The ProLife Team Podcast | Episode 26 with Kathy Arizmendi & Peggy Elliott with Answers for Life in Tucson, AZ | Talking About Client Weddings

The ProLife Team Podcast
The ProLife Team Podcast | Episode 26 with Kathy Arizmendi & Peggy Elliott with Answers for Life in Tucson, AZ | Talking About Client Weddings
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Listen to Kathy & Peggy talk about how they are helping clients get married.

Summary:

This is Jacob Barr and in this episode of the Pro-Life Team Podcast, I had the opportunity to speak with Kathy Arizmendi, Director of Answers for Life Pregnancy Center, and Peggy Elliott, the Assistant Director. Kathy, with her extensive background in social work and as a co-founder of the center, emphasized their innovative programs and client-focused approach. Peggy, having been with the center since 2003, shared her diverse experience in various aspects of the pregnancy center ministry.

Our discussion revolved around the unique initiative of helping clients with weddings. Kathy explained how the center assists clients who can’t afford marriage expenses, covering costs like marriage licenses and ceremonies, and providing additional support through volunteers for things like floral arrangements and photography. This effort is part of their broader mission to guide clients spiritually and support them in making life-affirming decisions.

Kathy also highlighted the importance of premarital counseling, which she personally enjoys conducting. The center’s approach integrates spiritual guidance, with an emphasis on the sanctity of marriage, into their counseling services. This comprehensive support extends to various aspects of their clients’ lives, fostering long-term relationships.

Peggy shared a heartwarming story of a client who overcame an abusive relationship and found joy in a new marriage, illustrating the profound impact of their work. The center’s close ties with churches and their focus on building relationships with clients underscore the holistic approach they take in their ministry.

In conclusion, Kathy offered advice to other centers considering similar programs, stressing the importance of board support, volunteer training, and church partnerships. Their approach not only assists in practical matters but also aims to spiritually uplift and transform the lives of their clients and their families.

#ProLifeTeamPodcast, #PregnancyCenterMinistry, #ChristianCounseling, #MarriageSupport, #SpiritualGuidance, #ClientRelationships, #ChurchPartnerships, #VolunteerEngagement, #CommunityImpact, #LifeAffirmingChoices, #Discipleship, #FamilyTransformation, #MarriageScholarshipProgram, #PremaritalCounseling, #ClientStories, #GodsBlessings, #WeddingAssistance, #TransformativeMinistry, #FaithBasedSupport.

Transcript:

The transcript was automatically generated and may contain errors.

Jacob Barr :

Welcome to the pro-life Team Podcast i’m here with Kathy and Peggy, and we’re going to talk about the idea of helping your clients get married. So Kathy, I am so glad that you and Peggy are here. Would you mind introducing yourself as if you were talking to a group of executive directors of other clinics?

Kathy Arizmendi :

So my name is Kathy Arizmendi and I’m the director of Answers for Life Pregnancy Center i’ve been a center director for about 33 years and my background is actually in social work i have a master’s in social work, so I really key in on clients, in the client needs and really excited about some innovative programs that we’ve started here at Answers for Life. I’m also one of the founders of Answers for Life Pregnancy Center, which we began in 2013.

Jacob Barr :

Awesome. And Peggy, can you introduce yourself as well, please?

Peggy Elliott :

Ok, I’m Peggy Elliott and I have been with the pregnancy center since 2003 and been working with Kathy since then i’ve done many things through the pregnancy center ministry, between the material assistance, between the medical work we do, the pregnancy center actually doing pregnancy test and counseling and training and doing a lot of those things. And I I’m currently the Assistant Director here at Answers for Life.

Jacob Barr :

Awesome So the reason why we’re doing this podcast is because I think your group is doing something, nothing short of amazing it’s yeah, it is amazing. So I want to find out what inspired you to offer a wedding the very first time like, what’s the story that goes behind off, you know, helping a client with their wedding?

