They are your co-workers, your neighbors,
your friends and your fellow church members. Outwardly they look
like anyone else, but inside they hide a heart-breaking secret.
Since 1973 when the Roe v. Wade
Supreme Court decision set the precedent for legalized abortion, an
estimated 55 million abortions have been performed in the U.S.
Every single day, more Americans lose their lives by abortion than
were lost as a result of the destruction of the World Trade Center
towers on September 11, 2001.
According to the Guttmacher Institute, Planned
Parenthood's own research arm, 43 percent of women of childbearing
age in America have experienced at least one abortion. Where are
these women who make up these staggering statistics? Are they in
our places of work? Are they standing beside us in the line at the
local grocery store? Is it possible they are sitting beside us in
the church pew? What is being done to address this underground
tunnel of secrecy, shame and heartache?
In 2007, Lifeway printed Surrendering the
Secret, a post-abortion recovery Bible study authored by Pat
Layton, who had been serving women and their families through a
crisis pregnancy intervention program and other life-affirming
ministries since 1986. Lifeway took Layton's personal journey of
healing, added a DVD series and a leader's guide, and made it an
accessible tool with unique journaling exercises and meaningful
group activities for use in a confidential and compassionate group
God had moved on Layton's heart with a longing
to see the church operate more fully as the hope of the world, a
hospital for the lost and broken who had experienced abortion in
their past. She became keenly aware that the local church was
generally unequipped in this area and had not embraced its place in
the redemptive healing needed by so many who have received and
participated in abortions.
Layton became more deeply rooted in the desire
to serve and equip the church to recognize post abortion recovery
as a mission field. In January 2009, she began training women and
men across America to lead the Surrendering the Secret Bible
Study in their local churches. She has personally trained over
700 women and men, and has since added a national training
Northern Hills Church in Brighton, Colorado, is
one church that embraced the STS ministry after a young lady in the
congregation confessed to Susan Sorenson, the women's ministry
leader, about her past abortions.
Although Sorenson did not personally know the
pain of abortion, she was deeply touched by this woman's pain and
doubt. So she went to the pastor and leaders of the church and
expressed the need to educate and equip the church to meet the
needs of post-abortive women and of men who have suffered the loss
Northern Hills leadership agreed, and Sorenson
began leading the church's STS studies in June 2008. The church
numbers about 1,000 in attendance each weekend, and about 75 women
from the community have completed the healing process.
Through the intentional study of God's Word,
these women have been set free from the condemnation that kept them
bound, have come to know the work of Christ more intimately, and
have become mobilized for serving God without reservation and
without shame. A significant number of them have since received
leadership training and taken this ministry of reconciliation into
other churches in the surrounding communities.
Shari Rigby, a Hollywood actor and
post-abortive mother, has joined the STS ministry team as an
ambassador and spokesperson. Rigby is transparent as she shares the
story of her healing breakthrough that began with her role in
October Baby, a pro-life movie produced by American Family
Studios and released in March 2012. (See movie
When producers asked Rigby to read for the
role, they had no insight into her life experiences. But Rigby
relates that she was stunned to find the script closely matched her
own story, and playing the role started her on the path to
recovering from the secret pains of a past abortion.
Rigby's healing continued through the STS
study, and her experience led the film producers to see the
opportunity for further ministry to post-abortive women and men who
were being impacted by the movie. Movie-goers will now be pointed
to the Surrendering the Secret website where they can
click on "Get Help Now" and be connected with a leader who will
personally help them get connected to a group in their area.
Rob Kelly, teaching pastor at Northern Hills,
indicates that the STS ministry is flourishing. "With God, the
thing that is a millstone around your neck for much of your life
becomes a lifeline for others," Kelly said.
Anne Reed is a member of the staff at American Family
Radio, the national radio ministry of the American Family
Association. This article was originally published by AFA
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