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When Houses of Worship Become Houses of Refuge

Posted by Jennifer Gerelds on Feb 4, 2022 8:00:00 AM

Guard my life and rescue me; do not let me be put to shame,
for I take refuge in you.
Psalm 25:20

When Love Life missionaries, Jennifer and Shaylene, called Pastor David Cunningham of Christ Community Church, he was open and inquisitive. “You know, we’ve always been a pro-life church, but we’ve never really known what to do about it in practical, helpful terms,” David mused. The Adoption Week model Love Life provides sounded more than appealing. “So you’re telling me that all I have to do is adopt one week out of your 40-Week Prayer campaign, speak on the topic of life that Sunday, fast and pray on Wednesday, and bring my congregation out to a prayer walk that Saturday, and that’s all you’re asking?” he recapped the conversation to get a handle on the nuts and bolts. 

The missionaries answered in the affirmative, with one caveat: “Yes, they replied, unless you’d like to go one step further and become what Love Life calls a House of Refuge Church or HRC.” Then they explained that all HRCs agree to read the House of Refuge statement quarterly from the pulpit—a statement that clearly declares their church to be a safe place for those facing unplanned pregnancies or who have experienced the trauma of abortion to receive the help they need without any shame or condemnation. It helps the whole congregation understand the position of grace and truth their church takes on the life issue. “I can do that, too,” Pastor David affirmed, as he contemplated the process. Then Angi, a church member and designated point person for the church’s life initiatives, jumped in with a question of her own. “So I understand the prayer and fasting week, but what are we supposed to do the rest of the year?” she wondered out loud. “I mean, how do we get prepared so that we know what to do if someone needing help comes our way?”

Jennifer smiled, “By God’s grace and divine plan, we don’t have to invent that wheel. Love Life provides a quick-start, Zoom-based training that only takes a couple of hours to get you pointed in the right direction. It will give you a quick tour of what it takes to come alongside an abortion-minded mom or dad in their moment of need. But there is a more comprehensive basic training produced by Care Net called Making Life Disciples that I strongly recommend as well,” she added. She went on to explain how Making Life Disciples, or MLD, is a unique course that comes with a Handbook/Guide and access to streaming content. It’s designed to not only educate the participants going through the 12 one-hour sessions, but also lead them deeper into God’s heart as they explore life and abortion issues. “The new MLD 2.0 version feels more like a devotional experience than just a training course,” Jennifer attested. “It’s effective for individual use, but it’s even better as a semester-long small group study because it can help your entire Life Team get on the same page spiritually, emotionally, and relationally as you learn how to support and disciple abortion-vulnerable or post-abortive families.” Angi’s face lit up with excitement at the information.  It was exactly what she needed. That summer, she led her life team through Making Life Disciples, trusting God to bring someone who needed help into their church and lives.

And He did! In July of 2021, as Jennifer and Shaylene stood praying and waiting on the sidewalk in front of Planned Parenthood, a troubled young woman and man drove up to enter the clinic. They stopped just before the entrance when the missionaries waved, offering a care bag and resource booklet. Shaylene spoke through the crack in the slightly lowered window, “Sweetheart, how far along are you?” The question alone broke through her defenses, and the young lady sobbed her answer, desperate for help. The two missionaries talked and prayed with the couple and pointed them to the Medical mobile unit nearby where they could get a free pregnancy test and ultrasound, steering them away from Planned Parenthood. They agreed to go and soon saw their baby girl on the ultrasound while the nurse shared the hope of the gospel. As regular church attenders, they were already familiar with the message. They simply needed to remember the truth and realize they weren’t alone.

Because the Church was present on the sidewalk that day, the couple chose life. Love Life missionaries connected them with a local pregnancy center near where they lived. And because Christ Community, a House of Refuge Church, had already prepared to receive families like this mom and dad, they knew just what to do when Shaylene and Jennifer called to connect them. Angi and her team reached out to both mom and dad to bring them into their church family, beginning by hosting a huge baby shower where many other participating Love Life churches also contributed baby furniture and accessories. “We’ve been overwhelmed by all the love and support we’ve received,” the father of the baby gushed. “We could have never known that day we pulled into Planned Parenthood how different of a plan God had in store for us.” 

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord,
“plans to prosper you and not to harm you,
plans to give you hope and a future.
Jeremiah 29:11

The family that chose life, Love Life missionaries, and Christ Community’s
Making Life Disciples graduates/ Life Team.

Christ Community Church members and Life Team, Love Life missionaries, Youth Group from Eden Westside Baptist Church, and many of the mom’s and dad’s family members.

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