When abortion hurts PDF Print E-mail

Fotolia 52601999 XSIs your church prepared for ministry to those who have experienced abortion?

Is it possible for a church to take a strong stand against abortion and still create a safe place where women and men can share their abortion stories and find grace and healing for past abortions? One PCUSA church whose stand against abortion was posted in a statement on their website also had a vital ministry to post-abortive women and men. Creating a safe place for grace began by including in their abortion statement the words: "...always seeking to convey God's pastoral forgiveness, acceptance, and healing to any who have already participated in the trauma of abortion."

It's not something you hear every day—"I had an abortion." Most women, and the men or family members that participated in their decision to have an abortion, are reluctant to talk about their abortion experience. Yet, it is estimated that one in four persons in the pews of our churches have some connection to an abortion decision. Often there are intense feelings of guilt, grief, even shame that spill over into the lives of family, friends, and future children. Some women who have aborted a child (as many as 60%) were forced or coerced by others to make an abortion decision. The baby's father may have insisted that she have an abortion or threatened to leave if she did not comply. Often those relationships do not survive the aftermath of the abortion decision.

Regret for her abortion is not always present immediately but may occur with devastating results years later at the sound of a baby's cry or when a woman becomes pregnant with a subsequent child—even when the pregnancy is planned and the child is wanted. Few women feel 'safe' in bringing the pain and grief of a past abortion to their pastor or fellow church members. It takes intentional preparation on the part of a congregation to create a safe place for women and men to share their pain about abortion experiences and connect with a God who knows, loves, and offers forgiveness and healing for all our sins.

What are the first steps if I sense God is calling me to Abortion Recovery Ministry?

One woman began to hear God's call to begin abortion recovery ministry in her church. Over a period of months, she became aware of several individuals in her congregation needing this ministry. She met with one other woman and her pastor and a plan began to form. The central piece was to offer the Bible study for women by Linda Cochrane, "Forgiven and Set Free." They also decided to offer the accompanying study, "Healing a Father's Heart," for men (Linda Cochrane & Kathy Jones). The team determined that the Bible studies would be available year round. Below are some of the details of their plan.

Communicate the opportunity for ministry

They realized the need for announcing the Bible study in a variety of ways, repeating the invitation often. They set up the Bible studies away from the church website, giving the location only to participants so that women and men could seek help privately and confidentially. The means of extending the invitation included:

• The church newsletter – a short paragraph announced the study and included a photo to draw attention to the text.
• Posters - Male and Female versions were developed and placed in the Men's and Women's restroom stalls with a phone number to contact for more information.
• Webpage - The church developed a simple website* dedicated to the abortion recovery Bible study was made available, separate from but linked to and from the church website. (*The website was a free Google sites).
• Gmail - A separate email account was established specifically for use with the Bible study participants.
• Emails - Announcements sent to friends in the vicinity of the Bible study including the website link.
• Social Media - Announcements about the study were posted on the church FB page and other social media outlets.
• Church bulletins - A shortened text version of the newsletter announcement appeared in weekly bulletins of the church.
• Business cards - Cards were developed for easy one-on-one sharing of the website and Bible studies and made available to church members.
• Moment for Mission - Since this church already has a statement expressing the WILL to do this sort of work they referred to that in a moment for mission and included a pastoral quote from a previous sermon: "We [the church] are the ones who, where there is no hope, we proclaim hope; where there is bondage, we proclaim freedom," words which parallel almost exactly the opening words of the preface of Forgiven and Set Free.

Build a network to expand your reach

The team realized that to make their abortion recovery ministry effective they needed to make connections with their community in order to reach women and men who had experienced abortion and also to share the things they learned about doing this ministry with others who needed that knowledge. They learned it helps to reach out intentionally.

• They contacted a local crisis pregnancy center about networking. CPCs know women (even some of their volunteers) who need this ministry.
• They communicated with area pastors and churches. Most were glad to have the Bible Study groups as a ministry resource.
• They planned to contact area colleges and Christian counseling centers to further develop an abortion recovery ministry network

More PPL resources for Abortion Recovery Ministry to equip your congregation.



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