds and STI tests. In 2017, the center served a total of 385 clients with 1,200 total visits.

Prior to the fire, the center, which was looking to expand, purchased a healthy relationship prevention education program for use in schools and implemented a program SaveOne postabortion recovery group.

For Lashbrook and his team, the fire certainly accelerated their expansion.

“I guess that’s God’s way of saying, ‘You can do it, and you’re doing it now. It’s not a three-year plan. It’s an immediate plan, ”Lashbrook said.

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After the fire, the center operated in Lashbrook’s kitchen for a week until a church offered them free office space for six months.

“My son who was out of school during the summer said to me, ‘These women are in my kitchen. I’m trying to have breakfast. It wasn’t that fun, ”Lashbrook said. “We had some help from the church and everyone was very grateful. “

Now Lashbrook says his center plans to move to a new location in Septemberagain, right next to the abortion facility.

In the meantime, they’re using a new mobile unit they bought from Save the Storks in October and opened in January. Another timely resource is the full-time development manager the center hired on the Friday before the fire.

Despite all that has been lost, Lashbrook finds peace in the fact that the fire occurred on Pentecost Sunday.

“Pentecost Sunday, when the Holy Spirit comes upon us to help us evangelize, to help us fulfill the mission of the Gospels, for us it was God ordained,” she said. “So since then so many little miracles have happened that have really made it stronger that everything will be fine. “

The Arkansas Pregnancy Resource Center now has a rebuilding campaign called “Out of the ashes”To raise funds for their new location and support the mobile ultrasonic vehicle in the meantime.

Tweet this: This pregnancy center was destroyed by an accidental fire in May. Now they are rising from their ashes. #anti-abortion

“It was a wonderful experience that we had such support from the community and it really is that platform for us. From these ashes, something better comes, ”said Lashbrook. “It’s just going to help us rebuild something stronger. This is really what God wants us to be.

Heartbeat International, a network of more than 2,500 local pregnancy support centers around the world, including the Arkansas Pregnancy Resource Center, accepts donations to disaster-affected pregnancy centers through its HALO fund. To make a gift today, click here.

In the aftermath of the fire, Lashbrook says his center is now being reborn “from its ashes.” | Courtesy of: Nicole Lashbrook

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