By: Ali Elizabeth Turner
On Saturday, August 11, North Alabama is in for a real treat: an evening with Ryan Dobson, son of Dr. James and Shirley Dobson of Focus on the Family. I am old enough to remember going to a parenting class produced on VHS tapes back in the early ‘80s when I was a new mom. Dr. Dobson talked about the clearly cherished and infamous Ryan as being, shall we say, “strong-willed,” and I laughed, as well as heaved a huge sigh of relief. It seemed that God had blessed us with a fiery redhead boy who broke the mold, and Ryan Dobson had done the same for his folks. Even as a toddler, Ryan gave me hope, and of course he didn’t know it.
Ryan went on to become a key member of the Focus on the Family team, Family Talk, and then launched his own ministry. He has become the leader of an organization called Rebel Parenting, has written a book called Wanting To Believe: Faith, Family, And Finding An Exceptional Life, has podcasts, and a Facebook page. He also does a great deal of public speaking. Hearing his own father, Dr. James Dobson, tell about Ryan’s gift for speaking at crisis pregnancy center fundraising events, such as the one we will have here on August 11, brought tears to my eyes as I listened to the broadcast.
Ryan will tell us of his era of “pushing the envelope,” as well as the importance of what Women’s Resource Center Director Brooke Thompson calls “life-affirming choices,” which I will explain in a moment. The following is from Wanting To Believe: “Like many adolescents, Ryan pushed the limits on his parents’ boundaries, seeing just how far they’d stretch. He questioned their faith, their rules, their values, and their “truth,” determined to sort out life for himself. The journey wasn’t a pretty one, but it was beneficial in the end. Because once Ryan held up his parents’ core principles to the intense gaze of scrutiny, he discovered how right they’d been.”
With a great deal of humor and the wonderful ability Ryan has to tell his story, we will be inspired to support one of the most important non-profit organizations in our area, the Women’s Resource Center. Brooke Thompson became the director earlier this spring, and she also heads up the children’s ministry at Summit Crossing Church. We met at the new facility, which is located at 727-D West Market Street in Athens. While the WRC is part of an organization called Sav-a-Life, its scope is greater than assisting those who are facing crisis pregnancies. Brooke told me, “We want to come alongside families to help them make life-affirming decisions, offer support, and help with parenting.”
Brooke went on to tell me her own story, and how she became involved in the pro-life movement. “It was many years ago, and we had a neighbor who had been told that tests had indicated the possibility of their unborn baby having birth defects, and it was suggested that they abort their baby. Our family encouraged their family to choose life, and they went on to give birth to a perfect baby girl. She is now a teenager, and before they moved away, they thanked us for letting them know that they had options and for walking with them through that confusing time. They were also sobered by what could have happened if they had not had the support that enabled them to choose in favor of life,” she said. Having had the opportunity to help save a life changed Brooke forever.
Brooke continued our time by educating me about the services offered by the Women’s Resource Center. There is confidential counseling, limited obstetric ultrasound, options education, pregnancy and parenting classes, healthy relationship and abstinence training, life education, post-abortive help, practical fatherhood, and spiritual support. They also have a 24-hour hotline, and the number is 256-233-5775. The WRC has a “Practical Parenting” program, which helps you earn points for the baby boutique by watching the parenting course prepared by Heritage House. The boutique carries such items as diapers, car seats, and clothing, and is a real boon for new parents. The Women’s Resource Center has been able to move into a new site which makes it possible for them to help many more families in our area; and while they have made great progress in paying for the building, one of their goals for the August 11th dinner is to raise funds to help finish paying for the building.
The cost for individual tickets for the dinner is 50 dollars, and table sponsorships are available for $400. Music is going to be provided by Bradley Walker, and there will also be an auction. Sweet Thymes is catering the meal, and we hope to see you when the doors open at 5 p.m. on August 11. To purchase tickets, go to www.wrcathens.org, or call 256-233-5775.
By: Ali Elizabeth Turner