Where are all the pregnant girls in our pews?

I sat there that day, staring into the eyes of a beautiful seventeen-year-old with tears streaming down her face. “Beth” told me what so many girls in her situation had told me before: “I just can’t be a mother.”

Holding her hand, I told Beth to take a deep breath and to take this one step at a time. I soothed her with comforting words and reminded her of what I’d told her before . . . that I’d walk beside her and that I wasn’t going anywhere. I reminded her that where she saw a problem, God saw a possibility.

It was our third visit, and Beth was still conflicted. Each appointment, she felt pretty much the same as she did the week before. Scared. Alone. Ashamed. Not wanting her life to change. I gently reminded Beth that her life had changed the moment she’d had a positive pregnancy test . . . now we had to navigate in which way.

When Beth Met Jenny

I am so thankful for Beth’s best friend who, when Beth finally got the nerve to tell someone she thought she was pregnant, had the sense to find a wise, older woman to take her to. A woman in her church named Jenny who she knew would not judge but just love.  

That kind-hearted, Jesus-loving woman did everything exactly right. If she was shocked by Beth, she didn’t show it. If she was disturbed, she didn’t divulge it. If she was wrecked by the thought of a child having a child, she didn’t express it.

Jenny just encouraged Beth. She told her that this wasn’t the end, but maybe . . . just maybe . . . it was a new beginning. She told Beth not to rush to react to her situation but to slow down before she responded. And she told Beth that there was hope even where so many could only see disaster.  

And then that precious woman of God called Prestonwood Pregnancy Center and brought Beth in for a pregnancy test, sonogram, and guidance that was wrapped in love, truth, and grace.

We need more Jennies

Beth’s story is teamwork at it is finest: the body of Christ linking arms to meet those in the darkest moments of life. Because that’s where the truth of Jesus can shine the brightest!

I wish there were more Jennies. I wish there were more church people who were a safe place for our young women to turn to when they found themselves facing something they never wanted: an unplanned and often unwanted pregnancy.  

If the statistics are correct, young people in the church are being intimate at close to the same rate as the unchurched. And if there’s even a sliver of truth to those statistics, then where are all the pregnant girls in our pews? When I look down the pew at my church, they’re not there. Do you see them at yours?

A study commissioned by Care Net and conducted by Lifeway Research found that four out of every ten women who had abortions were attending church regularly at the time of their abortion. That might be the problem.  

As 2 Chronicles 7:14–15 reminds us, “If my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land. Now my eyes will be open and my ears attentive to the prayer that is made in this place.”   

Abortion entered the American landscape on the church’s watch. I had a well-known pastor tell me recently that all church members are against abortion until it is their daughter. The church must be a safe haven for those in crisis. A place where life is affirmed even when sin is present. We must understand that our role is to meet people where they are; often in the mess is where true ministry begins.

‘A brave and wonderful choice’

I remember the day I realized that the church could end abortion by being pro-life in word—and pro-love in action. It was during the baby dedication at my church, and I was sitting in the front row as one of our precious clients, “Erin,” was standing to boldly dedicate her child to the Lord.  

I was so proud because I knew the journey Erin had taken. From sitting in a Planned Parenthood contemplating abortion to finding her way to Prestonwood Pregnancy Center, it had been a bumpy journey. But there Erin was, a precious momma holding a child she almost hadn’t kept.

Her story was not an easy one. She had suffered in ways no one should ever experience. She had so little. And then God showed up and she met Jesus. Her life radically changed that day, and she has not looked back.

The pastor doing the baby dedication knew her story and had asked Erin beforehand if she were comfortable sharing that she had made a brave and wonderful choice. Erin wholeheartedly agreed. So when the pastor shared in church that she had bravely chosen life, the congregation immediately rose to their feet and began to cheer. With every clap of their hands, every shout of joy, I watched the shame fall off of that sweet momma.

Let’s reclaim a culture of life

As I sat in the front row that day and watched God’s people exhibit true, unconditional, radical, inspiring grace, I was so proud of my church family. And the realization hit me in that moment that, if this were the way we treated women who found themselves in an unplanned pregnancy—if we celebrated God’s creation instead of condemning an action—abortion would be no more.  

We can do this, church! 

We can make an impact on the rate of abortion in America. It is necessary to overturn Roe v. Wade and ensure that, at the state level, abortion is illegal. But that won’t be what changes America into a culture of life. 

It will begin with grace: unconditional, undeserved, but undeniable grace. It will begin with the radical love of our neighbor entwined with the incomprehensible grace of our Savior. It will mean reminding our young people that there is no unforgivable sin. That Jesus came to redeem and restore, and that they are precious to him and they have value regardless of their actions. 

Reclaiming a culture of life, one unplanned pregnant girl at a time, starts with you and with me.

You can impact the rate of abortion today in America by partnering with Prestonwood Pregnancy Center to center God’s love, truth, and hope on one scared woman at a time. You can do this when you:

Pray | Serve | Give

Visit us at prestonwoodpregnancy.org/friends to find out more!