The Champions

Group Celebration

Several months ago a Spokane area Pastor and I had lunch together.  He was familiar with AbAnon but wanted to learn more about the organization.  After sharing 10 Keys to an Effective Post-Abortion Ministry/ Outreach with him, he seemed eager to get the ball rolling. But there was a problem!  He told me that before any new ministry or service was offered to his congregation he had to find someone within his church to be “a champion” for that ministry or service.  He and his staff were just too busy trying to keep up with what was already in place.

From that conversation the idea of The AbAnon Champion was born; here is the definition:

“An Abanon Champion is an individual (or couple) with a strong commitment to a local church, operating under the authority of the leadership of that church, who will purposefully provide awareness regarding the emotional harm caused by abortion and sexual abuse, and provide a path for healing for those affected.”

Last month we had two groups take our very first AbAnon Champion Training.  In these two groups we had 15 people participate representing 13 churches.  The participants were empowered with the means and tools necessary to have two intentional conversations each month that deal with the topics of abortion and sexual abuse, topics which have historically been taboo within most churches.

If you would like to know more about being an AbAnon Champion within your church please contact us at: joinus@abanon.org.  Thank you for your continued support of AbAnon, Perry Underwood – Director

small group of women talking

A Unique AbAnon Group

At AbAnon we have the privilege of working with Pregnancy Resource Centers (PRCs) throughout the world, but none is more valuable than the relationship we have with Life Services/MyChoice Clinic in Spokane, WA, the same city where AbAnon is based.

AbAnon is part of Life Services/MyChoice post-abortion recovery program. An AbAnon Group was held for Life Services/MyChoice staff and volunteers to aid them to better understand and serve abortion vulnerable and abortion-minded clients of MyChoice. That Group was a success on so many levels both for the four post-abortive facilitators who were willing to hold the class and the participants who had never experienced an abortion.

One of the main outcomes of this class was to answer questions behind what drives women to pursue abortion and explore the underlying life situations and social pressures involved. Here are a few quotes from the participants on the impact of the class:

  • “I have a greater understanding of the feelings and circumstances of some who choose abortion and the pain, regret, shame they feel afterwards.”
  • “It showed me that sometimes a woman has an abortion out of mercy for her child.”
  • “My perspective is broader now. I don’t think I realized before the class how narrow my view was.”

On the question of would you recommend this class to other Crisis Pregnancy Centers?

  • “Yes. With a deeper understanding of “why” women choose this, it will make it easier to relate to the women we see at the Clinic.”

Reactions from some of the facilitators of the Group indicated that sharing their story helped participants dispel past misunderstandings of the “why” women chose abortions and help them be better prepared to understand and assist those considering abortion.

The Power of Your Story curriculum is designed to heal together and then be able to help others reach a level of healing together. We believe this Group made that possible for a broader audience and are grateful for the opportunity.

Thank you for your continued support of AbAnon.
Perry Underwood – Director

The Faces of AbAnon

As AbAnon continues to grow, our Board of Directors began a search to find someone to work in the Spokane area. This would enable me to focus on introducing AbAnon into other areas of the USA and abroad. Eventually, we hired two women to serve as part-time Co-Directors for the Spokane area. We introduced Julie Stumbo in March and now I am pleased to introduce Lisa Cinq-Mars. -Perry Underwood, Executive Director

MEET LISA CINQ-MARS

LisaThree years ago on the Bloomsday trail I passed awful Pro-Life posters and knew I was being called to help the post-abortive. I had no idea how or where to start or what exactly to do (except pray) until two months later when Life Services gave a presentation at Summit Church. I learned they had an arm of their ministry to help the post-abortive.

When I explained to the volunteer coordinator at Life Services my desire/calling, she directed me to AbAnon, Abortion Anonymous, a new organization offering a free eight-week class to facilitate healing. I knew, through a great deal of previous work, that I was forgiven for my decision to have an abortion. What I did not know was that many of the decisions I made since then were symptoms of the shame and guilt I was still carrying in my soul. I knew I was forgiven by God, but I did not know how to accept that forgiveness and let it change me.

AbAnon helped me connect the dots through documented research about Post Abortion Stress Syndrome and the intimate sharing of stories through the Power of Your Story curriculum. For me, those dots consisted of addiction, depression, and more to the point, anger. My sweet, God-given family suffered from my then unexplainable outbursts and rage. In AbAnon, I learned how what I was still struggling with was a deep-seated belief that I was unworthy of anything good – especially beautiful, perfect children – because of what I had done. I am now set free and so grateful to have been given this opportunity to heal.

