Amy Ford: You know, a lot of times the church will say they’re pro-life, and yes, keep your baby, but then sometimes when a girl chooses life, they may shame them, or condemn them, or shut their doors and say they’re not welcome here. So we want it to be a safe place.
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John Fuller: Mm-hmm. Isn’t it an interesting phrase, we want to be a safe place? And that call comes from Amy Ford, she’s urging all of us in the Christian community to live out our pro-life beliefs in very real, tangible ways. Today on Focus on the Family, we’ll learn how you and I can take a more active role in the pro-life movement. And you might be surprised about how simple it is to get involved. Your host is Focus president and author, Jim Daly, and I’m John Fuller.
Jim Daly: Focus on the Family has always been unashamedly pro-life and it’s one of our foundational principles. Uh, over the years, we’ve taken every opportunity to promote this message and encourage others to join us in advocating for pre-born babies, the elderly, and those with special needs. That’s why I was so pleased with our huge pro-life event this past weekend, what a wonderful time, uh, we had there in Dallas with so many friends and fellow believers, recognizing the value and sanctity of every human life created in the image of God. And what I appreciated most, John, was the collaboration we celebrated working in tandem with other pro-life leaders like Amy Ford, Nick Vujicic, Dr. Bill Lile, Robert and Trevor Hendershot, and the great team of pregnancy resource centers all across North America. These folks are on the frontlines of the pro-life movement rescuing both mothers and pre-born babies from the devastation of abortion.
John: Yeah, I was so inspired, Jim, to hear such amazing stories about God moving in the hearts of individuals and families to save and protect life, to stand up for the value of life in all its beautiful forms, and of course, some great worship times along the way with Matthew West.
Jim: Uh, we really did John. And if our listeners missed any of that, uh, the good news is we have the entire evening recorded for you along with all of the See Life 2021 video episodes that we’ve been featuring over the past six weeks. All of that’s available online and you can still participate with us, it’s not too late to join our team and become a pro-life advocate today.
John: Yeah, connect with us, uh, watch the videos, tell us, uh, your pro-life story, you can even donate and save a baby’s life. All of the details are at focusonthefamily.com/broadcast. Uh, Jim, we mentioned Amy Ford, um, she was your cohost for See Life 2021 and, uh, for those video episodes as well that you mentioned. And today we’re gonna share a little more of Amy’s background and story. She’s the founder and president of Embrace Grace, is a church-based ministry that provides godly encouragement and practical help to single pregnant women who are vulnerable to abortion. Amy has written a really powerful book, it’s called, Help Her Be Brave: Discover Your Place in the Pro-Life Movement. Of course, we have copies of that here at the ministry. Jim, here’s how you began the conversation with Amy Ford.
Jim: Amy, welcome back to Focus on the Family.
Amy: Hi, thank you so much for having me.
Jim: Good to have you. Um, listen, you’re active every day in this arena of life and you’re counseling women and you’re helping, you know, teen girls, uh, think through what is in front of them and the difficult choices that they face. You have said and I, I agree with this, that the church isn’t quite ready if the Supreme Court were to reverse Roe v. Wade, would we be ready to step up and, and be there? And I think we would have a challenge in that area. Explain what you’re seeing at the ground level.
Amy: Yeah, well, and it’s not even just teen girls, I mean, the unplanned pregnancies can go all the way up into the 30s and … But we’re just seeing a lot of times the big issue is the, the girl doesn’t actually feel like it’s a safe place to go to. When she has an unexpected pregnancy, the church is not the first thing that crosses her mind of like, I need help, let me go to the church and ask if they’ll help me. Um, I even talked to a girl the other day that was telling me her story, and she said that she had called three churches and, uh, left messages, it was over a weekend, and only … and saying she was pregnant, scared, she didn’t know what to do, I need help, and only one called her back.
Amy: And so we can’t just vote for life and then say, good luck, hope it works out for you.
Amy: We have to be able to be ready physically, spiritually and emotionally to walk alongside the pregnancy. And, um, we can’t … You know, we … I can just see girls being homeless or, or not having … um, being able to afford childcare or things like that, and we can’t just let them go figure it out on their own when they’re asking and pleading for help to know how to do this if they don’t have access to an abortion.
