Pro-Life, Pro-Woman: How the Pro-Life Movement Can Continue to Care for Women

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Bri Stensrud: Hi, thanks for joining us this afternoon. This is a panel about being pro-life and pro-woman. I am your moderator today, Bri Stensrud, and I’m the Director of Women of Welcome. I am joined with podcast and author host Jamie Ivey, Embrace Grace founder, Amy Ford, Missie Branch, who works at Southeastern Seminary, and I have Annie Humphrey with Save the Storks.  

We’re happy to be with you here today. Thank you for joining us. I’m going to kick it off with Amy because one of the things we want to talk about today is the economic challenges that women face. And a lot of these women who are abortion-vulnerable have other children. 

And so abortion is an economic issue for them. It’s a hurdle. So, what are some things that the pro-life movement, people who say they are pro-life, the church can do, initiatives, steps that they can do to tangibly help women who are abortion-vulnerable overcome that economic hurdle? 

Amy Ford: I am very connected into the church, so I get to see organically how it happens. There are organizations in every community, and every community is completely different of what they have to offer, but the organic help that happens within the strengths and the talents that God put inside each of us is really cool to see. 

And we’ve seen so much, but I know one of my friends is super passionate about women going to college and his daughter had an unplanned pregnancy and had to take a year off of college. And he was really upset about that. So, he ended up starting a fund and he wants to start daycares at universities, and he’s gotten a lot going and he helps fund those. 

And that’s his niche. Or we’ve seen girls that are really needing jobs and things that they can. We’ve been working on maternity leaves with different companies, too, because a lot of times they might have an abortion because there’s no maternity leave that’s offered within their company. And I think even as a business owner, I, we have a reasonable maternity leave. 

But once I started realizing the connection between abortion and that, we ended up doing paternity and offering way more time because I would never want that to contribute to why a girl would have an abortion. Because it is true that the abortion rate is higher for women that have already had a child because they’ve already understood and realized how hard this is. I have one child, I can barely make it. And now I’m pregnant again and the financial impact. Yeah, this is really hard.  

Transportation is huge. Housing is huge. Childcare is huge, but the things that we’ve seen within the church, the organic help that’s happening…  

I was talking to a pastor the other day, and he already has a mother’s day out program within his church for just women to be able to go to their home groups or their life groups or whatever. It’s for the stay-at-home mom to whatever. He’s like, what if we change that model to be actual childcare for single moms? We’re already paying workers to work that time. Why don’t we shift it to these women that would be able to go to school and go to work because we’re offering free childcare. I was like, that is genius. And so the help just happens organically.  

Really quickly, there was one girl that I found out about and she didn’t even. She’s never gone to a church, but the way the church stepped in was so amazing. But I found out about a girl that didn’t have any formula for her baby. 

 It was a Saturday, and she left me a message on my cell phone. I didn’t get it till the end of the day. And I started freaking out because she said, I haven’t had any formula for my baby. And this was 10 a.m. or so, voicemail, and I didn’t get it to six o’clock and I was like, Oh, no, this baby hasn’t had formula all day. What’s going on?  

So, I called this girl and she had randomly got my number. I called her and she said, Well. I said, do you need food for yourself too? And she’s like, actually, I’ve stole some food. And I’m okay. But you can’t steal formula because the censors, they put sensors on the formula cans. 

So, I was like, oh my gosh, I will, I’m coming. And it wasn’t really the best part of town. But I brought her food, I brought her formula. And whenever I was talking to her, I was like, what is the situation that you’re in? She’s like, I’m just staying on the couch right now. I’m only allowed to be here for four days. 

And they said, that is it. And I have to leave. But I said, well, what about, do you have a dad? Can you stay with the dad? And she said, yeah. I am one of 18 kids and he has no room for me and my daughter. Her daughter’s five months old. I was like, okay. I said, what about your mom? And she said, I left my mom’s, that’s where I just came from. She’s addicted to crack. And I left my two twin sisters that are 17 and I need to get them out too, because it’s super dangerous and not a great place, but I’m only allowed to sleep on this couch for four days, and she doesn’t have a job. She doesn’t have a car. It was just a lot. And I am. I’m overwhelmed by the need. 

