Thursday, January 30, 2014

The Prisoner's Story

Last Wednesday, our afternoon client advocate waited for her 3 o’clock appointment. Finally the door opened, and the woman calmly filled out her paperwork. She reached the final blank, a question asking for her opinion on abortion as an option. The new client checked “undecided”, and returned her forms to the front desk. After preparing and praying, our client advocate led the woman into the second counseling room, introduced herself, and closed the door. Covered in tattoos, this 27 year old woman unloaded her story, a story which began when she was a new teenager.

                At 14 years old, our client gave birth to her first child, the first of 8 total pregnancies. With this first boyfriend, she shared 6 children. Despite their years together, he never married her. Soon after the birth of their youngest child, our client was arrested and imprisoned for drugs. Through this revelation, she lost her family. Her first love-the father of her children-left her and won sole custody. With no one waiting for her release, our client served her time in prison for four and a half years.

                When she finally left her prison cell, she rekindled a former friendship with another man, who also was recently discharged after a 10 year prison sentence. They quickly surrendered to a sexual relationship. Just 3 months after her prison release, she discovered she was pregnant with his baby. Both her and her new boyfriend sank into disbelief. They were unemployed with looming criminal records, yet now they were going to be parents? No, she couldn’t do that to a child. Adoption was out of the question. She would rather her unborn child die than hand him over to new parents. The choice was clear. In August, with the support of her boyfriend, she had an abortion.

                Now, just a few months later, she was in the same position of a possible pregnancy with the same reasons for an abortion as before. Nothing had changed, except now she was looking for hope. Instead of driving to Planned Parenthood for her answer, she waited. God directed her to the Community Pregnancy Center on a Wednesday afternoon for a pregnancy test appointment.

Sensing the loneliness in the woman before her, our client advocate asked about a relationship with God. The client admitted to a Catholic background, but her fears about God were simple: “I’m too bad to go to Heaven.” The free sex. The pregnancy at 14. The drugs. The prison sentence. The loss of her children. The abortion. She had done “too much”. She had made too many wrong decisions to deserve Heaven. Heaven was for people who got married and went to church and gave money to the poor. It wasn’t for people like her. How could it be? She was “too bad” for God.

                Our client advocate stepped forward into this divine opportunity, explaining the glory and hope of God’s grace. Regardless of this pregnancy test’s result , this client was “too bad”, yet so was the client advocate, so was the executive director, so am I. All of humanity-past, present, and future-ALL fall short of deserving God. We could never make enough right choices, go to enough church services, or give enough money to the poor to ever rightfully earn a relationship with God, but our Merciful Creator intervened anyway! Only through the death of His perfect Son could the churched and the unchurched, the serving and the selfish, the good and the bad be made whole. He accepted the full weight of sin’s punishment, so that this woman in October 2013 could have the option of redemption.

The pregnancy test read positive.

The Client Advocate scheduled an ultrasound.

                A week later, the client returned, and saw a perfectly formed, healthy 8 week old baby.  She was still unemployed. Her jail time didn’t disappear. Her reasons for an abortion just 2 months ago were still prevalent, but as she saw the baby squirming around on the ultrasound’s screen, she smiled. Her circumstances were the same, but it didn’t matter. Of course, to her, it may have been the counseling, or it may have been the ultrasound, but neither could have made such an impact. Her loving King, refusing to quit, pursued, softened, and changed the heart of His treasured creation.

She chose LIFE!

 “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.”