Jim: And Amy, uh, you’re coming from a place of experience. I mean, you’re not just, uh, someone who wants to do good, which is, you know, on its face that’s good too, but you’re coming from a place of brokenness. Um, wh- what was your story?
Amy: Well, I had an unplanned pregnancy when I was 19 and I went to a Christian private school, knew abortion was wrong my entire life, um, knew who God was, but I really didn’t have a relationship with Him. So when I found out when I was unexpectedly expecting, um, I was so terrified, I … really, my biggest thing was I was terrified to tell my parents. And looking back, I feel like that’s silly because they, they were upset, but it wasn’t as bad as what fear makes you think in what the enemy lies to you in that situation. And so me and the father of the baby felt like abortion, we could just have an abortion and we’ll deal with the consequences of a broken heart later, this will be a quick fix, even though I grew up knowing abortion was wrong. And so went to the abortion clinic, we paid for it, and I went in, uh, to have the procedure done. And then as they were explaining to me what they were going to do, all of those emotions that I had suppressed really just erupted in that moment and I ended up hyperventilating and passing out in the abortion room. And when I came to, the nurse was fanning me, trying to give me a drink of water, and she said, “You’re too emotionally distraught to make this decision today, you can come back another day, but you’re not getting an abortion today.”
Amy: Um, but I went back out into the waiting room and I told, um, the father of the baby, and we just were like, okay, like, let’s just deal with the consequences of what’s going to happen, and let’s just figure it out together. And so we told our parents, it wasn’t as bad as we thought it was going to be, um, and we ended up getting married. We had been high school sweethearts for a long time, we ended up getting married when I was 16 weeks pregnant. And we had gone to the pastor that had led my husband to the Lord years before, we asked him if he would marry us, and he said, “No, I can’t and won’t marry you. I can’t bless this marriage because of your sin.”
Amy: And we were like, we’re such horrible people, we can’t even get married right. I mean, it felt like a scarlet letter on our wedding day. We found someone else that would marry us, but the shame was so intense. Um, but even just that season before that, and even after, it’s kind of like the elephant in the room and people don’t know whether to say congratulations or I’m sorry, so they just don’t say anything, and so you just feel alone in a crowd of people.
Jim: Sure. Amy, I, I want to dig into a couple of components of what you’ve told us. One, your parents, you’ve mentioned that, it wasn’t as bad as what I thought it would be with my parents. Um, there are parents maybe today who are listening right now that later are going to get a call from their pregnant teen daughter or they’re going to see them at dinner, and this discussion is going to happen. What kind of counsel do you give to parents about how to react if this happens?
Amy: Well, I just believe that God is the Creator of all life. And so he knew what he was doing when, um, he blessed this girl, woman with an, an … with a baby, even if it was unplanned by her, this baby was planned by God. And what I’ve seen so many times is that when God wants to woo his daughter back to his heart, sometimes he’ll give her a baby to do it, sometimes he’ll give her the sweetest face that she’s ever laid eyes on so she can finally get a glimpse of maybe how much God must love her.
Amy: And so we’ve seen girls that are almost about to kill themselves, suicidal, on drugs, or just going down the wrong path and all of a sudden find out they’re pregnant, and this is the thing that kind of gets them back on the right track.
Amy: And so to look at the bigger picture of what God might be doing here, um, and leading his daughter back to him.
Jim: Yeah. And then the other aspect of what you said that really catches my attention is your Christian convictions, I mean, you’re 19, 18-
Amy: I was 19.
Jim: -at the time, and so, you know, you’re, you’re getting to a point where that maturity is happening. You know, some people maybe have never had to walk that difficult decision. And even though you’re in church, you understand Christian values, your pro-life in your heart, now the pressure is on you because, you know, this, this situation and you’ve got to make this decision. Why do you think it’s not automatic? Why do you think the girls are second guessing everything they’ve been taught for 17 years, 18 years, 19 years in your case? What, what is missing in their worldview construct that they’d even go that direction?
Amy: Well, I think it’s two things. One, as I said before, fear. Fear is the biggest reason why women have abortions, you’re scared and it does seem like alluring to have a quick fix of-
Jim: It’s easy.
Amy: Yeah, it’s easy.