I became completely committed to being a part of offering this healing to everyone, male and female, willing to take the brave step toward releasing the shame and guilt of abortion. This is my life’s work and I am excited to be a part of the organization that will revolutionize the way we view human life and exposing the truth about the real consequences of abortion.

The Faces of AbAnon

As AbAnon continues to grow, our Board of Directors began a search to find someone to work in the Spokane area. This would enable me to focus on introducing AbAnon into other areas of the USA and abroad. Eventually, we hired two women to serve as part-time Co-Directors for the Spokane area. I am delighted to introduce them to you in our next two newsletters. -Perry Underwood, Executive Director

MEET JULIE STUMBO

JulieSSince my earliest of memories I wanted to be a mom.  Holding babies has always brought me so much joy and put me at peace.  It just feels right.  So when I found myself pregnant at 17, my emotions were mixed.  People will tell you that it’s just cells, that it’s not really a life.  In my selfish world, I didn’t know the difference.  Ultimately I made the decision to have an abortion, a decision that would affect the rest of my life.

Two years later, I got pregnant with my son Dylan.  This time I wasn’t making the same decision no matter what happened.  I loved him with my entire being.  Thus began my life as a single mom.

I then again found myself pregnant.  The father convinced me that I couldn’t handle being the parent of two kids.  He was probably right, but there were definitely other options.  He drove me to Denver to have the procedure done.  I was completely numb and shut off at this point.

I’d met Josh during that previous relationship and we started dating. We married about a year later. I became a Christian and knew that God had forgiven me of all my sins, but for my abortions I couldn’t forgive myself.  Josh and I were blessed with two beautiful daughters, but I just couldn’t forget about my babies in Heaven.  I’d lived with this pain and trauma for so many years.  I kept it buried deep and didn’t tell even my closest friends.

About two years ago, I was introduced to Abortions Anonymous, or AbAnon.  I went through an eight week class in the fall of 2016 and finally was able to start processing and healing all of my grief.  I was able to write letters to my precious babies asking for their forgiveness and telling them how much I love them.  I even got a tattoo to symbolize that they were a part of me just as much as my three precious babies here on earth.

I’m now serving on the Board of Directors for AbAnon, have been trained as one of their many Group Facilitators and have recently accepted the position of the Co-Director for the Spokane area.

I will live in shame no longer and try to help as many people as I possibly can.  Becoming a director for AbAnon helps me to be more involved in something I’m passionate about. There are so many women and men who have been involved in abortions and are hurting in silence.  My hope is that one day there won’t be a need for AbAnon, but in the meantime, we need to help and support as many as we can.

 

 

The Faces of Abanon

There are dozens of people serving as volunteers with AbAnon and the volunteer who is the most visible and the one I’m asked about most often is Paula Krant.

Meet Paula

AbAnon has never been an overtly religious organization but faith in God and a relationship with Jesus Christ are at the core of who we are.  As they are our core, we also believe in the power of prayer. Well over 100 people make up the AbAnon Prayer Team; they are led by Paula Krant. This month I thought I would introduce Paula and share her story.

“My abortion happened over 47 years ago. My healing, from the guilt, despair, regret, anger, fear, shame, and the grief that abortion brought, took me years to find. I struggled for many of those years, trying to understand all the emotions and feelings that seemed to invade and impact my life. I have become an avid supporter of AbAnon because I have seen the healing it brings to post abortive women. If there had been an AbAnon around to help me deal with the effects that my abortion brought me, I would have been spared years of pain and grief! It is a program that works!”

Click on the image below to watch a short video on more of Paula’s story.

10 Keys to an Effective Post-Abortion Ministry/Outreach

vintage-keys

1) Realize that one-out-of-three adults are Post-abortive. Studies consistently show that between 25% and 34% of US adults ages 20-60 are post-abortive. These numbers hold true both inside and outside the Church.

2) Understand that no one involved in an abortion remains unaffected. Most people working within the Post-abortive healing services will tell you that 100% of those involved in an abortion have been or will be adversely affected by this choice. But even the most skeptical of those who disagree with the 100% claim will often acknowledge that a large percentage of the Post-abortive are indeed adversely affected.

3) Reaching the Post-abortive may be the greatest life-transforming opportunity of our generation. There are an estimated 65-70 million Post-abortive men and women in the US and over one billion estimated world-wide. With this many hurting people, the opportunity to offer them healing and forgiveness through Jesus Christ ranks as one of the greatest evangelistic opportunities of our generation.

