I’ve heard it said that the church is the hope of the world. I’ve also noticed that women facing crisis pregnancies all seem to have one feeling in common: hopelessness. It is this very feeling that propels abortion rates.
The church can be a beacon of hope for women with unintended pregnancies.
After experiencing my own unplanned pregnancy 20 years ago (I was seconds away from having an abortion myself), I firmly believe that the frequency of abortions would go down dramatically if the church was a better source of help for women in my situation.
The availability of church-based support groups for women with unplanned pregnancies, as well as strong partnerships with local pregnancy centers, can provide the hope that a young woman needs in order to choose life for her child. Adopting a “pro-love” approach can not only save a baby physically, but also save the mother eternally. It’s an opportunity to share the Gospel and introduce her to a Savior who cares so much for them.
Unfortunately, I still see cases where a girl chooses life over abortion only to have her church turn their backs on the young woman, even asking her to leave the congregation or youth group during her pregnancy.
What if we made the church the first place a young woman ran to when she found out she was pregnant – instead of away because of shame and guilt? What if we stopped being so loud about what we are against, but became famous for our love and what we are for? We can be pro-love and not just pro-birth.
A church without the broken is a broken church.
By having support systems in place (like an Embrace Grace group), you are letting your church know that you don’t love the sin, but you love the sinner no matter what. And the baby is never a sin. A baby is a miracle.
Here are several common misconceptions that some pastors or church members have when approached with starting support groups for women with unplanned pregnancies:
MYTH: The women in our church aren’t getting abortions.
TRUTH:According to CareNet more than 40 percent of women who’ve had an abortion were attending church regularly at the time they ended their pregnancy. These women are silently warring; alone, ashamed and hopeless. They often feel like there is no one to talk to and that the only option is an abortion.
Support systems within the church provide these women with someone to talk to for counsel and prayer. They need the courage to choose life. Brave moms raise brave kids, and the church can play a huge role.
MYTH: There aren’t any unwed pregnant women in our church.
TRUTH:Actually, they are there, or at least they were. More likely they are no longer coming through your doors. Shame and guilt prompt many young women in the midst of a crisis pregnancy to stop attending church. Once again, hosting support groups for women with unintended pregnancies is an opportunity for sharing the Gospel and offering discipleship. Make sure your congregation is aware that all are welcome – whether for themselves or for someone they know.
A ministry to pregnant women is another way to reach the community outside the church. Single, pregnant moms are everywhere. They are sitting in high school or college classes. They are waiting tables in your neighborhood restaurants. They are visiting local pregnancy centers, where many hear the Gospel and choose Jesus – yet many have no church home to turn to for spiritual support. Invite them into our churches. The love of God’s people can make all the difference.
MYTH: We don’t have much to offer.
TRUTH: Yes, you do! Can you love someone? Yes. Can you listen to someone? Yes. Can you point someone to Jesus? Yes.
You probably can't fix all of a single mother’s problems, but you can point her to the hope found in Christ. And you can make sure that no single mom walks alone. The help your church can offer could be what keeps her going each day, and what will give her something to look forward to every week.
MYTH: We don’t have anyone with the necessary background.
TRUTH: First of all, you don't have to have an unplanned pregnancy story to help lead a support group for women facing a crisis pregnancy. We all have a story of grace. We all have been rescued. Anyone can play a role as long as you're good at loving people. Second of all, you might actually have someone with the personal experience to lead; you just don’t know it yet. Sometimes it’s simply a matter of getting the word out to your congregation!
MYTH: Our church is too small to help women with unplanned pregnancies.
TRUTH: No matter how small your church is, you can help save moms and their babies. Every new effort has to begin somewhere, and changing just one pregnant woman’s world for the better is a great place to start. Every single mom needs a spiritual family to walk with her and support her through a scary, uncertain time. Every church body, big or small, can remind her exactly who holds her future in His capable hands.
MYTH: We can’t help because it’s a political issue.
TRUTH:This is about people, not politics. Think of someone you know who’s faced an unplanned pregnancy. Picture her face and what kind of person she is. Is she a political issue? Is what she went through (or is currently going through) a political issue? Loving people in need isn’t a matter of political debate.
And for those women in your congregation who have chosen abortion at some point, consider offering a support group for post-abortion healing. After all, statistics show that one in four women have experienced an abortion. Help them heal their broken hearts. Empower them to tell their stories.
Adopting a proactive, pro-love approach within your church will give you a front-row seat to witness transformed lives and revived hearts. Families restored. Church members more engaged. God can use a baby to help His children better understand His love.
I am already seeing a change in the tide. I recently attended an Embrace Grace baby shower at my home church in Texas where more than 20 people surrendered their life to Christ. At a baby shower! These family members and baby daddies could feel the hope of Jesus through the love of His people.
I am seeing churches talk less about the problem and instead focus more attention on the solution. That solution is the love of God.
I am seeing women who experienced an abortion years ago, who had never told anyone before, now sharing their stories and serving within the church. These women are determined to be the hope that they so desperately needed years ago.
And women facing unplanned pregnancies are becoming brave enough to try church and fall in love with Jesus in the process. When these women and their families surrender their lives to Jesus, those lives are impacted forever.
Yes, I’ve heard it said that the church is the hope of the world. If we let God work in us and through us, then we can share that hope with the hopeless around us. Together we can change the world and maybe someday make abortion seem unthinkable!
When going through a personal struggle, there's no better help than to receive hope from someone who once stood where you are standing now. For the single woman or young girl with an unplanned pregnancy, A Bump in Life will help anyone going through or connected with this situation move from feelings of loneliness, shame, and worry to the far more lasting joy that is God's redemptive blessing of a child.