Amy: Right. Even though it’s a trauma that is, uh, inflict-
Amy: Lifelong, yes, for sure. Um, but the other thing is, is I grew up in the church my entire life and I never knew there was a pro-life movement ever. I never knew … Like I would stand outside abortion clinics with my parents sometimes and we would pray, but I didn’t know there were all the resources. Like I had no idea. And I remember when I wrote my first book, even writing that book I didn’t think, I’m writing a pro-life book, it was just stories of girls with unplanned pregnancies. And as we started Embrace Grace we didn’t think, I’m going to start a pro-life organization. I was like, I’m going to help women with unplanned pregnancies. And it wasn’t until the first conference, it was actually a Care Net conference, which is a pregnancy centered training conference, they asked me to come speak and they’ll give me a booth in this … like in exchange. And so, and so we were like, had to do some brochures and things, and I had never heard of Care Net, I have no idea. I show up and there are hundreds of booths and organizations-
Amy: -of people that are ready to assist at a moment’s notice for women with unplanned pregnancy.
Amy: I had no idea-
Amy: -that there was that out there. And I think the, the … mainly the church in general is the same way. When I talk to people that have gone to church their whole life, they don’t know, a lot of them don’t even know what a pregnancy center is. And that’s like the mo- … one of the most important things we need in our communities.
Amy: You know, that’s the first response team and the church is the hospital, and we got to have … we got to know what’s all in our communities to help them.
Jim: And I think when we talk about, with the opening comments that you made, in terms of where the church is at, these are some great gains over the last 40-45 years that the church really has stepped up. It’s not the same as 1973, the church is far more sophisticated and far better equipped to help young women-
Amy: For sure.
Jim: -and a woman of any age who’s in that position to deal with an unplanned pregnancy. And that, that is the good news. And I mean, I’d encourage you to get engaged with-
Amy: Yeah, get involved.
Jim: -your local pregnancy resource center and, you know, volunteer, support them financially, um, that’s what Focus does. And there’s like 3,000, 4,000 of these clinics around, uh, probably right in your neighborhood.
Jim: So look for one and join in, be a part of it. Most of them are volunteer run-
Amy: Right, they need you.
Jim: -so that’s a good thing to do. They do need each one of us. Uh, let me, uh, tie a, a little bow there with your parents, because some people are probably asking, what happened to her mom and dad? What was that healing process like for you with your parents? And you know, for a parent, you’ve, you’ve poured into your child, you’ve poured into your daughter, and then that happens. There’s that initial, ah, and they kind of understand the grief that’s going to be there, and then you have to heal that relationship of trust. How did that go for you and your mom and dad?
Amy: Well, I know for them and for other, uh, parents, it’s kind of easy to all of a sudden think, where did I go wrong? Like, what did I do, um, to help assist in this happening? Like where did, where did the communication breakdown, things like that?
Jim: The formula didn’t work.
Amy: Right. And I think that the key is, I feel like with all unplanned pregnancies, uh, fear obviously is the biggest issue, but also just our identity, value and worth is kind of what … not knowing our identity, value and worth is kind of what gets us into this situation in the first place. And so, um, they … that can never be something that a parent can fill. You know, God creates, um, our hearts to crave intimacy, but with Him. And so when we try to fill it with other things, parents can’t fill it, a boyfriend can’t fill it, north- … f- food shopping, you know, nothing can fill this God sized hole that we have. And so it’s not any … They were great parents, there was not anything that they did that contributed to me having an unexpected pregnancy, it was me and not going to God for affirming my identity, value and worth that I, I know now only He can do. And that’s why with embrace grace, the organization I run and these small groups that we have for unplanned … girls with unplanned pregnancies in churches all over the nation, we drill it in about how valuable, how amazing they are, how much God loves them, and that only he can fill that craving that we all have to want to be loved and to feel loved.
John: Mm-hmm. So appreciate the comments and heart of our guest today on Focus on the Family, Amy Ford. And, uh, we want to make sure that you hear about her organization, Embrace Grace, and also her book, Help Her Be Brave. We’ll link over to those resources and, uh, other help at focusonthefamily.com/broadcast.
