We are reaching OUTSIDE the walls of the church to bring people INSIDE for support and love.
We do have some girls that attend our church that find themselves with an unplanned pregnancy, but I would say that percentage is about 5-8% of our girls. We have girls that are referred to us by local pregnancy centers – that makes up about 5-8% as well. The rest of our girls hear about Embrace Grace by referral. That means people that attend our church and hear or know of someone that has a crisis pregnancy but mostly, alumni girls that have gone through the program meet a girl that attends their high school or within their friend circle, and the alumni starts bringing her. The baby shower might be the initial draw, they can come for the free stuff, but then Jesus does the rest. He changes and softens hearts. All we do is cheer them on. We’re the cheerleaders saying, “You can do this!”
So because we have a lot of girls that have NEVER been to church, or if they have, they may have a perception of church that is not good, but they are willing to give it a try anyways because their friend invited them, and because they get free stuff. Because it’s an outreach, we hear stories a little different than a normal Bible Study/Support type group.
Last Monday, we had a new girl attend the class. Her friend had brought her. She had never been to our church (or any that I know of) before so was very nervous and not sure what to expect. I was introduced to her and she said that her family all lives out of state, she is not with the baby daddy and her only friend that she had was the girl that brought her. She was worried that she was too “needy” of a friend to put all her emotions out there to the one friend that had brought her. She thought that was too much for one friend to take on. She told me that she wasn’t really there so much for the baby shower, it really was more for the support. She was so worried about her future and being alone, she needed friends and support.
I put my hands on her shoulder and looked her straight in the eyes and said, “This is why we started Embrace Grace. It is our honor and a blessing to hold your hand and cheer you on through this season of your life. We are so blessed to get to do this and we are so excited you are here. You chose life and we want to honor and love on you.” Tears poured down her cheeks as she looked into my eyes too. She whispered, “You have no idea how much better that makes me feel.”
I fell in love already. Seriously these girls are PRECIOUS!!
She explained during the class how she had found out that she was pregnant. She had lost all her energy and had been throwing up. She went to the doctor and had brought her friend. She had problems with her thyroid in her past and so she just assumed it was acting up again. The doctor walked in and said, “Well, the results came back positive.” She said confused, “What results? Did you take a drug test because yeah, I smoked dope a few weeks ago. You didn’t have to test me because I could have just told you.” The doctor looked at her with big eyes and said, “Ummm no. Your pregnancy test is positive. You are pregnant.” Her and her friend’s jaw hit the floor. They could NOT believe it.
Do you know how happy it makes me as a leader that they came for the first time and felt comfortable enough to share that? TOTALLY. They knew we were not there to judge them. We were not going to Bible-bash them and tell them what they were doing wrong. They felt free there. Free to share their heart. That’s what our goal is – freedom so restoration can happen. We are just glad they came.
Her friend texted me the next day and said, “My friend was really worried about trying church last night. She is not a believer of Jesus and she was worried that God would be shoved down her throat. But she was surprised that it wasn’t like that and she loved the class. We will be back next week.”
All we want is for God to bring us the girls. We don’t care where they have been, what they have done or even doing, we just want them. We want their open hearts. We want to pour out God’s love on each one of them and let them experience Jesus like they never have before. We just point to the answer – the “I AM.” He is everything they need. We are providing an opportunity to people that have never come to a church before, but because they are desperate for change and love and support, they might just give it a try.
This might just be beginning of her world and life changing forever. Seeds are being planted. Love is being poured out. Praying for the blossoming to happen. Sometimes we see immediate change, sometimes we see a change down the road and sometimes they leave and we never hear from again … but then the seeds …
The church is a safe place. We are the church. It is our honor and blessing to love on God’s girls – no matter what.
It’s an outreach.
Written by Amy Ford