For a post-abortive woman, simply hearing the word ‘abortion’ in church can be unnerving. However, not hearing abortion discussed in church can also create shame, further stigmatizing and validating a desire to keep a past abortion hidden rather than to seek healing. In a recent study, forty-three percent of women were regularly attending a church at the time of their abortion. This puts the Church in a difficult situation. How is the Church called to talk about the sanctity of human life, without ostracizing and further condemning the men and women who have been through an abortion experience? [pullquote2 style=”right” quote=”dark”]How is the Church called to talk about the sanctity of human life, without ostracizing and further condemning the men and women who have been through an abortion experience?[/pullquote2]
Abortion exists in our own church communities; it is not a minority story line. At current rates, one in three women will have an abortion by the age of forty-five. I understand this topic can be difficult and often overwhelming for a church to address; sometimes churches believe this topic is best served with silence. However, as a post-abortive Christian woman, and the current manager of New Life Family Service’s Conquerors Program, please consider some of the following ways in which your church can welcome those who have experienced abortion and serve as an instrument in promoting the healing that can only be found through the love and grace of Jesus Christ.
Talk About Abortion
Churches often shy away from the topic of abortion due to its polarized or political connotations. It is important to remember that abortion is not confined to either of these categories, and can be regrouped within a biblical context as sin. We know that no sin is too large for Christ, and we need to be reminding our churches of this truth. [pullquote2 style=”left” quote=”dark”]We know that no sin is too large for Christ, and we need to be reminding our churches of this truth.[/pullquote2] A number of women from the Conquerors Program have shared they are most afraid of their church peers knowing of their abortion. Small group leaders, members on worship team, and Sunday school teachers often have a solid understanding of the Gospel and God’s word, but are unable to apply Christ’s redemption to their own abortion past. If the Church does not address abortion, we are continuing to communicate a message that abortion is too sinful for God to restore and that He cannot redeem those who have experienced abortion. Sanctity of Human Life month in January is a natural time to talk about the issue of abortion. New Life can provide you with the resources to begin a conversation.
Talk With a Woman Who Has Experienced an Abortion
The best way to understand abortion is to talk with someone who has had one. Understanding the story, circumstances and thought process behind a woman choosing abortion is important for shaping your own perspective and developing a greater sense of compassion. Please feel free to watch and share my story here or below.
Invest in Appropriate Language
I once overheard a well-meaning woman pray that God would “transform these women having abortions from hearts of stone to hearts of flesh”. Her language made me cringe. When I had an abortion, I felt forced and coerced. I felt like I had no other options. My heart was not one of stone, it ached at the idea of an abortion. [pullquote2 style=”right” quote=”dark”]I felt like I had no other options. My heart was not one of stone; it ached at the idea of an abortion.[/pullquote2] So much so, that I tried to commit suicide in order to avoid having to go through with the procedure. Language like this can be very hurtful, especially to those who have not gone through healing and can prevent a woman from reaching out for help.
Engage in Abortion Recovery Support
I am blessed to be the Program Manager of Conquerors. Bearing in mind that we are all more than conquerors through Christ, the program covers ten weeks of support and helps women receive healing through the word of God. Each facilitator walking alongside women enrolled in the program has also experienced abortion firsthand. Churches can host a group or offer to house materials as referral resources. In an effort to train church leaders on discussing abortion in the Church, Conquerors offers a speaker team that is happy to meet with your pastor or leadership staff. I recognize this is a hard topic; let us walk alongside you in this process. Breaking the shame cycle starts in the Church.
In honor of the women who have found forgiveness and healing from their abortion experience, New Life Family Services will host its second annual Me Too event on February 24th, 2018. During this time, surrounding abortion recovery ministries join together with their clients to celebrate what God has done in their lives and how He has redeemed them from their abortion experience.
Kaylyn Knopp has worked for New Life Family Services for two years and is currently the Program Manager of Conquerors, an affiliate of New Life Family Services. Conquerors offers both one-on-one mentoring and group sessions; weekly sessions (held at various New Life office locations) address the issues of post-abortion stress from a biblical perspective. For community groups and churches, Conquerors provides trained speakers who share their personal experience with abortion to encourage, challenge, educate, and inspire others. For inquiries on Conquerors or supporting women who have experienced abortion, please contact Kaylyn Knopp at conquerors.nlfs.org.
Conquerors Program Manager