In the days of the early Church, the last person you would have expected God to use would have been Paul. After all, he found great satisfaction in his persecution of God's people. But when God changed his heart, Paul became one of the most vigorous evangelists. His writings still speak to us today with encouragement and insight.
Paul's humbled heart made him usable and effective. The fruit of his ministry has lasted 2000 years! His words in I Timothy 1:15-16 serve as a window to his heart:
"...Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners -- among whom I am foremost of all. And yet for this reason I found mercy in order that in me as the foremost, Jesus Christ might demonstrate His perfect patience, as an example for those who would believe in Him for eternal life."
Paul is one of my favorite Biblical men because I see similarities between his life and mine. After taking the life of my own child through an abortion in 1981, I could hardly believe that God would consider me useful in His work against abortion. I too was shown mercy so Jesus could use me as an example.
The Lord used a post-abortion program through a local crisis pregnancy center to uncover my sin and bring me to my knees before Him. Once the cloud of guilt and shame was lifted from my eyes, I saw that God could use me to help bring an end to abortion. With that as my hope, I summoned every ounce of courage to relate the traumatic testimony of my child's brief life and death.
The fruit of my testimony has been life for at least 60 children. I am grateful that their mothers listened closely when I told of my pain of regret after the abortion. Not one of those 60 mothers regretted sparing her child. In addition, there have been many opportunities to present the message of grace and forgiveness to men and women who were in fear of God's wrath and judgment because of their choice. It is a blessing to hold a child whom the Lord has used me to save. Yet it is a far greater blessing to embrace a woman who has just accepted Christ into her heart.
As crisis pregnancy ministry leaders, the power of post-abortive testimonies isn't news to you. Once we who have had abortions acknowledge our part in ending the lives of our children and receive God's healing, our effectiveness in life-affirming efforts is unique. Our testimonies of the deep regret brought by the abortion choice are genuine and compelling. Yet, post-abortive individuals often are an untapped resource in pro-life efforts!
The Alan Guttmacher Institute, the research arm of Planned Parenthood states: "... 43% of all women will experience abortion at least once by the time they reach 45 years of age" ("Facts in Brief: Induced Abortion", The Alan Guttmacher Institute, Washington, DC, January 1997). If abortion touches nearly half of all women, why is this choice buried in most hearts? Can it be that regret and the fear of being judged by society -- especially Christians -- pressure women to keep abortions a closely held secret?
The pro-choice philosophy adamantly states there is no regret in abortion. American psychologists declare that there is no such thing as "post-abortion syndrome." Since post-abortive individuals are, for the most part, silent about this sin, the world concludes that we are happy with our decision. Abortion advocates glibly state that post-abortion trauma doesn't exist, and no one dares refute their statements.
From conversations with hundreds of post-abortive individuals, it is clear that we all regret our abortion decision at some point in our lives. In abortion, one is dead and one is wounded. More often than not, the wounded suffer in silence -- alone.
If the post-abortive are such a powerful force in life-affirming efforts, why haven't we done more to mobilize them? While resources and funding abound for abstinence education and intervention ministry, post-abortion efforts are often viewed as the stepchild of crisis pregnancy work. It's messy work to reach hearts after an abortion. The opposition keeps workers so busy that few have time to see how effective this ministry can be as a part of the life-affirming effort.
CPCs that make their post-abortion ministry a high priority derive great blessing from it. Linda Perry, Executive Director of Assist CPC, says, "We have found the post-abortion outreach blesses every area of our ministry. Lives are dramatically healed in the post-abortion Bible studies. This encourages everyone in the CPC because the fruit of these efforts can be seen within a few weeks. Those forgiven and renewed are zealous to save others from making the mistake of an abortion decision."
Hoping to reach more hearts with the prospect for healing, I wrote a book with Joan Phillips entitled Her Choice to Heal: Finding Spiritual and Emotional Peace After Abortion. While we expected to help women struggling with their abortion decision, these testimonies also could have a powerful effect on the abortion-minded.
While many stories of hope, redemption, and evangelism have come across my desk, one in particular maintains a warm spot in my heart. A friend took our book to lunch hoping to find some moments to learn more about post-abortion trauma. His waitress read the title and asked many emotional questions about his view on abortion. Discerning that she may have been post-abortive, he gave her the book and spoke of God's unconditional love toward sinners.
A few weeks later he visited the restaurant again where this woman happily approached him. She told him that on the day they spoke last, she had had an abortion appointment. She kept her appointment but read the book during the extended wait in the abortion clinic. After a few chapters, she knew she couldn't choose to abort. Her boyfriend was relieved when she changed her mind, and they were married shortly thereafter.
With all my heart, I ask you to pray about your own post-abortion ministry program. There are modern-day Paul's all around. Look for them and bring them the message of hope in Christ! They make some of the best board members, best volunteers, and best donors to the Pro-Life movement. No one is more effective in your counseling rooms than one who can personally relate her regret that she cannot undo her deed.
Without your hand of help, these local Pauline evangelists might remain silent. Your center is the most logical place for their healing to begin. By reaching just one of them, you can touch thousands more. Soon, and with God's help, we will do the seemingly impossible and change the hearts of our world against this horrible choice.
Sydna A. Massé is President and Founder of Ramah International, Inc. This non-profit post-abortion ministry provides ministry training programs, develops resources, offers detailed support to organizations who join their affiliation network, encourages post-abortion research, and works to generate a national awareness of the hope of healing after abortion. Sydna is also a co-author of Her Choice to Heal: Finding Spiritual and Emotional Peace After Abortion. To contact Sydna or to order this book, contact Ramah International, 1776 Hudson Street, Englewood, FL 34223, phone: (941) 473-2188, or visit the Ramah website at www.ramahinternational.org. If you are interested in having Sydna speak at your fund raising events, contact Ron Miller at (615) 377-9100.
Reaching Imprisoned Hearts
Check your heart on this issue. Do you feel any judgment toward the client who chooses abortion? Will she come back to you for help when the regret sets in? Remember that she is anticipating your judgment. She assumes you will "stone" her if you discover her horrible secret. In your conversations, be careful not to voice anything but love towards post-abortive individuals -- you never know when someone in that 43% might be listening!
Evaluate your CPC's post-abortion ministry. How many women and men are being reached each year? How does that number compare to the clients in your pre-abortion ministry? Are your post-abortion ministry leaders trained, equipped, and encouraged, knowing that their efforts are an important part of your center's activity? Remember that advertising aimed towards increasing your abortion-minded clientele can be enhanced to reach post-abortive individuals as well. Moreover, the offer of post-abortion services will stand as a warning to those considering abortion.
Become educated in post-abortion issues. Read Her Choice to Heal and other resources that outline post-abortion difficulties and pain. Whenever you mention your intervention services, also mention your post-abortion efforts. Mentioning them together will dissuade post-abortive listeners from inferring a condemnatory attitude.
Pray for the post-abortive population that is still sitting in a prison of pain. Ask the Holy Spirit to work in your own heart. Ideas for ministry will abound, and people drawn by God to help you in this area will come to your center.