Tuesday, April 2, 2013

True HOPE in a world of despair

This fall I started researching abortion-  I wanted to educate myself with the facts, procedures, statistics and basically the raw reality.  It was not only an eye opening journey, but also a heart wrenching one.  I lay many sleepless nights, kept awake over all that I was learning.  3,000 a day.  55,000,000 in the past 40 years. 

unable to sleep, I spent a lot of time praying for ways for God to use me, for Him to show me how to get involved, and what steps to take to actually DO something.  How can we give women better options?  They need to know that they aren't alone and that they have the support they need to make a better choice… one that won’t end the life of their baby.  Women that have already walked down this path need to know the healing love of Christ, they need to know there is forgiveness and that there can be freedom from the pain and hurt they are experiencing.  Pre-teens and teens need to be shown  the worth and value of saving themselves for marriage, and how even after they have made mistakes in the past  it's not too late to reestablish boundaries and claim fresh starts.   God longs to bless their choice to follow His guidelines. 

I came in contact with Hope Pregnancy Resource Center in Wausau-  I called and talked to Jackie their local director and just shared how God was laying on my heart to get more involved.  We set up a tour so that I would be able to learn more about their facility and their mission.  I want to share with you some of the services that they offer:

 Integrity training for teens and young adults in dating relationships. This class teaches them how to set boundaries, establish guidelines and if needed, claim fresh starts and new beginnings that can break the cycle of bad relationships or boundaries crossed.  To accomplish this goal, the Hope Center uses a team of trained volunteers who speak in schools, to youth groups, at camps and retreats. These teens are challenged  to take their abstinence seriously while  being motivated  to make personal goals, set boundaries and to become prepared to succeed.  For those teens that have made mistakes-  trained volunteers come alongside them to help them see their worth through Christ’s eyes and share with them the value in reclaiming their abstinence. I was blessed to see the cool ministry of  Hope pregnancy center:  Showing  girls that there is eternal value in accepting the forgiveness God is offering them and that He wants to bless their journey going forward when they choose His standards.

 The center also offers support and counsel for crisis pregnancies.  Pregnancy testing, ultrasounds, and a support system to help these mom’s gain courage and strength to choose life are a few of the things they do.  Connections for adoption are available if that is the path chosen. Parenting courses are offered when a girl chooses to keep and raise her baby. They will provide a full 9 months of support, and more classes are available helping her be prepared to be a great mom!  By participating in classes, going to her prenatal appointments and doing her assigned homework, she is able to earn points that can be cashed in at their baby-boutique to get items like diapers, sleepers, shoes, car seats, pack n plays, and strollers.  All of these items are made available through donations

Another aspect of the Center's mission is Post abortive care.  Jackie shared with me the very real pain and hurt women experience-  Oftentimes mixed with regret and a feeling of shame and hopelessness.   Statistics state that 1 in every 3 women will have an abortion in their lifetime.  If this is true, then this pain is more widespread than we would like to believe… and there are a lot of women hurting from the secret they are keeping.
Intertwined with all of these services is the Gospel message.  It truly is the foundation for all that they do.  They pray for each client and pray for the right opportunity to share Jesus’ love.  Because truly, as supportive as we can be… it is Christ who is our ultimate source of support, forgiveness, love and new beginnings.  It is through Him that girls, no matter what their story, can experience the hope that is available- true hope.

If we honored each of those 55 million human beings with a single minute of silence, we would remain speechless for over 100 years.  

Instead, let’s commit to praying for ways to personally get involved and ways to show Christ’s love to those needing it… Let’s actively pursue and make a point to DO something.  The Body of Christ can play a HUGE role in shining the light of truth into these lives-  if we are just praying for ways to be used by God for His glory.  Our God is a personal God.  What He asks   us to get involved with will be different for each of us-  but I have no doubt that if we ask-  He will guide us to something-  and enable us to do it well! His strength working through our weakness. I think that’s what makes each of our own personal testimonies so touching.  I made a lot of mistakes as a teenager, and have seen God’s faithfulness in my own life and experienced His love for me even though I made some horrible decisions and chose to walk down the wrong path.  He redeemed me, His child, and gave me a fresh start! Although I was never faced with the decision to choose life or abort, looking back at that time in my life, the choices I was making, and the path I had gone down it could have very easily been my circumstances. A string of relationships that didn't honor Christ’s plan for me- continual choices to cross boundaries that were never meant to be crossed.  Living under guilt, regret, shame and a feeling of worthlessness.  Satan had me feeling trapped by my own sin.  That wasn't the end of my journey though and getting back on track with Christ’s plan for my life was the best decision ever made!  He didn't want to hold me in guilt or shame-  He wanted to free me from my choices and grant me a new start!  That’s what grace is!  Something we don’t deserve, but love poured down on us.  Instead of worthless-  He showed me my worth.  Instead of guilt He showed me that I was forgiven. And instead of choosing to continually repeat those same struggles- He showed me His plan for my future and together,  with His power, He gave me the courage and faith to make new choices going forward!  He gave me HOPE when I was feeling hopeless. It’s never too late to turn to Him.  

      It’s only because of His love that we can help each other.    Being willing to come along side someone else who is struggling- and wanting them to experience Christ’s purpose, love, hope and healing is what being a Christian is.  That’s living out the Gospel in a practical, day changing way.  None of us are perfect and it’s sooooo good to remember His grace!   This is one of the theme verses used at the pregnancy center:

 Isaiah 61:1-3
61 The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me,
because the Lord has anointed me
to bring good news to the poor;
he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim liberty to the captives,
and the opening of the prison to those who are bound;
2 to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor,
and the day of vengeance of our God;
to comfort all who mourn;
3 to grant to those who mourn in Zion—
to give them a beautiful headdress instead of ashes,
the oil of gladness instead of mourning,
the garment of praise instead of a faint spirit;
that they may be called oaks of righteousness,
the planting of the Lord, that he may be glorified

Speaking this year at Hope's annual banquet is the actress from October Baby, Shari Rigby. She played the mom who had the failed abortion.  Her testimony is powerful and she will be sharing her own personal journey of abortion, regret and ultimately the forgiveness that she found in Christ. Please take a second to watch this clip of her sharing her story. click here  

As I thought over the word she used "Ransomed" I thought about the meaning:
 to deliver especially from sin or its penalty. 

We each have something in our own lives that is weighing us down- God doesn't want you to go one more day living under that weight.  Your ransom has been paid!  Sin doesn't have a hold over your life anymore because Christ took that sin upon Himself when He died on the cross.  Allow tonight to be the night you let that ransom soak in, the night you change paths & make God’s path the one you choose.  You are never without HOPE, it’s never too late.  Don’t wait any longer- experience the love He is longing to pour down in you. 

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