Maddi Runkles was a straight-A student, athlete, and student council president at Heritage Academy, a private Christian school in Boonsboro, Maryland. The unplanned pregnancy that revealed her violation of the school’s morality code resulted in Maddi’s suspension, removal from the student council, and prohibition from “walking” during graduation. Maddi’s story demonstrates the conflicts that many Christian schools face. How do we maintain the principles of a pro-life position (giving life to the baby) and maintain the principles of sexual ethics and conduct? Julie Roys, host of Moody Radio’s Up For Debate, offered: “Christians often fall into one of two ditches when dealing with sin in their own communities. Either we completely overlook it and err on the side of compromising holiness—or we fail to forgive, punish harshly, and miss the heart of the gospel. What’s needed is a proper view of biblical discipline—a practice that seeks to restore and heal, not wound and punish.” While we are grieved by our culture’s misuse of God’s best gifts and plans for his creation, women who come to CareNet are always loved unconditionally. CareNet counselors focus on sharing the truth in love, meeting real needs, and finding solutions that empower a young woman to give life to her child. In the process, lives are radically changed. In the end, the glory belongs to God.
On July 19th, Federal Court Judge Kapala from the U.S. District Court for Northern Illinois granted a preliminary injunction against the enforcement of Public Act 99-690 that required physicians and other health care personnel to give patients written information and referrals for medical procedures the health care professional finds objectionable. This Act amended the Illinois Healthcare Right of Conscience Act (HCRCA) and attempted to force Christian medical personnel who objected to abortion to refer a patient to an abortion facility, a violation of the Free Speech Clause of the First Amendment.
If enforced, this statute would require pregnancy centers that employ medical personnel, such as CareNet, to refer women for abortion. Pregnancy centers not complying with the law would be subject to exorbitant fines and even closure. “This injunction is a victory for women and the pregnancy help movement,” said Barbara Singer, President of CareNet Pregnancy Services of DuPage. “CareNet will not be intimidated into referring vulnerable women to abortion facilities. CareNet has never had nor ever will have a policy of sending women to abortionists. Pregnant women deserve the compassion, love and help that pregnancy centers offer and as this case moves forward, we are confident that the courts will find this law unconstitutional and restore the religious liberty protection to Christian medical personnel granted in the First Amendment.”
CareNet operates four pregnancy help centers in the DuPage County area, in Wood Dale, Elmhurst, Naperville and Glen Ellyn, that offer free services including ultrasound to pregnant women in need. A fifth center in West Chicago is scheduled to open this year. For more information about CareNet, visit CarenetDupage.com. For help with a pregnancy, contact PregnantHelp.com.
Sanya Richards-Ross is a U.S. track and field athlete. She has won numerous gold medals through her career and has consistently described herself as an avid Christian. But behind the sports headlines is another story. In 2008, prior to competing in the 2008 Olympics, she had an abortion. In her recent book, Chasing Grace: What the Quarter Mile Has Taught Me about God and Life, Sanya talks about the pressures of unplanned pregnancy and the emotional pain following an abortion decision. “The culmination of a lifetime of work was right before me. In that moment, it seemed like no choice at all. The debate of when life begins swirled through my head, and the veil of a child out of wedlock at the prime of my career seemed unbearable. What would my sponsors, my family, my church, and my fans think of me?” Her then fiancé, now husband, Aaron Ross, cornerback for the New York Giants, neither agreed nor opposed Sanya’s abortion decision. Now 9 years later, Ross is pregnant again and excited to become a mom, but the pain of abortion still lingers. “Abortion would now forever be a part of my life. A scarlet letter I never thought I’d wear. I was a champion and not just an ordinary one, but a world-class, record-breaking champion. From the heights of that reality I fell into a depth of despair.” Aaron is just as burdened by the abortion decision as Sanya. “He believes that our child in 2008 was a blessing we had rejected by always wanting to be in control.” Abortion is a decision that causes lasting wounds. If you or someone you know needs help, contact CareNet’s Restore After Abortion program at 630.599.0043. Help is available.
Molly came to CareNet, pregnant, young and scared. She already had one abortion in her past. Under enormous pressure from her boyfriend’s mother, who threatened to throw her out of their house, she had agreed to have an abortion. When she was evicted anyway, Molly became homeless, living in her car and supporting herself in any way possible. Now pregnant again, she was determined to have this baby. She came to CareNet for help. During her ultrasound, she began to cry at the sight of her baby’s heartbeat. Afterward, Molly and her CareNet counselor had an opportunity to discuss faith. Molly acknowledged that she believed in a power beyond herself, but nothing personal. As they dug deeper, Molly’s counselor shared the Gospel, which was totally new to Molly. Tears flowed as her counselor talked about Jesus’ love and sacrifice for her. With the help of her counselor, Molly realized that the love and acceptance she was searching for was available in Jesus. Despite her limited resources, with the help of CareNet, Molly is determined to give life to her baby. Thanks to you, our CareNet partners, for giving Molly the strength and courage to make this decision.