Jim: You have received some criticism about Embrace Grace and the ministry to single pregnant women, and it comes in the, the form of, you don’t require them to accept Christ before they’re given this help and this aid and I think some people struggle with that. I totally get it because that’s … you’re putting out the pathway, you’re doing the engagement, the discipleship that brings a young woman to that decision for eternal life, you know, that decision to embrace Christ. So wh- what do you say to that criticism on how you’re going about it?
Amy: Well, we just feel like this is planting seeds. You know, they … we’ll serve the gospel up on a silver platter and they get to choose whether they want to partake or not. And so we just thank God even if they came for only one class or they came for all 12, thank you, Lord, that we got an opportunity to share the gospel. Like, how amazing is that? And sometimes they only come for the free stuff. You know, they just come because they want this stuff but we’re getting an opportunity to share the gospel and we always say, we’re planting seeds. Um, we had a woman once that was Wiccan and she believed in witchcraft. And she was like, “Hey, I really need the free stuff, is it okay if I come to your group at your church? I know I’m Wiccan, I don’t believe in, in what you believe but I would love to come, and someone told me about it.” And I was like, “Sure, yeah, come.” She came every week and she never missed a class. And, um, one time she said, “I like the way it makes me feel when I come to this group.” And I just like held on to that. And I really felt like there was going to be this salvation experience. Like I just knew it, and it was going to happen, it was going to be amazing, and I was trusting God that it was going to happen. And so she does the whole Embrace Grace program, never misses a class, and goes through the baby shower, the princess day, which is an awesome, um, event that we do that we crown them and tell them how amazing they are, and she doesn’t. And I remember after that last night I went home and I was kind of offended, but I, I would never tell her, you know, but I was like, God, why? Like, she did the whole thing, what are we missing? Where did we go wrong? What is, is the issue because she said she liked it?
And I heard the Lord say, “You’re planting seeds. Do you think a girl would have … that was Wiccan would have ever stepped foot into a church if you hadn’t created a safe place for her to be there? So let me do what I do.” And so I was like, okay, Lord, like I give her to you. And I kind of lost touch with her. A lot of single moms, um, if they can’t pay their bills, their phone number changes, and I lost touch with her. Well, a year later, she called me freaking out, totally excited, and she’s like, “Amy, you will never believe what’s happening.” She said, “I just lately have been thinking, maybe God is real and I would think something, and then something would happen.” But one day, she was the manager of a restaurant/gas station, and she said, “I went into work and I was like, God, I feel like maybe you’re trying to talk to me, but I don’t know. But I just want you to do something really big. Like, I don’t want to think that you’re real, like, I want to know your real, can you do something, um, to affirm my faith? And so she goes into work, and as she’s working her shift, a random guy came up to the counter and he … she said … I remember she specifically said he looked nervous and he kind of was shaking a little bit.
Amy: And he said, “I know this is gonna sound really crazy, but, um, I felt like the Lord wanted me to tell you that he loves you-
Amy: “-and he sees you, and that all he wants is your heart.”
Amy: And she was like, “What!” And so she goes back home and she gets her Embrace Grace curriculum from the year before, and she said she went into the bathroom and she put her tiara on her head that we had given her from princess day the year before. And she said, “I did it in the bathroom looking in the mirror because I wanted it to be a moment I would never forget.”
Amy: Like, this is the moment that I surrendered my life to Jesus. And she … I was the first one she called. A year later-
Amy: -totally freaking out, and I just held on to that. And, um, I just love how it all came down to, she liked the way it made her feel when she came to church.
Amy: Like we weren’t trying to fix her, we were just introducing her to the Holy Spirit who could transform her.
John: And it felt safe for her.
Amy: And it felt safe. It wasn’t behavior modification, it was a heart transformation, and it didn’t happen right before our very eyes, it was a slower process, but thank you Lord for that. And then I think about the guy, like, he probably walked away, because especially if he was nervous, I am such a dork. Like, God, why do you make me do these things? Like you made me … You know, (laughing) I probably [crosstalk] sound like a nerd, you know, whatever. But he had no idea [crosstalk] that she went straight home and surrendered her life to Jesus.
Jim: Mm-hmm. He was that critical link.
Amy: How amazing is that?
Jim: Yeah, just be- being obedient, right?
