Chapter 1 Excerpts
(Day 1-3 of 5)
I acknowledged my sin to Thee,
And my iniquity I did not hide; I said, I will confess my transgressions to the Lord;
And Thou didst forgive the guilt of my sin.
Forgiveness in Repentance
Stories of Gods Grace
A Quest for Love
By Amy Niebuhr
Too late to go back
By Eddie OBrien
Lost but Found (Not listed on website)
By Cindy Yager
A Quest for Love
By: Amy Niebuhr
I grew up the fourth of five children. Together we lived in a house – not a home. Thats because our parents didnt love each other; in fact, they didnt even like one another. Family was not a word that would have described us. We were simply seven people living together. As early as five-years old, I can recall craving love and attention. I wanted what my friends had. I would even tell my parents lies so I would get their attention. As the years went by, that craving became an obsession. Once a teenager, I actively began my quest for someone to love me as I was, regardless of my faults. I began wearing sensual attire to attract men and lots of make-up to make myself look older. Before long I was dating much older men. Even though I was in high school, I hung around with a much older crowd where I was treated older as well. What I wanted was someone to comfort me when I was scared and to turn to for advice when I was faced with a difficult decision. I craved someone to meet my lustful desire for love and I thought if someone loved me that would meet those desires.
At sixteen I was sure I had found that love and security in a relationship with a married man. Eventually when this man ended our relationship, I felt rejected and alone. It wasnt long before I was once again on my quest for love and happiness. Time and time again it was my own desperate desire for love that sabotaged my relationships. I could only conclude that my body was the only part of me worth loving and that I would have to settle for physical intimacy alone. As a result, my relationships became completely physical. There was no mutual respect; there was no dignity. This lifestyle would lead me into the darkest period of my life.
After a couple of years of this immoral life, I found myself pregnant. One of my first thoughts was Who will love me now — with a baby? There is no way I can keep this baby if I ever want a happy life. There was only one solution. I terminated my pregnancy at 10 weeks. For about a week, I struggled emotionally with that decision, mourning my loss. But my desire for love was relentless, with a power even stronger than the guilt I had inflicted upon myself. The quest began again and finding love was, as it had always been, my deepest desire and my highest priority.
It was about two years later, when I became involved in a relationship that I believed to be more than just physical. I felt certain that I had found someone who really cared about me. I wanted this man to love me so badly that I would have done anything for him. And I did. After dating about six or seven months, I found myself pregnant again. When I told him the news, he was anything but excited. How could you do this to me? he responded accusingly. If you care at all about me and our future you wont have this baby, he continued. All I heard in that statement was that there was, in fact, the possibility of a future together; there was hope that someone would love me. That was my dream. In my desperation I agreed to have an abortion. My boyfriend paid for it and even drove me to the clinic. That same evening, he went to a party and found himself a new girlfriend.
At home, I fell into a deep depression. I literally gave up. My feelings became numb and I didnt care about the ramifications of my actions. I grew certain that life was not worth living and thought many times about ending my life. But those emotions seemed to focus more and more on the loss of my children than on the loss of my most recent relationship. Guilt and shame overwhelmed me.
Though I tried not to think about it, evidence of what I had done seemed to meet me at every turn. Pictures of pre-born children drove me to tears. Then there was the fear. I was convinced in my heart that God would punish me and that I would never find true love.
A couple of years passed before I met the man I would eventually marry. My life to this point had been a series of self-destructive pursuits. The experience of undergoing two abortions left me feeling used, ugly, ashamed, unworthy of love, and deserving of ill treatment. In spite of my own feelings of worthlessness, God brought a precious gift into my life. I met a real gentle man whom God used to start me on a path toward a more stable life. I knew I did not deserve him and, in my fear of losing him, I kept my past a secret. It was my resolve that no one would ever know.
The stress of keeping this secret became unbearable, however. During the years that followed, when I heard the topic of abortion discussed, or even the word mentioned, I reacted strongly cringing both physically and emotionally. In time I developed what I thought was an effective strategy for dealing with the pain; I just pretended it never happened. It worked so well that I almost believed it myself. Almost!
With my secret past locked away, Chris and I were married in 1993. Two years later we moved to Charleston, South Carolina where I met a very dear friend, Anita Couch. I was three months pregnant with our second child when Anita invited me to attend a Caleb Ministries Womens Retreat that would take place in November. In Gods providence, I agreed to go. Having no idea what to expect, I sat down to hear a testimony given by a woman named Chris Nelson. (Her story is in this book.) Just as Chris began to speak, I knew in my heart that this was why I was there. I listened carefully as Chris told the story of her own abortion. All I could do was sob in my amazement as I realized that God knew everything about me. My soul was laid bare before Him as I heard Gods declaration in the Scriptures. For My eyes are on all their ways; they are not hidden from my face, nor is their inequity hidden from My eyes. (Jer. 16:17 – NKJV) I wanted so badly to come clean to somebody; and yet, I was battling the enemys lie: Abortion is the unforgivable sin. An opportunity came to receive prayer. Half on and half off the seat, I wanted desperately to pray with someone — anyone!
