Monthly Archives: February 2014

UNSHACKLED

I recently received a copy of this article written by my friend John Kennedy about my friend Mark Morrow. I asked his permission to share it on my blog since it has already been published in “Pentecostal Evangel”. The pain of lost fatherhood has to be addressed; this is not just a woman’s issue, but rather a family crisis! This is just a sampling of the wonderful healing moments we enjoy at SaveOne.

Unshackled
By John W. Kennedy
Feb. 16, 2014

Mark Bradley Morrow’s faith sustained him when his 45-year-old father died of a cerebral aneurysm in 1980. Ten weeks earlier, the 19-year-old college student had accepted Jesus as his Savior.

The weekly Bible studies, prayer meetings, and fellowship at Edinboro University of Pennsylvania likewise buoyed Morrow when his two favorite uncles, both in their mid-40s, committed suicide in 1981 and 1982.

But after college, away from his Christian friends, Morrow began to drift from his spiritual moorings. While his wildest activities during college had been bowling and pinball, by his late 20s Morrow embarked on a string of brief relationships with women.

In 1987, Morrow impregnated his girlfriend. Upon learning the shattering news, Morrow expressed no interest in marriage; he suggested his girlfriend give the baby up for adoption. Instead, she scheduled an appointment with an abortionist. Morrow sat anxiously in the waiting room and after the procedure drove his sobbing girlfriend home.

The experience didn’t reset Morrow’s moral compass. His next short-term girlfriend told him she had aborted their baby — two months after they had broken up.

In the meantime, Morrow lived a duplicitous life. He led the youth group and worship ministry at his church, and even filled the pulpit on occasion. The young women he dated were involved in church as well.

A few months later, yet a third girlfriend wrote a letter to Morrow. No longer together, the girlfriend explained that she had an abortion.

Despite prodding from the Holy Spirit, Morrow didn’t alter his irresponsible behavior. He hooked up again with his first girlfriend, with the same result: an unwanted pregnancy. Although he agreed to support the baby financially, Morrow rejected the notion of marriage once more. This time the girlfriend visited an abortionist without consulting Morrow.

In a 20-month span during 1987-89, Morrow played a role in four abortions.

In retrospect, Morrow believes the unexpected rapid-fire deaths of the three most influential mentors in his life left him with unresolved emotional and spiritual wounds that made him more vulnerable to temptation. But he bears full culpability for his selfish sexual conduct.

“If I had been the man God created me to be, I wouldn’t have chosen to have premarital sex,” Morrow says. “I wouldn’t have put these women in a position where they even thought about having an abortion.”

In 1992, Morrow rededicated his life to Christ. Without mentioning the abortions, Morrow admitted his sullied sexual past to his then-girlfriend and said they needed to stop having intercourse. The confessional made such an impact that the girlfriend, whom Morrow met in graduate school, accepted Jesus as her Savior.

Three months later, Morrow proposed to the girlfriend, on the condition they never would have children. Jeannie agreed, and the couple wed — after Morrow had undergone a vasectomy.

But the marriage came with a child already. Jeannie had a 4-year-old daughter, Ricque, from a previous relationship. Mark adopted Ricque after marrying Jeannie. In time, Morrow grew to understand the blessedness of fatherhood.

Moreover, Morrow thought raising more children might not be such an awful idea after all. After Mark’s successful vasectomy reversal operation, Jeannie gave birth to a daughter, Faith Maddison, in 2002, and a son, Ross Bradley, in 2004. The children attend Erie First Christian Academy, a school operated by Erie (Pa.) First Assembly of God.

Even before they had children together, Mark and Jeannie established themselves as licensed professional Christian counselors. Ironically, as Morrow listened to others pour out their troubles, he continued to harbor the guilt and disgrace from secrets he had stifled for 18 years.

In 2006, he could no longer keep the pent-up burden to himself. Morrow specialized in treating teenagers. As he examined client intake sheets, he kept noticing birth years corresponding to the time his own babies had been aborted. One day he cried out to God to take his shame and pain away.

