Today’s post was written by Ally Castaldo. Ally has been married to Joe for four months, has two dogs, and co-leads a Small Group of people from their apartment complex with her husband.
Some of my favorite memories from my childhood are from the times my family sat around my grandparent’s living room exchanging stories. Some were old stories from when my parents were little, such as the time my dad was lassoed off his bike as a kid by his big brother; some were stories of something that happened “just the other day,” like the time my granddad ripped his khaki pants riding my Elmo bike down the hill of his driveway. I think the reason I savor these memories is because stories are powerful; our stories are part of us, telling who we are, where we have been, and who we are becoming.
I work at Sav-A-Life Shelby as the Development Coordinator. There, I listen to others’ stories. Either in the counseling room with a client or on the phone with a ministry partner, these stories tell me a great deal about who they are. It tells me why a client is experiencing crisis with this pregnancy. It tells me why a person wants to partner with our pro-life ministry. And often while listening to these stories, I get asked about my story: why do I work at a pregnancy resource center?
It started in the Summer of 2013 as our church family was reading through 1 Corinthians; one of the passages from the Bible reading plan was Isaiah 54. It starts like this:
I remember sitting in my room on my bed, just staring at the first verse, trying to imagine a barren woman, a woman who was not able to have children, a woman who yearned for children, who is now singing praise. Why was she singing (and how did a verse about a woman unable to have children lead me into a ministry that works with women who are already pregnant)?
Let me skip ahead, back to August 2014. When our Executive Director called to offer this position to me, I excitedly accepted (I believe my official words of acceptance were a squealed, “Hurray!”). I also naively believed that with accepting a position in a ministry, an automatic supernatural power would swoop down and overtake any doubts or times that I would stumble over how to uphold the sanctity of life in every situation. Not even ten months into the job, I can say that working in a ministry does not give you supernatural power. Let me say right now that this is hard for me to admit. I fancy myself Wonder Woman, but I fall short of that self-proclaimed title. It’s because I rely on myself to have the answers on too many occasions, and in our culture, upholding the sanctity of life of the unborn is not always easy.
We live in a culture that radically has changed the rhetoric of anything remotely pro-life to equate it to being intolerant and simplistic, where women are told that they are empowered to do what they want with their bodies, where men are told to back down if they want a say, and where we change the words to describe the life in the womb into words that describe inanimate and soulless objects.
It reminds me of the story of Harry Potter. In the fifth book of the Harry Potter series, Harry has seen in person the evil Voldemort return. Having lost his own parents to Voldemort and having already faced him on several occasions, Harry knows the threat of having Voldemort return. He warns those around him to be wary of Voldemort. However, most ignore Harry. They call him a liar; they say to him that he is just being dramatic and even blame him for the murder of Cedric, a boy that Harry witnessed Voldemort kill.
In a way, I feel like those in the pro-life ministry are like Harry. We see both the terrible effects that abortion brings, but we also see a world around us that chooses to ignore the threat. This world can point to politics of reproductive rights or say that it’s empowering to women to be able to choose, a right that should not be swayed by another’s religion. Recently, actress Jemima Kirke from the HBO series Girls opened up about her story of abortion in an interview with the Center for Reproductive Rights. She starts by saying that her life in 2007, when she found herself in an unexpected pregnancy, was “not conductive to raising a healthy, happy child. I just didn’t feel it was fair.” Jemima continues to say that she remains open about her story because there is still shame and embarrassment around getting pregnant and terminating pregnancies. These are real stories, and having worked as both a volunteer peer counselor and now as a staff member, I have witnessed women who are embarrassed and feel shame. But the answer is not aiming for abortion to thrive. The answer, the only answer, is the gospel.
Going back to Isaiah, as I sat on my bed puzzled about a singing barren woman, I read the verses that following that instructed this same woman to “enlarge the place of your tent” and “let the curtains of your habitations be stretched out.” I imagined a young couple desiring a child building onto their house, preparing for future babies. In the fourth verse, she is told that she will not be disgraced or shamed, and the “reproach of your widowhood” would no longer be remembered. And why?
“For your Maker is your husband, the Lord of hosts is his name, and the Holy One of Israel is your Redeemer” (Isa. 54:5).
This culture is a fallen culture because we put certain things in front of us and tell ourselves, “Our worth depends on (fill in the blank with what you value).” It is hard and almost impossible to ignore. For the woman in Isaiah, her valued was in her ability to have children. In our society, it many times is our public reputation. But value, beauty, worth, and honor are awarded to the Isaiah woman, not because of herself, but because her Maker, the Lord, is her husband. Her issue of barrenness is not physical here; it illustrates the barrenness of our soul.
The women that come into our center may be physically pregnant, and we want to address that and help her physical needs. However, ultimately, we know that only the gospel will fulfill them. It is the only thing that fulfills any of us. The ultimate reason for the woman to rejoice is because of our Redeemer, because now she has honor, and now we have honor, because Jesus is our value.
The gospel is the power to save and to fulfill; it is also the power to propel the Church forward in the ministry of pro-life, recognizing what the world says and throwing it aside. Zephaniah 3:17 says, “The Lord your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; He will rejoice over you with gladness; He will quiet you by his love; He will exult over you with loud singing.” So sing, for the Lord has redefined you with His value, and He sings over you and rejoices over you with gladness. As we know this love more, the more we will want our culture to also know this love.
For more on pro-life ministry or abortion recovery, visit the following sites: