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Courage - The Cynthia Carter-Smallwood Story

Posted by Sue Fultz on Nov 9, 2020 8:00:00 AM

This is a supplemental chapter to the book Leading for Life, by Sue Fultz, a Care Net Center Services Specialist.  Sue's book delves into the "God stories" of leaders in the pregnancy center movement.

Leading for Life is now available for purchase as an ebook on Amazon or as a softcover here.


Do not be afraid, for I am with you.  Do not be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you.”  Isaiah 41:10 

Twice called – Twice too occupied to answer!  God had called Cynthia two different times to serve at Cornerstone Pregnancy Services in Elyria, Ohio; and both times her obligations to other things held her back.

 "But one day” Cynthia says, "God downloaded his heart for the unborn into my heart. I could feel the brokenness in his heart for unborn babies; and I found I was no longer too busy to fully commit to His call.”  As she fell to her knees weeping throughout this encounter with the Lord, Cynthia committed the rest of her life to serving Him in prolife ministry. 

Let's start at the beginning. At just seventeen, Cynthia  enrolled at Ohio State University with a dream to help people. She asked God what He wanted her to do with her life and He led her to get a nursing degree.  In her mind, Cynthia thought she would serve as a nurse all her life. Two years into her nursing career however, she had an automobile accident and suffered a severe back injury that made it impossible for her to continue her dream of becoming a surgical nurse. 

Searching for what to do next, Cynthia felt the Lord leading her to get an MBA that would allow her to continue working in the medical field - specifically in healthcare administration. These degrees eventually led her to a career in nonprofit healthcare, serving as an executive leader at a long-term care facility. 

In 1994, Cynthia was invited to join the Cornerstone Pregnancy Services [CPS] Board of Directors. She accepted.  But soon became so consumed with her career responsibilities that she could not adequately meet all the requirements for that role. She served only one and one-half years on the Cornerstone board and resigned. Looking back Cynthia says, "I had no idea what God’s call would lead to in my life."

Again in 2007, Cynthia felt God's call to re-connect with Cornerstone Pregnancy Resources.  But again, she hesitated to commit because she felt the promise she made to care for both of her parents would keep her from serving effectively at the center.   Again, she decided not to accept His call.

In 2011, while still working in health care, Cynthia felt called to follow in her dad's footsteps as a pastor. She enrolled at United Theological Seminary to pursue her Doctor of Ministry degree, assuming she would go on to pastor a church full time. But God had other plans.

That same year, she heard the Lord say, “Cynthia, now is the time.”  She knew in her heart that God meant it was time for her to serve in the pregnancy center.  Her company had just downsized and she had lost her job.  This time she obeyed his call and went to the center looking for a volunteer opportunity.  “Little did I know when I walked in that center door,” Cynthia says, “I would develop a deep passion to bring light into the dark places of hearts and bring hope to hurting and lost women.”

As Cynthia was sharing her qualifications and discussing her desire to volunteer with the Center Services Director, the Executive Director asked her if she had a job.  Cynthia said no. The Director then told her about an opening the Center had for a nurse manager position.  When asked if she would like to talk to the Executive Director about that position, Cynthia said yes.

The ED went on to tell Cynthia that during her prayer time that morning, her prayer partner had said the Lord said that their nurse manager was going to walk in the door of the center that day.  Later, that very day, Cynthia - a registered nurse in need of a job -walked in their center door.  Reflecting on that, Cynthia said, “it is just so incredible how God works and moves.”

Cynthia accepted the Nurse Manager position and two days later found herself in Virginia at a NIFLA ultrasound training.  Every morning began with worship and it was during this worship time, Cynthia says, God downloaded his heart concerning the unborn to her. Every time in worship, she could feel the brokenness in God's heart for the unborn.  Every morning ,as she felt His broken heart, she fell to her knees praying and weeping. In those moments, Cynthia knew she could do nothing else for the rest of her life but serve God in the prolife movement in whatever capacity He called her.  She knew that going out again in the secular arena as a nurse, working for another organization would never again be an option for her. 

