Every time we host a ProGrace workshop, I love it.
We were thrilled when over 80 leaders from churches and pregnancy centers joined us for the ProGrace worskshop in Phoenix a few weeks ago.
God was doing something very special in Arizona. I could feel it during the entire time we were there.
It was clear God had already prepared the people who came, because there was so much engagement and motivation to bring this message deeper into to their churches and organizations. It could have been due to the fact that this has become a city-wide initiative. Or that there were several leaders in the room who have been living out ProGrace for a long time, dreaming and praying for the day they could bring it to their entire city.
The Holy Spirit was moving, and there was so much energy, humility, anticipation – and most of all, hope – in the room. I wish I could bottle it and share with you.
To give you a sense of what God was up to, here are five of my favorite comments and experiences which show how these workshops help depolarize the abortion conversation:
Workshops provide freedom to share
As we listened to women share about the depth of panic, isolation and shame they experienced during their unplanned pregnancy, more women who had previously had abortions felt the freedom to share their stories too. More than that, when they shared, they were able to extend grace to their younger self, as they understood what had been driving them to that decision.
Workshops create safe spaces for healing from past pain
Two different men shared that they had played a part in their girlfriend’s abortion. They talked about the healing journey God was taking them on. The fact that they were men sharing their stories touched me in a unique way. Any time people feel the freedom to share this in such a large group confirms to me that we are preaching God’s grace fully and accurately. It gives me a picture of what the Holy Spirit wants to do in our churches – create safe spaces for all of us to tell our story fully.
Workshops give no condemnation under grace
There was no condemnation from anyone in the group, because we all understood that we as a society have contributed to the negative story that makes women feel abortion is their only option, and that Jesus levels the playing field with the cross. We all need his grace equally, whatever our journey has been. I was so excited to witness this, because we as the Church must understand these things about abortion before God can use us to bring his hope to this issue.
Workshops remind us “religion” can never save women
As we were discussing the story from John 8 about the woman caught in adultery, one participant shared how God highlighted to her that the woman needed to be saved from “religion.” Her life was in danger because religious people wanted to use her as a pawn to trap Jesus. I was struck by the parallels: how women are hurt when this issue is only addressed through politics, which runs the risk of promoting stereotypes and agendas, and how “religion” can never save women. We need Jesus to step in and deliver His grace in abundance when she needs it most.
Workshops help depolarize the abortion issue in the Church
I heard so many pastors say that they had been wanting to talk about this issue in their church for a while, but that the topic is so polarizing, they didn’t know where to start. I was excited to see the freedom they were experiencing after the workshop. The freedom to talk about this in a way that is consistent with the Gospel, stays away from political dialogue, and is empathetic toward people who have experienced abortion. And they wanted more! They wanted to know how their church could get more involved. One pastor told me they are so excited to be part of the movement, that they made ProGrace part of one of their offerings – then handed me a generous check.
Another pastor was talking about some of his past painful experiences trying to engage in this issue, then quoted my words right back to me, “But there is hope, right? God has a way for us to move forward.” To me, these consistent responses from pastors affirms that God is moving. He is the one getting His Church ready to provide a third option to the abortion debate – the option of hope and grace that can shift the tide of abortion in our generation.
It is clear that God was moving through this workshop, and I am truly humbled to be a part of this movement. We had so much fun, we are preparing to take this on the road to more cities!
If you’re interested in a workshop, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We would love to connect with you and learn about you and your journey.