Post-abortion counseling is important for men, too
PLANO, Texas (BP)--He was a Christian, but years ago he had turned his back on God completely, filling his life with drugs, alcohol and violence. His marriage had fallen apart, he had lost his children and he was virtually penniless.
Sean Roy had hit rock bottom, but at a party one night he sensed God saying, "Sean, this is not who you're supposed to be."
Then, in 1996, while sitting in jail one night after being pulled over by the police for driving while intoxicated, Roy finally realized the truth and said, "Lord, I can't live this way. I'm willing to do whatever it takes to change my life."
Roy had a rocky past to overcome, including the loss of three children to abortions he had encouraged. He began for himself a new life that day. His relationship with his two children was restored, and he was able to share with them the moment they accepted Christ as Lord of their lives. But more than a year ago, Roy sensed God calling him to do something more.
"I said, 'God, what do you want me to do?' There was dead silence for six months as I prayed," he said. But when Dr. Elizabeth Ritz, director of Prestonwood Pregnancy and Family Care, spoke to a Bible study group at Prestonwood one day, "I felt like the Lord had hit me between the eyes. It was obvious what He wanted me to do."
After attending a post-abortion recovery group for men at the Prestonwood Pregnancy and Family Care Center, a ministry of the Dallas-area Prestonwood Baptist Church in Plano, Roy interviewed with them and joined their staff as a volunteer leader. Today, he is training to be a counselor for young men facing unplanned pregnancies.
"I had many of the same feelings as these men," he said. "Having walked in their shoes now helps me reach them. And that's how God works. He takes our experiences and turns them into good for someone else. What the enemy meant for evil, God meant for good."
The post-abortion men's Bible study at Prestonwood began in 1999 with just a few guys. It has now developed into a 10-week program that meets two or three times a year. Alongside Roy is co-leader T.J. Cooper, who shares a similar background, having been party to an abortion by a former girlfriend.
Cooper visited Prestonwood with his fiance during a sanctity of life service. After hearing about the pregnancy center during the service, he called and began attending the recovery group. Although he had asked God for forgiveness, he knew he needed to deal with the issue. Today, he volunteers as the coordinator for both the men's and women's post-abortion recovery groups.
"One of the biggest things that the Bible study has done for me is to help me understand that this is not just a woman's issue, and we need to realize that it's really about men whose relationships are not honoring to God," Cooper said. "It's helped the men become fully aware of what sanctity of life means. Men think that because they were involved in the process of abortion they were just wrong at the time, but they don't realize that it can affect the rest of your life."
Angel Willeford, a counselor at the Prestonwood Pregnancy and Family Care Center, deals with this issue on a daily basis.
"One of the most precious parts of the Bible study, for both men and women, is the memorial service we have for the babies who lost their lives," she said. "We encourage those who attend to ask God to reveal a name for their baby that was killed. It is a very emotional and great time of healing and helps the parents to come face to face with the life that was lost through abortion."
Abortion is a severe bondage in America today, Willeford said, and many non-Christians are not prepared for the forms of grief to be dealt with after committing abortion. While it has become a normal procedure in many doctors' offices, it haunts the lives of all who are involved in it, Willeford said, citing various stages of grief that can span years when dealing with abortion: relief, denial, anger, depression and acceptance.
"The Bible study/recovery group is really just the beginning of the healing process," Willeford said. "Those who have gone through the study leave having experienced freedom from the bondage of guilt. Going through the Bible study takes them to deep levels that they can't get through on their own and helps them move in a new direction."
Many abortions involve white 20- to 24-year-olds who claim to be Christians, Willeford said.
"For Christians, it is hard. There are many reasons why it happens so often among Christians: They want to hide the sin they committed, they think it will solve the problem immediately, or they don't want other Christians or those in the church to know," Willeford said.
Many people who have experienced abortion wonder why they cannot get past non-communication problems with their spouses, drug problems, insecurities and so on, she said, noting, "It is all related to the effects of the abortion and being held in bondage.
"At the Prestonwood Pregnancy and Family Care Center, we just want so much to help people who want to be healed," Willeford said of the ministry that is just one of many across the country offering such programs for men and women from all walks of life. "Because life was created by God, those who have aborted are under such guilt and condemnation. Going through this kind of program will help free them from bondage, guilt and grief and restore them to a right relationship with God."
For more information on the Prestonwood Pregnancy and Family Care Center, visit www.prestonwoodpregnancy.org.