Calvary Chapel Old Bridge: Saving Babies & Helping Women in New Jersey—Part 1
Story by Margot Bass
Photos by Tom Price
This is Part 1 of a two-part story about the active pro-life ministry of Calvary Chapel Old Bridge, NJ. It first ran in the Winter 2021 issue of Calvary Chapel Magazine, Issue 86. Part 2 of this story picks up as ministry leaders discuss helping women who have begun chemical abortions and how CCOB lovingly assists women after they choose life.
In March 2020, Aaliyyah Oglesby was facing an unplanned pregnancy. “I was miserable, heartbroken, and I didn’t know what to do,” the New Jersey teen admitted. She planned to schedule an abortion for March 13. “Then the whole world shut down. It was like the COVID-19 pandemic saved me and my baby,” she added.
Aaliyyah had kept her pregnancy a secret from everyone. As a Christian, she knew her relationship with Jesus Christ needed to be restored. “I was very bitter. I got to the point where I was angry at the world, at everybody. I couldn’t look at myself in the mirror, I was so ashamed.” She felt alienated from God, knowing she was “deep in sin”, having had a sexual relationship before marriage. “I knew abortion was wrong, but I thought my life was over and that the only way I could fix this was if I got an abortion.”
Family issues led her to be placed into the home of Ray and Ruthie Dash in Newark, NJ. Ray is the senior pastor of Calvary Chapel affiliate The Rock Christian Fellowship in Newark. The couple prayed with her regularly, yet she still considered abortion. Then in June, after hearing a teaching at church, she knew she had to keep her baby. “It made me realize that [abortion] was one of the most selfish things I wanted for myself. Even if I didn’t have everything, I had a baby, and I knew he was going to be amazing.” Ruthie introduced her to Debbie Biskey, director of Calvary Chapel Old Bridge, NJ’s, Bridge Women’s Center—and to “Hannah”, the mobile medical unit of the ministry.
Over 70 women, many on their way to have an abortion, accepted the offer of a free ultrasound and opted to choose life after seeing their baby on screen. Calvary Chapel Old Bridge, NJ, purchased the ultrasound unit, “Hannah”, last year and is now investing in another unit.
On board, Aaliyyah “met” her baby boy through a free ultrasound. “Debbie told me the baby was doing great and that she was there for me. I felt welcomed and loved in that unit that day,” Aaliyyah acknowledged. Debbie connected her with a doctor who would deliver her baby for free and helped her get insurance to cover hospital costs. Her baby, Jayden, was born on September 27. The Bridge Women’s Center, along with a network of other churches, has helped meet all of her practical needs. She attends The Rock and is growing in the Lord. “I am really excited to share with people my story, and I just want to inspire a lot of people, to let them know: Trust in the Lord. He has you,” Aaliyyah exclaimed confidently.
My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth. The Lord shall preserve your going out and your coming in from this time forth, and even forevermore. Psalm 121:2, 8
Sara Zaki and her husband, Matthew, view their baby on the screen as Ultrasound Technician Vanesa Formoso and RN Manager Jeannie Orsag (right) oversee the examination.
Hannah, Saving Lives
Hannah opened her doors in late May, travelling to some of New Jersey’s roughly 76 abortion facilities up to six days a week—gently, lovingly, and without judgement sharing the truth about abortion, offering women in crisis pregnancy a real choice, and making God’s grace known through the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The pandemic has slowed down some of Hannah’s destinations, including large college campuses and churches, as well as fundraising efforts.
But it hasn’t affected trips to the larger Planned Parenthood clinics, according to Debbie. “If abortion is essential health care, then we were absolutely going to be out there,” she boldly declared. As of mid-December, the lives of 70 babies have been rescued from abortion through the loving ministry of the medical staff aboard Hannah—a registered nurse, a registered medical sonographer, and counselors.