Kathy Arizmendi :

Well, I love seeing clients. Don’t get to see them as much as I used to, but we have a material assistance program here so we see clients every month. Some of them we’ve seen for years so we’ve had the opportunity to build relationship with them. So when they come in, we get a chance to talk to them about Christ first of all, but also about their family situation, about their relationships. So I was just doing a material assistance appointment, as I often get to do when we’re overbooked. And this client had seen before, just we were just chatting and so I asked her, you know, her living situation, found out she was living with her boyfriend and had been living with him for about 10 years. They had several children together. And so I just asked, have you thought about getting married? And she said, oh, that they had thought about it and had talked about it. Just backing up a second, she had actually prayed to receive Christ several months prior to this and was going to church. We were discipling her again through the material assistance and just talking to her about, you know, her life and how to see her life grow spiritually. And she said, yeah, she said, you know, I’m starting to feel she didn’t use the word convicted because she didn’t know that word. But i’m starting to feel uncomfortable in this life you know, relationship that they’ve been living together 10 years i really don’t feel like this is God, what God wants us to do. So we talked about that we talked about the sanctity of marriage we talked about how God will honor and bless her family when they got married and so I said, you know, what’s standing in your way of getting married? And she said we can’t afford it. And then back in my mind, I’m thinking, OK, we’re talking thousands of dollars, we’re talking the dress and the flowers and the church. She said no, she said we can’t even afford the 83$ which is what it costs in the state of Arizona to buy a marriage license. And then on top of that, the other 80$ that they would have to pay to have a judge marry them at the courthouse. That’s why they weren’t getting married. And so as a director, that again went to the back of my mind and presented that at our next board meeting, the Board of directors meeting as a board, would you be willing to, you know, provide the finances needed so that our clients could get married i didn’t want anything standing in the way of them doing what God wanted them to do. And if it was finances, we were going to be there to help support them. And so the board agreed and went back to this client and talked to her about the program so basically what we do is we pay for the marriage license after some counseling with me and then we have a pastor who will marry them for free. And that is the use of his church. That’s premarital counseling on his part also. And so they have that. And again, it’s totally free. But then we also have other volunteers who’ve stepped up at the plate we’ve got a volunteer who actually owns a floral shop and she has provided the bouquets and the boutonnieres. Another volunteer bakes a cake somebody takes pictures at the wedding, so it becomes part of what our volunteers are doing and then the church started stepping in. We want to help we want to do this we want to, you know, provide them with a gift we want to be able to have a place for them in the fellowship hall to have a reception so it really becomes just a team effort and the clients love it and I even have a book of wedding pictures from some of the weddings that we’ve sponsored.

Jacob Barr :

When it comes to bringing someone to get premarital counseling, has that been part of this experience?

Kathy Arizmendi :

Yes, and actually I am a licensed counselor and so I really enjoy doing the premarital counseling and marriage counseling actually afterwards. So basically then I just work hand in hand with the pastor and i first introduced the couple to the concept of having their marriage we call it a marriage scholarship, having their marriage license and their ceremony paid for. But then i dig deeper than that obviously I talked to them about their relationship, how long they’ve known each other. You know, obviously that foundation of Christ is so important as we weave that into that the counselling and the biblical basis for marriage and the sanctity of marriage. So we talk about that. But again, you’ve got to remember many of these clients who are getting married are clients that we’ve known in other aspects of the ministry so it’s just not like somebody walking in, you know, off the street i want to get married. These are relationships that’s been built either through a material assistance program or through our free prenatal clinic where we get to build that relationship with them over the months. And so they’re very comfortable coming in for counseling. They’re very comfortable talking to the pastor and basically our pastor what we do is we have them actually meet here at the center with the pastor.

Jacob Barr :

Wow, that’s so beautiful it feels like all of these pieces that you’re bringing are essentially building God’s Kingdom they are, you know, helping more people get closer towards, you know, being ready for discipleship and knowing who Jesus is like if, like, all these are, it’s just an amazing tapestry of things that you’re doing. Like the marriage counseling is just equally as beautiful as helping someone get, you know, provide the wedding i mean, I think that’s, I don’t know how which one’s more important, but they’re equally exciting to hear about. So how would you describe what are your thoughts on what God, how God views what you’re doing when it helps helping people get ready to be married and helping them get married how do you think God, what’s God’s will or God’s heart on this work and idea?

