In Her Shoes – Advocating for the Beauty of Life

“He will tend his flock like a shepherd, He will gather the lambs in his arms; He will carry them in his bosom,
and gently lead those that are with young.”
Isaiah 40:11 ESV
It is my privilege to introduce you to my dear college friend Melinda, who has been strategically placed by God on the front line as an advocate for the gift of life.  I have learned much from her and know you will greatly benefit by reading her testimony.
I must say, I’ve had more trouble with arranging this article than I have with any other “In Her Shoes” thus far … no surprise that Satan would do anything he can to stop God’s mission of life. Thank you to those who have prayed this through!  Nothing will make the spacing below behave, but I am not going to allow imperfection to keep this from going out!
Will you pray with me about how God might want to use us in greater ways to advocate for life in our homes, our churches, and our communities?  Thank you, Melinda!

Of all the things I thought I was preparing for during my college years, my current job isn’t one of them. In fact, I’m pretty sure I would have told you fifteen years ago that I didn’t have any expectation of working outside our home, let alone being the director of anything.
Yet that is what God had in store. Just over five years ago, only two years after we’d moved to Colorado where my husband had been called to pastor a small church, someone I knew slightly asked if I would be interested in joining the board of our local pregnancy resource center. PRCs (as the abbreviation goes) are a Christian outreach to abortion-vulnerable women, seeking to equip them with hope and truth that will encourage them to choose life. Often, PRCs also provide post-abortion counseling, parenting classes, and material resources for parents.
A board member? I’d never done that and, with four young children at home, didn’t believe I’d have the time. We only knew a little about the local pregnancy center and weren’t encouraged by what we knew. The ministry was struggling, and most churches in our town weren’t involved in its support or staffing. A few weeks later, the same person told me that the board had decided to hire a new director and asked if I’d be interested in that position. If I didn’t have time to commit two hours per month as a board member, I certainly wouldn’t be able to be the director of the entire ministry. But we knew the pregnancy center was struggling, and we prayed that God would glorify Himself by turning it around.
A month later, another local pastor who served on the board approached my husband. The other pastor’s request surprised him (and me, when he told me). Our friend said, “We’ve been looking and praying for a new director for several weeks, but every time we’ve asked for a referral or recommendation, your wife’s name is the only name that comes up. We know she doesn’t want a full-time job, but we don’t know what else to do other than ask you to pray about it.”
By the time my husband arrived home, he encouraged me to take the job. We both believed that the glory of God was at stake, not only because of the abortion issue in our community, but also in the reputation of this ministry in our town. We believed that the ministry should be one that Bible-believing churches and faithful believers could support with eagerness because of what God was doing.
“Learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression; bring justice to the fatherless, plead the widow’s cause.” Isaiah 1:17 ESV

