By: Heidi Matzke, Executive Director of Alternatives Pregnancy Center
Growing up in a Christian home, I knew my great worth as a daughter of God from an early age. But at some point, I started to believe the lie that culture impresses upon women: that their worth and value stem from what they wear, how they look, and how smart they are.
Because I believed those lies, I chose to live somewhat of a promiscuous life while in junior high and high school.
When I met my future husband in tenth grade, he reminded me of my value and worth and treated me with godly respect – respect I no longer had for myself. I married him seven years later, and I am still in awe at how God rescued me from myself.
This was particularly evident to me when my sister became pregnant at 17. The day we were supposed to leave for college, she came home from a doctor’s appointment and collapsed on the floor. When I asked what her problem was, she said, “I’m pregnant.” I’ll never forget that moment. It was humbling to recognize that just a few years earlier, it could have been me in her place.
With the help of Alternatives Pregnancy Center in Denver, our family walked through my sister’s unplanned pregnancy together, experiencing firsthand what it meant to live according to our Christian and pro-life beliefs. Today, I am so thankful for my 21-year-old nephew who pastors youth in a church in downtown Denver.
Looking back at that situation, I can see that God was preparing me for what He had planned for my life.
Four years ago, I was asked to become the executive director of a local pregnancy center in Sacramento, where I now live with my husband and three children. Its name is also the Alternatives Pregnancy Center (APC).
This new calling seemed like too much for me. I didn’t know the first thing about leading a pregnancy center. But God reminded me that anything I willingly choose to lay down on the altar for God's glory will always be blessed and rewarded.
So I said “yes.”
Early on, I often reminded God of how unfit I was for this position. He agreed and said, "You're absolutely right, Heidi, you have no idea what you are doing, so you'd better be face down before me every day fasting and praying and waiting for my lead. And when I make this ministry successful, you get no credit for its success other than the fact that you walked in obedience to my calling.”
When I came to APC, we had two employees, no nurse, and only one payroll left before our doors would close.
But God was faithful.
Today we have nine employees, a physician assistant, four registered nurses trained in ultrasounds, and a mobile clinic. We also just expanded our physical clinic because of God’s financial provision. This year, we will be equipped to offer many of the service Planned Parenthood claims to provide to women (minus abortion and contraceptives) including prenatal services and OB/GYN services up to 25 weeks of pregnancy free of charge. We are privileged to serve women facing unplanned pregnancies by offering both free material resources and the free grace of the Gospel.
Through leading APC, I've learned what it means to lay down my own desires for my future. I've learned to deny myself, pick up my cross, and obediently follow Christ regardless of the cost.
It’s that desire to obey God that led me to the steps of the U.S. Supreme Court. On March 20, the Court heard arguments in National Institute of Family and Life Advocates v. Becerra, a challenge to a California law that forces pro-life pregnancy centers (like APC) to advertise for the abortion industry.
This law directly contradicts what God has called me to do, which is why I am publicly advocating against it. Engaging in the public arena is very much out of my comfort zone, just as it was out of my comfort zone to start leading APC. But if I’ve learned anything, it’s that when God calls, you follow.
What we believe will always dictate how we live our lives. I desire to live my life in full surrender to Jesus Christ every day wherever it leads me – whether it be to the helm of a pregnancy center or the steps of the Supreme Court.