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

Paula’s Story

mature-woman-journallingFor the next couple of months I want you to hear about AbAnon from some of the people we serve. The following story is from Paula. —Perry Underwood – Director

In 1971, I accepted a ride from a co-worker who I didn’t really know very well, but with the naivety of a 20 year old, I never even hesitated. After a detour and another poor decision, I was violently raped. In a state of denial and isolation, I never acknowledged or spoke of the rape to anyone. After 3 months, I had to face the fact that I was pregnant. I saw a doctor who presented 2 choices: carry the child full term or abort. I really didn’t listen as the doctor described the abortion because I believed in God and believed abortion was not an option. I walked out planning to have the baby.

My mother had flown to be with me when I saw the doctor and was supportive of whatever I decided to do. Two nights later, my dad called. I lived away from home and we had not talked, though we were very close. He began to cry as I told him. I had never seen my dad cry! He said that he couldn’t see how any of us could live with “this.” You see, the man who raped me was a drug addict, and he was black and I am white. In the 1970s, an inter-racial pregnancy was unacceptable— even more so than an abortion which could be hidden! His tears broke my heart and I changed my mind.

The abortion was a nightmare. Because I was so far along, my uterus was filled with a fluid to cause premature birth. The room was cold and sterile. There were 6 interns observing the procedure. I was horrified and humiliated. Afterward I was taken to another room and left alone. Unprepared for what followed, a piece of me shriveled up and died that day.

Pro-Choice advocates, and some Pro-Life supporters would say I was totally justified in having the abortion. My pregnancy was the result of a violent rape by a drug-addicted man of another ethnicity. I should not feel guilt or shame but rather be thankful that I had a “choice” and the ability to live a life without being constantly reminded of that trauma. That lie has deceived many. It has been 46 years since my abortion, and I still regret the decision. I struggled for many years with guilt, shame, regret, unworthiness, anger, and fear, all stemming from that one act.

AbAnon has helped me, and many other women, to understand the impact abortions have had on our lives and to find healing. One of my greatest blessings is to be a part of AbAnon and to help other women find peace and hope as they are healed from the lasting effects of abortion.
Paula

Roxanne’s Story

Woman-Writing-600x400For the next couple of months I want you to hear about AbAnon from some of the people we serve…
Perry Underwood – Director

I was 22, married, had a 2-year old child, and was pregnant with another man’s child.  He wasn’t just any man, he was the love of my life and I wanted our baby from the first moments of our relationship … I was excited and nothing else mattered to me. My unborn child’s father saw things differently.  I can recall the moment I called him as if it were yesterday.

As the words, “I’m pregnant” left my lips, his temper flew. “You can’t keep it! What are you going to tell your husband? What about my job? No, we are not doing this!” His voice faded as my heart broke and in that darkness I knew I had to have an abortion. The whole ordeal was so traumatic on various levels that I have mentally blocked from my memory everything that happened in the two months following that call.

Fifteen years later I was invited to an AbAnon Group where the opportunity came for me to really heal from my abortion. I met other post-abortive women and together we began the journey to find healing, forgiveness and freedom. It’s amazing to me that my healing came by way of other women’s stories which included God’s loving grace. AbAnon not only helped me to heal but also to forgive people with whom I didn’t even realize I was angry. Some very important relationships in my life have been restored.

I have  become an AbAnon facilitator and now I meet with other women to help them start their healing journeys. But, there is so much more than group meetings that goes into helping women heal through AbAnon. I have met many of the people behind the scenes of the organization: donors, prayer warriors, facilitators, writers, and the Board of Directors. These are the people who made my healing possible and I would be remiss to not thank them. To all of you far and wide who are connected to AbAnon, thank you for investing in me and my healing.

–Many Blessings, Roxanne

The Power of THEIR Story

The Power of THEIR Story

how-to-shoot-video-9-650-80For the past three years we have been laying the foundation for AbAnon. We have organized as a non-profit and assembled a highly energetic and knowledgeable Board of Directors. Dozens of volunteers have emerged who are passionate about our mission. A reliable group of partners has stepped up to meet our basic financial needs each month. We have witnessed lives transformed as eight AbAnon Groups have met using the Women’s curriculum completed about a year and a half ago. (It is now available in six languages and our first AbAnon Group in Ukraine will begin November 19th.) The AbAnon Men’s curriculum is written and in the process of being reviewed by five post-abortive men. We plan to launch a men’s pilot group in January. I could go on and on about what is happening.

