Pro-Life?

Posted Nov 16, 2012 by 14 Comments

Abortion is an issue I don’t like to talk about.

This is weird for me. I like talking about everything.  My family, my friends, or anyone who has spent time with can attest to the fact that I relish discussing any and every issue imaginable.

But abortion, at least the discussion of it in the U.S., has always made me really uncomfortable.

When I was in college, I found myself practically apologizing for my position.

“Yeah, I’m pro-life, but not Pro-Life.”

Trying to explain you value life while also trying to distance yourself from a discussion based so much in blame, hate, vilification and even outright violence is awkward.

I never knew there was another way to discuss it. That is, until I came to Mission to Ukraine.

Silent Epidemic

The Ukrainian people are still struggling to recover from years of harsh Soviet rule. For decades, there were actually more abortions than there were births.

As a result, the prevailing cultural view here is one of acceptance; abortion is the natural thing to do in the event of an unexpected pregnancy. Unpleasant maybe, but not at all unusual.

Given that, I expected the rhetoric of an anti-abortion movement in Ukraine to be even more extreme than in the U.S. I expected them to shout even louder that abortion was wrong and that society needed to put a stop to it.

Nadia celebrating her birthday at Mission to Ukraine

But here in a quiet, nondescript office in downtown Zhytomyr, Mission to Ukraine is not offering condemnation, they’re offering help.

Feed my Lambs

I spoke with Marina, a crisis pregnancy counselor about the reasons women in Ukraine get abortions. Without hesitation she replied,

“The most common reason is material, financial”

Many women are without a husband. Others are married but already have children to feed. Still others are simply struggling to feed themselves and can’t imagine how they could care for a child.

These women aren’t ending their pregnancies because they want to. They’re ending them because they expect their newborn will starve.

End a pregnancy or watch your new child starve. This was not the abortion “debate” I was used to.

Where the Debate Ends

Nadia lives in a small, unimproved house with no running water and no gas. Her only income is a small government stipend to help feed and clothe her children.

She found out she was pregnant when she went to MTU for free testing. Nadia had no husband, and she and her two children were barely scraping by. Already without water or heat, and little food to spare, she saw no other option than to terminate her pregnancy.

That is, until she spoke with MTU.

In counseling, Mission to Ukraine told Nadia something she had never heard before: that her baby was alive. They told her she didn’t have to get an abortion.

There is another option.

There is hope.

Another Way

Mission to Ukraine offered to give humanitarian support: food, medicine, and clothing for the first 18 months of this new baby’s life.

Children that once seemed impossible are now coming to bible study with their mothers

These 18 months are crucial. After 18 months, children in Ukraine can be entered into public day care. This helps take care of children during the day so the mothers can go to work. Many unborn children are lost because of this eighteen-month gap – a year and a half with no one to help.

For Nadia, another child seemed impossible. But after speaking with MTU, everything changed. She decided to keep the baby.

She now has a healthy, happy child. And that child has food, warm clothes, and the support of a loving community.

It still isn’t easy. At a weekly bible study I listened to Nadia speak about her struggles to resist alcohol when all her friends and family drank. She recently lost power to her house – leaving her cold and in the dark.

She also faces struggles common to all mothers, a child misbehaving in school. The rising costs of food and clothes and books for her kids. The worries about how they will grow up, what they will think of her.

But when I asked her why she keeps coming back each week, why she never misses a meeting at MTU, she told me that after speaking with women here she leaves with a new feeling, a new hope.

“I feel light, excited, like I almost can fly”

Love Your Enemies

Nadia’s baby is only one of many stories of lifesaving here. In fact, in the 15 years of its existence, MTU has helped rescue over 800 children.

And they’ve done it all without slogans or banners, without protests for legislation or picketing clinics.

Yes, there are systems that need to be changed and standards that need to be destroyed, but I’ve been able to witness the upside-down nature of God’s kingdom. The way hate is being overcome by love, blame is being overcome by forgiveness, and battles are being won by the peacemakers.

I came across one example that stunned me. An abortion doctor in Zhytomyr is beginning to question his work.  He has even referred some of his patients to MTU counselors – hoping these patients will change their minds.

MTU’s staff of counselors work tirelessly to spread a message of hope and love

Why has this happened? Partially because he has seen the love of MTU counselors for these women. But most of all, because they have treated him with respect and love as well.

Showing love to abortion doctors. That’s something I’d never heard of before.

A New Movement

Mission to Ukraine is combating abortion with compassion, not judgment, with help, not hindrance, and most of all with love for every mother no matter who they are or why they’re pregnant.

As a result children, and their mothers, are being saved.

I’d always heard arguments based in rules and law. I thought the only way to save children was to hold back mothers, to restrict or punish.

But here I am seeing action based in love and freedom. Material help, meaningful community, spiritual guidance and place where everyone can find love and forgiveness. And it’s working.

This kind of movement I can support.

This kind of movement reminds me of Christ.