Peggy Elliott :

I talk about it as we know it’s a it’s a it’s God himself blessing that marriage. I’ve talked to them about their relationship with the Lord individually, both of them. And then you want God’s blessing in your marriage because if you don’t, if you’re not getting married and God blesses that marriage, it’s like a like a triangle. God is on top and you come together and with him on top it’s like a three ring 3 strand rope you it’s very strong with God as center in their life and I think God shines down on it and he blesses it and he is very happy to be a part of that and we talk about bringing your problems and bringing your things together and praying together and going to church together. And we come from such different variations of families and relationships and different things that we come together under but when we’re when we’ve come to know the Lord and we’ve got him in our heart and we’re seeking after what God would want us to do, we seem to blend better and we seem to be able to let our guard down and know that it’s that we’re not doing it, that it’s not about me, it’s not about her. It’s not about anybody else but what is it that God wants us to do in this marriage And I like to bring it up as a as you’re not in it alone. Ok. So you’re so you’re praying you’ve got a problem, and you’ve got a problem come together and know that God is in it with you.

Jacob Barr :

So many praise the clinics seem to have. We’re, you know, we’re practically often trying to figure out how to better connect with churches, how you know, how to build those relationships. How do you think, how would you, what’s your, what’s been your experience with, you know, the wedding idea and, you know, helping someone get married how has that helped you, helped you connect to certain churches?

Kathy Arizmendi :

Well, and I think the relationship is the relationship we’ve built with this one pastor, but other pastors as well. Obviously we have a pastor on our board, but Pastor Stu, actually we call him our chaplain also because not only does he help with the weddings, he actually comes on Tuesday afternoons when we have our prenatal clinic and he prays which he with each and every couple who comes in and has a prenatal visit, he shares the gospel for those who are open to that. So this idea of having a pastor right on the center property during clinic hours has really expanded. I believe what we see accomplished through this ministry and that is obviously, yeah, we want to save babies, but we also want souls saved for the Kingdom and seeing those souls discipled. So we’re very much in tune with working with our church partners in fact, so much so that the satellite centers that we have, we have two we’re going to be opening a third next year, are on church property. So this is that having that church congregation come alongside us and become volunteers and become directors of these satellite centers, It’s just amazing what it’s been.

Peggy Elliott :

Like relationships, Yeah.

Jacob Barr :

And it seems like one of the primary when it comes to a client looking to what looking at what you say as being something that they want to trust and explore. I feel like the trust aspect is so key and it and it seems like the relationship you’re building with a client allows for that trust to you know be large enough for it to be an influence on certain decisions or for them to feel empowered to understand where they’re going based on what you know what that you know what that information you’re providing in that love and advice and that in that kind way how have how have you seen that trust that trust factor being built through this essentially a gift of a wedding how is that you know how is this might be passed the decision of choosing life this might be you or actually that’s probably another sister question is when would this come up of talking about getting married is this after someone chooses to keep the baby and has the baby, or is it something that might happen before that decision or in the middle of that decision?

Kathy Arizmendi :

Actually, we’ve had both. Ok. Yes, we have had clients who are actually pregnant, who have gotten married through this program. We’ve actually, I’ve counseled with about 19 couples out of those 1916 actually we have helped get married. So sometimes they’re, you know, in their pregnancy, sometimes it’s afterwards like this first couple, you know, again, they have been together for 10 years. And I think what it is you know, when you accept Christ as your Saviour, you realize I can’t keep living the way I’ve been living. And not only I can’t, but I don’t want to. And that’s the work of the Holy Spirit. And in part of the wedding part of the marriage is being able to talk to them about how God views marriage and no, it’s not just a piece of paper. It’s actually standing before God and saying your vows to each other. And I think so many of our clients, they might not even be able to say that, but I think so many of them want that. But in our society and our living together is kind of a norm. And so introducing them to that concept, it’s just that idea of feeling secure with somebody and building that trust i mean, marriage counseling, relationship counseling, premarital counseling, you’re really burying your soul when you’re talking to somebody about those types of issues, whether it’s with me or Peggy or somebody else. It really is a conversation that runs deep because you are being very transparent at that point when you’re talking about your relationship because we go into obviously your past. What was your parents marriage like? So many of our clients have no idea what a functional, what a godly marriage is like what a marriage where two people love and honor and respect each other. And so when I talk to them, I talk to them about the fact that, you know, marriage is a lot more than just love in fact, sometimes you don’t love each other. It’s love, it’s commitment, it’s trust, it’s respect. And those are the building blocks and those are all godly building blocks. And so that’s the beginning of what that looks like.

