BEAUTY FOR ASHES
Healing the Trauma of Abortion
Writer: Alisa Hill
Women are suffering the trauma of abortion while sitting silently in church pews all through the nation; too ashamed of their past decisions to seek counsel, wholeness and healing that God offers them through repentance. According to the Texas Right to Life organization, in Houston, Texas, “statistics show that, of the women who have abortions, 43% identify themselves as Protestant and 27% identify themselves as Catholic.”
David Reardon, Director of Elliott Institute, brings to light that “women who abort have an elevated risk of death from all causes, which persists for at least eight years. Higher risk of death from suicide and accidents were most prominent.” The statistics provided by Elliott Institute are from clinical studies which Reardon helped conduct. Statistics published in the Southern Medical Journal 2002 showed that women who have abortions have a “62% higher risk of death from all causes, 2.5 times higher risk of suicide.” Published in the American Journal of Drug and Alcohol Abuse 2000 the statistics show “Women who abort are five times more likely to report subsequent drug or alcohol abuse, than women who deliver”. In the Medical Science Monitor 2004 the clinical studies concluded that “65% experienced multiple symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).”
These statistics are from scientific research and the conclusion is we have a multitude of women suffering in silence seeking pain relief from places other than from God and what He offers to them. There are women who have taken their abortions to the Cross of Jesus receiving forgiveness and healing; as a result these women recognize their place in the body of Christ. Through God’s transforming power these restored women become ministers of healing to other women who are caught in the secret shame and guilt of an abortion. Ministries such as Beauty for Ashes Ministry International in Houston and Rachel’s Vineyard/Rachel’s Project are committed to helping women recover from the trauma of abortion.
Lana Sanders started out as a volunteer with a crisis pregnancy center that looked out over a Planned Parenthood Center in Houston where abortions were performed daily. Eventually while working for the center she developed Beauty for Ashes Ministry International. Lana points out that “Shame is spiritually debilitating and shame was borne by Jesus on the Cross so we can walk in His righteousness.”
“When women have broken hearts the family is broken. When families are broken churches are broken. When churches are broken then nations are broken,” Lana explains.
According to Lana the heartbeat of Beauty for Ashes Ministry International is “To have women walk in who they are in Christ, past the shame and guilt, living in resurrection life.” The journey starts with a 12 week Bible Study with worship incorporated into each evening, then a two day retreat after the completion of the Bible Study, and a memorial service at the end of the retreat. Churches who desire to see women in their congregations in their churches healed of the wound of abortion can purchase the DVD teaching or the Syllabus for Churches on the website at www.Beautyforashesministriesinternational.com.
Women who experience the transformation of getting past the shame and guilt of their sin have many times become facilitators for healing the trauma of abortion. Several ministries are devoted to healing this wound another ministry is Project Rachel/Rachel’s Vineyard.
“Without affirming individuals around a pregnant woman the woman gets the feeling that an unwanted pregnancy is just a symptom and is something that needs to be taken care of” states Denise Douglas Coordinator of Project Rachel in Baltimore, Maryland, “and the taking care of the symptom means an abortion”. Ms. Douglas further states “There should never be a division between mother and child.”
Theresa Burke, Phd., started Rachel’s Vineyard, which is connected to Project Rachel, because in her counseling practice she noticed a trend of symptoms that had an underlying root where women had abortions. Dr. Burke has authored a book titled “Forbidden Grief” which addresses the topic of abortion.
According to Denise Rachel’s Vineyard conducts retreats, for women and men involved in abortions, which brings in the “phenomenal healing by God on the retreats”. On the retreats women get to delve into underlying emotions such as where they “have trouble forgiving themselves” or “what about my child, where are they?” According to the website for Rachel’s Vineyard, www.rachelsvineyard.org, “at the end of the retreat there is a memorial service to give honor and dignity to the aborted child…it is a ritual of letting go and placing your baby in the arms of the Creator.”
Project Rachel and Rachel’s Vineyard are largely Catholic based; however, the retreats, which are held in 40 states, do have interdenominational retreats. Rachel’s Vineyards website does list several cities in the state of Texas that have the retreats and Houston is one of those cities listed. Each retreat is conducted by a professional counselor, women and men who have experienced abortion, “loving non-judgmental” lay volunteers, and a “representative of God—a minister or priest.”
Ms. Douglas states that in 2007 there will be an expansion of retreats offered by Project Rachel and Rachel’s Vineyard on moving survivors of abuse “from grief to grace”.
Jesus Christ died to set not only men but also women free even from an abortion. Isaiah 61 beautifully outlines what the Spirit of the Lord can do and that those who have been given Beauty for Ashes will bind up the broken hearted as a result Oaks of Righteousness will be planted and those will rebuild the ruined cities. Let the women in the Church receive what the Lord gives so the rebuilding can start.