Thursday, March 14, 2013

The Cousin's Story

Thursdays are exciting days at Community Pregnancy Center! Throughout the week, our client advocates counsel every young woman seeking a pregnancy test, listening to the details of her situation. If the client is vulnerable to the abortion choice, our advocates schedule them for a free, limited ultrasound to see the growing baby in the uterus, give an accurate due date, and allow that confused girl to hear the sound of her baby’s heartbeat! Donated equipment and a large flat-screen television reveal the life that our loving King has been knitting together for weeks. Miracles happen in that ultrasound room. God changes hearts in that ultrasound room, and it all happens on Thursdays.

                This past Thursday welcomed a young woman, celebrating her twenty-fourth birthday. Our sonographer, Mikelle, reviewed her file before calling her to the back of the office: abortion-vulnerable. When she came for her pregnancy test just a week previous, she explained her sorted story. This was not her first pregnancy. She chose abortion years earlier, and, after that decision, she mothered beautiful sons. Her youngest boy is just five months old. Her boyfriend has already left her. She’s unemployed, she’s alone, and now-for the fourth time-her pregnancy test read positive.

                She convinced herself that she could not parent this child. How could she? No money. No boyfriend. No support. She then saw only two options: adoption or abortion. She considered both, fully knowing the grief and regret of abortion. However, she saw adoption as giving her baby away. She would experience the full pregnancy, the pain of delivery, and then she must watch as another woman walks out of the hospital with the baby in her arms? Surely that’s not proper motherhood. Surely a decent mother would care for her own child. If she did not have the will or the means to do this, then abortion must be the only option. She told herself that if she couldn’t keep the baby, then it would be better to stop the pregnancy before the baby grows any further.

                Mikelle read this commonly heard mindset within this young woman’s file, and prepared for the ultrasound appointment. She called the girl forward, but the client asked if the appointment could please wait. “My relative’s coming!” she explained. “Can we please wait for my relative to get here?” Mikelle graciously agreed. This was the last appointment for the day, so a small delay was not a problem.

                Finally the relative walked through the door. Identifying the woman as her older cousin, our young client followed Mikelle to our sonogram room to see her baby. The cousin walked behind the pair seemingly distant. Hesitation appeared to hang over her. The television screen soon lit up with a perfect 14 week old baby boy! The sound waves from the ultrasound machine stirred the life into excited motions! He flipped. He turned. He nodded. He touched his face. He moved every second with animation and exhilaration!

                The client smiled and looked up at her guest: “Do you see how active he is?” she asked her cousin. “I could never handle that in my life right now!” Confused at the reaction, Mikelle continued to explain the baby’s growth. After a few minutes of routine pictures and measurements, she activated the sound capabilities of the machine. The sound of a fast-paced heartbeat filled the room. This was a healthy, beautiful baby boy due just two days before the 5 month old son’s first birthday.

                Following the appointment, Mikelle asked the client to pick a baby blanket before they continued to the post-sonogram counseling. The client looked over to her cousin, saying, “I want you to pick out his blanket!” The cousin, still somewhat hesitant as if she was processing, chose a cozy blue blanket. Mikelle led the client to one of our counseling rooms, and the cousin, clutching tightly onto the blanket with a warm smile on her face for the first time, walked to the waiting room. The distance, the hesitation melted away!

                Mikelle asked the client how she was feeling after seeing the ultrasound. The woman beamed with joy and explained her excitement, her relief, and her cousin’s role in the entire story. She confirmed her report. She was planning on an abortion. She was terrified to have one again, but she just couldn’t parent this child. Thanks only to the God of the universe intervening, this young woman remembered her cousin. After many miscarriages, this beautiful relative recently carried a baby to the third trimester. However, due to violent and detrimental complications, her pregnancy-at 7 months-was terminated for the health of the mother. Thursday, however, changed the ending to this cousin’s dark story to have a family with her husband, because on Thursday, she saw her new son.
This client,
overwhelmed at the thought of parenting another child,
is giving the healthy baby boy to her cousin through adoption!
                Merriam-Webster defines adoption as the following: “to take by choice into a relationship; especially: to take voluntarily (a child of other parents) as one's own child”. Using the pen of the apostle Paul, Jesus Christ Himself defines adoption in Ephesians 1:4: “even as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before Him”. This young woman chose the baby to be hers, even before he was born! She was to be his mother, through the body of her pregnant cousin. God, the Sovereign, loving Creator and King of the cosmos, chose us to be His, even before the foundation of the world. He was to be our Father, through the broken body of His only Son.  Thursday, we saw firsthand a beautiful yet earthly imitation of God’s perfect love for mankind!

