We are quickly approaching a significant milestone for our ministry, an estimated 5,000 lives saved since our founding! In fact, by the time this letter reaches you, God may have taken us across this line. But what does that have to do with seashells? There is a reason behind the shells, and I promise it connects to Christmas.
I was excited to celebrate this momentous event with you in my Christmas letter but wrestled with comparisons that might help us wrap our arms around that many people saved from abortion. It’s almost the combined enrollment of Transylvania University, Georgetown College, Centre College, and Asbury University, for example. Can you imagine the students from all four of those campuses being rescued from a planned death? It really is incredible what the Lord has done.
I found myself wishing I could do for you what I have come to use as my symbolic thank you to board and staff members completing their season of service. I gift them a bowl full of shells counted out to match the number of lives saved during their tenure. Each shell uniquely beautiful just like the children saved. Those bowls remain as a powerful testimony of the astonishing fruit God brings from our faithful service to and support of His mission at Assurance and as a reminder to continue in prayer for those families represented. Alas, sending each of you a bowl of 5,000 shells isn’t possible. But I hope you will look for a shell that catches your eye and set it somewhere you see regularly to be reminded to pray for those we serve.
Though they have become a fun tradition in our Assurance work family, the shells fall short of representing the lives saved. For starters, they are not made in His image as the unborn children and parents we serve most certainly are. Consider this, a true picture of those who have been impacted by our ministry would hold not just the 5,000 lives saved spanning in age from preborn through 37 years old now, but also their parents from young teens to 70s. Add to that the many other clients who we served that were not initially planning to abort but still needed our support to be able to carry out their plan to parent or place for adoption. Lives protected, if you will. Not to be forgotten are those who chose abortion and received our tender care through our post-abortion ministry towards a journey of healing and forgiveness. The 5,000 are really just an extraordinary tip to an immeasurable iceberg of families impacted since our founding.
There is another key difference between the shells and lives saved from abortion: the shells don’t multiply. Many of those saved have gone on to have children. There is no telling how many Assurance grandchildren are now living full lives made possible only because their grandparents chose life for their parent. Generations now and to come are forever impacted. Oh, to be able to comprehend the fullness of the impact of God working through Assurance. Glory to God in the highest, indeed!
This is all possible only because of the best-known unplanned pregnancy in history. Jesus came “that they may have life and have it abundantly” (John 10:10).
Further, how God brought news, encouragement, warnings, and a plan to the Holy Family informs so much about how Assurance works with the families we serve. It is your gifts to our ministry that make that work possible again and again as He brings vulnerable mothers and fathers through our clinic door. If you were at our banquet, you remember Roland Warren reminding us again of these lessons.
In Luke 1:26-38, God sent an angel to Mary. To provide what? Reassurance for her fears, truth about her condition, a vision for the calling she was given, and hope for a future where God is with her every step of the way. Sound familiar? This is the model of the compassionate counsel and medical services we offer to women facing an unplanned pregnancy. And our prayer is that, like Mary, they will say in the end “let it be unto me according to your word,” choosing life and embracing God’s plans. We estimate 165 babies were saved from abortion when the mothers we served did just that last year.
God didn’t stop there. He also sent word to Joseph and called him to be a husband to Mary and a father to the child growing inside of her; in doing so, God formed the Holy Family to reflect God’s plans for marriage and family. In Matthew 1:18-25, Joseph starts in a position where he thinks it best to, depending on the translation, “not disgrace her” or “not make her a public example,” and instead, “put her away secretly.” The times and methods have changed perhaps, but the same human instincts that were at work then continue to play out in our couples considering abortion. The angel provides Joseph with reassurance, encouragement, truth, and a vision for what God is calling Joseph to do. We have man-to-man conversations with the fathers in our clinic, providing these exact things in the hopes that they too will do as Joseph did when “he took his wife” and the child as his son. Our work with fathers is critical if those we serve are to experience not just life, but God’s plans for the fullness of family life, with a mother and father bound together in marriage.
The reality that we encounter with our clients, though, is that not every mom we serve and child she bears has the benefit of a husband and father. What is God’s plan for those families, and how are we as the people of God to respond? As Roland compared, in Biblical times, a widow would have been a mother without a husband, and an orphan would have been a child without a father. Looking to God’s plans for widows and orphans demonstrates for us His plans for those we serve who do not have a “Joseph.” God calls His people to this task in James 1:27, where it says to “look after orphans and widows in their distress.” Assurance is the first responder in a crisis pregnancy. We are specially called and equipped in the life-saving work. But for the longer-term well-being, discipleship, and care that leads to abundant life, we must connect our clients to local churches so that these churches can carry out what they are called and equipped to do for the orphans and widows of our day.
As we celebrate the birth of our Savior and reflect on all that this story teaches us about God’s ways to respond to unplanned pregnancies, it is your generosity that enables Assurance to fulfill His call to this ministry’s life-saving mission. Will you consider a Christmas gift to our ministry of at least $1 for every life saved last year or, if you are able, every life saved since our founding?
Thank you in advance for your generosity towards Assurance. May the Lord bless you this season to be a blessing to others.
PS Take a few minutes to watch our most recent video testimonials from those you enabled us to serve: https://vimeo.com/752575315. I cannot think of a sweeter gift we could offer you in appreciation than seeing the face of a precious child, who will experience his first Christmas this year thanks to your support of Assurance.