When Amy Ford discovered she was pregnant at the age of 19, she didn’t think to go to the church. Amy grew up as a regular attendee but, “it was the last place I felt safe to go to get prayer and advice and help.” Embrace Grace seeks to change this experience for single women who find themselves pregnant. The nonprofit provides resources and encouragement through pro-life support groups. “The church should be the first place a girl runs to instead of the last.”
Unfortunately, Amy did not experience the church as a place to find support and love. Though she never imagined she would end up in an abortion clinic, that’s exactly where she and her boyfriend found themselves soon after learning Amy was expecting. “I was scared about the future,” Amy shared. “I thought my life was over. We knew abortion was wrong, but it seemed like a quick fix. We’d deal with the consequences of a broken heart later.” But after hyperventilating and passing out on the abortion table, the nurses told her she was too emotionally distraught to go through with the abortion that day. She walked back out to the waiting room and told her boyfriend, “We’re still pregnant.” She knew she couldn’t have an abortion.
Amy married her boyfriend when she was sixteen weeks pregnant. They were happy to be together, but began a journey of shame and guilt surrounding the birth of their son. Their wedding day felt like an embarrassment, and afterward, no one at church would acknowledge their pregnancy. “It was like the elephant in the room. No one said anything and we felt alone in a crowd of people,” Amy remembers of her time there before leaving.
They eventually found Gateway Church in Southlake, Texas. There they discovered authentic relationships. Amy wanted to be the person she wished had been there for her all those years ago.
THE BIRTH OF EMBRACE GRACE
In 2008, Amy and a friend started the first Embrace Grace support group: a place where single women are showered with love, affirmed in their decision to choose life, and given practical resources and support. The curriculum was twelve weeks long and covered topics such as identity, forgiveness and repentance. Three single moms attended the first support group, one of whom wore a coat in the blazing heat of a Texas summer to try to hide the fact she was pregnant. The transformation throughout the twelve weeks was incredible. By the end, they had “a sparkle in their eyes and hope for their futures.” The women connected to the church and began attending regularly.
More sessions brought more moms. Soon, more churches reached out to Amy to start pro-life support groups of their own. Since becoming a nonprofit organization in 2012, Embrace Grace has grown to over 700 groups in 49 states and 10 countries around the world. There is even a Spanish translation of the curriculum.
SUPPORT FOR SINGLE MOMS
Embrace Grace partners with local pregnancy centers through their “Love-Boxes.” Gifts distributed to PRCs near Embrace Grace support groups. When a woman approaches the center, she receives a Love-Box. In it, there’s a onesie, Amy’s book, and a handwritten note that begins “Dear Brave Girl.” Embrace Grace hopes that through this gift, she will feel the love of Christ and want to attend.
Rather than shaming women for ending up in unplanned pregnancy, Embrace Grace seeks to come alongside a woman. To teach her about her identity in Christ. That the new little life she is bringing into the world is a blessing. They provide her with resources and see her begin to thrive as a member of the body of Christ. Part of the program includes a joint baby shower for all the women in these pro-life support groups. Members of the church gift the women with items they will need to care for their newborn.
HELP HER BE BRAVE
Realizing that many people want to help but just aren’t sure how, Amy recently published a book entitled Help Her Be Brave: Discover Your Place in the Pro-Life Movement. Filled with inspirational stories, Biblical context, and pages of ideas about how ordinary people can love on and support single moms, Help Her Be Brave is the perfect springboard if you’re wondering how you may fit in. It is available at this link.
To the church as a whole, Amy has an inspiration and a challenge. “If you could open your arms and your doors to women with unplanned pregnancies,” she says, “we really can make abortion unnecessary.”