Janet Kilgo received a calling to her ministry, Bundles of Hope, in church one Sunday. She was thinking about how every mom in her church receives a baby shower, whether the baby is her first or her fourth, hosted by the community. She realized that day that there were many moms outside the church community who were in unimaginable crisis situations and could benefit from the love, community, and support that those baby showers offered. Janet talked to her pastor, and together with Holly Bourland, Janet began a partnership with Austin Lifecare Center, a local pregnancy resource center.
As plans moved forward for Bundles of Hope, Janet met with the executive director of Austin Lifecare Center. At one of those meetings, Janet was faced with a challenge. The executive director had been scheduled to testify before Texas lawmakers in favor of House Bill 2, the Pro-Life Omnibus Bill from 2013, that offers Pro-Life protections for mothers and their preborn babies in Texas. Because she was unexpectedly going to be out of town, the executive director suggested Janet appear to testify.
Janet tried everything to get out of testifying, but she felt convicted that she had to share her story. Janet’s voice gives even greater power to the outreach she does through Bundles of Hope: not only does she have the desire to help moms in difficult situations, she knows firsthand just how overwhelming the challenges they face can be. At 17, Janet experienced an unexpected pregnancy. Without knowing the love of Christ and without support in her community, Janet thought her only option was abortion. For 20 years, she couldn’t even say the word “abortion,” but after completing the post-abortive healing program “Forgiven and Set Free” and after much prayer, Janet was able to share her story.
Seeing the many “pro-choice” women protesting at the Capitol when she went to testify on HB 2, Janet realized how long she had been on their side. “Guilt and shame had kept me on that side for so long, and I just thought if someone had shown these women love, how many of them would be wearing blue, how many of them would be on the side of Life?” After witnessing the debate and the passage of HB 2, Janet felt she had to carry out her dream of starting Bundles of Hope. She says she knew God was telling her, “You have got to do this.”
Six months later, the ladies of Milwood Baptist Church hosted the first Bundles of Hope baby shower for a mother in need. Since that day, they have hosted many baby showers for many moms in the Austin area. The party is always pretty, a day filled with joy. As Janet says, “The women of this church are what make the showers possible.” They “support the ministry whole-heartedly,” and each woman brings not only gifts for the shower but also food, and a group assists in decorating before the shower.
Janet’s story and the work of Bundles of Hope were recently captured in a beautiful documentary by Deidox. Janet was shocked to learn that the video has been viewed and shared thousands of times. Once you watch the video, you’ll understand why people are sharing:
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The beautiful day of the shower is a time when the community “loves on the moms and loves on their babies as if they were our own.” The shower is not where the ministry ends, or even where the work begins. The women of Bundles of Hope invite the moms and their families to become part of the church community, mentor them, and support them in their decision to choose Life for their children. That work can be hard. In January, the ministry will be two years old, and Janet and Holly know well just how hard the task can be to walk with these mothers, to speak truth to them, and to assist them in making the best choices for their children. That hard work cannot be done in a single afternoon.
But the baby shower is the high point. Janet describes how they show love to the mothers “with no strings attached.” The unconditional love and support may be the first these women have ever received. Their backgrounds can be difficult and the challenges they face can be tremendous, but showing them real love is a step toward healing.
If you’d like to learn more about Bundles of Hope, or if you’re interested in starting a ministry in your church, you can contact Janet by email: JanetKilgo@yahoo.com. Janet is passionate about sharing her ministry with other churches. She says, “The more people we reach, the more women we can help.”