Since I started working with pregnancy care centers in 1991, I have heard many heartbreaking stories from directors and staff about their own children's crisis pregnancy experiences. Pregnancy center workers are modern-day missionaries. Their children are vulnerable to attack just as are other missionaries' kids (MKs) or preachers' kids (PKs). In an effort to stifle our ministry efforts, the enemy may entice our children through rebellious thoughts that can lead to dysfunctional behavior. We need to be aware of that threat and protect our children from such attacks.
The stress of being a model for behavior
I was born a PK, the daughter of a Baptist minister. I was told continually that I had to be a "good example" for others. I was given stricter rules than were my friends. Keeping those rules was difficult. Rebellion was a temptation.
Children of ministry leaders are expected to set an example of sexual purity, yet the temptation toward sexual sin is still there. The temptation of sex combined with the temptation to rebel can be catastrophic. It's even worse when a child feels resentment over the lack of attention he gets from a parent.
We must spend time with our children, love them, and know what is going on in their lives. If we don't, we won't see the problems when they first surface. It is important that we have a right relationship with our children for their sake, but it is also important for the ministry's sake.
"If a man desires the position of a bishop, he desires a good work. A bishop then must be blameless.... One who rules his own house well, having his children in submission with all reverence" (I Timothy 3:1-4).
The result of sacrificing our own
As I was growing up, it seemed to me that the people in the church were more important to my father than were we in his family. Troubled parishioners would call at all hours of the day and night, and my father would leave us to be with them. The duties of running a church often left him drained of any sensitivity for his own family.
ministry leaders are
expected to set
an example of
yet the temptation
toward sexual sin
is still there.
To cope with the resentment I felt regarding his absence, I would focus on the accomplishments of his ministry. I remember watching on Sunday mornings as people came down the aisle to accept Christ after his sermons. My heart soared with pride to see that my father was doing so much for the Lord. I reasoned that if he was making sacrifices to help others find Christ, I could surely sacrifice my own time with him. As I grew older, it became difficult to maintain that perspective. In the end, I concluded that I wasn't worthy of my father's attention.
The work we do in pregnancy care centers is important, but it can consume much of our time and energy, leaving little for our families. When our children see us giving so much of our time to strangers, resentment and bitterness may take root. And when kids search for someone to pay attention to them, crisis pregnancies are sometimes the result.
The danger of no confidentiality
One day as my son Bruce and I drove by our local pregnancy care center, he made an interesting remark. He said, "If I ever thought a girlfriend of mine was pregnant, I would never take her there!"
"Why not?" I responded.
"Because they all know you there, Mom. I'm not sure they would keep my visit a secret from you."
Our own centers may not be accessible to our own kids because they fear the consequences of our finding out about their visit. If they feel that Planned Parenthood would be more likely to keep their secret, they may be more likely to seek help there.
We must spend
time with our children,
love them, and know
what is going on
in their lives. If we
don't, we won't
see the problems
How can we ensure confidentiality for our own children at our centers? We should have a candid discussion of this possibility with our children and encourage every staffer in our ministries to do the same. We have fire drills at our places of work and in our homes; why not have "crisis pregnancy" drills? It would be better than inadvertently heading them into the "burning building" of the pro-choice forces!
That day Bruce and I talked about the possibility of finding help in centers in other cities. I mentioned that he could find their information in the yellow pages under "abortion alternatives." A crisis pregnancy center in another city may be the best place for one of our own kids to find confidential help and retain anonymity. A center's web site may also be a great resource because inquirers don't have to use their real names contacting the center. Feel free to give children of your ministry leaders my personal e-mail address: firstname.lastname@example.org. They can talk with me if they are afraid to approach you.
I also told Bruce that no matter what the situation, his father and I would love him. That is a message I repeat often.
The benefit of a ministry perspective
It is often difficult for our children to comprehend the godly results of our work. I recall one evening with my father at a local rescue mission. My dad preached a sermon to a group of homeless people. Some were drunk, filthy, and sick. Their condition struck a compassionate chord in my heart. When everyone sang "The Old Rugged Cross" at the end of the service, many cried and got down on their knees and worshiped the Lord. The seeds of ministry were planted in my heart, and when I hear that hymn today, tears come to my eyes as I relive that precious memory. Afterwards I stood with my father and served dinner to those wounded souls. It was the first time I ever participated in his ministry.
Our children need a perspective of the work God is doing with our time away from them. Hearing clients' testimonies at banquets; visiting the mothers and babies in the hospital; and permitting our children to help out in the center by sorting baby clothes, doing office work, and performing other simple tasks can give them a view into the ministry. It will also reinforce the importance of remaining abstinent.
For those of you whose children have experienced the heartache of sexual activity outside of marriage, take hope in God's hand on their lives. The Lord used all of my poor choices, including an abortion, for His own good. His hand never left my heart, and He protected me through many dark moments. Many of us are prodigal sons and daughters who have returned home to enjoy the love and forgiveness of the loving Father. As a result, our potential to help others in similar circumstances is enhanced. Wounded children may follow our footsteps in ministry because of the Lord's power, mercy, and grace. Keep in mind the words of Solomon in Proverbs 14: 26-27: "In the fear of the LORD there is strong confidence. And His children will have a place of refuge. The fear of the LORD is a fountain of life, To turn one away from the snares of death."
Sydna A. Masse is the founder and president of Ramah International. Ramah provides inexpensive web site design for pregnancy care centers and a detailed booklet on Internet ministry entitled: Go Ye into the World: Ministering on the World Wide Web. For more information visit www.ramahinternational.org or contact Sydna at 941-473-2188 or write to email@example.com. Ramah International, 1776 Hudson St., Englewood, FL 34223.