Ultrasound is critical to the work of CareNet. Ultrasound allows a woman to see her unborn baby. As CareNet’s medical team points out her baby’s beating heart and tiny features, she can begin to identify with the reality that she is a mother. Without this vital tool, mothers cannot make a fully informed choice about their pregnancy. All CareNet centers are equipped with ultrasound; and we are excited to let you know that one of CareNet’s church partners has stepped forward to provide our new West Chicago center with ultrasound. We are grateful to Community Fellowship Church in West Chicago for sharing CareNet’s vision for a center in that community! The goal was $38,000, which the church met in just over a month during their Coins for CareNet drive. On behalf of the women and children who will be served by this new ultrasound technology, thank you.
In a 2014 Atlantic article, writer David Frum tried to explain why he believes the abortion rate has declined. He observed that until about 1970, the socially acceptable resolutions for out-of-wedlock pregnancies were (in order of preference) a “shotgun” wedding, adoption, abortion, and lastly, single motherhood. However, since 1970, the order of acceptable resolutions has changed. Single parenthood now tops the list, followed by abortion, marriage and lastly adoption. This reality is reflected in the women who come to CareNet for help. Often the choice they perceive at the outset is between single parenting and abortion. The question that Mr. Frum attempts to answer is, what caused this change? He notes the following sentiments in the culture:
Most pregnant women do not want to give up their babies through adoption.
Most people, including pregnant women, do not like abortion and want children to live.
Many of the couples who did not want to get pregnant also do not want to get married.
Thus, unwed motherhood has become the resolution of choice for many women. Whether or not a mom believes she can make that choice work is likely dependent on her level of support. Single motherhood is certainly difficult. Pregnancy centers have stepped in to provide early support; however, ongoing practical and spiritual support from the church is also essential for equipping single moms to be successful parents. The need is critical since too many lives are hanging in the balance.
Pastor Mike Fleishmann’s passion is to reach “none” adults with the Gospel. In order to find the best way to do that he identified believers that came to faith as adults and compared the faith experience of more than 3,000 of these believers from 31 states and a dozen denominations. He published the results of his study in a 2010 Christianity Today article entited, “How Outsiders Find Faith.” Some facts:
A majority of former “nones” who find faith say that it was a friend who influenced them toward faith. This friendship may have been for a lifetime or just a season, but it was the right person at the right time.
56% report coming to faith in the midst of a significant transition or crisis. Most often it’s family-related, marriage or parenting; and sometimes the crisis may relate to addiction or illness. A person’s circumstances are often the open window for the message of Christ to take root in a person’s life.
The women that come to CareNet are many times in a crisis. Pregnant, afraid, unsure, they are in need of a friend who will help them negotiate their pregnancy decision. As our CareNet counselors extend Christ’s compassion and love to these women, spiritual discussions take place, prayers are offered, the Gospel is shared, and women come to Christ. Through CareNet, God is using the opportunity of their crisis to let these women know that He loves them and desires for them to be saved. And CareNet counselors take advantage of this opportunity. In 2017, 48% of counselor discussion included a discussion of spiritual matters. What a blessing to be used by Christ to further His kingdom!
Our American culture is challenged by the increasing number of “nones”. What is a none? An individual who answers “none” when asked to describe their religious beliefs or affiliations. “Nones” can be either people who were raised in the faith but are no longer practicing or people who come from an unchurched background where they had no exposure to Christianity. How can we as concerned Christians reach the “nones” with the good news of the Gospel. According to Associate Professor of Philosophy Kaldoun Sweiss, a member of the faculty at Olive-Harvey College in Chicago, trying to reach “nones” is a four step process.
Engaging them in discussion about our secular culture
Listening and asking thoughtful questions to encourage them to think.
Being their friend when times are difficult.
Walking with them offering encouragement and help
It is well known that evangelism involves relationship. Most people who come to Christ do so with the help of a friend or mentor. This fact is significant for CareNet as our goal is to save lives now and for eternity. So looking for opportunities to lead women to Christ in the counseling room is a priority. Opening the discussion can be as simple as “Will you pray with me?” More on this in my next blog.
36 years ago CareNet began as a hotline ringing in a local business with calls being forwarded to the homes of its volunteers. The hotline was so successful that soon the need to actually have a counseling center was recognized and one did open on Roosevelt Road in Villa Park. Now a national prolife organization that specializes in reaching pregnant women through state of the art communication and then referring them to a pregnancy resource center for life-affirming help has recognized the excellence of CareNet’s hotline staff. Heroic Media plans to collaborate with CareNet in providing effective hotline training to other pregnancy resource centers. The training will include role playing, using scripts as well as observing and listening to sample hotline calls with CareNet staff. Over the years, God has provided CareNet with an excellent staff that has effectively reached many women who believed that abortion was their only choice. We are grateful for the opportunity to share our skills with other centers so that more families may benefit from their services and more lives will be saved.
After much searching, CareNet has identified a location for a new center on Roosevelt Road in West Chicago. More information will be forthcoming as we finalize a lease for this store front property. This new center will serve the communities of Bartlett, Batavia, Carol Stream, Geneva, Hanover Park, St. Charles, Warrenville, West Chicago and Winfield. Living in this 96 square mile area are 39,262 young women in the ages of 15-29. This key demographic of women represents the majority of women in whom unplanned pregnancy occurs. This area is also diversified racially and economically. This Roosevelt Road location will provide CareNet with the best opportunity to serve the women of this community. We are very excited to bring CareNet’s needed services to this location. More to follow,.