“There’s only three weeks left until our banquet,” said the anxious pregnancy center director, “and I still don’t have a client testimony.”
We were seated at the same table at the recent Care Net conference, swapping ministry war stories, encouraging each other in the battle.
I told my new friend I felt her pain. This last spring, I had three good candidates lined up who were willing to let their stories be told at our annual banquet.
Not one of them worked out.
One decided she was too shy to be introduced in person, but she could supply a family portrait for us to display while we shared how she and the father of her baby decided against abortion after visiting our clinic.
Theirs is a beautiful story. They not only chose life, but got married and had a second child. Yet despite all my efforts to stay in touch, the portrait never made it to us.
My second candidate enthusiastically said yes when I first asked to introduce her at our banquet. Hers is a beautiful story as well. She had proudly showed me a photo of the little girl she thought would ruin her life, who instead turned out to be one of her biggest blessings.
Toward the actual date of the event, this mother stopped answering my calls. Another story without a picture, let alone a baby.
My last hope was to introduce “Courtney,” who came to us having already scheduled an appointment with Planned Parenthood. Courtney received the hope and confidence she needed to carry her child after her first visit with us, and then benefitted from attending our Life Skills classes for several months.
It was a race against the clock, because Courtney was due to have her baby right around the time of our banquet. She ended up delivering her baby boy two days previous, but still planned to come and show him off to the crowd.
Hours before the banquet, Courtney decided not to come after all. We showed a photo of her newborn son on the big screen as we shared her story–but we didn’t have one single real live baby present that night for our audience to enjoy.
It’s frustrating, isn’t it? We know that God is doing so much in the lives of those we serve, but it’s difficult to find opportunities to “package” their stories in such a way that our donors find satisfying.
Those who support our ministry want to see a real baby. They want to hear a great story that’s all wrapped up with a pretty bow. They want to feel like heroes for helping rescue lives. That’s understandable. I want that feeling, too, when I give.
However, life is messy, and people are in process. Ultimately, nobody’s story is wrapped up with a pretty bow–not on this side of eternity.
Tweet This: Nobody’s story is wrapped up with a pretty bow–not on this side of eternity. #prolife @SusanneMaynes
Yes, breakthroughs come, and we celebrate those. But setbacks come, too. They’re part of any human story line.
I think of a couple who came to us considering abortion some years ago. She was only eighteen and certain her parents would “kill her” if they found out she was pregnant.
As a result of their visit with us, this young couple chose life. Then they attended our Life Skills classes, where they learned about the benefits of marriage. They tied the knot a few months later.
That’s a great story, right? Except that this couple later got divorced.
Another teen came to us from a rough family background. “Katie” learned all about prenatal development and the dangers of abortion at our clinic, and chose life for her baby. She also attended our classes for months and developed a close relationship with her volunteer mentor.
Katie had been through a series of boyfriends. Her mentor often brought up the topic of marriage, in hopes of planting a seed to break the cycle of serial, short-term relationships.
One day Katie shows up with a new guy–she’s pregnant, and they’re married! The two of them had known each other for all of two months.
Everything unraveled quickly. Turns out, the young man was abusive, and overnight, Katie went from being excited about the new baby to deciding she didn’t want to “bring a child into this situation.”
She filed for divorce, moved to another state, and had an abortion. We have not seen her since.
Tweet This: This ministry is painful. Sometimes there’s little to show. #prolife
This ministry is painful. Sometimes there’s little to show for our hard work. We see far less happy endings than we would like.
If you rely on visible, trackable outcomes for your motivation to do this ministry, you’ll be hard pressed to keep going.
This is not about package-able outcomes, pretty bows and happy endings. It’s about reaching down into the mess of humanity as Jesus’ hands. It’s about extending love and grace and truth, investing all you have into an invisible, eternal Kingdom.
I say it this way in Unleashing Your Courageous Compassion: 40 Reflections on Rescuing the Unborn:
Life-affirming work isn’t glamorous. The general public is much more likely to appreciate other demonstrations of compassion and justice. The little ones we defend may never be able to thank us, but God is especially pleased when we protect the most vulnerable people group on the planet…
Picture the Lord’s smile when he tells you face-to-face, “As you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.” Imagine how eager he is to reward you…
God knows our hearts. He knows we need rewards to look forward to after the long, hard labors of this life. And he counts many moments of obedience we wouldn’t remember.
I don’t know if the director I met ended up with a client testimony for her banquet or not. Either way, I’m confident that her ministry is powerful and significant. So is yours.
As you continue to collect stories to inform and bless those who support you, remember for whom you are doing this ministry.
It’s not for your givers, but for the Giver of life.