My internal battle raged on. Eventually all I could hear was the voice of fear. Are you crazy? These people will judge you! You dont want all these people you just met to know this about you. It has been a secret this long — just keep it that way. I struggled to convince myself not to rock the boat while not wanting to carry that load of guilt any longer. In the midst of my turmoil, a friend turned and asked me if I would like to go somewhere private to pray. I managed to nod my head. But as we sat in the corner and she prayed with me, the struggle continued. I worried that my husband would be angry if I told someone else before he knew. So I determined to explain my tears by admitting my fear of losing the baby I was carrying. That is what I did; I lied to her face. Fear of the consequences of telling the truth was stronger than my desire to be free from guilt at that moment. Once back in my room, I reasoned that I would open up to my friend, Anita. But again, I gave into fear, pretending to be asleep when she returned to the room.
The next morning, November 16, 1997, my life was changed forever. That was the day that God unlocked the room in which my secret had been kept for so many years. He exposed my sinful heart and gave me the courage to acknowledge and take responsibility for the sins I had committed throughout my life. I begged for His forgiveness and accepted Jesus payment for my sins. When I acknowledged Christ as my Lord and Savior, I was a changed woman. He took the guilt and the shame from me in an instant. I knew I could no longer go my own way and committed myself to Gods way for my life. For the first time, I felt that I could breathe deeply. I felt very safe, secure, and warm inside. When someone becomes a Christian, he or she becomes a brand new person inside with a new desire to know and please God. A new life begins on a spiritual plane at that moment (II Corinthians 5:17).
Then, I acknowledged my sin to you and did not cover up my iniquity.
I said, I will confess my transgressions to the Lord
and you forgave the guilt of my sin.
Psalm 32:5 (NIV)
I was now alive spiritually with a new heart, but I returned home to a non-Christian husband. Though I was aware that the Lord would give me courage, I dreaded telling my husband the truth about my past. As I began to explain the decision I had made that very morning and the newfound freedom I had from exposing my hidden pain, he did not understand. Instead, he became suspicious about what else I had failed to share with him over the years. Very quickly we decided not to discuss it any further. It seemed my announcement had come at an inopportune time, just two days before our first family vacation. Throughout that vacation we avoided the subject and just went on as usual, though both our hearts were aching inside.
It was weeks after we returned from our vacation before we actually discussed my decision to follow Christ. God had used our vacation time to work in my husbands heart. Thankfully, he was willing to forgive my past. If God can forgive you, he said, then who am I to place judgment? In the weeks that followed, my husband started asking questions about what it meant to have a relationship with Jesus Christ. Each day brought more questions. He asked questions about the inconsistencies he saw in people who claimed to be Christians, as well as, questions about things he did not understand in the Bible. He recognized that he didnt have the love for God that he saw in people at church and yet he had prayed the prayer to become a Christian. Finally, he asked to meet with my friend, Anita, and the Lord used her to address his questions from Gods Word. Within a few days, he made his decision to accept Gods gift of salvation.
Our decisions to follow Christ have caused us to see every area of our lives in a new light the light of Gods Word! Today, our family has a whole new meaning. As we walk this incredible journey together, we have grown closer to Christ, closer to one another and closer to His people in His Church. My husband and I began attending Bible studies where we developed friendships with others who love the Lord. We are filled with the assurance that we have been forever changed and with peace knowing we will never walk alone. I am so thankful to my Lord for giving us the courage to be obedient.
That day in November, my birthday into Gods family, ended my lifelong quest for love; for I found all that I needed — in abundance — in Jesus Christ. I look back and realize that His love was mine for the asking all those years when I was searching. Throughout my quest, God was the source of the very love that I was so desperately seeking. It was His lovingkindness that brought me to repentance — not to condemn me, but to save me (Rom 8:1). It was His pursuit of me that allowed me to find relief from my guilt and shame. I am now free from them through Jesus Christ who paid the price of my guilt.
In my thankfulness, I pray for young girls who are so focused on love as I was. I pray they would come to recognize their real need of a Savior to forgive their lustful craving for love and change their hearts desire to be pleasing to God. I also pray for women who carry the secret of an abortion in their past. I pray they would come to understand that God forgives sin-all sin! If this is your situation, seek out someone with whom you can talk about the guilt and grief that plagues you a pastor, a pastors wife, a godly counselor. God can use the very experience you are afraid to disclose to anyone to draw you into a loving relationship with Himself. God has replaced my desperate craving for love with a deep quest to love and serve Him.
