I want to tell you how I came to be involved with and why I am so passionate about CARE.
After retiring in 2011, my husband and I moved to Troup. Before we moved, I told Father God that even though we were retiring, I knew there were too many hurting people for me to just stop everything and move to the country to sit in my rocker on the porch, that I wanted to somehow, be involved in helping hurting people.
Before we moved to Troup my husband began reading the Troup news on internet. He came in one day, handed me a print out and said “here is where you can volunteer when we get to Troup”. The article told of a new ministry beginning in Troup for men and women needing a new start in life. As soon as we moved I volunteered to do a weekly Bible study with the women. After several months of leading the study, I was approached by one of the young women. She said that she had had an abortion just before entering the program, that this was her second abortion, and she was struggling with what she had done and needed help. I told her I would help her all I could, but I knew as I was telling her that, that I really had no idea how to help her.
I shared this with a new friend that I had met at church and who was also involved with CARE. My friend told me that CARE just happened to be having a training day coming up to teach volunteers how to help women who were struggling over a past abortion, and then she took me for the training.
To say I was overwhelmed at the training would be an understatement. The statistics given concerning abortion in our country absolutely blew me away, and that day, in that training, God gave me a heart to help these women who were a part of those statistics.
This was a HUGE God thing to say the least. You see, early in our marriage, I had had three miscarriages, and much difficulty having children. As a result, I had developed a very strong opinion about women who in my thinking, would choose to have an abortion when I had wanted children so badly, and had had so much trouble having them. As I said, my opinions were very strong against these women, but now, God had taken my hard heart and given me a heart that truly wanted to help these women.
Even though Father God placed that desire in my heart, I was just sure that He could not use me in this kind of ministry because my thinking was “not having had an abortion myself and knowing how they were struggling, how could I help these women”. During the next month of praying, Father God brought six women across my path who were all going through that struggle. The statistics and the needs were slapping me in the face. The clincher took place when I went back to our previous town and visited with several women who had been in a Bible study that I had led for fifteen years. One of the young women came up and asked what I was doing since retirement. I told her about my volunteering, about the girl needing help and about the training I had had. She looked me in the eye and said “Mrs. Erma, I just want you to know that you are needed to do this. Then she said “no one but God knows this, but I had an abortion several years ago and I have had no one to help me in my struggle. God has gotten me through it, but it has been so hard because I have had no one I could talk to or to help me.” That broke me. This girl had been in my class week after week for years, and I had no idea and couldn’t have helped her if I had known because of my strong opinions and lack of Christ-like love and knowledge.
I came home not with just a burden, but a passion to do all I could to help women learn of the forgiveness and freedom that only Jesus can give. I have KNOWN for many years that any of us can be deceived by the enemy, especially when we are at our weakest point. I have LEARNED that these women did not choose abortion because they did not want the child, but were truly deceived by the enemy and those working with him.
There is another part of this story though. At the time that I had my three miscarriages, a woman having a miscarriage basically was not allowed by anyone to grieve the loss of that baby. It just wasn’t acknowledged as a “real baby”. A miscarriage was considered, at least by the women in my life, as a blessing because “something was probably wrong with it, or you weren’t far enough along for it to matter, or it was for the best”. I was told to just forget about it, that I’d have other children. I wasn’t allowed to grieve the loss of my three babies.
Now, fast forward forty-five years. I went to a CARE weekend Bible study thinking that I was going to help in the kitchen, but at the encouragement of the study leaders, I ended up sitting in on the study. At the point where the models of the babies at different stages of development were brought out, as I saw the stage of development that my babies had grown to before I miscarried each of them, I was overwhelmed with grief. And God in His way and as only He does things, used those women, women I had carried such strong opinions against at one time, to help me heal from a wound that I didn’t even know needed healing. As I broke down, they not only allowed me to grieve (which no one had done before) but they grieved with me. God poured out His love to me through women whom I had at one time judged so very harshly.
I stand in awe and profound joy each time we come to the close of a Bible study. Seeing the women come in to begin the study, so burdened down with their feelings of guilt and shame, believing that they could never experience God’s forgiveness and freedom, and then seeing them walk out a totally transformed woman because they now know and experience that forgiveness and freedom, is a feeling that cannot be explained. You can only as I said, stand in awe at what a truly awesome and mighty God we serve, and have such an overwhelming joy to know that God loves each of us so unconditionally. God is using CARE to help one woman at a time, and class after class to experience His forgiveness and freedom and unconditional love.
And personally, I am so humbled and filled with such gratitude that He would not only change my harsh, judgmental heart but fill it with such passion and then allow me to be a part of such a ministry as CARE. All I can say is to God be the glory, great things HE has done!