 It is so much. Where do you even start? And I was just, let me just pray for you. Okay. Is that okay? Cause I said, give me a minute. Let me call you tomorrow, but let me just, I need to have a minute. So I prayed for her and I asked her, is your baby okay? When I thought about when I had my babies, my babies would cry. If it’s every couple hours, you’re supposed to feed a baby a bottle, my babies would cry way before it was time to drink a bottle. She’s like, she’s just kind of whimpering a little, and she hasn’t eaten all day. And so, when I walked away, I prayed for her, I walked away, and I was like, God, how do I help this girl? 

And I, God started showing me that the poverty mentality has already started of this baby isn’t even crying for food because she knows already at five months old, there’s nothing coming. And so, then when she grows up to be a child in school, what’s the point of trying? There’s nothing for me. This is my world, this poverty mindset, and then into an adult.  

And it’s so hard, but how can we help her come out of that? And so I was so overwhelmed by it. I called one of my friends, I did a post on Facebook. I was like, I know this is crazy, but we’ve got a girl, we need a car, we need an apartment, we need a job, we need all this stuff. 

And this was a Saturday by the next Saturday, we had an apartment for her. She got a job as a janitor at a school, or I’m sorry, to church. And it was a two bedroom. The twin sisters came, they worked out childcare so that the twin sisters could watch the baby while she went to school. They got her a whole year’s worth of tuition of college. Someone donated a car.  

I’m telling you this all happened within seven days. They got her, it was furnished. People are like, I have brand new bedspreads I just bought. I can help with that. It was amazing how everyone came together. This girl has never stepped foot in a church. All it was was a post on Facebook. 

People want to help. It’s just they need to know how, and it was just amazing to see and now she’s thriving and she’s doing so great. Her twin sisters are doing great, but I think if I was so tempted to just step away and say it’s too much, I don’t even know where to start, but just, I didn’t do a thing. All I did was posted. And it all came together.  

And so, I think it’s a matter of putting it out there, too, and watching how the organic help within the church can happen, whether she stepped foot in a church or not, what can we do to help her? 

Bri Stensrud: And I love you’re so close in proximity to this issue that when you talk about the economic hurdles that exist, it is very messy. As you can see, it’s just, it’s overwhelming. The need is overwhelming. The hurdle is so high. And so, when you think about that, even just hearing it, you’re just immediately sinking into your seat, how it’s too much. And yet, that is the very thing that we are supposed to lean into, you did and no one person can do it by themselves. You cannot save a woman from the economic hurdles that it, but the church together can.  

And this leads me to Missie, because Missie, you, Dean of Students over at Southeastern, you are discipling a lot of students. And so, when you are talking with them about living out the faith that they are in class learning about day in and day out, how are you discipling, what is the approach that you are advising your students to say, this is how we get close to the vulnerable, the people who are in the margins that are not going to be on the campus that are probably not likely going to be in the homes that you in the neighborhoods that you may become from? 

How do you disciple students to get close to kids or to people in the margins?  

Missie Branch: I had the opportunity to go on a trip with you, Women of Welcome. 

Bri Stensrud: And we loved having you.  

Missie Branch: It was wonderful. But the pre-trip advice that you were giving us was to be aware, to see people, to recognize what’s going on around you. And that was really, it really shifted a lot of things for me because being in the airport and seeing certain things and coming out of the airport and watching, I was really able to get a grasp of already what we were going to be looking for. 

And so, that is something I’ve taken back to the campus. So, the women I’m discipling, I’m challenging them to be aware of, A. The people in their community who you assume already know Jesus, or who you assume is already okay and doing all right, and begin to seek out opportunities to serve them, bless them, help them. 

But then also, we’re really challenging them to genuinely know God’s Word, to not just be culturally Christian, but to know God’s Word so that you understand God’s heart for people so that you can live that out. And it’s been really fun to walk them through curriculum from organizations like Stand For Life, but to tie that to the heart of God and not just something else to learn as if God was a subject. 

You know what I’m saying, or an object to study, but to see how truly impactful it is for young ladies like this. We think that it’s only in these situations, but there was a young lady from our church who got put out of her home, who was in a very similar situation. And thank God, there was an Embrace Grace community not far from us where she was able to jump in, but we would have never known if our eyes were not actually open. 

And so that’s how we’re challenging the young ladies on our campus.  

Bri Stensrud: And it’s also just about helping students be and remain curious about other people, right?  

Missie Branch: Yes. Yes.  

Bri Stensrud: So Jamie, in being curious about other people and also trying to help people maybe even just get past themselves sometimes and just their own lives, you talk a lot about people who get trapped in their shame and their guilt from past failures. And yet we know that there is just so much freedom in our worldview and what we believe in the gospel of Jesus Christ. How do you feel like the gospel really applies to the shame and kind of regret that women feel in the abortion space? 

