Apr 202015
 

It is actually crazy to think that it has taken me this long to write a Mission Monday on a ministry that is such a huge part of my life. When the thought first crossed my mind the other day I was frustrated with myself that I hadn’t done one yet, but later the very same day I felt like Christ showed me why He hadn’t brought it to mind until now. His timing is perfect, as He constantly shows me and yet I have to constantly remind myself.

Just over one year ago, God placed in the position of being the Executive Director of Alpha Pregnancy Resource Center. Alpha has been serving its community since 1992, offering healthy relationships education, free pregnancy tests, pregnancy options information, parenting education & support, and post abortion help. As I prepared for last year’s annual fundraising banquet, which was themed around the history of Alpha, I was in awe of all Christ has accomplished through this ministry since the very beginning. It is an amazing ministry, and it is humbling to step back and see that He placed me here “for such a time as this”.

While I was previously aware of Alpha through my church, I had mentally boxed in what the ministry did in a small, neat package. But it is so much more than I could have ever realized without experiencing it firsthand. Even writing that statement brings tears to my eyes. I have seen how whether someone believes in Alpha’s ministry or is against Alpha’s ministry, it is easy to box in what we do. We try to encompass it all by saying “We not only serve and care for those that come in for pregnancy options information, but we continue to serve and care for them as they continue through their pregnancy and parent their child. It is important to us that we not only speak life in regards to the baby she is carrying, but also to the mother as we foster hope and support her.”

So what does this mean? It means that every person who walks through our doors, or calls on the phone, is viewed as priceless and we want to serve them as Christ would. Christ saw each person as an individual, unique and beautiful. He served and ministered to people on a personal level, he didn’t categorize people and lump them all together. He truly saw each person for who they are, and treated them as the priceless gem that they are (whether they realized they were priceless or not).

“When a Samaritan woman came to draw water, Jesus said to her, “Will you give me a drink?”  (His disciples had gone into the town to buy food.) The Samaritan woman said to him, “You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a drink?” (For Jews do not associate with Samaritans.) Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.”

“Sir,” the woman said, “you have nothing to draw with and the well is deep. Where can you get this living water?  Are you greater than our father Jacob, who gave us the well and drank from it himself, as did also his sons and his livestock?” Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water so that I won’t get thirsty and have to keep coming here to draw water.” He told her, “Go, call your husband and come back.”

“I have no husband,” she replied. Jesus said to her, “You are right when you say you have no husband.  The fact is, you have had five husbands, and the man you now have is not your husband. What you have just said is quite true.”

“Sir,” the woman said, “I can see that you are a prophet.  Our ancestors worshiped on this mountain, but you Jews claim that the place where we must worship is in Jerusalem.”

“Woman,” Jesus replied, “believe me, a time is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem.  You Samaritans worship what you do not know; we worship what we do know, for salvation is from the Jews. Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.” The woman said, “I know that Messiah” (called Christ) “is coming. When he comes, he will explain everything to us.” Then Jesus declared, “I, the one speaking to you—I am he.” Just then his disciples returned and were surprised to find him talking with a woman. But no one asked, “What do you want?” or “Why are you talking with her?” Then, leaving her water jar, the woman went back to the town and said to the people,  “Come, see a man who told me everything I ever did. Could this be the Messiah?”  John 4:7-29 (NIV)

So yes, while it is easy to list the services that Alpha offers (as I did above) and try to put the ministry in a neat, little box, it is so much more than that. I wish I could even vaguely list some of the things I have seen Christ accomplish through Alpha, but truthfully in such a small community the chances are too great that part of the story (even vaguely) could point to a specific client and we love our clients too greatly to risk that. What I can tell you is that I have lost count of the number of times that after a client leaves my eyes fill with tears and I am thanking God for how He is working in that client’s life and thanking Him that He allows us to be a part of that.

There is not a short supply of those that do not believe in what Alpha does, and recently it seems Christ has been showing me more and more of the firestorm against ministries such as Alpha. I knew that Alpha is not one of those ministries where a majority of people, Christians or not, agree that it is a great outreach and much needed. Instead, there is a defining line when it comes to the sanctity of human life and therefore there are those that vehemently believe that what we do is wrong. It is not difficult to come across biased blogs and articles about pregnancy centers in general, and see the comments of hatred that not only attack pregnancy centers, but also personally attack those of us involved in the work. Sometimes I have a hard time understanding it, but then I have to remind myself that it goes back to not being able to truly see what we do and that they also have mentally placed what we do in a tiny box and they have decided that it is evil. And honestly I don’t believe there is any point to commenting the truth, because until someone is willing to take a step back and be open to researching it for themselves from a neutral perspective then they are not going to hear anything that goes against what they have chosen to believe as truth. While it is difficult to read the comments and articles, it is a good reminder that this is a spiritual battle.

