About 3 months ago, YOUR CHOICES Randolph (YCR) hosted a vision casting night for our upcoming 2017 Benefit Dinner. After a time of prayer and reflection, we began discussing ideas for a Benefit theme. As people took turns sharing various thoughts, a common phrase emerged, word-for-word on 3 separate occasions: “What Does Love Look Like?” With a palpable sense that God was up to something marvelous, we walked away from that evening with a resolute and unified decision that the theme of this year’s Benefit was to be, “What Does Love Look Like?”
Little did we know that that evening would end up birthing a theme that would become our defining anthem as well as form the backdrop against everything we say, do and measure at YCR as we look ahead to the future of our community, the “pro-life” movement, and the work of YCR in Randolph County.
You see, the work we do is simple AND complicated all at the same time. It’s simple because we have the privilege of witnessing what love looks like on a weekly basis in so many different ways—young people learning their worth, parents getting equipped physically and spiritually in a family atmosphere to handle parenthood, a single mom in a crisis pregnancy learning she DOES have support and encouragement, and so on. Over the years we’ve witnessed countless men and women encounter Love in some of the most beautiful and profound ways. however, there aren’t two stories that capture the essence of ‘What Love Looks Like’ and what we do at YCR better than ‘Anna’ and Molly.’ Their response to love has not only changed their lives forever, it’s changed ours, as well.
Anna is a teen from a local school who came to us with a pregnancy scare. Driven by a desire to be cherished and affirmed, Anna had recently lost her virginity to a young man who she said, “…captured her heart with ‘love.’” Having built relationships with our WORTH team prior to her visit, Anna was drawn to YCR in her time of crisis. Following her appointment with one of our peer counselors she learned the definition of love and was deeply encouraged to realize her worth and value. Through that encounter, Anna decided to rewrite the history of her life in that appointment. Soon, Anna was committed to coming to our EQUIP classes, which empowered her with real life practical and spiritual tools to change her story for the better. Since completing the class, Anna has joined our WORTH team and will be going with YCR and a group of high school students on March 9 to share her story with members of Congress. Anna’s voice will now be heard by the highest courts because of the power of LOVE.
‘Molly’ came into YCR in a crisis pregnancy situation, feeling terrified about being pregnant, but unsure about abortion or carrying her baby to term. Immediately, our staff was quick to meet with Molly to walk alongside her as she sorted through what to do. Through a series of building relationships with peer counselors, one-on-one mentoring, and EQUIP classes, Molly received the support, encouragement, and space she needed to work out her decision. After a few months, Molly courageously decided to give the gift of life to her growing baby boy. Molly was dramatically moved by the relationships she built with friends and mentors at YCR that she now called family. To sum the beauty of her encounter with LOVE, Molly’s first journal entry (a journal was given a journal by two of YCR group class leaders and mentors) to her son upon his arrival says it all, “My dear _________,
The “Annas” and “Mollys” make what we do simple!
However, it’s also complicated. It’s complicated because we are dealing with life AND death, blessing AND curse, love AND hate, peace AND conflict. It’s complicated because we can’t do it alone. As it is in the life-affirming movement right now, pregnancy care centers only have the capacity to meet 8% of the required needs for our clients to live an abundant life (i.e. to thrive and not just survive). Our 8% covers short-term support, material resources, and evangelism. But as a Roland Warren, president of our parent company CareNet says, “a life decision needs life support” (i.e. parenting training, marriage support, job assistance, housing, discipleship, long-term support, social connections, etc.). That’s the other 92% that we (pregnancy care centers) aren’t prepared or equipped to meet that are leaving our clients without the ability to grasp ‘abundant life.’ That’s what makes this so complicated.
This past weekend, during a conference held by the great and graciously wise Sydna Masse, a post-abortive counselor on the forefront of loving men and women struggling through an abortion decision, we experienced a memorial service to honor many of the lives lost to abortion over the last 44 years. A table was laid out with tea lights scattered across a stark white table cloth with a large white candle in the middle of the table. After a time of prayer and worship, as we felt led, we were encouraged to light a candle on the table in honor of a child or person whose life had been lost. As people began getting up one by one, I felt a strong impression to watch as candles were lit rather than getting up immediately to light a candle. As I sat watching each successive candle lit, my mind was taken to a scene from Schindler’s List— in which two men had been working all night, adding as many names as possible to a list that would eventually purchase lives from being destroyed from the Holocaust experience. In that moment, I heard the quote, “The list is an absolute good. This list is life. All around its margins lies the gulf.” For those of us involved in the pro-life movement, the work is an “absolute good.” Although many have not and will not be spared in the gulf of pro-choice, the work you are doing is life. So, like the candle after candle that was lit and voices that sang sweetly in unison, I encourage you to remember the “Annas”, the “Mollys,” and others whose lives had been spared. It’s for them that we do what we do, even in the midst of complications and messiness. Although the devastation of abortion is still quaking in our cities, states, and nation, we have a chance to shift the tide. You see, we are doing the same thing as we stand together. Many lie in the gulf whose lives will not be spared, but we are creating a list of absolute good and have an opportunity to save them, as He has saved humanity.
A quotation from the movie supports the theme that one man can make a difference.
“Whoever saves one life saves the world entire.”
If even one man shows humanity to another, he demonstrates the continuing existence of humanity in society—something utterly void in the actions of the Nazis during the Holocaust. For society to continue, selflessness and kindness must exist. The Schindlerjuden wanted Schindler to have a constant reminder of the goodness in him and understand that he needed their help. Along with the ring, they gave him a signed statement swearing to his good actions, hoping to help if the Allies captured him. These eight words—one of the tag lines for the film in its marketing—capture the sentiments of the entire film.