                Pray for these two women as they move forward with their adoption plan. Pray for absolute peace. Pray for opened eyes to see the love of their Creator and the adoption plan He has crafted for them.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

The Stripper's Story

A 19 year old woman asking for a pregnancy test is not uncommon at Community Pregnancy Center. In fact, 19 years old is the average age for our clients. In 2012, 64% of girls seen in our facility were under the age of 24, so when a 19 year old girl entered our doors, we were in our comfort zone in a way. However, this girl’s current age was not the one that identified her. Her ages leading her to 19 reveal the sordid story behind the beautiful face.
  • Her mother refuses responsibility, sending the child to her new grandparents.
  • Her father has already disappeared from her life.
9 years old:
  • The client’s grandmother dies, leaving her under the care of her grandfather.
  • This sole caretaker refuses the child and sends her away to her aunt and uncle.
  • While his wife lie with him, the uncle leaves his bed every night to sexually abuse his 9 year old niece.
  • Scared and confused, the child tells another uncle of her nightly experiences. This man then tells the young girl’s father.
  • Her father takes his child, who he doesn’t even know, to another country to escape. (Though evidence was drawn and testimonies given, the case against the perverted uncle never made it to trial.)
13 years old:
  • She moves into the house with her now pregnant birth mother.
  • She discovers that she herself is now pregnant.
  • Once her mother gives birth, she disappears for days at a time, leaving her 13 year old, pregnant daughter to care for her newborn infant alone.
14 years old:
  • She delivers her child, and chooses adoption.
  • She suffers the heartache of giving her baby away, unsure if she will ever see the child again.
  • Because the pregnancy matured and shifted the curves of her body, she chooses to become a stripper.
16 years old:
  • She falls in love with a young man. He supports her financially, so she could stop stripping.
17 years old:
  • She gives birth to their first child together.
19 years old:
  • They are now engaged and expecting their second child.

                Suddenly 19 years old doesn't seem so average. This young woman, this teenager has experienced more agony-more “world”-than most people should know in an entire lifetime. She had been rejected by her own mother, her father, and her grandfather. She was raped on a regular basis by family. She gave away her first born child, when she, too, was just a child. She had been seen and touched in the most intimate ways by complete strangers. This was her life. This was all she knew: betrayal, perversion, and abandonment. She grew gravely familiar with the process of working her way out of her past.

                When asked about her relationship with God, she expressed a similar “works” belief. She cleaned up her life for her fiancĂ©, so she assumed that she needed to clean up her life for God. She wasn’t quite where she wanted to be in her life, but she was getting close. Maybe she’d surrender to God…when she gives birth to this new baby. Maybe she’d lie in His arms…when she marries her fiancĂ©. Maybe she would see herself as good enough then. Maybe after all these decisions, God would finally see her as worth His attention, worth His love.

                But that’s the point. As humans, as creation, we will never make enough right decisions to deserve the love of the Perfect Creator. There’s not a checklist in the Bible, detailing a road to righteousness. There’s not a set of magic words that will set us free from any past. There’s only Jesus. 
There’s only grace.
Our limited brains have not been functioning long enough to fully grasp even a fraction of grace, but it’s real, and it’s available. Our admittance to God’s presence is always open. Our forgiveness from God is guaranteed, because it’s wholly anchored in the victory of Jesus Christ-not in our works. Every wrong choice adds another death sentence to our growing death toll and more anger and judgment from God Himself, and no amount of reciting or working could ever eradicate such a debt-except the blood of the Son of God. Now, through a relationship with Him, God hears the scared confessions and He sees those mistakes, but He sees them through a lens of absolution. That death toll was paid for. That anger and judgment was already exhausted.
There’s only grace.

                As our Client Advocate explained the unashamedly good news of the Gospel, the 19 year old girl’s heart seemed to soften. Her past seemed to fade in the light of Christ’s love, but she still hesitated. She still held back, unsure if such a Savior could truly be THAT good to redeem such a life. Having permission, our Client Advocate prayed over the young woman before she left. Tears streamed down her face as if she sensed for the first time her Creator’s passionate pursuit to bring her home. Pray she realizes she can come unprepared and broken to the feet of God.

“Israel, put your hope in the Lord,
for with the Lord is unfailing love and with him is FULL redemption.”