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The Fruit of Life

Posted by Michele Cheresnick with Jennifer Gerelds on Jul 31, 2020 5:00:00 AM

 

The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life, And he who wins souls is wise. 

Proverbs 11:30

He already had twelve DUI’s and been locked up in jail more times than he cared to remember over the past thirty-five years. But no amount of alcohol or sessions with his psychiatrist--or the medicine prescribed--ever helped soothe the rage and shame he felt inside. The root of his pain lay buried too deep to discern, an unsolved mystery…until the day he came to our Making Life Disciples class.

It was unusual for a new couple to visit in the middle of our training series, but our group welcomed the husband and wife nonetheless. It was the video session on abortion, the one where a doctor describes what happens in each kind of abortive procedure, step by step. Almost immediately the wife excused herself to go downstairs where our sitters watched the children while we held class. But he stayed. And as he did, tears began to stream down his face. In the end, amid sobs, he explained his pain. “I am post-abortive,” he admitted for the first time to the group of strangers surrounding him. “I helped my girlfriend have an abortion years ago, and it has destroyed me,” he cried. We circled around him, listening to his story and letting him know he was not alone. We prayed with him and for him, offering the words of redemption and forgiveness his heart needed to hear. With his wound uncovered, his healing had finally begun. 

It was just one more confirmation for me that I had heard the Lord correctly when He told me to take the Making Life Disciples curriculum to the small church my husband and I pastor. With a modest congregation of fifty members, twenty turned out for the life-affirming training that Care Net had produced. Our members were eager to learn how to help those who were facing unplanned pregnancies as well as those who needed healing from past abortions. As a post-abortive woman myself, I was humbled at their response. They understood the need. Every one of us had been touched by abortion in some way, either through personal experience or knowing a friend or family member who did. And they recognized the church’s call to meet it through tangible outreach, love, and support. As the Client Services Director for our local Pregnancy Center, I also knew how important it was for churches to partner with local pregnancy centers to provide the holistic teaching and support each family needed to survive all the uncertainties that often plague their decision-making process.

In our congregation alone, I’ve seen so much fruit come from the time we have spent as a church training to care for the abortion-vulnerable in our church body and community. Not just the training, but even more so in the application. Now our members are watching for opportunities. I even had one discipler who noticed a pregnant girl at Walmart without a wedding ring. She approached the girl and struck up a conversation to simply ask, “How are you doing?” The girl opened up about her struggles, and our member invited her to have a free ultrasound at the pregnancy center. She also invited her to join our group at church where she was instantly surrounded with love and support. We walked with her through her entire pregnancy! She was divorced when she first came to us, but over the course of the year, her marriage was restored and both joined our church, all direct answers to the many prayers our team had prayed for the mom, dad, and baby.

As great as Making Life Disciples has been for our church, I know the Lord doesn’t want us to stop there. He wants life-affirming support in every church body that recognizes Jesus as Lord and the Giver of Life. I now go to other churches with the training material, seeking out others who will lead their members through the course and join us in partnering with the closest pregnancy center. I have found that Lauren’s story coupled with Roland Warren’s short explanation of the mission work perfectly to cast the vision and help other pastors see the need. Together, we are changing the narrative that Christians only care about the baby--or they don’t care at all. We are demonstrating the love of God through prayer, material provision, and ongoing discipleship and love within the family of God. And we are witnessing the kind of eternal fruit that only God’s Spirit through His people can produce.

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