Amy: Right. And-
Jim: But man, that’s … that would be a little unsettling maybe, but that encourages me to always go with the nudge that the Lord gives you, right? Say what the Lord-
Amy: Yeah, the devil didn’t tell you to do it.
Jim: Right, absolutely not.
Jim: Uh, but Amy, i- it’s so beautiful, uh, reminder of the fact that we play a role and we’re so goal oriented, you know, here’s the Four Laws, bow your head with me right now, that may not be the plan.
Jim: I mean, it might be just faithfulness in, uh, in this way, being a friend, a good friend, being committed to her and talking with her, that’s what cracked her heart open-
Jim: -and then trusting that the Lord owns the rest of it.
Jim: Um, you don’t have to panic, just be obedient in the moment that God has you in with that person. Wow. We kind of have covered that end. I mean, when you go from Wicca to accepting Christ, that’s a dramatic story obviously. Let me also hit this area that you- you- you’ve developed some great thoughts and models for and that is to encourage pro-life Christians to be intentional about looking for opportunities to help pregnant women. I think you have a story about a wedding ring observation, what, what was that story about?
Amy: Oh, well, I’m just always looking for baby bellies. You gotta want to make sure that they’re pregnant [crosstalk] and that’s not a food belly.
Amy: But I’m always looking for baby bellies. And so then I look at their ring to see like, do they have a, a wedding ring on? And sometimes it can be their hands are swollen, but I have a way of just starting the conversation. You can say a lot with a huge smile on your face. And I’m a very positive bubbly person, so I’m like, you know, do you have any kids? Because especially if I’m not sure if they’re pregnant-
Amy: -like, do you have any kids? And, um, and just letting the Holy Spirit lead the conversation, uh, but leading to, what do you need? Or how can we help? Did you know there’s an Embrace Grace group in your area? Can we get you connected? You’ll get free stuff, a baby shower, you’ll meet other girls going through the same thing that you are. Or have you been to a pregnancy center? Just allowing God to lead the conversation. But doing that I have met girls in the craziest of places. And they’re in front of us all the time, I think, sometimes we just get too busy to notice, you know, that they’re around us all the time.
Jim: Right. And in fact, I think you have a story, now, I don’t know why you were there, but a Sonic-
Jim: -drive thru.
Amy: Uh, well, because I live in Texas and it’s hot, and you need to slushies and all the kids are hot. And, um, so at Sonic, you can swipe your card, but they don’t put tip lines when you swipe your card at Sonic. So if you want to tip a girl, you have to have cash, and I hardly ever have cash, but I thought I did this day. And we’ve had Embrace Grace girls work at Sonic and they’ve kind of complained people don’t tip, so I’m like, kind of want to make sure that I do. So I go, I order, push the button, order all the slushies, and as I’m waiting for her to come out I realize that I have no cash in my … Uh, and I was like, oh, my goodness. So when she came out I said, “I’m so sorry, um, you know, I paid for the food but I don’t have cash for a tip. But I’ll go to the bank, and I’ll go to the ATM machine, and I’ll get you some cash, and I’ll come back.” And, um, she’s like, “No, you don’t have to do that, but if you want to you can.”
Amy: I was like, “Sure, I will.” So I go and get cash, come back, and we were … Um, so I said, “What’s your, you know, what’s your name?” And she said, “My name is Zoey.” I said, “I love that name. Like when I was pregnant with my fourth, Judah, he’s, he’s about one now, before I knew it was a boy, a girl name was Zoey, I had picked that out. Did you know that your name means life? But it, it does … it’s not like just the surviving kind of life, like it means the John 10:10 and the John 3:16, like the heavenly realm of life. Like it’s a really cool translation. You have a really amazing name.” And she said, “Um, so you have a … ” or I said, “Did you, did you know that about your name?” She’s like, “No.” And she said, “Well, do you have a … so you have a baby?” I said, “Yeah, I mean, he’s about one, so he’s kind of a bigger baby.” She’s like, “Me and my boyfriend just found out we’re pregnant and we’re really nervous, do you have any advice for me?” I’m like (laughing), “God, this is the greatest setup ever.” And so I got her connected to a pregnancy center, she came through Embrace Grace, did the whole program. I was at her wedding, I was at her birth, she ended up-
Jim: That’s amazing.