Amy and her husband Christopher reside in Mount Pleasant, SC with their two children. They are actively involved with a ministry that teaches parenting skills. After completing a post abortion study Amy has the desire to share her story with others who are hurting-especially teens. Amy leads our post-abortion ministry, Abbeys Place, in the Charleston, SC Caleb Chapter.
Personally to you
1. How were you encouraged after reading Amys story?
2. At what point(s) did you identify with her story?
3. Below are a few scripture passages that Amy used. Which one(s) could you apply to your circumstances? How do they help you?
· Jeremiah 16:17
· I Corinthians 5:17
· Psalm 32:5
Too Late to go back
By Eddie OBrien
Not long ago, I stood talking with a few of my friends after church, most of them women. It was Sanctity of Human Life Sunday. (See insert Sanctity of Life below.) Following the worship service, we discussed the nature of so many ungodly relationships that result in painful consequences for men and women; too often they also victimize an unborn child.
Most of the comments pointed the finger at men, many of whom support abortion as a solution for an unplanned pregnancy. Women like romance, but men are just interested in one thing, was one womens remark. Still another insisted, Women are pushed into sexual relationships by men; they feel forced to give in to keep the mans acceptance. Then came the most devastating of the comments made: I cant believe a man can get a girl pregnant and then blow it off, saying its as easy as having an abortion problem solved. I couldnt deny it. In fact, I had heard some of my own friends say those very words — No problem, just tell her to have an abortion.
Not all men are like that, I heard myself say. But it was at that moment that I realized I could have easily been the very man to offer such advice or to take it had it not been for my own childhood experiences. I had seen, firsthand, the pain men could inflict on women. But as a man I had also learned that a womans choice to thoughtlessly destroy a relationship and the life of an unborn child can have devastating effects for both partners.
My mother and father divorced when I was eight years old. A year later, my mother remarried. My stepfather was an alcoholic with a violent temper. Even when I couldnt see them, I heard the fights and the screams at my mother and sister. I knew that he would hurt them, and he did-broken fingers and ribs, black eyes, and blood. Holes in the walls and broken furniture marked the battlefield that was our home. I never knew a man could have such strength. Once I dressed in my army clothes, as a soldier prepared for war, and walked right up to my stepfather, commanding him to stop. His answer was to shove me against the wall. I could only walk away feeling angry and powerless.
A year later, on Valentines Day, I had another chance to stand up to my stepfather. Apparently, my mother had called the police to our house by reporting my stepfathers threats. When she pointed at me, demanding, Ask him, hell tell you what happened, I was so afraid I couldnt say a word. The police left and I thought it was all over until my mother returned to the room with a pistol pointed at her chest. She threatened to shoot herself if my stepfather didnt leave immediately. He did leave, but she continued to point the gun at herself. I pleaded with her to put the gun down, even asking her to consider what God would say about what she was doing. This stunned her so that she abruptly turned to leave the room. It was then that she bumped into the door, setting off the gun. I ran to catch her, but I could not save her.
After the funeral I packed a suitcase and never went back to that house. Since I was only 15 years old, I moved in with my sister for awhile, and later with my father. I refused any offer of comfort; drugs and alcohol became my closest companions. Although I cared about very little back then, I decided in my heart that I would never abuse a woman. I made a commitment to treat women with respect. And I did, only to discover that gentlemen werent in demand in my world. My efforts to please women, only led to being rejected again and again.
By my senior year of high school, I found my way to be popular; I became a drug dealer. I was the life of the parties. Everyone wanted to be my friend when I had what they wanted. Even the girls began to flirt with me and I no longer got dumped all the time. It was a short-lived happiness, though. After I graduated, which was in itself a miracle, the friends that depended on me for their habits slowly began to disappear. I never expected anyone to really grow up and get jobs or go to college. I found myself in a desperate search for happiness. Cars, money, drinking, parties, all was a vain attempt to escape reality and create a world where I wouldnt get hurt. It was only a matter of time.
We had only been together for one night, and she got pregnant. All of my friends said, No problem, just pay for her to have an abortion. They told me I was too young to be a father. A few hundred dollars would fix the mistake, if I shopped the abortion clinics for the best deal. I cant say I did not think about it, but the thought of a child, my own child, made me feel happy. It occurred to me that maybe this was what made life worthwhile. I told my girlfriend Id be honored to be father to the child.
Unfortunately, her friends had given her other advice. One day, she handed me an informational brochure on abortion procedures and asked me to read it. Everything inside me resisted. You cant do this — not to a baby or to yourself, I insisted. She reassured me that she was just curious.
However, shortly thereafter she informed me that it was over. When I responded, What is over? her cold reply was, Im not pregnant anymore. I felt as though life went out of me. I could not believe she had killed our baby, my baby. There was nothing I could do; it was too late. In the end she left me for one of her friends who recommended the abortion.
