In a recent article in the Federalist, Daniel Payne commented on witnessing the birth of his son. He had seen the ultrasound, thoroughly grasped the biology, and been by his wife’s side through labor, but he was not prepared for what he saw. “The one second there was nothing in my wife’s arms, the next here was a baby boy, pink and healthy and beautiful and priceless. For one of the few times in my life I was rendered speechless, and properly so. What do you say, after all, when you witness a miracle.” Payne is amazed that simple nutrients, enzymes, lipids and nucleic acids can produce a baby boy. “A few months ago I packed my wife an egg salad sandwich for lunch, and her body used that egg salad to help create our beautiful baby boy. What is a miracle, if not that?” Caring Network counselors shine light into dark places, helping women understand that what they have inside of them is not just a clump of cells, but another miracle clothed in flesh. Caring Network’s medical team helps a woman visualize her child, seeing a heartbeat and watching her little miracle move and dance. No woman who chose to carry her pregnancy has ever come back to say what a mistake it was. However, many women who chose abortion have expressed their regrets. Life is a miracle designed by God. Let us treasure this great gift.
Jackson Women’s Health Organization is the last remaining abortion clinic in the state of Mississippi, a fact bemoaned by many people wanting greater access to abortion. When the Center for Pregnancy Choices (CPC) opened a center across the street from the abortion clinic, New York Magazine reported that the new center would lure and lie “to persuade women into their center instead, often claiming that their centers can offer the services they may need.” The truth is that CPC offers free ultrasound and real choice, something that is not lost on women. Ashleigh, a woman who went to a central Ohio pregnancy center for help, stated, “When I went there, the lady there was 100 percent non-judgmental and my decision wasn’t going to make them any profit. That’s what I was looking for, someone to talk to who wasn’t going to profit off me or my baby.” Caring Network has no financial interest in a woman’s choice. Our counselors present a woman with all of her options, encouraging her to think through each one and follow her heart. Our skilled team identifies obstacles and explores solutions, offering real help to women in need. That’s real choice!
Maddi Runkles was a straight-A student, athlete, and student council president at Heritage Academy, a private Christian school in Boonsboro, Maryland. The unplanned pregnancy that revealed her violation of the school’s morality code resulted in Maddi’s suspension, removal from the student council, and prohibition from “walking” during graduation. Maddi’s story demonstrates the conflicts that many Christian schools face. How do we maintain the principles of a pro-life position (giving life to the baby) and maintain the principles of sexual ethics and conduct? Julie Roys, host of Moody Radio’s Up For Debate, offered: “Christians often fall into one of two ditches when dealing with sin in their own communities. Either we completely overlook it and err on the side of compromising holiness—or we fail to forgive, punish harshly, and miss the heart of the gospel. What’s needed is a proper view of biblical discipline—a practice that seeks to restore and heal, not wound and punish.” While we are grieved by our culture’s misuse of God’s best gifts and plans for his creation, women who come to Caring Network are always loved unconditionally. Caring Network counselors focus on sharing the truth in love, meeting real needs, and finding solutions that empower a young woman to give life to her child. In the process, lives are radically changed. In the end, the glory belongs to God.
On July 19th, Federal Court Judge Kapala from the U.S. District Court for Northern Illinois granted a preliminary injunction against the enforcement of Public Act 99-690 that required physicians and other health care personnel to give patients written information and referrals for medical procedures the health care professional finds objectionable. This Act amended the Illinois Healthcare Right of Conscience Act (HCRCA) and attempted to force Christian medical personnel who objected to abortion to refer a patient to an abortion facility, a violation of the Free Speech Clause of the First Amendment.
If enforced, this statute would require pregnancy centers that employ medical personnel, such as Caring Network, to refer women for abortion. Pregnancy centers not complying with the law would be subject to exorbitant fines and even closure. “This injunction is a victory for women and the pregnancy help movement,” said Barbara Singer, President of Caring Network Pregnancy Services of DuPage. “Caring Network will not be intimidated into referring vulnerable women to abortion facilities. Caring Network has never had nor ever will have a policy of sending women to abortionists. Pregnant women deserve the compassion, love and help that pregnancy centers offer and as this case moves forward, we are confident that the courts will find this law unconstitutional and restore the religious liberty protection to Christian medical personnel granted in the First Amendment.”
Caring Network operates four pregnancy help centers in the DuPage County area, in Wood Dale, Elmhurst, Naperville and Glen Ellyn, that offer free services including ultrasound to pregnant women in need. A fifth center in West Chicago is scheduled to open this year. For more information about Caring Network, visit CaringNetwork.com. For help with a pregnancy, contact avenuewomenscenter.com.
Sanya Richards-Ross is a U.S. track and field athlete. She has won numerous gold medals through her career and has consistently described herself as an avid Christian. But behind the sports headlines is another story. In 2008, prior to competing in the 2008 Olympics, she had an abortion. In her recent book, Chasing Grace: What the Quarter Mile Has Taught Me about God and Life, Sanya talks about the pressures of unplanned pregnancy and the emotional pain following an abortion decision. “The culmination of a lifetime of work was right before me. In that moment, it seemed like no choice at all. The debate of when life begins swirled through my head, and the veil of a child out of wedlock at the prime of my career seemed unbearable. What would my sponsors, my family, my church, and my fans think of me?” Her then fiancé, now husband, Aaron Ross, cornerback for the New York Giants, neither agreed nor opposed Sanya’s abortion decision. Now 9 years later, Ross is pregnant again and excited to become a mom, but the pain of abortion still lingers. “Abortion would now forever be a part of my life. A scarlet letter I never thought I’d wear. I was a champion and not just an ordinary one, but a world-class, record-breaking champion. From the heights of that reality I fell into a depth of despair.” Aaron is just as burdened by the abortion decision as Sanya. “He believes that our child in 2008 was a blessing we had rejected by always wanting to be in control.” Abortion is a decision that causes lasting wounds. If you or someone you know needs help, contact Caring Network’s Restore After Abortion program at 630.599.0043. Help is available.