Jamie Ivey: Yeah, the gospel is 100% applicable to them. Part of my story is I had two unplanned pregnancies in college. And so, I grew up in the church. I would have said I was a Christian. And I’ve been Sunday, Wednesday, Saturday, all the time in church. And so when I found myself pregnant, I automatically felt shame because I knew that there were rules. 

For me, they were just rules. They were rules within our church that this is what you don’t do. There’s a lot of things, but this is what you don’t do. And so I found myself in that situation where I knew this is a big deal. And I had a lot of shame over that. And in fact, my second pregnancy in college, I actually was following Jesus. 

And so, even more shame compounded on top of that in my life. And then I marry a pastor. And so, then I’ve got a lot of shame in my life because I think if these people at this church, if they actually knew where I’ve been and what I’ve done, would I be allowed to be a pastor’s wife? Which is ludicrous to me when I say it out loud. 

But for me, I just had, I felt a lot of shame from myself. It is not of God. That is not of God. But honestly, I think some things in the church have done a disservice for us when we walk in difficult situations. And so there was something in me that said, this is not okay to bring to the light. 

This is not okay to bring to the public because I’m going to be treated differently if people find out that I’m a Christian, and I’m pregnant and I’m unmarried. And so I took me a lot of years to walk through that and to really trust God’s Word. And for me, it was like, if I’m a believer, I have to trust that what God said is true. 

And when He said that I didn’t save you to be a slave to your sin. I didn’t save you to go back in that. I saved you to walk in freedom. And so for me, it became an idea where, okay, I’m going to trust God’s Word and what He says is true. And how do I apply that to my life? 

I think in our churches, one way that we can make sure that we are also promoting this message is if we’re saying that one in three women in our churches have experienced an abortion. 

What that means is every time you talk about abortion from the stage, you’ve got to have compassion and empathy, because otherwise it can be received as shameful messaging. And so, we want to be hyper aware of how we’re having those conversations. I think that we should have leadership in our churches that are vulnerable about their own sin and struggles because walking into a church, walking into a community group, walking into a small group, and you feel like everyone here would never believe what I’ve been through. 

That is a lie from Satan to try to keep us bound to our sin. And so, what if our leaders were more often vulnerable with their own stories, with their own struggles, with what’s going on?  

I think also the way that we talk about women who’ve experienced an abortion our language, our rhetoric, it really, really matters for the women sitting in our pews. And even for the conversations that you’re having in our small group, if we want to be followers of Jesus who really do believe.  

Believe that our sin does not separate him because of the blood of Jesus, then we have to include all of those sins and all of those choices and all of those things. 

And so, to show freedom to women who have walked through an abortion within our churches, it takes so much intentionality. It takes so much thought behind the words that we say, how we say them, the way we have conversations about it. And I think it’s beautiful when you see it happen. When you see a woman who can say, I feel safe here and I’ve had an abortion, and I know that no one here looks at me differently. That is a beautiful, beautiful, gospel-centered place to be.  

And so, I think when we’re presenting the true gospel of Jesus, of His grace, of His atonement, of His blood, everything that God offers, abortion falls under that, the same as everything else does. Pornography, over drinking, overindulging, all those things, they’re all right there. 

So, I think we need to level the playing field for women, and not elevate this, as this is possibly the worst thing you could have ever done with your life. Is it terrible? For sure. Worst thing ever? No. God wants our whole heart. And so, level the playing field, watch how we talk about it, and have leaders that are willing to be vulnerable about their own stories so that they don’t feel alone, women don’t feel alone in their churches.  

Bri Stensrud: And I love what you just said about leadership too, because part of good leadership is really elevating people’s stories and elevating people to be able to share those stories. So, if you’re a pastor and you’re intimidated on the kind of language you should be using and how to really approach this, maybe you’re not the messenger, maybe that’s a Sunday morning. Maybe that’s a teaching time during the week where you are asking women who have experienced the pain of abortion. You’re asking them to come up on stage and be vulnerable. If you’ve had that relationship, obviously, you never want to spotlight someone that’s vulnerable. 

But if Jamie, you’ve worked through that, you’re open about there, you’re talking about that, how wonderful would it be if a pastor would really elevate a story like that and say, Jamie is loved. Jamie is a leader in this community, and this is her story. And I want us to approach this in this way. 

