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Lessons of Hope from the Pregnancy Decision Line

Posted by Dr. Greg Austen on Aug 2, 2018 8:33:36 AM

Every 2-3 months I get together for an “in-service” training with three of my heroes. They are part of Care Net’s Pregnancy Decision Line (PDL).  Anyone in the country can call 877-791-5475 and these coaches offer live compassion, hope, and help to women and men considering abortion. They do so by presenting realistic alternatives to abortion and referrals to life-affirming pregnancy centers.

It’s permission-based care. In other words, the PDL coaches always leave the caller in the driver’s seat. After all, choice is the gift of adulthood and PDL coaches respect client choices—whether they agree or not—and don’t offer advice that’s not welcome or desired. Coaches ask great questions like:

  • Can you tell me a little bit about what’s going on in your life?
  • How did you feel about abortion before…?
  • How might you feel after the abortion?
  • How might it affect other areas of your life (relationships, goals, view of self, relationship with God)?
  • Who have you talked to about your pregnancy? What advice did they give you?
  • Who do you have supporting you right now?
    • What would your parent/father of the baby/grandparent say if they found out?
    • How is the father of the baby supporting you? What does his support look like?
  • Do you believe in God? How does that belief influence your decision about this pregnancy?

Questions like these are designed to help those in crises explore inner motivations and desires, see options, avoid choices that bring suffering and death, and point callers—where possible—to the hope of the gospel.

Below are three insights I recently shared with them and I think you’ll find them relevant to your life as well:

  1. Suffering is the normal beginning of the journey toward hope.  Previously I wrote a piece called Finding More Hope in Prison Than Politics with insights from Rom. 5:1-5 that teach us that God grows His people on a foundation of grace (1-2), and through a constant process of suffering that leads to perseverance, which leads to proven character, which leads to hope (3-5). We need to remember this ourselves as we point it out to others. Some sincerely fear their unplanned or unwanted pregnancy is an insurmountable challenge. From God’s perspective, however, some of the best opportunities for growth and improvement are unplanned.

  2. Grandparents and especially moms and dads have a unique and irreplaceable role in the life of their child. Of course, in the case of PDL coaches they are talking most often to potential moms and dads:

    • In the case of the potential mom, because from a legal perspective it is her choice and “reproductive right”, her role could not be more significant. In the case of the potential dad or male partner, his role is also significant because, according to Care Net's research, there’s no other person that influences her decision more.

    • We must gently and courageously remind others of their unique and irreplaceable role. In the case of PDL coaches, this is something that most clients have never thought about or heard. Moreover, our culture gives little support to the essential role of moms and dads—especially when it comes to dads and the protective role of parents in the lives of unborn children. Additionally, dads are often viewed as the optional parent: Any mom or warm-blooded mentor will do.

  3. Although God brings hope from many sources, as Christians, we keep hope alive in ourselves primarily through “the encouragement of the Scriptures.” Paul makes this connection explicit in Rom. 15:4: “For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.” (ESV) Having a robust hope is especially important for those who have a front row seat to depravity on a regular basis. Although that last statement might apply to any one of us—we all need hope of rescue from the worst of our actions and desires, the example I want to use here is this: PDL coaches sometimes talk to moms who deeply desire to keep their baby but the father or boyfriend, sometimes right there in the room with her, is pressuring her have an abortion. The selfishness is so thick you can cut it with a knife and a child’s life is literally in jeapordy. Here are actual responses PDL coaches hear:

    • God will forgive me & he understands why I need the abortion.
    • I have felt the baby movin’, but I don’t want to be with his daddy no more.
    • I can always have another child later.
    • I would consider it a great act of love if she would have the abortion for me, especially because I know how against it she is.
    • I have plans for my future, to go to school, to be somebody…. I’m not a baby factory.
    • I’m a good grandmother, I know my daughter is upset and crying about this but she’ll never get ahead with another baby…. I don’t want this grandchild.
    • I don’t know what she wants, my girlfriend always does what I tell her, she’ll have the abortion.
    • I’m not telling him about the abortion—he’s really excited about this baby. I’ll just pretend it’s a miscarriage.

In listening to responses like the above, how does a PDL coach fight depression over potential decisions she can’t control? How does she stay encouraged and hopeful? How do you? Related specifically to Rom. 15:4 above, here is the wise practice of the late George Muller, Director of the Ashley Down orphanage in Bristol, England, who spent his life caring for more than 10,000 orphans:

“I saw more clearly than ever, that the first great and primary business to which I ought to attend every day was, to have my soul happy in the Lord. The first thing to be concerned about was not, how I might serve the Lord, how I might glorify the Lord; but how I might get my soul into a happy state, and how my inner man may be nourished…. I saw the most important thing I had to do was to give myself to the reading of the Word of God and to meditation on it.”[1] 

May we be people of Scripture and prayer who never stop sharing the hope of Jesus with those in need. 

This post was re-printed with permission from carpentertheologian.com

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