Monthly Archives: March 2014

Are you missing the wedding?

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Yes. That’s me at three years old. Do you see the look of complete devastation on my face? There’s a reason for that; let me explain…

My aunt and uncle who were marrying (and I’m happy to report they are celebrating their 45th wedding anniversary this year) had asked my two older sisters to be flower girls for the wedding. I saw what was happening to my sisters and got completely swept away in the lace, flowers, ruffles, tulle, dress fittings, excitement and pageantry of this day. I knew at any moment MY new dress for the wedding would arrive. I got so swept away I believed I was actually asked to be in the wedding as well. I readied myself, I dreamed of walking the aisle, I pictured dropping every rose petal at just the precise and perfect location and everyone in attendance would swoon at my expert flower girl skills.

But then the day arrived. I had my plans in order as I ran from one room to the next at my grandmothers house watching as my mother and my aunts put on make-up, took down curlers from hair, and lifted dresses overhead, and when I asked when it would be my turn the harsh cold hand of reality reached out and punched me right in the gut. “What do you mean I’m not in the wedding???” My plans ruined. My three years of life as I knew it was over. I walked through the entire day crying and in a complete state of despondency.

It has been a running joke in our family for these entire 45 years now as I like to tell everyone my aunt asked me to be in the wedding and then that day rescinded the invitation. We all know the truth, but I like to make everyone laugh and my aunt and uncle feign guilt over what they did to me that day. Well, a relative posted the picture above just days ago on facebook and my aunt wrote me and said, “SEE you WERE in the wedding!” I laughed and looked at this picture many times that day but later on it hit me…isn’t this exactly what we do with sin? Go with me on this…

We have a plan, we know how everything is supposed to play out. In our minds there is no other way something should happen. We get focused, unbending, and inflexible because why should we, everything is pointing directly toward one outcome and one outcome only. Then the rug gets yanked out from under us. Someone wrongs us or betrays us, or our own bad choices cause detrimental circumstances in our lives. So we carry around that betrayal, we carry around the guilt of our sin, sometimes for 45 years or more. We make everyone feel guilty, we tell the story repeatedly, we are constantly the victim, and in the meantime we miss out on a large portion of life because we are so focused on the wrong perpetrated against us, or that we chose.  And we live our lives looking like the little girl in the picture above. How is that abundant life?

John 10:10 says Jesus came to give us abundant life. Yes people are people and often times there is a giant set of snarling teeth behind that christian smile. People perform legitimate wrongful acts that hurt us.  And yes we are human too. We make bad mistakes, we make choices we look back on and are ashamed of. But if God is love (1 John 4), and Jesus came to give us abundant life then how are we being loving and living abundantly by dragging that old, dead carcass of offense everywhere we go?

Sometimes the most loving thing you can do for yourself and those around you is forgive. Don’t think I’m just talking about others either, often times we need desperately to forgive ourselves. Forgiving ourselves is simply letting God’s forgiveness be enough. There is no amount of work, no amount of good deeds,  no limit on how many times you can tell the story, or number of ways you can keep it secret, to ever make you feel okay about it. Jesus is the lover of your soul and wishes you would let it go so you can get on with life.

So think about what you’ve read here today. Don’t miss out on the incredible wedding because it didn’t unfold the way you thought it should. Ask God today for forgiveness for carrying whatever this is around and get on with the abundant life that awaits you!

M.A.N.

As many of you know I am a strong proponent of reaching men as strongly as we do women with the issue of abortion recovery. I’m also proud to say I’m a founding member of a group called M.A.N. (Men and Abortion Network) that consists of a handful of men and women who work together to bring awareness to this issue.

This month’s newsletter I wanted to dedicate to this subject only. Two of the members of MAN, Dr. Catherine Coyle and Dr. Vincent Rue have developed a model for pregnancy resource centers interested in reaching men. Churches can certainly apply some of these principles to it’s abortion recovery efforts as well. Below is just a sampling of it’s content, please feel free to read the entire paper at our website, www.menandabortion.net

Building a Men’s Ministry: A Guide for Pregnancy Resource Centers

(Catherine T. Coyle, RN, PhD & Vincent M. Rue, PhD)

Introduction

Men play critical roles in crisis pregnancy and parenting.  They may do so actively by accepting responsibility and offering help to their partners or passively by deferring all decisions to their partners.  Some men coerce their partners into terminating pregnancy while others vigorously seek to protect the lives of their unborn children.  In any case, men may exert significant influence that affects the outcome of pregnancy as well as the quality of their relationships.

As an increasing number of men are accompanying their female partners to crisis pregnancy centers, it has become apparent that centers need to minister to men as well as to women.  While this need presents many challenges, it also offers tremendous opportunities for both individual and organizational growth.  Given the small budgets of pregnancy resource centers and their dependence on individual donors, funding may be a major challenge to building a men’s ministry.  Another challenge may be resistance from staff or volunteers.   Nonetheless, those centers that have successfully developed men’s ministries have met such challenges and experienced growth in the form of increased appreciation of men’s roles, the acquisition of new skills, and the procurement of expanded resources.

Areas of Change

The establishment of a men’s ministry within your pregnancy resource center will involve three primary areas of change.  These areas are: environment, staff, and resources.

