Hope for the Unborn & Post-Abortive Women
Hope for the Unborn & Post-Abortive Women

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Hope for the Unborn & Post-Abortive Women

Story by Christmas Beeler
Photos by Tina Mahina, Micah Martin, and Tom Price

This article originally ran in Issue 76, Summer 2018, of Calvary Chapel Magazine. This story focuses on Calvary Chapel Pearl Harbor’s pro-life pregnancy center, A Place for Women, which is attempting to meet a huge, unmet need of many in the church—the secret pain and bondage of abortion.

Kelly Stauffer, 14, sat terrified in a lady youth pastor’s office with her grim-faced father. They were both trying to convince her to get an abortion. “God will forgive you,” the lady assured her, but Kelly still felt uneasy. Her parents had painted an awful picture of how her life would be if she had the baby. She still couldn’t believe she had gotten pregnant after having intercourse once. She had only had her cycle a few times, so she didn’t even realize she was pregnant. Because she was 20 weeks along, her father flew her to another state for the grueling procedure. “Twenty years later, I can vividly remember the five-day process of being slowly and painfully dilated, laying on an exam table, and the baby inside me frantically [moving] just before the abortionist’s needle ended her life,” Kelly recalled. “After that needle, I never felt her move again. In that moment, I realized that this was a life, and I had just committed murder.” She was induced and delivered her baby girl’s lifeless body. Her trauma and guilt resulted in post-traumatic stress disorder—which led to a decade of depression, suicidal thoughts, and drug abuse.

Boy on shoulders with sign

Caleb Hartman of Calvary Chapel Old Bridge, NJ, rode on his dad’s shoulders at the 2018 March for Life in Washington, D.C.

“I hated myself. You can only stuff down that pain for so long until it starts ripping you apart,” Kelly recalled. When she was 24, a counselor suggested that Kelly’s abortion was the root cause of her other problems and proposed she go to a Christian retreat for post-abortion recovery.

Secret Bondage of Abortion

Sue Skinner of Calvary Chapel Pearl Harbor had been a pastor’s wife for years when the Lord opened her eyes to a huge, unmet need of many ladies in the church—the secret pain and bondage of abortion. “When I realized that, statistically, there were one in three women in our church who had been affected by abortion or an unplanned pregnancy—and I saw how the Church [at large] usually focused on how scandalous it was—God stirred my heart. I asked Him to use me to touch these hurting women who didn’t know what to do, who were in bondage from shame and fear of judgment,” said Sue, founder of A Place for Women in Waipio, Hawaii. The pro-life pregnancy center encourages women to choose life, provides baby clothes and supplies, and—for those who have already terminated their pregnancy—offers post-abortion recovery counseling.

[Jesus] said to them, “He who is without sin among you, let him throw a stone at her first.” … [Then] He said to her, “Woman, where are those accusers of yours? Has no one condemned you?” She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said to her, “Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more.” John 8:7b, 10b-11

Sue Skinner hugging ladies

Sue Skinner (center) founded A Place for Women in Waipio, housed at her husband’s church, Calvary Chapel Pearl Harbor, HI.

“The church should be a hospital for the hurting. We need to behave as Jesus did—not throwing stones. We need to embrace them, acknowledge, ‘Yes, you messed up, but go and sin no more,” said Sue, whose husband, Pastor Derald Skinner, teaches from the pulpit about Christ’s hope and redemption for those who have fallen. Sue added, “Over the past eight years, we have grown in learning to embrace those who have stumbled. We are not excusing them, but we offer them hope in Christ.” Believers at CC Pearl Harbor encourage those in crisis pregnancy to visit the center. Some of the teens whom Sue mentors have gone on to share in their public schools about the harm of premarital sex. A Place for Women has helped to save countless babies and to facilitate spiritual healing through Christ for dozens of women and men.

Sue Skinner laughing with girls in circle

Sue Skinner mentors teen girls in purity, fields honest questions, and educates them about the harm of premarital sex.

Set Free by God’s Truth

Kelly Stauffer recalled, “My journey to a Christian retreat for post-abortion recovery was the beginning of an immense healing in my life; being able to verbalize with other women who had gone through it.” Scripture helped her to understand God’s forgiveness. During a message about Jesus speaking to the sinful woman at the well (John 4:7-30), Kelly recalled, “I realized Jesus was speaking directly to me, that there was forgiveness for me too. I had thought abortion was the unforgivable sin.” At the end of the retreat, the women participated in a memorial service for their babies—something that A Place for Women also does. “That’s where it really hit me. I was so overwhelmed, drenched with tears, shaking and crying. I rushed outside, trying to hide. And a counselor came after me, hugged me, and told me I didn’t have to hide any more. I realized that Jesus had truly set me free.”

Lady getting an ultrasound

Seeing their child in the womb has been life-changing for many women at A Place for Women, the pro-life pregnancy center in Hawaii.

After that, Kelly got involved with pro-life gatherings and local pregnancy centers; she even shared her story on national television. After moving to Oahu with her husband, Kelly joined the ministry team at A Place for Women. “A lot of women are in denial, saying, ‘It doesn’t bother me’—but they have stuffed it down. Like an infected wound, it causes problems in their marriage, relationships, and families. They don’t realize the root of the problem,” Kelly cautioned. As they embrace God’s forgiveness, women are encouraged by the truth that their children are now in heaven with Jesus.

