And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ—to the glory and praise of God. Philippians 1:9-11
When Sunny entered the room where Toni and Donna welcomed her to the monthly Luncheons 4 Life Event featuring Care Net’s Making Life Disciples (MLD), she wondered just what she was getting herself into. Volunteering in the life arena was certainly not new to her--she had spent many years earlier in her life visiting the local abortion clinic, pleading with families there to choose life. She’d even taken her own young daughter there to help her pray for the precious babies whose lives were on the line. Being pro-life had been a part of her DNA since before she had children. In fact, it had been the motivation behind her own decision to choose life back when she found herself facing an unplanned pregnancy at age 18. She had always believed life was the right choice.
But now joining an online MLD class with a dozen or so participants decades later and what seemed a lifetime of struggles sharing custody of her children with an overly permissive and uninvolved father, she questioned whether or not returning to her old passion was going to be a good fit. “I told Toni Weisz and Donna Clute, the leaders, that I really wasn’t sure why I was there. I simply felt the Holy Spirit leading me to do it, particularly after I heard Toni and Donna explain at a recent Luncheons 4 Life event how important it was for churches to take a more active role in helping abortion-vulnerable families,” she reflected.
But it didn’t take long for the Lord to reveal His reason why. “Before I even made it to the third class, I found out that my teenage daughter—the one I had always taken with me on the pro-life marches and prayer vigils—was pregnant, just like what happened to me at that age,” Sunny’s remarked, amazed at the timing of it all. “It was heartbreaking when I found out. She had been staying with her dad for a long time because he never enforced any rules like I did, so she preferred staying with him. I didn’t even know she was seeing anybody,” her eyes clouded over in the retelling. The weight of this new development felt too difficult to bear alone.
Recognizing God’s sovereign provision and timing, she shared the news and her troubled heart with the MLD group at the next Zoom meeting. Instantly, she found herself surrounded and supported by new friends who encouraged her to apply the very truths they were all hearing and learning through the MLD course. “It seemed almost surreal to have my daughter’s and my real-life dilemma highlighted and addressed each week that we met together,” she admitted. “It brought a whole new level of relevancy to what we were learning!”
Sunny’s daughter was on a steep learning curve, too. All those years praying and serving with her mom at the abortion clinics had solidified her conviction about life’s sanctity, no matter what the situation. Despite the fact that she was currently living a rebellious lifestyle in every other area, her values for life stood fast in the storm. “She really went through the ringer when she chose life,” her mom admitted. “Her boyfriend’s parents, as well as all of her high school friends and teachers, tried to bully her into abortion or placing the child for adoption. No one believed she could succeed in life if she chose to keep her baby,” Sunny paused…then smiled: “…but she was determined!” On June 10th, her baby was born. The boyfriend stayed by her throughout the pregnancy and birth, and shortly afterward moved into her dad’s house with her and the baby at her father’s invitation.
“This story doesn’t really wrap up with neat, Christian bows. At least not yet,” Sunny admits. “No one really ever talks about the painful struggles that the parents of unwed mothers undergo. It’s difficult to accept the losses…the loss of what could have been: Will she go to prom? Will she be able to participate in normal school and life activities for her age or have those life milestones been stolen forever? These and other thoughts of grief and loss have swirled in Sunny’s mind, kicking up waves of sadness in her soul. “What I’ve learned through the whole process is that there are tons of organizations that help you initially, but there’s nothing for the whole family. I’m grieving the loss of my daughter in many ways. She’s an adult now before she’s really ready, and I’m having to learn to let go completely to let her make her own decisions."
Helping her face her new reality, God is shining a new ray of hope onto the story’s landscape. Toni, Donna, and the MLD group continue to shower her with love and support, meeting physical needs her daughter has as they arise and supporting Sunny through prayer and encouragement. She is learning through experience what it means for the body of Christ—the true Church—to be the physical, emotional, and spiritual support that people like her need not only in the short-term tempest but also for every ensuing season of their lives on this side of Heaven. So Sunny is praying about what God would have her do with all that she has learned on this emotional rollercoaster of an experience and how she can help other families who are in similar situations.
As Toni watched her friend navigate the turbulent waters surrounding choosing life, she, too, was changed forever. “I myself had wondered why I was leading this MLD course. I’d been leading abortion recovery classes for almost a decade, and several MLD courses to boot. And yet I felt the Lord asking me to say, “Yes” to Him again in this, not knowing why or where it would lead,” she confessed. But the Lord had his reasons.
In hindsight, Toni realized that everyone who participated in the semester-long course benefitted in some way. “It was an incredible time learning from Donna who had a wealth of knowledge from years working in a Pregnancy Center Ministry. We had other participants who had personal experience in other aspects as well, including abortion, sidewalk outreach, and even public school education, which helped us understand what school-aged kids are experiencing these days,” Toni affirmed. God had brought an eclectic group together through Zoom whose combined experience and willingness to work through the challenging curriculum broadened everyone’s understanding and compassion for those facing pregnancy decisions and post-abortion trauma. “Whenever you say “Yes” to God, you never know what He’s going to do,” Toni’s eyes sparkled as she smiled. “But you can be sure that it’s always going to be good!”
*Learn more about leading this study by clicking here, Making Life Disciples. You can also reach out to Care Net’s Church Engagement Team today as we are more than ready to serve you.