CHAPTER EIGHT: A CHECKLIST OF ACTION STEPS
1. Give a series of sermons on compassion, grief, and forgiveness, such as outlined herein. Review these points at least twice a year for the benefit of new members of the congregation and for the old members who didn’t quite believe it all the first time.
2. Keep an audio or video tape of your sermons on post-abortion healing and forgiveness in your church office. Periodically publish a notice that the tapes are available for loan to anyone who has had an abortion or knows of someone who needs to hear a message of God’s mercy and forgiveness for those who have been involved in abortion. These frequent reminders reach out to new members and remind the general congregation that your church is a haven of support and healing for those who have been scarred by abortion.
3. Publish pro-woman/pro-life “blurbs” in your weekly bulletin. You may wish to pick a paragraph or two from this book or other books on post-abortion healing, or compose your own words of encouragement. Or create a four- to six-week bulletin insert program similar to the “Healing the Wounds” inserts described in the list of “Resources,” which is the last section of this book.
4. Publish a poem from a woman who has been reconciled after her abortion. These can be readily found in The Post-Abortion Review and in many of the books on post-abortion healing listed under “Resources.”
5. Regularly ask for volunteers to lead and participate in peer groups for post-abortion healing. Allow volunteers the option of having their names omitted from any public notice by handling all requests for help through the church office.
6. Place literature on post-abortion trauma and post-abortion healing in your church bookracks.
7. Start a small prayer chain within your congregation of women and men who agree together to pray each day for the healing of those who have been involved in abortion.
8. Hold a special county-wide prayer service for mothers and fathers who have lost infants through abortion, miscarriage, or stillbirth. Pray also for the grandparents and siblings of aborted children.
9. Organize an interdenominational outreach effort to victims of post-abortion trauma. Develop a public relations plan to attract media attention to this “novel” outreach effort and emphasize the compassion with which the Christian community receives those who have had abortions. Remember, in approaching the media, to point out that as many as one in five women have had an abortion, so this ministry is of great importance to every community.
10. Encourage your congregation, either as a church body or as individuals, to give financial support to post-abortion ministries.
11. Where Life-Chains are held, encourage the use of the sign, “Abortion Hurts Women.”
12. Invite speakers from post-abortion ministries to address your congregation during your regular service or during a special event.
13. Invite women and men from your own congregation who have achieved post-abortion healing to share their testimonies during your weekly service. Encourage your church clubs for men, women, teens, and seniors to also invite these guest speakers to address their members.
14. Encourage testimony swaps. Invite women or men from another church to give testimony about their own abortion experience and healing at your church. Encourage your own post-abortion healing representatives to speak at other churches, and help them arrange the invitation. This approach may be especially welcomed by new speakers who desire the extra layer of anonymity which is afforded by speaking to “strangers.”
15. If you have difficulty finding a woman who can give her testimony, have a woman from your church read one of the testimonies aloud from this book or another book. It should be made clear, of course, that she is reading another woman’s testimony. But it should be noted that it is much more effective to have a third party’s testimony read by a woman rather than a man, especially if she is a good reader who can bring the proper emotion to the testimony.
16. Encourage all of your people who know someone who has had an abortion to invite their friends to attend an introductory meeting at your church’s or community’s post-abortion healing ministry. The friend who makes the invitation should offer to go along for support. This approach is especially effective if the abortion is an open issue between the friends.
17. Explain to your congregation how everyone can become a “stealth healer.” Teach them the following simple, non-confrontational, three-step method for drawing friends and loved ones into post-abortion healing. This technique is especially effective if the post-aborted person is keeping the abortion secret and does not know that the “healer” knows or suspects that he or she has been involved in an abortion.
To teach this method, begin by explaining that the goal of a stealth healer is not to help complete the healing process, but simply to open the door to healing.
In a simple, conversational way, the “healer” covers the following three points: (1) he announces that he has come to a new understanding of the abortion issue, including why people choose abortion and how it affects them; (2) he expresses compassion for post-aborted women and men, realizing that they must constantly face the fear that others may be judging and condemning them; and (3) he describes how he has heard of a brand new program in the church or community which helps to free women and men from the burdens of secrecy and shame associated with past abortions.
These three steps are enough to open the door. Anyone can learn them; anyone can implement them. For review, the steps can be simply summarized as (1) announcing your new understanding, (2) expressing your compassion, and (3) mentioning that you have heard of new programs of outreach and healing.
It is not necessary to solicit an admission of a past abortion. Doing so will probably be seen as unwanted prying and will be counterproductive. It is enough to simply cover these three points during the course of a casual conversation. A conversational opener may be as simple as saying, “I heard a really interesting speaker at church who gave me a whole new understanding….”
18. Add materials on post-abortion healing to your church lending library. Study these yourself, so that you will be prepared to help women or men who come to you before you refer them to a post-abortion specialist.
19. Organize or encourage distribution of The Jericho Plan to other clergy in your city and/or denomination.
20. Encourage fellow clergy with stories of your successes in preaching this type of healing message. Explain to them how this approach has helped to heal divisions over the abortion issue within your congregation.
21. Send your ideas, recommendations, and success stories to us. We want to help spread your findings to other clergy in a future update of The Jericho Plan, or perhaps in a newsletter. Let us know if you want to be on the mailing list for such a newsletter. Write us at Jericho Plan Update, c/o Elliot Institute, PO Box 7348, Springfield, IL 62791-7348.
Copyright 1996 David C. Reardon. Excerpted with permission for from The Jericho Plan: Breaking Down the Walls Which Prevent Post-Abortion Healing, published by Acorn Books, PO Box 7348, Springfield, IL 62791-7348 for internet posting exclusively at www.afterabortion.org. All Rights Reserved.