Today's post was written by April Allen, a member of Brook Hills who leads Surrendering the Secret studies for women who have had an abortion.

Dear Sisters in Christ,

Nineteen years ago, I made the tragic choice to have an abortion. I kept my secret deeply hidden until 4 years ago. For many years, shame compelled my secrecy. I had been raised in a Christian home and attended church and a private Christian school. I thought I trusted Jesus for salvation in first grade and was baptized at that time. However, as I grew older, my life was characterized more by what I didn’t do (e.g., drugs) than by a transformed heart. I was an adult before I understood that God pursues me and desires relationship with me (John 15:5).

As a young adult, I “looked out for number one.” Ultimately, I was more comfortable being in charge, and by my actions, I denied Christ’s lordship over my life. I was sinning in relationships and disregarding God’s command for purity. I assumed God was appalled with me, and I continued making poor choices. Eventually, I became pregnant. Panic and fear gripped me. Fear of a tarnished reputation, shaming my family, derailing my career.

My abortion took place at a clinic in Birmingham. By God’s amazing mercy, I suffered no physical consequences from the procedure. That was on a Friday afternoon. Monday morning, I went back to work as if nothing had ever happened. I listened to and believed the lies: “You’re damaged goods now." "It really doesn’t matter anymore." "You don’t deserve a good man for a husband." "You’ll be lucky to ever get married.” The enemy knew I longed for a husband even more than a brilliant business career. Marriage is where I’d desperately hoped my first adult relationship would end up. I was in love. I eventually gave him my purity. The gift God intended for my husband - in the blink of an eye - lost forever.

Several years passed along with several more relationships, yet during all that time, God never abandoned me. He was patiently waiting. He allowed me to suffer the consequences of my sin, keeping watch for my return like the prodigal’s father. God is always faithful no matter how far we run or how deep a hole we dig for ourselves.

Fast forward a few years…I shared my secret with my husband Randy the weekend he proposed, and for the first 8 years of marriage, our secret remained a secret. God blessed our family with two beautiful children, and we were content. Content, until some transparent friends and mentors shared about real freedom in Christ. The kind of freedom Jesus said He came to earth for (Isaiah 61:1-3). Was I experiencing the abundant life Christ died to give me? Was something holding me captive from walking in freedom? Had I surrendered every part of my life to Him? No. My secret was carefully guarded because I still couldn’t imagine the shame of friends and family finding out. After 15 years, whose approval did I still value more? Man’s.

At that point, I knew my relationship with God could not grow until I let go of my grip on my reputation. I had to surrender control of my story (James 5:16; 1 John 1:5-7). The instrument God used to initiate my healing journey is the Bible study by the name of Surrendering the Secret (STS). STS is an 8-week small group study designed for women who have experienced the pain of abortion and who desire healing. By God’s grace, I became a trained STS leader and have co-facilitated three groups locally.

Having a front row seat to God’s restorative work in the lives of broken women is a tremendous privilege and blessing. If you have a heart for the post-abortive woman, whether you yourself are post-abortive or not, you should know about an upcoming opportunity for training. On August 11, 2012, The Church at Brook Hills is hosting a Surrendering the Secret leader training event from 8:30 am to 4:00 pm. You can register online at this site. I hope you will consider attending, especially if you are involved in any women’s ministry (e.g. small group leader). With more than 1 out of 3 women having abortion in their past, there are many of us still trapped by the secret, and the church can feel like one of the most difficult places to let go of it.

To be honest, since sharing my story with my small group in 2008 and completing STS, there have been plenty of struggles. Satan has not stopped trying to silence my testimony. Over the past 4 years, I’ve been diagnosed with depression, suffered with insomnia/anxiety, faced marital conflict, and have wrestled with God over allowing Him to use my story (His story) for His purposes. But God is always faithful, and He has a good plan for my life (Isaiah 61:3).

I gladly share my story in light of the incredible truth found in Revelation 12:11. God has given me the privilege to open my mouth and proclaim that true freedom is found in Christ alone. Our enemy is already defeated. No matter where you’ve been or where you are today, Christ desires to meet you there and empower you by His Spirit! May the Lord bless you with healing and joy.