The tiny box that those who are against ministries like Alpha have placed us in is one of being an agenda-driven, pro-life manipulator and the service that they have an issue with is providing pregnancy options information. The truth is, whether you agree that it should be or not, abortion is as much of a legal option as adoption and parenting. That means that every pregnant woman that walks through our doors has three options- abortion, adoption, and parenting, none of which are easy. The truth, that those who oppose pregnancy centers do not see, is that we recognize that she has three options and that she still has three options when she leaves. She is going to choose one of the three options, and she is going to choose the one that she feels is best in her opinion. Right or wrong, we make decisions from our limited point of view at the time. It is easy to look back and think that we should have handled a particular situation differently, and often we can regret decisions we make. I can’t tell you the number of times I have read or been told that those on the opposing side do not want to talk about all three options, they want to talk about abortion which makes sense from the standpoint that is the only service of the three that they offer.  But women are smart and there is no reason why they should not be encouraged to take a step back from the crisis they are in, examine their lives outside of just this moment in time, look at all of the facts, and make an educated decision. That is what we help each woman to do with offering pregnancy options information. This life or death decision is too important to not offer each woman all of the facts. She can still choose any one of the three options legally, but it will be a decision that she didn’t take lightly and will know all of the potential risks. I understand that both sides of the abortion issue see the “facts” differently and disagree on what is true, but I pray that those against pregnancy centers will begin to see us by our love. It is out of love for each client that walks through the door that we offer help and education before they are in the situation of having an unplanned pregnancy. Out of love that we want to help each individual client take a step back and look at the big picture of her life and situation and make an educated decision taking into account all of the facts and risks. Out of love that we stand by her through her pregnancy and through parenting with education and support. And out of love that we offer support and help to heal if she chooses abortion and finds that she regrets that decision and is hurting.

You see, “pro-life” isn’t about being against abortion. It is about being for love. It translates into how we view every facet of life. From serving as a foster parent, to orphan care, to adoption. From how we view and treat someone who is homeless to how we view and treat a troubled teenager or someone society views as inferior. From speaking life to someone contemplating suicide to fostering hope in a hurting child. It is being for someone, not against something. It is about seeing every person, no matter how small or vulnerable, how Jesus sees them. Priceless, deserving of love, and worthy of His death on the cross.

“This day I call the heavens and the earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live and that you may love the Lord your God, listen to his voice, and hold fast to him.” Deuteronomy 30:19-20 (NIV)

“Babies aren’t constructed in the womb like a Chevy on an assembly line.  They develop more like a Polaroid picture.  Indeed, until a Chevy gets all the parts attached, it’s really not a car and can easily be scrapped to make something else.  However, like a developing Polaroid picture whose image is hidden for a time, a baby has all of its humanity at conception even though you can’t see it until it’s fully developed.” -Roland Warren

Every Step Forward

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Sep 222012
 

Every once in a while my old self takes over and I think ‘What was I thinking?!’ But then I have to take a deep breath and remind myself why- my life is not mine, it is not for my comfort, it is not for my selfishness.

These periods usually come in response to being out and about and feeling vulnerable. I hate feeling vulnerable, but I also know God has made great strides in my life in this area. However feeling vulnerable also leads to feeling His protection all the more. Last night I went to watch Christian play soccer. I didn’t really think anything of it since usually there are others, I have met, that go and watch. But last night was not one of those nights, which meant I was the only one, of the group I went with, not on the field. When I first realized this fact I was a little anxious but it quickly went away, thanks to Jesus no doubt. I didn’t think about it again until I realized that all of the families that had been sitting around me had left and it was just me and a group of guys that were hovering close by. Looking down the field and realizing that everyone I knew, probably the only ones there who knew English, were at the opposite end of the field just made matters worse. It was a deep breath and pray moment. But it was also a moment of feeling His protection.

Every time I leave our gated home, at some point, I will have an uncomfortable experience of questioning my safety. But my safety is not based on remaining in comfortable, seemingly safe surroundings, my safety is found in Christ. Every time I return home I thank Christ for His protection and keeping us safe, but in reality I am not any safer back home. It is a delusion. I wake up every day, go about my normal routine and everything is familiar which feels safe. It isn’t safety, it’s complacency. Comfort does not lead to happiness, it leads to complacency. I have been in more dangerous situations in Maine than I have been in Nicaragua, yet I do not thank Jesus for His protection upon returning home every day. With one exception, after being present during an armed robbery I lived months at a heightened state of awareness and fear, but the difference was the fear. During that time I was fearful all the time, unless at home, because I was not trusting Jesus. My faith was lacking as faith and fear cannot coexist (except a reverent fear of God).

I am not any safer at home than I am here in Nicaragua, I just have to rely on Christ more here. I don’t have the delusion of comfort, routine and familiar to find refuge in instead. I don’t want to return home and fall into the same complacency, I want to rely on Christ fully no matter where He places me. I am happier and more alive in that state of being. It means focusing on Jesus with every step forward.

“for ‘In Him we live and move and have our being” Acts 17:28a

“I tell you, my friends, do not fear those who kill the body, and after that have nothing more that they can do. But I will warn you whom to fear: fear him who, after he has killed, has authority to cast into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear Him! Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? And not one of them is forgotten before God. Why, even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not; you are of more value than many sparrows.” Luke 12:4-7