The leader of a small group, at the local church where I serve as Pastor, kept telling me that I needed to meet a young man who had been attending the group for a few weeks. He told me that this young man had led some Bible studies in college, served in leadership for a couple of years at another church, and was a good speaker. In fact, the ministry leader said to me, “He reminds me of a younger version of you, Pastor.” From this description, I was looking forward to meeting him.
Not long afterwards, I met this young man as he attended our church service on a Sunday morning. We had a brief conversation and I told him that I would like to take him out to lunch so that I could get to know him better. He responded that he would like that, and we scheduled a date a couple of weeks later to meet.
When we met, I asked him to tell me some of his story. He began to tell me about his years at home growing up with a father who was in the ministry. Yet it was not until he was at college that he came to have a personal relationship with God through faith in Jesus Christ. He mentioned to me that he was gifted in the area of teaching and talked about the opportunities that he has had in college and afterwards to lead various Bible studies. He mentioned that he had recently served at an area local church but had left from it a few months before. He alluded to the fact that his spiritual passion was waning. He said that he began attending the small group with the hope that his zeal for God would be restored. I noticed that he made very little eye contact with me and seemed hesitant to go into any real detail.
I thanked him for sharing with me. I know that since I am a Pastor most people are pretty guarded in what they share with me. One of the ways that God has shown me to get people to begin to let their guards down is by sharing my story, which I did with this young man. A key piece of my story deals with me and my girlfriend having an abortion when I was 19. I told this young man of how my life began to spiral out of control after this happened. I became sexual promiscuous, drank alcohol in excess, had uncontrollable rage at times, and my behavior was manic depressive. These things led me to another unwanted pregnancy at 22, an unwanted marriage to avoid the pain of another abortion, unfaithfulness and anger towards my wife in our marriage and a divorce at age 26.
As my life was falling apart someone shared with me God’s love and forgiveness offered to me through His Son Jesus Christ. I came to faith in Christ and in some areas saw God make some immediate and remarkable changes in my life. I stopped drinking alcohol and did not have sex with another woman until I remarried (4 years later). Shortly after coming to faith in Christ, I left my career and entered into full-time ministry. I met a wonderful, godly woman and we married and shortly after began having children (we now have 6 and have been married for 16 years).
Yet I began to realize that I still struggled with some things that affected my spiritual passion, and my relationship with my wife and children. I still had a difficult time controlling my anger, I experienced extreme highs and lows in my emotions, I was paralyzed when faced with ‘big’ decisions, and ministry was more about my personal success than giving glory to God. And no matter how much I prayed to God to change these things in me they seemed to remain. I moved to new churches, ministry assignments, and residences and these things seemed to follow me around relentlessly. Nothing seemed to help and I began to think that not even God could help. This only compounded the frustration that I was feeling.
I told this young man that through some unexpected circumstances and people that God showed me that a key source of my being stuck had to do with the abortion of my child. In 2013, 22 years after the abortion and 16 years of being a Christian, I went through a post-abortion Bible Study that God used to bring healing to me that I did not even know that I needed. And five years later, my relationship with God and my family, though not perfect, is so much healthier, richer and vibrant.
After I shared this young man thanked me, and then his demeanor changed. He rolled up his sleeves and said “now I can tell you what is really going on in my life.” He alluded to the fact that because I was a Pastor that there was no way that he could share with me his story. But once I shared with him, it gave him the safe place to finally be honest with someone. He began to tell me his struggles with sexual immorality and that when he was in college his girlfriend became pregnant. They chose to have the child and when the child was 6, about a year ago, he found out that he was not the father. This was a hard blow for him and he became involved sexually with his girlfriend. She became pregnant and because they were both Christians and involved in leadership in their local church that there was no way they could have a child for in their minds it would ruin their reputation, destroy their ministry, and weaken their witness for Christ. So they made the decision to abort their child. He told me that he knew what they had decided was wrong. He knew that God hated the shedding of innocent blood, and yet they proceeded to get it done as soon as possible.
Immediately after the abortion, he and his girlfriend broke up. She began to share what happened with others and soon word reached the Pastor of the church where he served in leadership. He was removed from his leadership role at the church, lost the trust of a man who had entrusted him with great opportunities to serve, and damaged their relationship. This caused him to shamefully leave from the church and on top of this his soul was tormented with the guilt of participating in the murder of his unborn child. Four months later, this young man was sitting before me completely devastated by the choice that he had made. The irony of the situation is that he realized that the choice to abort his child brought far greater and longer lasting consequences than choosing life for his child. The world has framed abortion as the great cover up and yet he found that it had led to what felt like a deadening of his own soul.
I have met with this young man since then and he has been on the road to seeing God restore his soul as he has confessed his sin to God and to his ex-girlfriend, learning to forgive himself as God has, and grieving the loss of his unborn child. Many men are devastated by the pain, guilt and, remorse of abortion in their story and we must be willing to talk about it, especially in the Christian community, so that more men are healed, stop hiding, and become silent no more.