As exciting as all this is, the best part so far just occurred in the past couple of weeks. Arlene Roberts, one of our volunteers, contacted some of the women who had gone through an AbAnon Group to see if any might be willing to share their story on video. Ten women agreed. Ben Hinson, another volunteer, arranged the use of a studio, coordinated the technicalities, and rounded up a couple of professional videographers to volunteer their time.

In the video, I asked each of these ten women twelve questions. There was not a dry eye in the room as they told their stories about the emotional pain they experienced after their abortion and the role faith and AbAnon have played in their forgiveness, healing and freedom. I will never forget this experience.

I have never doubted that the work being done by AbAnon is desperately needed in our world today. But if there ever was any doubt, shooting those videos has forever erased it. I am eagerly awaiting their completion so we can share them with you and with the world.

Our work at AbAnon is only possible because of people who freely give their time and resources and who share our desire to see our world changed one life at a time.  On behalf of the men and women whose lives have and will be radically changed…Thank you.

Perry Underwood – Director

Our Vision

setting-a-cairnAbout two years ago, we were in desperate need of funding and I had just made several appeals, a few of which were positive but most were not.  When the answer was negative, I responded with, “I understand” or, “That’s Okay” but in my heart I really didn’t, and it really wasn’t.  I was new to the non-profit world and never imagined that fundraising would be so incredibly difficult.

I remember driving down the road and crying out to God, “I HATE fundraising…” while in the same breath  saying, “…but I LOVE sharing our vision and telling the stories of lives that have been changed!”  The very next instant was a “God moment.” I felt the Holy Spirit responding to my earnest and desperate cry with, “Well duh! Stop trying to raise money and just share the vision I’ve given you.  Let ME take care of the money.”

What a liberating experience for me!  Now I have stopped assuming responsibility for raising the money we need to run this organization. I share the vision and when people get genuinely excited about AbAnon they are eager to help however they are able.

One of our Board members recently asked me to write out our vision for a project she was working on and it occurred to me it is worth including in this newsletter.  So once again I have the privilege of doing what I love to do— sharing the AbAnon vision.

Our vision is that someday AbAnon chapters will be in every major city throughout the world to provide freedom and healing to those suffering from the emotional pain, guilt and shame caused by abortion.  It is estimated that over one billion people world-wide have been involved in an abortion and eighty thousand just here in the Spokane area.  It is our hope that by helping women and men find the courage to share their stories of how abortion has affected them, abortion will someday cease.  While the AbAnon curriculum works extremely well for those within the faith community it is uniquely targeted to those outside the faith community as a means of encountering God in a way that they may otherwise never have.

The Main Thing

Staying on CourseI have a very challenging job. I attend an average of 12 meetings each week; recruit and train volunteers; raise funds; develop marketing strategies; write curriculum; respond to texts and emails each day; prepare for and give speeches; oversee curriculum translation in multiple languages; and deal with administrative minutia: opening mail, making bank deposits, filling out government forms, writing reports and newsletters. I could go on.  I love my job, and I am very grateful for the thousands hours donated by dedicated volunteers, but you get the point.

Above all else, my job at AbAnon is to keep the “main thing the main thing”— launching new AbAnon Chapters and equipping our Facilitators with the tools they need to be effective. Occasionally all that I have to do causes me to lose sight of that purpose, then an email from a hurting individual gets me back in focus. Here are a couple of emails I received lately:

“Good morning. I had seen this page recommend to someone on Facebook that was in the same situation as myself with dealing with a lot of pain, embarrassment, hate towards myself, and not knowing where to turn after my abortion. I am interested in more information.”
******  (Yuma, Arizona)