Environment

Many, if not most, pregnancy resource centers, have a very feminine décor and atmosphere suggesting that they exist exclusively for female clients.  Seeming to confirm that view is the fact that the vast majority of staff and volunteers are women.   Small changes to the environment can go a long way to alter the perception that these centers are solely women’s clinics.   For example, having men’s magazines available in the waiting room is achievable even for centers with very limited budgets.  When affordable, gender neutral artwork and a flat screen television are great additions to waiting areas.  Specific items may be sought through donors who prefer giving something tangible to your ministry.  There are several useful men’s brochures related to pregnancy, parenting, relationships, and abortion and these should be visible and freely accessible.  (See attached Resource List.)   In addition, individual centers usually produce their own brochures which include a list of services offered and those services should acknowledge men as well as women.  From the moment a man enters your center, he should be getting three basic messages: 1) he is welcome at the center and it is a place for men and fathers as well as for women and mothers, 2) he is important and not merely an afterthought, and 3) his participation  in the counseling process is both welcome and important.

Staff

Changes involving your staff will also be required for building a successful men’s ministry.  There may be some resistance among staff, volunteers, or board members toward changing the status quo and reaching out to men.   Resistance may be due to concerns about limited resources and/or to concerns that there will be a negative effect on public relations with a decrease in donors.  Still another source of resistance may be related to a staff member’s past abortion.  For example, there may be lingering resentment toward a male partner that has become generalized toward all men involved in a crisis pregnancy.  Many of those individuals who staff or volunteer at crisis pregnancy centers have a personal abortion history; it is critical that they have processed, resolved, and found healing from their abortion experience prior to working with female or male clients.

Still another source of resistance is the nature of change.  Change involves giving up the familiar, learning new skills, and vulnerability.  Some people seem to thrive on change while others are averse to change. Yet, change is inevitable in life and the changes inherent in ministry expansion provide opportunities for positive growth among both clients and staff.  For some men, a visit to your center may be their first exposure to an individual or organization which espouses a supportive and inclusive life perspective.  This provides an opportunity to challenge and impact the biases and beliefs that clients and staff hold and, most importantly, offers what may be truly life-changing moments for your clients.

Resources

There is no question that new resources will have to be identified and acquired to build a ministry.  Some resources, such as print materials, are more easily attainable while others, such as new staff, may not be realistic given budget limitations.

To begin, it will be necessary to form a ministry development committee which would ideally include men who are interested in being a direct part of the ministry as well as a member of the center’s staff.  The latter can serve as a liaison between the development committee and the rest of the staff and the center’s board.  This committee would be responsible for deciding what aspects of a men’s ministry will be developed, recruiting male volunteers, and securing initial funds.

After determining which aspects of ministry will be their focus, committee members will need to work on both the recruitment of volunteers and the details of delivering new services.  Male volunteers may be recruited through men’s community groups and through local churches, particularly those churches that have supported your center in the past.   Simply having male volunteers present and visible sends a powerful message to male clients, that their presence is an acceptable, normal part of the routine at the center.  In addition to recruiting male volunteers, the development committee will also have to plan for training those volunteers and create a ‘walk-through’ process to guide them in their interactions with male clients.  Training may be nearly identical to that for female volunteers but with additional information concerning male communication styles and specific needs of male clients or a distinct training program may be developed solely for male volunteers.

Recruiting and retaining male volunteers is a challenging task.  Male volunteers will be more readily available if they can schedule their visits to your center to coincide with a couple’s appointment.   This allows the volunteers to contribute to the ministry without compromising their paid work obligations.   Male volunteers will be more committed if they know that they are contributing their time and experience to a ministry in which they have influence.  Your male volunteers should have the opportunity to provide ideas and feedback that are incorporated into your ministry as it evolves.  Some volunteers may choose to meet with clients who are coming in for a first appointment while others may be comfortable serving as longer-term mentors to younger men adjusting to fatherhood.

Initial funding for your men’s ministry may be small and come from a board decision to allocate a fixed sum to be used toward ministry development.   Funds for a specific endeavor may be sought via formal grant applications.  As your ministry expands and awareness grows,  new donors may be acquired and regular donors may choose to increase their donations.   Of course, awareness depends on clearly advertising both your services and your needs.  Assuming your center has a mission statement, it may need to be amended to include men and fathers.  If your center has a website, the addition of information pertaining to your men’s ministry and volunteer opportunities should be easy and cost-effective.  Your board might also consider highlighting the men’s ministry at fundraisers such as annual banquets, golf outings, or in other campaigns.

The most important resources gained will be your male clients.  Given the goal of crisis pregnancy centers to support life, the male partners of women who come in for pregnancy tests are influential in terms of ultimate pregnancy outcome.  However, men should not be viewed simply as a means to better serve your female clients.  They are human beings and that fact demands an acknowledgment of their rights, responsibilities, needs, and expectations.   Like women, they are going to experience insecurity and anxiety when faced with a crisis pregnancy.  If we fail to recognize and respect men’s legitimate rights and roles, we become part of the problem rather than the solution.  If we don’t minister to fathers as well as to mothers, our ministry may be tragically inadequate.

Please feel free to contact the SaveOne office with any questions you might have. We’re here to serve you!