Kelly encourages believers to support or volunteer at their local pregnancy centers to help women choose life. “There is a huge spiritual battle going on at these pregnancy centers,” she said, “and they receive no funding from the government or the state.” For those with an unplanned pregnancy or who have already made the wrong choice, Kelly urged, “Seek help; don’t try to face it alone. God can do a miraculous, deep healing work in your life.”

Prayer circle

Believers from Calvary Chapel Pearl Harbor pray together for life-affirming decisions at the Hawaii State Legislature.

Not the Unforgivable Sin

Because abortion is ending the life of one’s own child, the weight of it lays heavy on the soul—even for the one who repents and comes to Christ. “I’ve seen women in their 60s who had abortions 40 years ago come to our study and find freedom,” Sue related. “Every post-abortive man or woman I have met—even if they know Jesus has forgiven them for their sins—still feels this is the one sin they can’t be free from. They need to see people who won’t judge them, who will confront them in love and truth, share Christ with them, and help them through the process.”

But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin. 1 John 1:7

Women talking over table

A volunteer shares about the Christ-centered pregnancy center.

Abortion carries complex grief, Sue explained: “Because of their shame and guilt, they never felt worthy to grieve over their unborn children because they took their children’s lives. When you don’t deal with grief, it creates a lot of other issues: self-destruction, insecurity, anger, bitterness. They have a distorted view of God as well: that when bad things happen to them, they feel that they are being punished and deserve that punishment for what they’ve done. We teach them that Jesus took the sin of their abortion on Himself at the cross because they can’t handle it; they can’t bear it themselves.” [Jesus] Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness—by whose stripes you were healed (1 Peter 2:24).

Sue Skinner speaking

Sue Skinner teaches women.

From Pain to Healing

Stephanie Kamanawa found hope and healing in Christ through the post-abortion program at A Place for Women. Sharing her testimony with a group of women, she disclosed, “A few years ago, I couldn’t even say the word ‘abortion;’ I was walking around a wounded soul. I had no idea the depth of my hurt and pain.” Now she has a passion to urge other women to choose life, citing, Open your mouth for the speechless, in the cause of all who are appointed to die (Proverbs 31:8).

Having grown up with physical, verbal, and sexual abuse, Stephanie ran from her parents’ home but married a violent man. At 21 she became pregnant but decided to abort to sever any connection with her abuser. “I thought, how can I bring a child into the world if I can’t even take care of myself?” But far from solving her problems, ending the life of her unborn baby girl nearly cost her own life. “The week I killed my first baby, I attempted suicide,” she remembered. After a series of abusive relationships, she attempted suicide again. A few years later, she had a second abortion.

Derald Skinner at Capitol

Pastor Derald Skinner of CC Pearl Harbor rallied against state-mandated abortion referrals in Washington, D.C., in January 2018. In June 2018, the U.S. Supreme Court overruled that mandate in favor of pro-life pregnancy resource centers.

“Years later, I gave my heart to Christ, but I still suffered,” she recalled. Sitting in CC Pearl Harbor, Stephanie was shocked to hear of a post-abortion recovery Bible study. “I was flooded with fear—fear of judgment, of the unknown, of facing the truth, of not being able to bear the pain of it.” She even told Sue later, “I’m afraid that if I face this, I’ll go through so much pain that I will start crying and never stop—that the pain will kill me.”

Sue assured her that even though it would be difficult, Jesus would bring her healing. Sue related, “At first, everyone else at the study was afraid of Stephanie because she was so angry and hurting. She hid behind the emotion of anger.”

Stephanie recounted, “The facilitators are so empathetic, knowledgeable, and non-judgmental. …For the first time in my life, I knew I wasn’t alone. I had other sisters linking arms with me, encouraging me, loving me, and accepting me. They displayed the true love, grace, and compassion of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

March for life CCOB banner with Capitol

Calvary Chapel Old Bridge, NJ, believers stood for the unborn at the 2018 March for Life in Washington, D.C.

Though the class was hard, Stephanie took it twice: “The first time, I began to understand God’s forgiveness toward me. The class brought me closer to God, deeper in that personal relationship. …But there was still a heaviness in my heart, something not settled. The second time I took it, it finally clicked that I am forgiven and free. I was able to forgive myself at last.” She named her two unborn daughters; she and her husband consider them part of their family. “I know we’ll see them in heaven,” she said, tearfully.

Reflecting on the bondage she had felt even as a believer, Stephanie related, “It’s as if, when you accept Jesus, He opens the doors of the prison for you—but you stay in the prison cell anyway, because you think you deserve that.” Now, she said, “There’s no more shame, guilt, condemnation, self-hatred, unworthiness, numbness, or feelings of rejection and failure.”

Derald Skinner speaking

At the Hawaii State Legislature in 2017, Derald speaks up for pro-life centers with attorney Jim Hochberg, Alliance Defending Freedom.

To those still in bondage to their sin of abortion, Stephanie counseled, “You are not alone. We have all fallen short of the glory of God. There is hope in Jesus. He wants us to be healed; He doesn’t want us to live in bondage. Take the step to receive the healing that God has for you.”

“Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed.” John 8:36

In June 2018, the U.S. Supreme Court overturned a law requiring non-profit, pro-life pregnancy centers in California to provide abortion referral information to their clients.

 

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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