4) Have the courage to talk about the harmful effects of abortion at every level of communication within your church. Surveys show that 97% of Pastors do not talk about abortion from the pulpit. Care Net’s research found that nearly 4 out of 10 women who have abortions were actively attending church at the time of their abortion. Silence within the Church has contributed to the social acceptance of abortion and will serve to condemn another generation to the pain and suffering it causes.

5) Recognize the symptoms of Post Abortion Stress Syndrome (PASS). More and more churches today are realizing the need for “Recovery” ministries. Addictions to alcohol, drugs, sex, pornography, gambling as well as behavior issues such as eating disorders, anger, depression, cutting and self-mutilation, sleeping disorders or a change from heterosexual to a gay/lesbian lifestyle are often PASS symptoms that have never been properly dealt with. Church leadership must learn to connect the dots between the abortion experience and the aberrant behavioral issues of today. We cannot effectively deal with the aberrant behavior or addiction (presenting problem) until we’ve dealt with the abortion (root problem).

6) Know that the people under your shepherding care will never become all that God intends them to be until they have properly dealt with the abortion. Churches are full of people living with incredible guilt and shame. Three things are essential for people to get the help they need: realizing their need, courage to act, and relationships with others who will encourage them to take the first step. These three elements are often found within Women’s Ministries, Men’s Ministries, Small Groups and Recovery Groups. Here is a link to a short video that reinforces this point. Churches are full of similar stories; this is not an isolated case: https://vimeo.com/210486739 (Jennifer’s Story)

7) Partner with your local Pregnancy Resource Center (PRC). Few churches are equipped or able to provide a Post-Abortion healing ministry and those that are generally fail to see that it is not a stand-alone ministry. To be effective, post-abortion recovery is a ministry that must be integrated into every other adult ministry within the church that will then point the Post-abortive to the help they need. PRCs have people who are specifically trained to facilitate Abortion Anonymous (AbAnon) Groups. If you don’t have one already, develop a volunteer position within the church that will be the liaison between your church and the local PRC. Provide opportunities for this liaison to speak as often as practical to group meetings of the adult ministries and the small groups within the church.

8) Use the AbAnon curriculum and model. The AbAnon curriculum is not overtly religious but is extremely evangelistic. Each week of the eight-week curriculum begins with a true story where the storyteller shares her (his for the men’s) encounter with Jesus Christ as the integral part of their healing. The curriculum itself makes no mention of God, Jesus or Scripture until week seven where the Gospel is powerfully introduced through the story of the “woman at the well” (David and Bathsheba for men). The curriculum is six weeks of “soil preparation” before the seeds of grace and forgiveness are planted in week seven. By this time, AbAnon Group participants clearly see their need for forgiveness and are quite often ready to enter a relationship with Christ when they encounter this “Y” in their road. Most Post-Abortive individuals, who already know Christ, have never properly dealt with their abortion and continue to live in guilt and shame. The AbAnon curriculum provides these individuals a badly needed restart in their walk with Christ without the heavy baggage of their abortion guilt and shame.

9) Include the AbAnon post-abortion healing ministry as part of the DNA of your church. Treat the post-abortion ministry as you would any other vital church ministry. Assign a church staff member oversite of the AbAnon ministry, include updates of the AbAnon ministry as a regular part of the church staff meetings, use the AbAnon bulletin insert as often as needed, include AbAnon Groups in the church calendar and list the AbAnon post-abortion healing ministry along with the contact information of the PRC liaison on the church website and other church promotional materials. But most importantly, just start talking about it and when the situation allows, ask the question of those you care for, “Have you ever had an abortion?” for women and, “Have you ever been involved in an abortion?” for men. Courage is contagious and others in leadership will soon follow by asking these same questions of those they serve.

10) Throw more fuel on the fire. Encourage, empower and honor those men and women who have had the courage to step up and participate in an AbAnon Group and want to share their story of healing, forgiveness and freedom. The testimony of these people will become the spark that ignites a revival within your church and then your community.

Finally, you might wonder, “Why is all this attention given to the post-abortive? What about the babies?” Great question! We believe that the number one reason abortion is still so prevalent is because it is touted as “a woman’s right,” and therefore “good for women.” AbAnon hopes to demonstrate the opposite. In fact, abortion devastates women (and men) in the long-run. At AbAnon our aim is to expose the truth about abortion and to provide a path to healing for those affected.

AbAnon Launch in Poland?

Polish-girls-costume-webAbAnon Launch in Poland?

I was having a conversation recently with one of the members of the AbAnon Board of Directors. She questioned the wisdom of launching AbAnon in European countries and even within the USA in states so far from our base in Spokane, WA. She went on to point out that while we’ve seen tremendous results here at home, there is so much untapped opportunity to bring healing to the post-abortive right in our back yard. I could not agree with her more, launching AbAnon in far-away states and foreign lands is ABSOLUTELY INSANE for an organization so small and so young!