“Hello, I came across your website and I was wondering if you have any groups in [my] area?  …  I’m a 42 year old woman who got pregnant at 17 and had an abortion.  I never participated in counseling after my abortion and it was hidden/swept under the rug by my family.  Some of my family didn’t know about it until I was in my 30’s.
My step-mom was highly persuasive and adamant I have the abortion for many reasons, although my boyfriend, Dad and I were not comfortable with the choice.  I still think about it often.  I struggled the most after having my three children.  The guilt was overwhelming at times.
I grew up in the church and I have a deep love for Jesus, which caused me to struggle with my action, even more.  I’ve felt ashamed, confused and lost many, many times. I would love to connect with a group in this area.  If you have any information, I would greatly appreciate it.
****** (Seattle, WA)

This world is full of hurting people and AbAnon is here to offer healing, forgiveness, and freedom.  Thank you for joining us in this work,
Perry Underwood – Director

Abanon for Men

When I was in Europe recently, I met with quite a few people working within organizations involved in addiction recovery, family counseling and post-abortion healing. As I explained how AbAnon Women’s Curriculum, The Power of Your Story, could be a powerful tool in helping these professionals serve their communities, I was quite surprised at how often they asked, “How soon will you have material for post-abortive men?”

I am pleased to announce the publication of the first of two AbAnon books written for men. Unlike other material written on the topic of past abortions, this book deals with a variety of subjects that men struggle with, abortion being one of them. A second book for men, similar to the AbAnon Women’s Curriculum, will soon follow.

The_Big_GameThis first book for men is titled, The Big Game: Things Men Should Talk About But Rarely Do.  It is written FOR MEN ONLY.  Copies can be obtained on Amazon.com or by clicking on this link: The Big Game.  The Big Game presents post-abortion and several other men’s issues in a unique and entertaining way. A benefit to any man who reads it, it is a must read for any man who has been involved in an abortion.

I encourage you (men) to order a copy for yourselves or, if you’re a woman, order copies for the important men in your life. All profits from the sales of The Big Game go directly to the operational budget of AbAnon.

Volunteers are Stepping Up

VolunteersApproximately thirty people have been performing various volunteer services with AbAnon during our first two years, donating hundreds of hours! These volunteers include our Board of Directors, curriculum writers and translators, Group Facilitators, Facilitator Trainers and many more. As AbAnon continues to grow it is apparent that more volunteers are needed and that the volunteer activity needs more oversight and structure. On June 24th ten people attended the very first AbAnon Volunteer Orientation where Kathy Olsen was introduced as our Volunteer Coordinator.

Kathy presented a list of volunteer positions:

  • Prayer Team Leader
  • Monthly Newsletter Writer
  • Event Coordinator
  • Survey Coordinator
  • Social Media Coordinator/Editor
  • Post Office and Banking
  • Translation Coordinator
  • New Chapter Coordinator
  • Video Production
  • Liaison to Church Community
  • Liaison to the Medical Community
  • Liaison to the Mental Health Community
  • Liaison to Women Prison Ministries
  • Liaison to Pregnancy Resource Centers
  • Liaison to Women’s Shelters/Assistance Programs

Thank you to all who have stepped up to serve. There are plenty of opportunities as many of these positions remain open!  Please join us to pray that we find the right people to volunteer in these ways.
Perry Underwood, Director

AbAnon in Europe

Ukraine-Training-web

 

My recent trip to Ukraine greatly surpassed all hopes and expectations. I had the most gracious hosts, Ruslan and Sharyn Borodin, YWAM Missionaries based in Ternopil. They requested that I visit Ukraine with the purpose of establishing AbAnon Chapters there. Before I arrived they called dozens of people who they thought might be interested in learning about AbAnon. They also set up an introductory meeting and a half-day of training for anyone interested in starting an AbAnon Chapter or group. Before I left on this trip I told the Borodins that if we had three or four women attend our training I would be elated.

To make a long story short, nineteen women attended the training and combined with the informational meeting the prior evening, a total of twenty-six Ukrainian women attended the two AbAnon sessions. An AbAnon Ukrainian Leadership Team is in place and the work required for AbAnon to get up and running is well under way. AbAnon is desperately needed in this nation where an estimated 75% of women have had an abortion; the average number of abortions per woman is six.

From the Ukraine, I traveled to England and attended a conference near London where I had the opportunity to share AbAnon with missionaries from sixteen European nations. As a result of these connections AbAnon now has a solid foothold in Europe and I’m excited to see what lies ahead.

Thank you all for your prayers and the financial support to make this happen.

Perry Underwood – Director