M.Div. grad brings classroom learning to life

On a flat screen TV, inside a watermelon-slice-shaped window, a tiny black and white hand seemed to wave at everyone in the room. With a lingering look, a face became visible and on a bedside monitor of the same image, a heartbeat thudded rhythmically, signaling a life that had begun six weeks earlier.

Unfortunately, not all lives that begin get the chance to continue. According to the Guttmacher Institute, 22 percent of all pregnancies end in abortion. In 2008, that meant that more than 1.2 million women chose to abort their children. With the help of Diane Montgomery and her colleagues at the Fort Worth Pregnancy Center, though, some of those lives will have a chance to keep going—a chance to grow up and a chance to make their own choices.

“[These mothers] don’t know what to do,” Montgomery said. “They need someone to listen to them. They need someone to care about them because everyone else is just saying, ‘Do what you’ve got to do for your own self. It’s your body.’ And nobody is really listening to the emotional troubles they are having, and so through that, because we care for them and listen to them, it opens a door for not only the potential of lives to be chosen, but for her life to be changed, for the Lord to influence her life and spiritually to be changed as well.”

Montgomery, who began volunteering at the center shortly before she took a staff position there in August, said the Lord used her time in studying for her Master of Divinity degree at Southwestern to prepare her to minister to the women in crisis.

“I was applying all that I was learning here into writing and ministry, so I was applying a lot of the academic stuff, but I wanted to apply the practical [aspect]—to get down to the women of the real world— and I wanted to give back to the community,” she says. “You’re poured into so much here at Southwestern, and I wanted to pour into other women who have no clue what they’re missing out on.”

With women aborting 6,000 babies in Tarrant County each year, Montgomery says the center is in constant need of help, be it time, money or prayer.

“We always need volunteers because it breaks my heart when we have to turn away women because we don’t have enough volunteers and we don’t have someone that can meet with them,” she says. “I think Southwestern women would be ideal volunteers because whether they’re a wife of a student or they are a student, they’re getting the training, they have a heart for ministry, and they understand the practical side of helping people in crisis.”

The center does not just need women, but men, too, says Montgomery, whose husband, Alex, wants to get involved in the crisis pregnancy ministry.

“He wants to become a volunteer to help those guys who are sitting there in the waiting room when their girlfriend is with us, who just say, ‘Okay, yeah, it’s your choice. You can do whatever you want. I support you.’

And they have no idea what an abortion really means,” Montgomery says. “We have guy counselors that go in there to encourage them to know how to support their girlfriend or wife in this situation and to educate them on what’s going on in their girlfriend’s body, in their mind, what would happen with her during an abortion or adoption and just kind of how to be a man in a relationship.”

Though she and Alex will deploy as missionaries to Columbia sometime in 2012, Montgomery says she plans to take the crisis pregnancy ministry with her.

“There’s a huge need for pregnancy centers where we are going,” she says. “Legal and illegal abortions are rampant. There is no pregnancy center that gives these women alternatives. They feel like they are stuck there. I just hope that I touch not only women in Tarrant County but also women in South America because it is a huge issue.”

Montgomery, who was named in October as the 2011-2012 Priscilla Scholarship recipient, came to Southwestern after graduating from Tarleton State University. A tennis player with dreams of opening her own bakery, she never imagined God would lead her into ministry, but she followed willingly wherever He led her.

“I started out in the Master of Arts in Christian Education degree,” Montgomery says. “After taking Mrs. Patterson’s Biblical Theology of Womanhood, I just wanted more. She spurred me on to want to know more, to grapple more with Scripture, to know more about women in Scripture. It was the Lord doing a work in me.”

That spurring led Montgomery to switch to the Master of Divinity in Women’s Studies degree which she graduated with in May 2011. She says her involvement in Women’s Programs during her time at the seminary has developed skills and ministries in her that she never would have predicted for her life.

“The program offers you so much education and preparation that you can do anything. Because of the women’s program here, the Lord developed in me a writing ministry that I never thought I’d be able to do,” says Montgomery who, with two other women, writes content for their website UnlockingFemininity.com, which she says has now developed into a soon-to-be-published book.

From the pregnancy center to her writing to meeting her husband in a personal evangelism class, Montgomery says the Lord has determined her path. Whether going door-to-door or working at the pregnancy center, Montgomery strives to share the hope and truth of Scripture that alone can battle what culture says about life and how to live it.

“That is kind of how I got turned on to the pregnancy center, was my love for women and ministering to women and then also a love for the Gospel,” she says. “It’s the perfect opportunity that I can love on women, that I can help them, and that I can share the Lord with them. It’s just kind of the perfect place for that.”

Established 1908 Fort Worth, Texas