But I believe there is so much more going on with AbAnon than we can see with our natural eyes or understand with our human reasoning.  Doors keep opening and we are being asked to enter into the most unlikely places. How can we possibly say, “No” when everything indicates that Providence is at work? She agreed.

Poland could be our next open door. I will not go into all of the details in the limited space of this newsletter but a series of unplanned events have made the launch of AbAnon in Poland a very real possibility within the next few months.

To launch AbAnon in Poland a few things need to happen first:

  1. Translation of all AbAnon materials into the Polish language
  2. Securing the funding to hire an AbAnon Director of Poland
  3. Hiring the Director (We are in the process of vetting a  candidate)

If you would like to participate in items 1 or 2 above, please feel free to contact me using the email: perry@abanon.org

Thank you for your continued support of AbAnon.
Perry Underwood – Director

Back in Full Swing

It is hard to believe that summer is winding down and fall will soon be upon us. The work of AbAnon continued throughout the summer but many of our Facilitators took a well-deserved break.  Most of our AbAnon groups will be starting again in September and October.  If you or someone you know has experienced an abortion this would be a great time to encourage them to sign up for one of our groups.

AbAnon began almost four years ago in Spokane, WA and has held Post-Abortion healing groups there for two-and-a-half years. We continue to expand into other areas. AbAnon groups are up and running, or soon to be, in 5 states in the USA and in the country of Ukraine.  Our brochure is available in nine languages and our women’s curriculum is available in six languages thanks to the efforts of several volunteers.

At AbAnon, our hope is to someday have AbAnon chapters in every major city throughout the world.  It is a huge dream that will take years but the need is definitely there.

Jennifer'sStoryIn our last newsletter I shared a couple of videos from women who had participated in an AbAnon group.  Here is another story I think you will enjoy:
https://vimeo.com/210486739
(Jennifer’s Story)

Here are a few ways you can partner with us:

  1. We are in need of a videographer who can edit video that has already been shot.
  2. We could use help translating our material, especially French, German, Polish and Italian.
  3. We could use help transcribing the stories on our videos so that they can be translated.
  4. Join our Prayer Team
  5. Support AbAnon when you shop on Amazon: https://smile.amazon.com/
  6. Support AbAnon when you shop at Fred Meyer: https://www.fredmeyer.com/topic/community-rewards-4 (Organization #87222)
  7. Monthly financial partnership: abanon.org/donate

Thank you for your continued support of AbAnon.
–Perry Underwood, Director

News & Updates

The very first AbAnon Group for men was scheduled to begin July 20th but a serious boating accident involving one of the Facilitators has delayed the start date until sometime in September. There are a couple of openings still available so please contact us if you would like to participate in this historic event.

A Heart Felt Thank-you!

thankyouOn May 5th 200 people attended our third Annual Spring Celebration.  Everyone I spoke with said they had a great time. The event also raised about $22,000 that will be used to expand AbAnon into other communities throughout the USA.

Special thanks to the elected representatives who made the time to show their support for AbAnon: Spokane Valley City Councilmen Arne Woodard and Mike Munch, Spokane City Councilman Mike Fagan, State Representative Matt Shea and US House of Representatives Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers. Thanks also to Pastor Dan Shields, Steve Allen and the staff/volunteers at Valley Real Life Church for the use of their facility, and their work to set up and tear down our event then re-set the facility for their Sunday Services.

During the evening, I provided an update on several of the exciting things happening at AbAnon but speaking to the need for AbAnon and the heartache caused by abortion can be a sobering topic. Elliot Wallach stepped in as our auctioneer and provided the necessary comic relief. He was the hit of the evening with reports of some people laughing so hard that they almost…well you know!

We also introduced a couple of new videos.  If you were not able to attend, these short videos would be well worth the time to watch:

https://vimeo.com/210465701 (Brandi’s Story)
https://vimeo.com/215534608 (Dani’s Story)

NEWS & UPDATES
The very first AbAnon Group for men will begin July 20th. Contact us if you would like to participate in this historic event.

ADDITIONAL THANKS:
The work of AbAnon would not be possible without volunteers who give so freely of their time. There were 30-40 people who helped to make the recent event a success.  Thank you to all! Special thanks to: Kim Gardell — Marketing materials, and to the event leadership team: Dianne Jongeward – Decoration, Paula Krant — Promotion, Erika Munch — Auctions, Kathy Olsen – Program.

THANK YOU again to all who attended!  Hope to see you again next year.
–Perry Underwood, Director