So began a roller coaster that I could not have imagined when I was hired. If I had known the work God was calling me to do, I would have affirmed that I was in fact NOT qualified to do it and would certainly have turned down the position. Instead, God has equipped and provided while we went through:
  1. A medical conversion (we now have an ultrasound machine and a nurse on staff)
  2. Purchased an office
  3. Hired four other staff members
  4. Provided counseling and support to six clients who made adoption plans
  5. Faced a budget that’s more than 10 times what it was when I was hired
  6. Completed a rebranding process to launch a new name, new logo and new website
  7. Started teaching classes on sexual integrity at the public middle school
  8. Launched a post-abortion support group and Bible study 
  9. Dealt with a myriad of other experiences that have been life-changing
Here is a professional photo of a baby with his mom (our client).
A quote from her that I love was what she said in an e-mail to us after he was born:
“I never knew how much I was going to love being a mom,
and I never would have known if you hadn’t been there.” – Melinda
In the meantime, here are some of the things that God has taught me about this aspect of our society and our Christian lives that we often call the “pro-life” movement: 
    • Women who are considering or have chosen abortions come from every walk of life, every age group, every spiritual
      background, and are both married and single. Statistically, one in four American women has had an abortion, and those statistics are as true in our churches as they are in our towns.
    • Abortion decisions are fueled by a paralyzing fear and incomprehensible pressures, pressures that are very real to the men
      and women facing the unintended pregnancy. The illustration that best describes their realities is that of an animal caught in a trap that would rather chew off its own foot than stay in the trap. I fear that in our Christian circles, we often trivialize the situation that so many of our neighbors are in, condemning their choices as an “easy way out” or a “selfish decision” without taking the time to walk in their shoes and to grieve for the fears that speak so loudly in their ears that they can’t hear anything else.
    • We need to speak with compassion about abortion in our churches. Many women in evangelical churches will never seek healing
      from a past abortion decision because the least safe, most dangerous place to acknowledge an abortion is in their churches. It is the one secret that MUST be hidden at all costs, even if keeping it hidden means shutting themselves off from the healing, restoration and forgiveness they need so desperately.
    • Our teenagers need parents, mentors, and relatives to have honest, gracious conversations with them about sex. I’ve had
      many teen clients in my office who grew up going to church with their families. But when their sexual choices resulted in the possibility of an unintended pregnancy, their first thought was for her to get an abortion because above all, they could not possibly let their parents know what had happened.
    • Our teenagers also need to know that we (parents, mentors, teachers) love them unconditionally. That we believe God can
      and will give them grace to make wise, healthy decisions to honor God in their relationships but that if they yield to temptation and end up in a position they didn’t expect to be in, our hearts, ears and arms are always open to them. That there is nothing they can do that will disappoint us so badly that we will abandon them or reject them or publicly shame and humiliate them.
    • Followers of Jesus everywhere need to be involved in advocating publicly for the beauty of life, both the life of the
      unborn and the lives of their parents. Encouraging pregnant women to choose life is an empty rhetoric if we’re not prepared to back up our words with compassion toward single moms, church cultures that are safe for pregnant teenagers and single parents, financial support and tangible resources for those who choose life, and spiritual discipleship for those whose struggles are
      evident. Our ministry at Selah is what I call a “holistic” ministry. Yes, our mission is “to provide tangible resources in a compassionate environment through the love of Jesus, making abortion unnecessary.” But we are not only interested in the life of the unborn. We are committed to investing in every part of the parents’ lives as well—physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual. At every opportunity, we share the Gospel. The needs are deep and exceed the point of decision about whether or not to have an abortion. Yes, we must come
      alongside the men and women facing pregnancy decisions to advocate for life, but then we have to keep walking with them as their choices unfold.
    • Prayer is powerful. Nothing I do has a greater impact on our clients, our community, our budget, and our staff. I have seen
      miraculous answers to prayer in these last five years, exceeding anything I’ve seen God do before.
    • Spiritual warfare is real. I have never in my life encountered the kind of spiritual battles that I’ve encountered as
      director of a pregnancy resource center. I believe the devil is active in every abortion decision; the decision to choose death is uniquely fueled by the devil’s influence, and to stand on the front lines between life and death is to stand in opposition to his lies and his power. I have felt spiritual oppression in ways I have never experienced before. We have learned to begin every day in
      prayer, asking for God’s protection. Nothing you can do will bless a local pregnancy resource center more than to pray faithfully for its staff, volunteers, and board members.
    • God cares about the unborn. I believe this ministry is close to his heart and has a unique place in his purposes. He also
      cares about the parents of the unborn, and we have a unique, beautiful opportunity to be the hands, feet and heart of Jesus to men and women who are vulnerable, fearful, and prey to an enemy who is circling, seeking for an opening to destroy and devour.
      I am amazed that God has given me this ministry, entrusting this treasure to a broken vessel.  He’s displayed His power and His glory in ways which have not only transformed this ministry, but have also transformed lives (we’ve seen several clients come to
      faith in Christ, along with the dozens who have chosen life for their babies).  The work He’s done in staff, volunteers, and
      donors has been beautiful; I count the opportunity to disciple other believers
      as one of the primary responsibilities I have as CEO of Selah.

If you have never been involved in a pregnancy resource center, I encourage you to find out if there’s one in your community (see resources below).  Call the director and ask for a tour.  Find out how you can pray and encourage the staff.

If you’ve had an abortion in your past, let me say that I’m so deeply, incredibly sorry for the experience you’ve been through.  I would encourage you to call a local pregnancy center and find out if they offer a post-abortion Bible study. If they don’t, send me an e-mail: Melinda@selahsteamboat.com.

If you’re involved in a pregnancy center ministry already, thank you.  What you are doing reflects the heart of God, Who cares about the vulnerable and calls His people to stand up in defense of the oppressed.  To advocate for life is to fulfill His mission.

To find out more about Melinda’s ministry: http://selahsteamboat.com/

 

“Give justice to <sup class=”crossreference” value=”(B)”>the weak and the fatherless; maintain the right of the afflicted and the destitute.” Psalm 82:3 ESV
Helpful Resources:




    • Free resources, including a post-abortion Bible study, to help women and families who have been impacted by abortion: Surrendering the Secret



    • To find a local pregnancy center in your area: Pregnancy Decision Line (Melinda also recommends looking in your local phone book under “abortion alternatives” or “pregnancy care.”)




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