And we elevate voices that have the experience. How wonderful would that be? Because they would start to hear about the lack of choice, which really takes me over to Annie with Save the Storks because one of the things Save the Storks does, it’s an important missional value of yours, is to give women real choice. What does that mean for people who say, “Well, what do you mean? Real choice?”  

Annie Humphrey: Yeah, thank you for asking. To Jamie’s point, being a woman that had an abortion story for almost three decades. It has been very daunting and has been a hidden secret for a very long time. When I was in college, I thought abortion was my only choice, right? 

And for multiple reasons it’s not one reason, but it’s just the way that the society has encouraged abortion and the way that the churches are pretty hush-hush about it. So with lack of communication, lack of understanding, I thought that was my only choice. And then the lies keep on pouring and saying that this is something that you need to be hid. You need to hide. You need to keep it in secrecy.  

So, it wasn’t until, now, like the last 2, 3 years that I have confronted this truth in its entirety and allow myself to really transform from a broken story to a redemptive story. And that is when we realize so many, 30 years ago, technology is nowhere the same as today, but women have tons more information that’s really available for them, but they are not. They’re missing the interpretation part, and the information that they’ve searched on the internet is so one sided, and it’s just that lack of guidance, so that they also lead to the decision that, hey, abortion is my only choice in today’s world.  

With Save the Storks, we have really just decided that we have to solve this problem by bringing the right information in front of her so that she’s able to make an informed decision and to know the real choice and to be able to lead her to the real choice. 

We need to educate. We need to essentially, in a church environment, you need to educate the churches so that they understand the language to be used to have the compassion space because it’s easier said than done. So, one of our initiative was start course. It is a very easy 2.5-hour course that any church leaders or congregation members can take so that they can be aware of seeing people for who they are. Having a platform to start that intentional conversations about abortion, after-abortion care, to talk about planned pregnancies in a much healthier, compassionate, holistic ways. 

And then when you have the educational part, you need to truly have the reality of abortion being introduced in the space, no sugar coating, really be able to have the reality of abortion painted in a vivid way possible because lack of education is where we are at today, where people have all sorts of misinterpretation about when this life starts, what is a nine-week old baby supposed to look like? 

Those are important factors for people to do to understand. And when you are able to educate the churches and educate the kids and the youth and the women and people from all walks of life, then we can begin to equip them with the right resources. And the real choice came out of our project. It is an enterprise, essentially, that gathers and rallies around all of the organizations across the country that offers something, support resources, housing, medical care, what some of the key pillars that women are needing when they are faced with an unplanned pregnancy, including post-abortive support group. 

And with that, you’re able to have a go-to source because in today’s day and age, it should not be that difficult for that woman to find resources, but it is. So that is one of the problems we’re trying to solve. And we are blessed to have national hero anchors like Embrace Grace, Every Mother’s Advocates, or The Life a Single Mom to come together to serve these moms. It served these women well.  

And then adding the fatherhood conversation in the mix as well. So that we can holistically come together and equip the church. And only when you have educated and equip them, you can start to engage in the community and elevate their inspiration to to act upon what they need to do, because, what Amy says, sometimes it just seems so daunting and people don’t know what they don’t know. They don’t know what to do.  

And so by educating them, giving them the reality and then linking them with the right resources in a very easy, connecting fashion, so that they’re able to find the resources effortlessly. And then introducing the community to get engaged and to have that compassionate perspective, and then we’re able to essentially elevate the standard of how the entire society can celebrate and serve life and that she will ultimately be able to choose the real choice of life.  

Bri Stensrud: When you’re talking about all of those different dynamics at play, those are very real conversations that are very complicated, and they can get really heated, right? You’ve had the man on the street of what is an abortion, and you know they’ve never seen an abortion procedure before you show that and then it’s just really eye-opening, and you’re just, your world cracks open a bit and you’re just, wow, that is a life. 

And so, some of these conversations that you have with people who hold different viewpoints, it can be very tricky to enter into that and remain calm and Christlike and super charitable and curious as to why they remain in that space. And this is something Jamie, you and I talk about. We enjoy talking about this together privately and publicly, but we talk a lot about being pro-life also means that we are supportive of programs that women need post-birth and the children, what the programs that their children need post-birth. And that doesn’t mean that we have become adopters of extreme liberal policies. What that means is we want to show up well for women post-birth. 