Lloyd Pulley, senior pastor of Calvary Chapel Old Bridge (CCOB), is fully invested in the church’s pro-life ministry. “We know that women who have an abortion are going to be weighted down with all sorts of guilt and shame sorting through this stuff,” he said. “We want to be there for them because many of them have been lied to. We want to bring the truth, show women some options, and let them know they’re not alone.”
Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering. But above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfection. Colossians 3:12, 14
Patti Thomas, often a lone protestor in Perth Amboy, NJ, praises God when the ultrasound unit parks in front of Planned Parenthood, knowing that the free ultrasound gives women a realistic look at their baby and that they often decide against abortion.
Debbie emphasized the importance of going directly to the abortion clinics; the unit parks near the door or across the street. “They’ve already made the appointment to have the abortion. Once she sees that door, she’s going for it. We literally have about a 2- to 5-minute window to get them on the unit. Four out of five women who get on board say Yes to life,” Debbie said. “Every time a husband or boyfriend comes on with them, they choose life. That tells us how important the man [in the relationship] is.”
Debbie shared about a married couple approaching a clinic for an abortion this past fall. “The wife went in to have the abortion, and our driver, Leo, started talking with the father for about 20 minutes, praying with him. When they finished praying, they turned around, and the wife was walking out of the clinic, got on board, and chose life.”
One woman chose life, Debbie recounted, after her boyfriend came on board with her; the staff spent four hours with them. “She’d had 11 abortions by the age of 18. She felt she had no value, and that God would never forgive her. She wondered how she could be a mother because of her past.”
Seventeen-year-old Aaliyyah Oglesby holds her son while being interviewed. She saw her baby through an ultrasound on Hannah and is thankful she chose to keep him.
Hannah is a safe place, Debbie stressed. “We just start talking to them. We say, ‘Just gather some information and know what you’re doing—that’s true choice, having all the facts.’ One of the things we hear when they come on board is, ‘Thank you for being so kind and loving towards us.’”
One woman coming for an abortion told Hannah’s staff that she had been praying for a sign from God about whether or not to keep her baby. Debbie related, “One of our intake counselors went up to her, and she started crying. We got her onboard, prayed with her, gave her an ultrasound, and she chose life.”
A Gentle Ministry of Grace
Pastor Lloyd is adamant that the ministry is not about protest of any kind. “Back in the day, a lot of pro-life ministry seemed to be a lot of yelling and screaming. I became a little burnt at some of the over-aggressive people who were feeling it was their job to show how bad these women are and how guilty they should feel. But it’s the kindness of God that leads us to repentance,” he contended.
The ultrasound and pregnancy testing unit often parks in front of Planned Parenthood clinics.
Stuart Migdon, one of the CCOB elders, had a passion to save the unborn and encouraged Lloyd. “Stu ignited our sporadic pro-life ministry, became our connection to purchase the unit, and simply inspired others to make Hannah a reality,” Lloyd remembered. Stuart produced a major film on the abortion issue called Voiceless. “It shows how one individual can inspire an entire ministry.”
Lloyd continued, “I just want to sow seed, and I think the biggest field that has been [left] unsown is the guilt of a nation; men and women who are complicit in abortion, ripe for picking by the lovely Gospel of grace. Not to shame them, bury them in guilt for what they have done, but to be there as a loving resource to rescue them from decisions they’ll regret the rest of their lives.” He marveled at a surprising result of Hannah’s work: “The powerful thing is, we’re actually getting referrals from universities … they’re actually sending some women to us. That’s just blown our minds.”
The goal is to meet the women where they are, Debbie explained. “They’re very stone-faced when they come in; there’s really not much emotion. But as soon as they see the baby on the 42-inch flat screen, they’re crying. Men will cry just as hard.”
Follow this story at Part 2 in-which ministry leaders discuss helping women who have begun chemical abortions and how CCOB lovingly assists women after they choose life.
All verses above are quoted from the New King James Version, unless otherwise noted.
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