God had profoundly touched her heart and Cynthia was no longer reluctant but fully committing to His call to prolife ministry.     That day she completely and courageously accepted His call to serve Him in life-affirming ministry for the rest of her life.  She says, "I was sold! My heart was captured."

As Nurse Manager, every encounter with a client confirmed for Cynthia that she was doing exactly what God had called her to do. Her heart was deeply touched by the many clients that came in, broken from life circumstances and choices they had made. “Many clients,” Cynthia says, “think the child they are carrying is a huge mistake. But we show them what God says in Jeremiah 1:5, ‘Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you.’" 

Cynthia assures these mothers that neither they nor the child they are carrying is a mistake. She tells them that God knows them; that they are loved and have purpose; and that they have great value to God.

For eight years, Cynthia worked as a Nurse Manager building a strong medical foundation for the center.  In 2019, the center's Board of Directors asked Cynthia to become the Executive Director. She accepted and continues in that position today, realizing that over the years that she was pursuing an education and a secular career, God was leading her on the path to this position.

As a young college student, Cynthia asked God what he wanted her to do to pursue her dream of helping people.   During the ensuing years, God answered by directing her education [Nurse, MBA, Doctor of Ministry] and her career [nurse, health care administration, part-time pastor]. God was calling, equipping, and directing her not only in her dream but also in His dream for her life. Her dream and God's passion of seeing her help others is now a reality as she leads, helps, and ministers to all who come to her center.

“This is amazing work,” Cynthia says,” I cannot imagine doing anything else. I receive so much gratification when I see the change that comes over the countenance of women when they realize the life and hope they have in Christ.”  In humility and gratitude, Cynthia says, “I thank God for giving me this opportunity to work with him in this ministry for the rest of my life.  I am so grateful that He gave me the will to no longer resist His call but to have the courage and understanding to yield to,  follow my dream, and accept His call to help hurting  people in prolife ministry."

LEADERSHIP INSIGHTS:  COURAGE

Do not be afraid, for I am with you.  Do not be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you.”  Isaiah 41:10 

Cynthia Carter-Smallwood says, ”God gave me this verse from Isaiah 41:10 so that I would remember that whatever it is that stands before me, God wants me to move forward. I can move forward because  this verse tells me that He is with me, He is my God, He strengthens and helps me.”

When God calls us, the job that He calls to is always God-sized.  This God-sized work often doesn’t fit neatly into our plans, our schedule, our skills, our experiences, and/or our life.  Answering His God-sized call requires that we adjust our life to Him.  In his awesome Bible Study, ’Experiencing God,’ Henry Blackaby says,  ”You cannot stay where you are and go with God.”   That adjustment takes courage! 

Cynthia found the courage to know that God was always at work around her. She accepted his invitation to become involved in His work and now He is accomplishing His life affirming work through her. 

Leaders for life are strong and courageous. They know that God is with them, always working around them and as they accept his invitation to join Him, He will accomplish His life-affirming work through them.

PRAYER:

Father,  Creator and Giver of life, we praise you. Thank you for your invitation to the high and holy calling of serving you and leading for life.  Thank you for your strength and help for us.  May we be worthy of your call, fully please you and be fruitful in every good pro-abundant life work.  And may we  have courage to go with you when you call.  Thank you that you accomplish your work for life through us.  In Jesus Name.  So be it.   

Discussion questions - HOW DO YOU LIVE IT?

1.       Where do you see God working around you?

2.       What is meant by a 'God-sized call'?

3.       What has God called you to do that requires courage?

4.       How have you adjusted your life to go with God?


Leading for Life is available for purchase as an ebook on Amazon or as a softcover here.

Sue Currans Fultz serves as a Care Net Center Services Specialist and is the author of Leading for Life, a 2020 book filled with stories of how God has worked through ordinary people like Cynthia to accomplish His extraordinary purposes. 

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