In mournful wailing, Morrow divulged specifics of his sinful past to a close male friend. In loving compassion, the friend assured Morrow God had forgiven his acknowledged sins.

“Pride is a big reason we keep secrets,” Morrow says. “Satan is the father of lies, and he had convinced me if I told anyone, nobody would come to me for counseling, everyone would hate me, they would think I was the scum of the earth.”

The next night Morrow revealed the whole truth to his wife. It didn’t go well.

“She was rightfully upset,” Morrow recalls. “I had lied to her through omission and kept extremely important details of my life hidden.”

With the help of their pastor and Christian friends, the Morrows worked through their difficulties over a 1 1/2-year span. Mark found healing through a 12-week abortion recovery Bible study for men written by Sheila Harper, founder of the Assemblies of God ministry SaveOne.

“Abortion is not just a female issue, because that child belongs as much to the man as it does to the woman,” says Harper, whose husband, Jack, is pastor of CrossRoads of Antioch, an AG church in Tennessee. “Regardless of whether a man begs a woman not to have the abortion, or if he drives her to the clinic and pays for it, when he realizes what he has done, the consequences are devastating. We don’t have it in us to deal with the aftermath of making the choices of life and death for a human being.”

Subsequently, Harper says, men suffer as much trauma as women from abortion, dealing with issues such as outbursts of anger and mistrust of the opposite sex. Harper says too few men take the step of honestly reflecting about their responsibility for an abortion, confessing their sin, and receiving God’s forgiveness.

“By telling his story, Mark is not only continuing to heal, he allows God to take his most regrettable mistakes and turn them into something good,” says Harper, whose organization has 150 chapters in 30 states and 14 nations. “Because he has allowed God’s grace to cover his sins, Mark is no longer suffering.”

The opposite of what Morrow initially dreaded — that people would revile him for revealing his secret — turned out to be the common reaction. Telling others about his past is therapeutic to him, and influential with others who are keeping secrets.

“Whether you’ve had an abortion, you are looking at pornography, or you’ve had an affair, you need to make the bold move and get it out,” says Morrow, 53.

These days Morrow isn’t reluctant to talk about his past because he knows the Lord has forgiven him. He speaks frequently at pregnancy care center events, describing how abortion impacts men.

“When you are living in secret, you really are bound and shackled in chains,” Morrow says. “Once you can release that secret to God, Satan doesn’t have a hold on you anymore.”

JOHN W. KENNEDY is news editor of the Pentecostal Evangel.

A Tin Bowl & Black Beans

My head was aching, my heart was racing, I was filthy dirty, and my whole body screamed with exhaustion, yet I couldn’t stop. My body was reacting to need but my mind was detached. Being thrown in to the mix of things immediately created a chasm between what my body was doing and what my mind was grasping. It was at the moment my mind finally ended the chase that sticks in my head.

I was sitting on the dirt with the biggest tin bowl I’ve ever seen in front of me. It easily held a 100 pound bag of black beans. As the beans were dumped, my friend and I started scooping as fast as we could. 1, 2, 3, 4 scoops into the brown paper bag, hand off to Tamara, she folded, then handed the bag further down the line to add to the growing pile. There were at least a dozen people all moving around, handing, folding, carrying, scooping, all working with a definite mission in mind. I could see through the legs all around me and caught glimpses of the growing crowd of people who were hungry…no starving. It was 3 weeks after the deadly earthquake in Haiti that killed hundreds of thousands of their fellow countrymen, and now food was hard to come by.

The sea of legs briefly opened and not 10 feet away from me was a woman with charcoal skin looking right at me and the beans. We caught each others eyes and stared for what seemed 10 minutes but was probably more like 5 seconds. Oddly, I wondered if her mouth was watering like mine does when I have a succulent piece of chocolate cake before me.

This moment in time is what I want to bottle up, keep forever, take out and visit occasionally. Because that was when I felt like my life had never had more meaning. I knew God was using me for a purpose to give sustenance to another human being. Now, I know this woman in front of me would have been fed with those same black beans had I been present or not. But God allowed ME the privilege of scooping her beans. Such a menial task, but yet so incredibly vital to this woman and her family.

