I first met Jeff, a local Tucson pastor, at one of our ProGrace workshops in Phoenix. There were about 100 people in the room when he stood up to share his personal involvement with abortion.
Tears filled his eyes as he talked about the time he failed to offer support to his pregnant college girlfriend, who ended up making the decision to have an abortion. He said he hadn’t thought of that experience for decades, until just a few years ago, when the Holy Spirit quietly brought it to his mind and gently asked him to repent.
I hadn’t planned to share anything, but in the moment, I felt God saying, ‘people here need to hear from a pastor who has had this experience.’ My hope in sharing was that it would enable people to feel they can find freedom.
Even after the day he first confessed his story, Jeff said, he struggled with how to give voice to the topic of abortion within his role as a pastor.
I was kept silent because I would have had to pick one side over the other. Even when the available options were passive and didn’t involve open protesting, they still felt a bit aggressive and had more the posture of a protest, rather than pointing to a solution…Apart from ProGrace, I didn’t have clarity or a voice to use. But now, I know what that voice is, and the alignment has been liberating. Having the ProGrace message infused in our church environment has been electric…And having partnerships with like-minded organizations like ProGrace and Hands of Hope Tucson takes the potential of our church that previously has been unrealized and activates it.
Many members of Jeff’s congregation were just recently exposed to the ProGrace message through our introductory training video. What Jeff knew, but the other members didn’t, is that the same week they went through the training, a young woman in their church had told him she was pregnant.
She was afraid to tell the father of the child because the situation is pretty complicated. It was hurtful to me to hear her say, ‘I’m pregnant and can’t tell him.’ I understand the emotions going on in the moment for her because of my own experience. She didn’t want to stay to hear the ProGrace video, but I asked her to stay. I just want her to know there are people in our church who can help her get through this tough time.
And I am grateful that, at this church, there now are.
I know there are many Christian leaders who feel the way Jeff does about abortion and yet still feel silenced. That’s why we continue to do the work we do.