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Pushing back against darkness - California couple creates ministry from abortion experience

Michelle and Jerry Shelfer met more than 40 years ago and pursued abortion the first time Michelle became pregnant. Last year, she wrote and published a book to help women who have traveled that same path find healing, and alongside her husband, developed a ministry based on their abortion experience.

Prepare a Room Ministries “exists to magnify God, to stand for life in the spiritual battle against darkness and death, to offer the healing work of the cross to those hurt by abortion, and to give a face to abortion’s faceless victims,” according to the ministry website. 

A musician, teacher, and speaker, Michelle wrote a book titled, Prepare a Room: A Path to Healing for Those Hurt by Abortion. The book was published last fall by Nordskog Publishing, a faith-based company with the stated mission to “enhance the spiritual growth of Christ’s redeemed people through understanding of His Laws, all Truth, as found in His Holy Scriptures.”

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Their experience

The Shelfers’ experience is unique in that they remained together after the abortion experience; they have been married about 39 years, a testament in itself. 

Michelle Shelfer

“Most relationships don’t survive an abortion, but ours did,” Michelle said.

Raised in a secular Jewish home, she said she didn’t think twice about having an abortion. Neither did Jerry, even though he was raised as a pastor’s child.

“I was sowing my wild oats then,” he said. “We were shacking up in a bus, and we were in Phoenix when we made the abortion appointment. We thought nothing of it.”

However, Michelle said the experience was “life-changing” for her.

“I was jarred out of my flip attitude,” she said. “I was in excruciating pain,” and others stopped relating to her as a person.

She said she was emotional and crying, yet no one showed empathy or sympathy. She was “whisked out the backdoor” of the clinic. Jerry had not gone with her; therefore, Michelle was alone immediately after the abortion experience.

Tweet This: Alone being “whisked out the backdoor” of the abortion clinic, she saw everything through new eyes – the lies and the ‘right’ to an abortion

“I saw everything through new eyes – the lies and the ‘right’ to an abortion,” she said.

Yet, a second pregnancy, this time in Texas, brought her to another abortion clinic. However, a different result happened. A group of pro-life sidewalk prayer warriors had gathered outside this clinic, Michelle said. She still went inside and as she waited in the lobby, she began to question silently. Jerry had been ill the night before and therefore, remained in their vehicle. Something stirred within him as well.

“As I sat in the waiting room, he came in and we fled (the clinic),” Michelle said. “He proposed to me in the parking lot.”

Turning to Christ

After that, Jerry’s heart began to return to his Christian roots. As the Shelfers had children, Jerry began sharing with his family about Jesus. However, his wife resisted those conversations.

“Michelle made it clear she didn’t want to hear about Jesus,” Jerry said.

More than two decades passed; Jerry kept praying for her.

One Easter, he bought her a new outfit and asked her to go to church with him and out to lunch thereafter.

“He bribed me,” Michelle stated.

As she sat in the service, the Holy Spirit began to move. 

“I was crying uncontrollably,” she recalled. “The Lord was working on my heart.”

She invited Christ into her life, but she did so begrudgingly, she said.

“It was more as a dare,” Michelle said. “My mother is a Holocaust survivor. But even with that attitude … the Lord honored my request. I wrote a new song that afternoon.”

A new assignment

As a couple with a musical ministry, 2020 hit them hard.  

  
    Prepare a Room

“Everything came to a halt during COVID,” Michelle said. “It gave us time to reflect, and I felt we were given a new assignment by the Lord.”

“When COVID hit, we evaluated (what to do),” Jerry said. “We wanted to be in keeping with the Lord.”

That’s when the book idea blossomed. After publication, Rachel’s Vineyard used it, Michelle said. They hope more organizations will do the same.

“I would love to see the book get into pregnancy centers,” Michelle said. “It’s a resource (women) can take into their home and read. It’s a tool to help them. I wrote it specifically for people who don’t know Jesus. I didn’t want to come across as ‘churchy,’ but there is a Gospel message at the end.”

Foundlings Memorial Quilt

 

Additionally, the couple created an animated video, released a CD of songs, and launched a quilt project called The Foundlings.

“We’re giving a face to the faceless,” Michelle said. “Our child … played a role.”

She draws the faces of children lost to abortion as they come to her. The goal is to create and manufacture an 11x14-foot quilt with hundreds of images printed on museum-quality inks and fabrics. They have chosen an “awesome” quilter, Michelle said. 

“I envision this quilt as a rallying point, bringing together pregnancy centers and churches and with Michelle speaking, all to help pregnancy centers,” Jerry said.

“Abortion isn’t talked about much in churches – it’s taboo,” Michelle added. “I feel the Lord has gifted me with the ability to talk about it.”

The Shelfers are taking their artistry, including their music and the book, to other communities this summer. They plan to be in Dallas in June and at the CareNet conference in August.

“We are stepping out by faith,” said Jerry.

“We are creating a space for Christ in the culture through the arts,” Michelle said. “We are pushing back against the darkness.”

Gayle Irwin

Gayle M. Irwin is human and pet life advocate and an award-winning author and freelance writer. She is a contributor to seven Chicken Soup for the Soul books and the author of many inspirational pet books and stories for children and adults. Her first novel, a clean, contemporary pet rescue romance titled Rescue Road, released November 8, 2019. She subtly weaves important life and faith lessons within the lines and pages of her stories. As Patient Resources Director for True Care Women’s Resource Center in Casper, Wyoming, for ten years, Gayle oversees the volunteer program, writes patient stories for the organization’s newsletter, creates blog and social media posts for the center, and serves as a patient advocate when needed. Learn more about her writing endeavors and read her pet blog at her website: www.gaylemirwin.com.