Its hard to describe the emptiness that followed. I thought I had nothing else to lose, but I was wrong. Every day that passed, I gave another piece of my soul to the world. My thoughts constantly replayed that horrible scene of my mothers death, and then turned to images of an abortionist stealing life from a helpless baby. I couldnt get drunk enough or high enough to escape the relentless battle that waged in my mind.
Where was God? I had believed in Him. I always knew God was real and He was out there somewhere watching me. I had been baptized as a child and grew up in church. However, I had since developed my own religion-one that would justify my lifestyle. I decided that since I talked to God, I didnt need to read the Bible. I didnt need to go to church because it was full of hypocrites and I would never be like that. I figured God understood my drinking and all, since it was the only thing that helped me forget my pain.
Oh, how deceived I was. I was so good at telling lies — to myself and others — that I began to believe them over time. I convinced myself that my stepfather was not to blame for what happened to mom; that Mom was okay, watching over me in Heaven with God; and, that there remained in me no bitterness because my experiences had made me a stronger person. This is it happiness, I reasoned.
True, I acknowledged that God was there but I failed to recognize that my sin kept me from a relationship with a Holy God. I had heard about God as a child, but when tragedy struck, I looked to the world for comfort. I did not have a relationship with Jesus Christ.
At 27, I married Jennifer. With our union came her five-year-old son Matthew, from a previous marriage. Together we went to church but just so Matthew would have a church upbringing. We only went for his sake. One Sunday, following an extended absence from the pulpit, our pastor brought the congregation some heart-wrenching news. His newborn daughter Abbie had been born with Downs Syndrome and a life-threatening hole in her heart. We watched, in amazement, as this man wept before us and gave the Lord his burdens. Tears poured down my face. Joy and sadness intertwined.
That day, God deeply impressed my heart with the Pastors response to his circumstances. I hardly remember what the pastor said, but I will never forget the tears of gratitude he shed as he lifted his hands to praise the One who was his Refuge. He praised God even as his newborn baby lay dying; expressing his assurance that God was in control. I longed to know God like that. I didnt think I could live another day without what he had. I wanted Jesus so badly I could just die, and I did. That day, a sinful hard-hearted man of the world visited church and never left; but a new, forgiven man stood and walked out as a child of the King. Jesus became my Savior that day.
Having left the church when my Mom died, I had substituted my idea of God for the true God. Even though we were just going to church because Matt needed it, God knew we were the ones who needed it. God opened my spiritual eyes to know who God is, holy and just, to see myself as a sinner, and to accept Christs death on the cross to provide forgiveness for my sin. I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me, and delivered Himself up for me. Galatians 2:20
The old self-rationalizing man has passed away, and, praise God, I am born anew to peace with God and a life of abundant blessing. Nothing in my past changed. My mother still died a horrible death, and I saw every second of it. Years were wasted in pain and loneliness hoping some bottle would numb the memories. The life of an unborn child was taken. But none of these experiences left me a stronger man. I was not wiser for my sinful decisions. It took Jesus to change me. That is the greatest part of my history: I didnt do anything; I couldnt. Jesus reached down into the filth of my shameful life and rescued me. He cleansed me with His own blood and brought stability to my life so that I could stand the storms of life.
Nothing within me could ever forgive those who had hurt me. I could not escape the guilt I felt for letting that baby die. I didnt even know how I could face life another day. Without Christ, I was utterly doomed under the penalty of my sin. My Lord and my Savior forgave me first — then Jesus placed inside of me His Grace and His Mercy so that I, too, could forgive. I had never known joy and happiness apart from Jesus, but. I found freedom and security in my relationship with Him. Oh, how refreshing is the peace of abiding in Him!
I am the Vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me, and I in him, he bears much fruit; apart from Me you can do nothing.
Eddie graduated with an Associates of Divinity degree from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in May 2000. He is currently working on his Bachelor of Arts Degree in Biblical Studies and plans to go on to the Master of Divinity degree. Eddie and his wife, Jennifer, have done short-term mission work in India. They hope to serve there again in the future. They are so grateful for the way God has blessed their lives.
Personally to you
1. How were you encouraged after reading Eddies story?
2. At what point(s) did you identify with his story?
3. Below are a couple scriptures from Eddies story. Which one(s) could you apply to your circumstance(s)? How do they bring you comfort?
· Galatians 2:20
· John 15:5
Sanctity of Life Sunday and Mothers Day
How do we get through them?
As I walked into the church, I thought Oh no, its THAT day again. They handed me a rose and I just wanted to run! The memories hurt so badly and I feel as though there is no one who understands my pain. Will people ever realize how painful this day is for women like me? Women who have had an abortion or who have lost a baby? I cant imagine sitting through another service when they are going to talk about babies that have