God's Plan for the Unplanned
God's Plan for the Unplanned

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God's Plan for the Unplanned—Part 1: Calvary Chapel Old Bridge is Rethinking Pro-life Ministry in the Church

Story by Barb Maher
Photos by Christian Rodriguez and Stan Berger

Calvary Chapel Old Bridge, NJ, is actively committed to pro-life ministry—saving babies from abortion to lovingly supporting their mothers afterwards through its Bridge Women’s Center. This story first ran in the Spring 2020 issue of Calvary Chapel Magazine. This is Part 1 of a two-part series describing this active outreach. Please read Part 2 tomorrow.

Abby Johnson watched the screen, mesmerized, as she moved an ultrasound probe on the abdomen of a scared young woman 13 weeks into her unplanned pregnancy. As a Planned Parenthood clinic director who had experienced two abortions of her own, Abby sincerely believed she had been helping women with crisis pregnancies for the past eight years. But this day, her first experience with ultrasound-guided abortion, was different.

“I felt [unexpectedly] nervous because I recognized that what I saw really looked like a baby. I could see his little nose and mouth. The baby jumped, flailing his arms and legs as if trying to move away from the abortion instrument—there was nowhere for him to go,” Abby confessed. “But I knew this couldn’t be because I had been taught ‘abortion science,’ which teaches that a pregnancy only magically turns into a baby when the mother decides her pregnancy is wanted.”

"Unplanned" movie scene

A scene from the movie Unplanned, the story of Abby Johnson.

Soon the ultrasound screen turned black, indicating a successful abortion. She looked down at her shaking hands. “Our hands, our lives—what we do with them is so powerful; and I had just used mine for the greatest evil I had ever seen,” she said softly. “I knew I could never participate in abortion again.”

Abby ran to the neighboring office of the pro-life organization Coalition for Life, whose staff had been faithfully praying for Abby, her staff, and their clients over the years. “I sat on their couch, weeping. In this moment of desperation and crying out to God, I realized that I had helped to facilitate more than 22,000 abortions,” she recounted. “I didn’t know how to live with that kind of burden, and to be honest, I didn’t know if I wanted to. But in that complete despair, I heard the Lord speak to me in a way that I had never heard before or since. He said, There is nothing you can do to make up for what you have done. But He also added, Because of My radical grace and mercy for you, you don’t have to.”

Abby Johnson holding a book

Abby Johnson shows her book Unplanned.

A Commitment to Pro-Life Ministry

Abby was the keynote speaker for the December 2019 gala held by Calvary Chapel Old Bridge (CCOB), NJ, to raise support for its active pro-life ministry. Abby, now 39, is the author of the book Unplanned, the subject of a recent movie by the same name, and the founder of a ministry which has helped more than 500 abortion workers leave the industry. She is also a wife and mother of eight children. Nearly 450 guests at the gala listened spellbound as Abby shared her experiences with brutal honesty, grit, and humor. They responded with laughter, affirmation, and even tears as she boldly exhorted them to move beyond just being pro-life to acting on that belief. One attendee from Virginia was surprised that the gala was not a “women’s event” but a gathering of both men and women who had a heartfelt desire to minister to those experiencing crisis pregnancy.

“We want to inspire Calvary Chapels not to treat abortion as a side issue—but as one of the greatest potential evangelical outreaches in the history of this nation. It’s reclaiming an incredible opportunity to minister to men and women in the rescue of children,” declared CCOB Senior Pastor Lloyd Pulley. “The Church is better suited than an institution to incorporate women into the family of God.”

Overhead photo of the gala

Gala attendees at Calvary Chapel Old Bridge enjoy fellowship and inspiring speakers.

Stuart Migdon, co-chair of the pro-life ministry and producer of the award-winning film Voiceless, related, “We’re coming alongside abortion-minded women, being the arms and legs of Christ and showing them we’ll stand beside them for the rest of their lives, helping them financially, emotionally, and spiritually. It’s an amazing way for Calvary Chapels to blaze a new trail and show the world what it means to be pro-life … all to the glory of God.”

Abby Johnson talking with people

Abby fellowships with Pastor Ray Dash and his wife Ruthie at the CCOB gala.

CCOB’s broad approach includes the Bridge Women’s Center (BWC) and a state-of-the-art mobile pregnancy unit. Lloyd affirmed, “We saw a need to get resources to women with unplanned pregnancies, giving them an ability to make informed choices. We can’t sit still on the sidelines as we see what is happening with abortion in this country, knowing that we have an opportunity to save lives.” He continued, “I challenged our fellowship: Are we willing to open our homes and our wallets to help people whose lives are a mess? Just because they are keeping their babies doesn’t mean that they’re still not in all kinds of trouble in life. They need the Gospel and discipleship.”  

Debbie Biskey, Executive Director of BWC, agreed that the greatest challenge to pro-life ministry comes after the baby is born. “Only Christ can change the heart and grow a person through discipleship. So how are we going to help in that growth? Are we going to make ourselves available to take a woman and her child to the doctor, perhaps bring them to church?”

Ccob.org

Bridgewomenscenter.com

Woman on stage talking to crowd

Attendees listen to speakers.

 

All verses above are quoted from the New King James Version.

© 2020 Calvary Chapel Magazine. All rights reserved. Articles or photographs may not be reproduced without the written permission of CCM. All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the New King James Version. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc.® Used by permission.

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