This kind of movement has the power to transform and save.

I’m not afraid to talk about abortion anymore. Because now I don’t see it as an “issue” waiting for the right Law. I see it as a tragedy waiting for the right Love.

And Love is one thing I’m not afraid to talk about.

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Next Steps
    • MTU’s program is looking to expand beyond Zyhtomyr, one of their biggest needs is a vehicle to do so. Consider donating to help support their program as well as this specific need.
    • Even in developed countries, poverty remains the number one reason for abortion. If you feel moved to combat this tragedy in your community consider volunteering for programs or supporting legislation that benefits the poor, the uneducated, and the unemployed.
    • For more details on the connection between poverty and abortion, read this fascinating article.
    Next Steps

About the Author: Brad Miller is a year-long fellow with WND. A student of Psychology, Biology, and Theatre, he's worked as an actor, teacher, balloon artist and last-minute fill-in guy for any number of projects. He loves camping and tinkering with broken and discarded things. Brad's passion in life is to unleash the potential in others.

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Comments

  1. Sharon said... 

    Reply

    November 16th, 2012 at 9:47 am  

    Great article, Brad! Just recently I was wondering how the abortion debate could potentially change if, besides seeking legislative change and even giving financially, each person who considers themselves “pro-life” would engage personally through volunteering or mentoring or something else relational. Something love-based that breaks down that “us vs. them” mentality. MTU gives us a beautiful picture of what could happen.

    • Brad Miller said... 

      Reply

      November 18th, 2012 at 8:47 am  

      Absolutely! I would love to see people getting involved with organizations within the U.S. that take a love-based approach. If you know or have heard of any organizations like that, let me know.

  2. JimM said... 

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    November 16th, 2012 at 11:30 pm  

    Yes, Pro-Love…a different posture, changes the conversation doesn’t it. Nice job Brad.

    • Brad Miller said... 

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      November 18th, 2012 at 8:47 am  

      Pro-Love. Exactly! That’s really the best way to put it.

  3. Amy Sorrells said... 

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    November 17th, 2012 at 9:30 am  

    Beautiful shift of the paradigm, Brad. Because governments and figureheads and politics and laws don’t stop abominations. The love and healing touch of Jesus Christ does. Praying for Marina and all our brothers and sisters in Ukraine on the front lines!

    • Brad Miller said... 

      Reply

      November 18th, 2012 at 8:50 am  

      thanks. Those prayers really do make a difference – they are fueling the miraculous changes we are seeing in doctors and hospital administrators that are granting MTU counselors access. But there is still plenty of tension and difficulty, keep praying!

  4. Jonathan Pomazon said... 

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    November 17th, 2012 at 9:49 pm  

    Brad, what a wonderful and fresh perspective you give on this important issue. The issue isn’t about laws – it’s about changing human hearts one at a time. It’s hard to yell and hate when someone is showing you unrelenting, unfettered, non-condemning love – and that’s exactly what the staff at MtU do every day. Thanks for your great insights.

    • Brad Miller said... 

      Reply

      November 18th, 2012 at 8:53 am  

      I absolutely agree. Unrelenting, unfettered, and non-condemning is the kind of love we need to be showing. And we have to be proactive in finding the places where this kind of love is lacking and moving in to them.

  5. David Rodriguez said... 

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    November 18th, 2012 at 7:15 am  

    Yes, not an issue but a tragedy! I plan to have our pastors read this Brad. Most excellent perspective! Thank you!

    • Brad Miller said... 

      Reply

      November 18th, 2012 at 8:58 am  

      Wow, thanks. I am glad you liked that article and I hope is sparks some great conversations. And if any of them include a “oh yeah, I know a place with that approach in Indiana” let me know. Now that I’ve learned more about the way Christ is engaging this tragedy abroad, I’m eager to find where He is working in Indiana and the US.

  6. Chuck Easton said... 

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    November 18th, 2012 at 11:01 am  

    Thanks Brad for new perspective on a tragedy that divides us. There is hope! I pray that this hope spreads.

  7. Steve said... 

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    November 20th, 2012 at 1:51 pm  

    Brad – Outstanding presentation of this issue. Very thought provoking and insightful. Thanks.

  8. Tetiana said... 

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    December 6th, 2012 at 2:57 am  

    Brad, thank you! You are truly a blessing! This new concept of Pro-Love changes the whole perspective!

  9. Beth said... 

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    December 13th, 2012 at 10:09 am  

    There are many such clinics in America too. Giving hope to mothers who feel hopeless and giving them alternatives to abortion. They help feed, cloth, diaper not only the new born baby, but the rest of the kids in the family and the mother too. There is so much love out there, the problem is finding it, knowing where these places are at and being brave enough to walk through the door and not be afraid of the propaganda and lies that are spread about such groups. I’m thankful to see these places springing up in Ukraine, where I’ve met so many women who’s bodies and health are ruined by numerous abortions.

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