Molly came to Caring Network, pregnant, young and scared. She already had one abortion in her past. Under enormous pressure from her boyfriend’s mother, who threatened to throw her out of their house, she had agreed to have an abortion. When she was evicted anyway, Molly became homeless, living in her car and supporting herself in any way possible. Now pregnant again, she was determined to have this baby. She came to Caring Network for help. During her ultrasound, she began to cry at the sight of her baby’s heartbeat. Afterward, Molly and her Caring Network counselor had an opportunity to discuss faith. Molly acknowledged that she believed in a power beyond herself, but nothing personal. As they dug deeper, Molly’s counselor shared the Gospel, which was totally new to Molly. Tears flowed as her counselor talked about Jesus’ love and sacrifice for her. With the help of her counselor, Molly realized that the love and acceptance she was searching for was available in Jesus. Despite her limited resources, with the help of Caring Network, Molly is determined to give life to her baby. Thanks to you, our Caring Network partners, for giving Molly the strength and courage to make this decision.
Ultrasound is critical to the work of Caring Network. Ultrasound allows a woman to see her unborn baby. As Caring Network’s medical team points out her baby’s beating heart and tiny features, she can begin to identify with the reality that she is a mother. Without this vital tool, mothers cannot make a fully informed choice about their pregnancy. All Caring Network centers are equipped with ultrasound; and we are excited to let you know that one of Caring Network’s church partners has stepped forward to provide our new West Chicago center with ultrasound. We are grateful to Community Fellowship Church in West Chicago for sharing Caring Network’s vision for a center in that community! The goal was $38,000, which the church met in just over a month during their Coins for Caring Network drive. On behalf of the women and children who will be served by this new ultrasound technology, thank you.
In a 2014 Atlantic article, writer David Frum tried to explain why he believes the abortion rate has declined. He observed that until about 1970, the socially acceptable resolutions for out-of-wedlock pregnancies were (in order of preference) a “shotgun” wedding, adoption, abortion, and lastly, single motherhood. However, since 1970, the order of acceptable resolutions has changed. Single parenthood now tops the list, followed by abortion, marriage and lastly adoption. This reality is reflected in the women who come to Caring Network for help. Often the choice they perceive at the outset is between single parenting and abortion. The question that Mr. Frum attempts to answer is, what caused this change? He notes the following sentiments in the culture:
Most pregnant women do not want to give up their babies through adoption.
Most people, including pregnant women, do not like abortion and want children to live.
Many of the couples who did not want to get pregnant also do not want to get married.
Thus, unwed motherhood has become the resolution of choice for many women. Whether or not a mom believes she can make that choice work is likely dependent on her level of support. Single motherhood is certainly difficult. Pregnancy centers have stepped in to provide early support; however, ongoing practical and spiritual support from the church is also essential for equipping single moms to be successful parents. The need is critical since too many lives are hanging in the balance.
Pastor Mike Fleishmann’s passion is to reach “none” adults with the Gospel. In order to find the best way to do that he identified believers that came to faith as adults and compared the faith experience of more than 3,000 of these believers from 31 states and a dozen denominations. He published the results of his study in a 2010 Christianity Today article entited, “How Outsiders Find Faith.” Some facts:
A majority of former “nones” who find faith say that it was a friend who influenced them toward faith. This friendship may have been for a lifetime or just a season, but it was the right person at the right time.
56% report coming to faith in the midst of a significant transition or crisis. Most often it’s family-related, marriage or parenting; and sometimes the crisis may relate to addiction or illness. A person’s circumstances are often the open window for the message of Christ to take root in a person’s life.
The women that come to Caring Network are many times in a crisis. Pregnant, afraid, unsure, they are in need of a friend who will help them negotiate their pregnancy decision. As our Caring Network counselors extend Christ’s compassion and love to these women, spiritual discussions take place, prayers are offered, the Gospel is shared, and women come to Christ. Through Caring Network, God is using the opportunity of their crisis to let these women know that He loves them and desires for them to be saved. And Caring Network counselors take advantage of this opportunity. In 2017, 48% of counselor discussion included a discussion of spiritual matters. What a blessing to be used by Christ to further His kingdom!
Our American culture is challenged by the increasing number of “nones”. What is a none? An individual who answers “none” when asked to describe their religious beliefs or affiliations. “Nones” can be either people who were raised in the faith but are no longer practicing or people who come from an unchurched background where they had no exposure to Christianity. How can we as concerned Christians reach the “nones” with the good news of the Gospel. According to Associate Professor of Philosophy Kaldoun Sweiss, a member of the faculty at Olive-Harvey College in Chicago, trying to reach “nones” is a four step process.
Engaging them in discussion about our secular culture
Listening and asking thoughtful questions to encourage them to think.
Being their friend when times are difficult.
Walking with them offering encouragement and help
It is well known that evangelism involves relationship. Most people who come to Christ do so with the help of a friend or mentor. This fact is significant for Caring Network as our goal is to save lives now and for eternity. So looking for opportunities to lead women to Christ in the counseling room is a priority. Opening the discussion can be as simple as “Will you pray with me?” More on this in my next blog.