Amy: … having a boy, so she got all of my Judah’s hand me downs. I get to do life with this girl named Zoey who’s such a blessing to me and I … if I would have just treated her as a robot or someone else that’s trying to, you know, fulfill my order, I would have missed out on such an amazing relationship and friendship that we have today.
Amy: And she’s such a great mom.
Jim: That is so awesome and beautiful. I mean, what a great illustration of the way [crosstalk] we should be acting and behaving in this life. Um, let’s end with a really powerful story, um, about a pastor. There’s so many pastoral families that struggle, and we know that, and it’s okay, we have actually a, a line where pastors can call us here anonymously and talk through the difficulties that their families are going through. They need that lifeline and they need to be able to get some input from time to time as well. But you have a story about a pastor’s daughter who was unmarried and ended up pregnant, and she reconciled with God through that and the church and her family. And she wanted to participate in a child dedication. What, what was that story all about?
Amy: Well, he’s … he was a pastor of a big church and his daughter had an unplanned pregnancy and had really strayed from the Lord. When she found out she was pregnant, she asked for forgiveness and asked to come back home, and he said yes. And so she had a little girl. Um, and after she had the baby, she wanted to do a baby dedication. And the way this church does it is they’ll have a family up at the front and they’ll say, “Is there anyone here that represents this, uh, family and their baby? Will you please stand.” And they do a prayer, and then they do the next family, and the next family, and the next family?
Amy: Well, then he gets to his daughter and her baby, and he says, “Is there anyone here that represents this woman and her child?” And something amazing happened, the whole church stood up.
Amy: And so it was such a beautiful picture, even to her, to see like, we’re not going to kick you when you’re down. Like, we’re going to pick you back up when you fall, and we are in this together, like, because really, ultimately, whatever happens politically, what we all want is to make abortion unthinkable. Like that it doesn’t even cross their mind that they feel like they can’t have access to it, no, we want them to feel like they don’t want it, they don’t need it, because we all have something to give and to help her be brave.
John: Amy Ford is such a wonderful advocate for life. And we encourage you to learn more about her ministry, Embrace Grace. And we can also provide you with suggestions about volunteering at a pregnancy resource center and how you can contribute tangibly to the pro-life movement.
Jim: And again, John, the key is to get involved. Uh, if you believe what the Bible says about mankind being created in the image of God and how we are fearfully and wonderfully made, that’s all well and good, but now is the time to take a stand for those convictions, we need to act. And that’s what our See Life event was about this past weekend in Dallas. And I urge you to go online to watch that and the powerful series of videos that we created. We need more advocates like you. Uh, it doesn’t take sophistication, it takes the heart of God in you to join the grass root movement and share those pro-life beliefs in a winsome way with everyone who will listen. It begins in your home and with your children and family members, and then with your friends and coworkers and people in your local community. This is a winning message, people, this culture is coming around to the reality that life begins at conception. Contact us to learn how you can participate, because by working together, we can save more pre-born babies and be a witness for the Lord in this world.
John: Well, our phone number is 800-232-6459, 800, the letter A and the word, FAMILY, or stop by focusonthefamily.com/broadcast. And one practical way you can get involved is by supporting our option ultrasound program where we provide ultrasound machines, training and resources to the pregnancy centers that Jim and Amy mentioned earlier. And through option ultrasound, we’re giving teen girls and women who are facing an unplanned pregnancy better options for their future.
Jim: And the best news of all of this is that nearly half a million babies have been rescued from abortion thanks to the support of friends like you. All we need is $60 to save a precious baby’s life. And the question is, can we count on you to do that?
John: Well, I hope so. And our number is 800-A-FAMILY or donate online at focusonthefamily.com/broadcast. And when you make a generous gift of any amount to Focus on the Family today, we’ll say thank you by sending a copy of Amy Ford’s terrific book, Help Her Be Brave. Once again, our number 800-A-FAMILY. Well coming up tomorrow, we’ll hear from Sally Clarkson who offers a challenge to moms and dads.
Sally Clarkson: Well, God created parents, he trusted us with these little human beings whose lives will have an impact on their world and he said, “What will you do to teach them about my love so when they’re teenagers they’ll believe that I love them?”