Jacob Barr :

So can you share a story of how you’ve seen God’s fingerprints in this? You know, with was he you say 16 or 19?

Kathy Arizmendi :

I’ve counseled with 19 people, 16 have actually followed through OK, and actually we’ve helped with the wedding.

Jacob Barr :

So can you share a story of how you’ve seen God show up, or how God’s fingerprints have been involved like what one of the stories that might come to mind, perhaps.

Peggy Elliott :

Teresa yeah, you.

Kathy Arizmendi :

Want to go first?

Peggy Elliott :

We have one that she had three daughters, 3 girls, was in a very tumultuous relationship, never got married, but it was very abusive it was. We’ve known her for a long, long time. We’ve always encouraged marriage. We’re always talking about and she she’s so respectful she says yes, ma’am, no ma’am, And she wants to do the right thing for her daughters. She finally met a young man that she went to school with and I believe they got to know each other again and she came in and said we want to get married, we want to do the right thing. And he really loves me and it was just it was a joy to see how God had taken such a broken and such a tumultuous relationship for her to have this young man come into her life and see that God really, actually brought them together they ‘d known each other before, but brought them together in a way that they were thrilled to have a beautiful marriage, thrilled to want to get married, thrilled to do what God wanted them to do. And their church also helped them. We were able to go to the wedding with a about 100 people came to the wedding, little girls were flower girls and it was just a joy to see two people come together through the relationship of us mentoring her and loving her and caring for her and seeing the joy on the girls face and the two of them and continued to see what God has been doing in their life these last few years.

Kathy Arizmendi :

In this particular client, like we said, we’ve known for years and was brought up in the foster care system so again didn’t have that foundation of godly parents to nurture. And I remember when she was in this abusive situation and I counseled with her about that, I just kept saying God has something better for you, just hang in there and she was she was a struggling Christian she was a new Christian, you know, God doesn’t want you to live like this. Just hang in there and just encouraging her to grow in her faith and just to see. And they both go to church. Their family goes to church she’s involved in Bible study and they’re on baby number three since they’ve gotten married so, you know, it’s just the joy of seeing this family come to Christ and get married and lay that foundation for their soon to be six children and seeing that these children are going to grow up in a godly home.

Jacob Barr :

So Kathy, what might you say to an executive director who’s listening to this about the idea of helping clients with that wedding step and then pre marriage counseling stuff what might you say to prepare them for the good and the you know, For the easy and the hard, the good and the bad what you know how would or how would you promote this as being something that for them to consider doing?

Kathy Arizmendi :

First, I would present it to your board and make sure you have your board on board with you because of the financial aspect, it’s not much, but there is a financial aspect to it. And then train your volunteers. All of these referrals that I’ve had, they don’t come from me. They come from our volunteer counselors as they’re talking to the clients about marriage and about, you know what their lifestyle would look like. So it’s really a lot of times it’s the volunteer counselors, bring me the name oh, I told her about the marriage scholarship program she’s so excited. And then i contact them, have them come in with the fiance and then just to have that pastor relationship so obviously then you have to work with a pastor, work with one of your supporting churches, get a pastor on board with you, and then just everything just kind of comes along i mean the flowers and the dress and the cake, and it just really becomes a celebration and it really has energized I think many of our counselors can.

Jacob Barr :

You speak to the wedding cake and the flowers that sometimes the people volunteer you know the people. Did you have donations for flowers and some of the scenarios or?

Kathy Arizmendi :

Yeah, as I said, we do have somebody, one of our counselors, who owns a flower shop and so she does the bouquets and the boutonnieres. Somebody else loves to bake and so that, you know, small wedding cake, somebody loves to take pictures. So it’s just a matter of people coming alongside and God just brought them in with their gifts, our volunteers and their gifts and then just to be able to celebrate with the client and follow up with them.

