I’m Christie Russell, the Executive Director of the Selah Center (TSC). I have lived in Lake Country for 15 years with my husband Ryan and our four children. We have had the privilege of serving this community through the local church. I’m a graduate of Averett College with a Bachelor’s in Global Marketing Management, and a Master’s in Biblical Counseling from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. I homeschool our children, teach piano lessons, and lead worship through music with my husband at Waters Edge Community Church. Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine that God would ask me to join Him in this work.
Over the years in this community, there have been so many conversations about life around my kitchen table. I’ve talked with teens about the trials of becoming a young woman, with young moms struggling to provide for their little ones, with women who are hurting from past abortions, and with women who have found themselves in a pregnancy they did not intend to happen. So many conversations, so many decisions made; so many questions, so many hurts. I believe Jesus is the answer. I believe He is the answer because He is my answer in my moments of crisis. He calmed my longing heart years ago when I surrendered to the truth that He loved me and had already showed that love on the cross. His blood covered the heartache I caused, the relationships that I had broken, the hurts that I carried because of wrongs done to me. He freed me from me and set me on a path that He is making straight for His glory on a daily basis. It is from these conversations, from these precious faces that have cried, grieved, questioned, found freedom, or just walked away because it was too much, that the seed for the Selah Center began to take root.
A few years ago, Toby DeBause, Executive Director of The Keim Centers in Tidewater, shared with our congregation about the work God had been doing, and is still doing, in the Tidewater Area. At the close of his talk, when the BIG ASK was coming, he told us to keep our money and begin our own Pregnancy Help Center. “WHAT?” “Start our own?” Then he shared the statistics in our county: One in seven pregnancies ends in abortion, and 46.9% of children born in our county are born into single parent homes. The numbers alone speak to the need for help in our community. But these are not just numbers on paper. These are women who have chosen to end their pregnancies and are now walking around the grocery store, sitting in our church pews, and cheering for their other children on the soccer and baseball fields. These are moms who are doing the best that they can to raise their kids on the limited resources they are receiving. Resources not limited to financial care, but encouragement and support, real wisdom in what God meant for parenthood to be for all men and women. These were the faces of the women who had entrusted their stories to me around my kitchen table. Now was the time to join God in the work He was beginning in Lake Country.
Unfortunately, these numbers and stories are not exclusive to Lake Country. In recent months the story broke about Planned Parenthood selling aborted baby parts. Marriage and family are terms being defined differently than our Creator intended. The question of “personhood” is a new discussion that is beginning in our culture. One in three women in America has experienced the pain and heartache of abortion. Four out of ten children are born to single parent homes, while one in four is being raised in a single parent home. As we began our research, we were not overwhelmed by these statistics. Jesus told us that this world was falling apart, but He promised that HE would never leave us and that He was making everything new. The Selah Center desires to be the place where the “being made new process” can begin. We are a place where a woman can come, be heard, and know that someone cares about her–that Christ cares for her.
At the Center we will offer alternatives to abortion. We will offer pregnancy and parenting classes. As women and men attend these classes, they will earn “boutique bucks” that can be cashed in for maternity and baby items. For those who choose to make an adoption plan, we will refer them to agencies that will lovingly guide them through the process. We will offer abortion recovery classes to help those who are struggling with the pain and heartache of abortion find real hope and healing.
It takes immense courage to stand up to your past and seek help and healing. If you have been carrying the heartache of abortion, we are here to love you, hear you, cry with you and offer the hope of Christ for real healing. Seek us out. If you are in an unplanned pregnancy, or you need encouragement and support in your planned pregnancy, we are here for you.
We need the support of the entire community to make this vision a reality. TSC needs the prayers of all believers and lovers of LIFE. We are seeking 135 financial partners of $25 a month. We have opportunities for volunteers. Please find our volunteer application on our website. Let’s stand together as we Love LIFE in Lake Country.
The Selah Center’s board includes Dr. John (Bo) Bohannon, Kimberly Bright, and myself (Christie Russell). We have 10 volunteers who are serving with a deep passion for LIFE and love for this community. The Selah Center is located at 403 Virginia Ave in Clarksville, VA, between the Pizza Pub and United Country in the Lake Centre. Visit the rest of our site, LIKE our Facebook page, or give us a call at 434-738-3576 for more information. Please join us in LOVING LIFE IN LAKE COUNTRY.