"Max" summons his courage as he parks his car at the local pregnancy center. He's been walking an emotional tightrope for three days since his girlfriend's home pregnancy test was positive. Max has worked to be physically and emotionally supportive, telling her, "I'll find help." While he believes abortion would be a good choice, he's concerned it could affect his girlfriend at an emotional level. His own emotions are put in check as he seeks to "fix" the situation.
It was his sister, Jenna, who told him about the local pregnancy care center. Inside the center, two female advocates watch him approach. These two ladies cross their arms in a defensive position anticipating his entrance. As this future father opens the door, he notices their eyes focus on him intently. Max smiles, hoping that his sister was correct and that he will be welcomed in this extremely feminine world.
"How may we help you?" the younger receptionist remarks with a cold tone in her voice. As Max hears the judgmental sound of her question, his courage evaporates. "Aw, nothing," he responds, turning to flee. When he reaches his car, he puts his head in his hands and begins to cry. When he drives away he concludes, "Perhaps they will be friendlier at the family planning clinic."
While it may be difficult to believe, this scenario is repeated often in pregnancy centers every day. Some men simply never get the courage to make it out of the car, while others call our centers for information and experience disrespectful responses.
Men are rarely viewed as the "client," despite the fact that they have a strong influence on abortion decisions. Men need to know that women want their opinion and also want to experience their support and help. If a man understands how deeply abortion could hurt his loved one, he's less likely to push this option. Men deserve care, support, and education in order to encourage a decision for life.
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Some pregnancy center advocates come from broken homes and relationships that often involved abuse and abandonment. Our female clients could be in the same situations that we endured. As these women share their current tales of terror, unresolved emotions against men in our own pasts can be triggered. It's important to realize that these client stories may be fabricated to gain our sympathy and attention. At other times, their revelations of abuse are very real, and there is great cause for concern.
An unresolved anger issue against men is sometimes called "global male hatred." Should these emotions manifest, they could quickly end a child's life. This anger also may quickly be unleashed against any available man—including other men in the waiting room who are trying to be supportive. A simple look of disrespect can send a man running out the door. Men need to experience the same welcoming spirit that our female clients receive. They deserve our initial respect as well.
Many of us work to incorporate the philosophy outlined in Titus 3:1-7: Remind them to be submissive to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for every good work, to speak evil of no one, to avoid quarreling, to be gentle, and to show perfect courtesy toward all people. For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another. But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life."
This passage outlines how older women should mentor younger women. It seems simple enough—to be ready for every good work, to speak evil of no one, to be peaceable, gentle and showing all humility. Our goal today is similar—offer the kindness and the love of God our Savior to everyone that comes into our lives—male or female.
Can your advocates offer the same support to the male client as they do the female client? Many men have learned to expect rejection and intimidation from women in authority positions, especially when two or more females are present. Men can pick up on these emotions from a simple glance, tone of voice, or defensive body language.
Here are some ideas to help determine, root out, and eliminate "global male hatred" in our ministry efforts:
TESTING YOUR TEAM—Ask a few trusted men of different ages to come to your center at various times of day as "test" clients. (In retail, they are called "mystery shoppers.") The men should be unfamiliar to the staff. Their role is to act like a potential client and ask the receptionist simple questions about services and abortion. This will help evaluate your staff's level of hospitality towards male clients. Make sure to have these men record their observations and come back to share at your next staff meeting.
TRAINING—Conduct specific role-playing scenarios that include male client situations. This can be a healing time for many advocates who don't realize how their unresolved emotions against men can be triggered. If you determine that an advocate isn't prepared to offer godly support to male clients, consider placing her in female-only situations.
TALES FROM THE PAST—When you draw the staff together, share a hypothetical story of a "man behaving badly." After you share the tale, ask them how they would respond to this person directly. Then question how they would react to a man in the waiting room whose girlfriend had just shared such a story with them. It won't take too long for everyone to realize how easy it is to personally "respond very badly."
MEN IN THE CENTER—Many advocates are under the false assumption that it's best not to have a man in the center to ensure the comfort level of female clients. I disagree with this philosophy in general terms as it relates to godly men. Young women need examples of godly men who don't look at them with lust but with respect. A male's presence typically "tones down" global male hatred because words can be overheard!
When sharing at banquets, I'm most delighted when I hear a young man's testimony of how the center has helped him. These male clients can be very effective in showing the depth of your ministry. The response in the audience is amazement, as most believe we are a "woman's" ministry. Male listeners are touched to pray about their potential in volunteering to help mentor these new fathers. Also, women are encouraged to see young men standing up to take responsibility.
Ensuring the love and respect level of our staff towards men is a key step in beginning your ministry to these abortion-vulnerable clients! It is a key element in saving lives that are likely to be aborted. Helping our workers heal from past wounds through the Holy Spirit will make them stronger in all their relationships with the opposite sex as well!
Sydna Massé is President and Founder or Ramah International and co-author of the book, Her Choice to Heal: Finding Spiritual and Emotional Peace After Abortion. Dr. Clarence Shuler serves as a Ramah International board member and is President and Founder of Building Lasting Relationships.
Excerpted from the Ramah Booklet, "Reaching Abortion-Minded Men." If you are interested in learning more about ministering to men, order this book and the accompanying audio recordings at www.ramahinternational.com.