Jacob Barr :

Well, what an amazing way for someone to celebrate their gift and knowing how to bake wonderful, delicious cakes in a way that actually serves God in a deep.

Kathy Arizmendi :

Right.

Jacob Barr :

You know, very memorable way for this couple, for them to, you know, so they’re trying to help them tie that knot.

Peggy Elliott :

Everybody, everybody would love that twenty thousand dollar wedding, but they can’t do it. And if, and So what we want to do is say, you know what? We can do this. And it’s can still be beautiful it can still be precious, It can still be a blessing it can still, you know, bring family together it can still say God, I want to do this in your presence and I want your blessing and I want it. And it does change it just changed their relationships because God’s in it.

Kathy Arizmendi :

And we’ve been to wedding receptions where it was a potluck. There’s nothing wrong with having a potluck wedding reception so I mean you.

Peggy Elliott :

Do what you can.

Kathy Arizmendi :

Do and it’s it does become family and just to be a part of that’s been amazing.

Jacob Barr :

So Peggy, what’s it like to go to a wedding reception and to celebrate your client who you’ve help along the way?

Peggy Elliott :

Oh, the joy, Yeah.

Jacob Barr :

How would you describe that joy?

Peggy Elliott :

The joy, the excitement of knowing that they have come from where they’ve come from and where they’re going and with God’s blessing, it’s just it’s you’re just exuberating that joy and that love and that excitement for them. And that’s there’s nothing better than the joy yeah, it feels.

Jacob Barr :

Like a very tearful joyful.

Kathy Arizmendi :

Moments it is just again.

Peggy Elliott :

We’ve had working.

Kathy Arizmendi :

With them and celebrate celebrating with them and knowing that God is blessing the marriage and the wedding.

Peggy Elliott :

We’ve had some clients come in and then maybe months later or weeks later or have a thought that they’ve been told, you know or you know, about the wedding, being able to do the wedding and they come back months later and say I’d like to be able to do this.

Kathy Arizmendi :

And we want that yeah we want them to think about it in fact, I, you know, when I, when I first introduced this because we don’t want them to enter into this lightly, even if it’s free. I mean, you know, it’s not the wedding as much as it is the marriage and so, you know, I talk to them. I want you guys to, you know, take some time to think about this, talk about this, you know, pray about this and make sure this is what God wants you to do so that it’s not entered into lightly.

Jacob Barr :

So Kathy, how would you describe your experience, you know, being at that wedding or reception and what emotions do you experience while you observe?

Kathy Arizmendi :

It was. It was just amazing to see. Of course, I like the Converse tennis shoes that she wore in her wedding dress too. But it’s just having known her, you know, known these clients and see the growth that God has done in their lives and this is kind of the just the end piece of this not the end piece, but really a beginning piece. But to see the pain and the hurt and, you know, bad relationships and to see God bless.

Peggy Elliott :

Them and.

Kathy Arizmendi :

See them happy with hope, with a husband who is going to be a provider and a protector and a godly man. It’s It really is exactly what we are about here.

Jacob Barr :

So there seems to be a trend in the pregnancy clinic world when it comes to some ministries helping and this isn’t new, but I mean this way i feel like there’s a new trend when it comes to helping disciple clients into a place of servant leadership or on that journey when some people want to go that distance. And I feel like this is definitely one of those pieces that could help prepare someone, you know, It could be part of their back story of how they were, how they arrive at a place to become a future servant leader. You know, working with their church community, working with their new family, working with their, you know, their church family. I feel like this is, this is one of those ideas that’s helping people on that, you know, becoming a future servant leader and not for everybody, but for some people I think it would this is, this would probably be a, you know, other influential piece for some people’s journeys towards becoming a future servant leader.

Kathy Arizmendi :

And that’s why, again, the keyword is discipleship. It’s seeing people come to Christ, but also seeing lives transformed by Christ and just sometimes just even stepping back and watching what God will do once you give them the opportunity to really follow their dreams and live for Christ, not only as an individual client but as a family and that is, we want these children to grow up in Christian homes bottom line, that’s what it’s all about.