“I’d like to share something that I’ve never told anyone before.”
Nearly every time I speak at a church, someone approaches me after the service with some variation of that statement, followed by the story of their abortion.
After I shared on a recent Sunday morning, a woman old enough to be my grandmother stepped in front of me and pronounced, “Fifty years ago I almost had an abortion.” Knowing she had more to say, I prompted her to tell me about her child. She immediately became very emotional, and shared about an affair she had hoped to cover up by getting an abortion. On the day of her scheduled abortion, she changed her mind, but never spoke of the affair or abortion in the ensuing 50 years. Her tears really began to flow when she told me that her husband had died a couple months ago, never knowing that he didn’t actually share any genes with his son. This woman has held her secret inside for so long – her living son has no idea! Such a deep, complex and tangled web of shame and emotion.
I got a private Facebook message from an old high school friend recently asking how to share with her new husband about the abortion she had 15 years ago. She has never talked to anyone about it, and reached out to me feeling deeply burdened and afraid to raise this very sensitive topic.
Just a few days ago, another woman told me that she and her husband had decided to have an abortion more than 30 years ago, but they’ve never discussed it with each other or anyone else since then!
I have probably logged at least a hundred of these stories by now. Even though I took a few college counseling classes, I definitely don’t promote myself as a counselor. But because I have committed myself to this pro-life work, somehow these people harboring abortion secrets feel safe to share their stories with me. I listen. I feel their pain. I don’t judge. Often, I pray for their healing. And I always encourage them to see a counselor, or at least talk to someone that can help them process through their feelings.
No matter where you go to church, 35% of the people there will have had an abortion, and 52% of them have never told a single person in the church. When I first heard that Barna statistic, I realized why we face such an uphill battle to end abortion in our land. Only 6% of churches in America have uttered a single word about abortion from the pulpit on a Sunday morning this year. Is your church one of those or one of the 94% who remain silent?
While the American church continues to avoid the controversial subject of abortion, many members carry their burden alone. Many pastors worry about coming across as too political or offending someone. Honestly, by avoiding the subject, they miss out on a huge ministry opportunity, and their silence sends a dark message. What if I told you that 49% of post-abortive women believe that teachings on forgiveness do not apply to their abortion?
Recently, I talked to a mega-church pastor who shared that his greatest month of ministry happened after he and his wife came clean to their entire congregation about the abortion they had back in high school. Can you imagine the kind of revival we would see if every church displayed this kind of courage?
If you have had an abortion, God still loves you. When Jesus died, he paid the price for all sin, even your abortion. The Bible tells us that “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9 NIV) He will take your sin and put it as far as the east is from the west. North and south have a stopping and starting point, but east and west do not – they never intersect. The healing process begins when we share our brokenness with others. Every time you share your story, you will experience his healing more deeply. Every time you listen to someone’s story, without judgment, you help them in their quest to find healing.
I have never once heard any mother, married or single, express regret about their decision to carry a baby through to birth. But I have heard hundreds of stories about the pain and guilt of abortion. Unfortunately, so few willingly and publicly share their own stories, so the abortion business charges forward insisting that abortion empowers women. Heartbreaking.
I always try to end my letters with a challenge that encourages you to take a step outside your comfort zone on behalf of unborn children and the kingdom of heaven. Could you initiate a conversation that communicates your feelings about the sanctity of life without triggering hostility or judgment? It might surprise you to see how others reciprocate when you speak vulnerably from your heart, instead of from a soap box. If the conversation escalates or turns heated, do not take the bait. Focus on creating light rather than heat. We will never revolutionize the meaning of pro-life and put an end to abortion without people willing to share their hearts and personal stories.
And I encourage you to keep giving. If you want a glimpse of what a difference your donations make, check out our website. We have tons of Stork stories that put faces and names to the moms, babies and families our pregnancy centers and mobile units reach. Every single one is a direct result of your generosity and courage. During our early years, I could only dream of having more than 40 Stork buses on the road, saving babies and changing lives. Thank you for your part in our success.