The sea of legs closed and we continued to scoop 600 pounds of black beans that day. When it came time to actually hand out the food I never saw that woman again. I had to place myself between the children and the adults and hold one group off the other. I found myself pushing and screaming at people because they were close to rioting they were all so desperate for food. I never once felt threatened but instead felt as though I had to save them from themselves and make sure the food got in to each person’s hands. I’ve never been in the middle of something so intense, nor seen a more desperate situation that closely. I also can’t say I wouldn’t have reacted the same way had it been me in the crowd needing food for my children.

I’m home now, back in my nice house, in my comfortable bed, eating all the food I want. But I’ll never forget looking at that woman and realizing the privilege God had afforded me and my friends to be on Haitian soil helping any way we knew how.

Just missing Haiti today…

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Keep Nothing Back

There is a passage of scripture I’ve been mulling over the past few weeks. In the Message Bible it goes like this, “Open up before God, keep nothing back; He’ll do whatever needs to be done. He’ll validate your life in the clear light of day and stamp you with approval at high noon.” It’s found in Psalm 37:5-6. How cool is that? God doesn’t overstate in His Word, and most if not all of His promises are conditional. We usually have something we have to do first to be able to receive the promise He has for us and this passage is no different.

We have to open up and keep nothing back. He wants everything. He wants the tiniest fragment of our hearts and minds that we may be withholding from Him.

I’ve seen men and women throughout these past 14 years come in to the SaveOne Bible study and hold back. They don’t open up completely at first because they’re ashamed or scared. But after a few weeks when they start to feel God’s presence in their shame and fear, they start to let things go. They open up, it begins to feel good and they start holding nothing back. They see this as an opportunity to be free and so they release more and more to God as they delve deeper in to His Word through the SaveOne study. And can you believe what happens at that point? He does whatever needs to be done! He validates their lives! He stamps them with His approval! These men and women leave the class free from horrible bondage, and forgiven of a sin they thought they could never be forgiven for.

Then you know what happens next? It’s uncanny how many people God steers to those folks who need to hear about that validation; that approval from on High. They are able to tell their stories with boldness to keep the next person from ever making the choice of abortion. It’s a beautiful process that only God can orchestrate. I love being part of SaveOne and getting to see this happen over and over. We’re literally seeing abortion end around our world through healed and whole individuals able to spread the Truth!

Here is just a sampling of what we get to hear every day while teaching this class. This is an excerpt from an email I received from a lady I’m leading through the class online.

Question asked from SaveOne book: Regarding your abortion experience, name something you believed to be fact, and now realize it is not.

Answer: “That it had to consume my life, that I had to feel guilty and punish myself always for this sin, and it’s just not true. I can live a life to be proud of going forward as a good daughter, Mom, and wife. I will always have in the back of my mind a reserved place for rejoicing and looking forward to the day I see my child in heaven. I hope she will be proud of my life and glad to call me Mommy finally.”

Thank you guys for all you do to help us help so many…

WELCOME OUR NEW CHAPTERS TO THE SAVEONE TEAM

 Hasbrouck Heights, NJ

 Vienna, Austria (men only course)

 Linz, Austria

Jefferson City, MO

Des Moines, IA

White House, TN

Sofia, Bulgaria

WAYS YOU CAN HELP SAVEONE

  • Of course we need financial donations to be able to reach more people
  • You can like our SaveOne facebook page
  • You can use Goodsearch as your search engine (www.goodsearch.com) and list SaveOne as your charity of choice
  • You can do all your online shopping on Goodshop (a division of Goodsearch, be sure to name SaveOne as your charity of choice first)
  • Buy our books from the SaveOne store at www.saveone.org and give them as presents
  • Follow and promote my blog: sheilaharperblog.com (I know it sounds self-serving, but the more followers, the more our message gets out)
  • Deep, anointed, spiritual prayer to fight the incredible warfare that comes against our staff and chapter leaders

Please at any time feel free to contact our office with questions or how we can partner with you to reach more people.

And as always if you want to see Psalm 37:5-6 come alive in your church for those who have chosen abortion, contact our office and we will certainly make that happen!