But inevitably those, some of those programs, not all of them, but some of those programs are going to involve public policy and advocating in the political arena. And we want to do that from a nonpartisan perspective and way just so that we can remain charitable and authentic and transparent about certain things. 

But let’s talk about that just a little bit, how do we, we’ve talked about this before, enter into these spaces from a holistic pro-life perspective without losing, getting lost in all of that crazy political realm that we tend to swirl in. 

Jamie Ivey: Yeah, who wants to be lost in the crazy political realm? Not me. I enjoy our conversations and our mutual friend, Eugene Cho, says that policies matter because policies affect people. And I think that over the last couple of years, God has really used me having conversations with people to open up my eyes to what they’ve been through and what affected them and what circumstances they grew up in. 

And I have lived a very privileged life. I check a lot of the boxes for a privileged American. And so, praise God that He’s brought so many of these things to my attention. And I think where I want to be in the conversation as a follower of Jesus is to say, policies matter. So how do we work towards that? 

Looking the way, helping people the way Jesus helped people. And I think that the political parties can make this so, the water so muddied that honestly you don’t know where you land and you feel quite homeless. And I think that homeless political places, I think a good place. I think that tension is well, that tension is a good thing for us to have that. We’re not like I am fully saturated in either side. I am in the middle wondering where do I belong? 

Bri Stensrud: Because frankly, you need people on both sides. If you’re really going to have progress, we can’t vacillate every four years, we have to have advocates on both sides.  

Jamie Ivey: We need advocates on every side. And so, where I find myself as someone is saying, Hey, I just want to be in the middle and just look at Jesus and what would Jesus do? So, sometimes that affects the way often every time that affects the way I vote. It affects the policies that matter to me in my community, in my state, where I live.  

I think about Jesus and I was just reading this the other day in Matthew. He’s talking about, He’s coming, He’s saying the judgment’s coming. I’m going to separate the goats and the sheep, and He says to them, “For I was hungry and you gave me food. I was thirsty and you gave me drink. I was a stranger and you welcomed me. I was naked and you clothed me. I was sick and you visited me. I was in prison and you came to me.”  

Then the righteous will answer Him saying, “When did we see this going on because I was with you? When did we see this? When were you hungry? When were you thirsty? And when did a stranger welcome you? And Jesus will say, truly I say to you, did to one of the least of my brothers you did to me.”  

And I think I read this and it’s so evidently clear about the physical needs of people. And it’s so evidently clear about what our responsibilities are as a Christian and how we handle that.  

Now, It’s a whole nother panel as to how we jump into that arena that I’m not equipped for, they didn’t ask me to do that panel on policy matters But I lived a lot of my life with my head in the sand because frankly, none of those policies affected me. Yeah, and I could live my entire life and none of it would affect me A white woman, married to my husband, we have four kids, we both have stable jobs, none of it would ever affect me. 

Yet, it affects my brothers and sisters, it affects people in my community, it affects people in my state, it affects people around the globe. And how God has awakened my heart is saying that this has to matter to you even if it doesn’t affect you. 

Bri Stensrud: Yeah, and I think one of the things I’ve been learning and just in my journey into this kind of more holistic pro-life worldview is really just that the advocacy years in between a lot of times we think that every four years it’s our civic duty to vote and then we’re just out and then swimming around in our communities. And it’s really the advocacy years in between because if we are pro-life, we are pro -women’s rights start in the womb. 

Okay. And so if we are that, then we know all of these challenges that she’s going to face. How do we rectify that? Some of that exists in the church. Some of that exists in the community. Some of that is government. It’s private. It’s public. It’s a merriment of these things. And not all, not just one entity is going to be able to sweep up and do all of these things. 

But also, just realizing that as you start to engage and get close in proximity and you start to realize there is no affordable housing, their daycare is scarce if available at all. You’ve got your food insecurity, and you’ve got educational disparities, and you have livable wage, and all of these things that you were talking about. 

It’s, okay, there’s nothing on the ballot that’s going to allow me to vote for all of those things in a nuanced way, right? So, your vote’s going to be imperfect. And so what do you do? You vote in an imperfect way, how you feel compelled, how the Holy Spirit has convicted you to vote and enter in that way. 

And then you get busy holding your elected official accountable for the things that you know that they’re falling short on. Hey, I voted for you! And you say that you’re a pro-life senator, pro-life congressman, and yet I’m seeing this disparity here, and I think that you can do something about it, and I hope that you would. 

And so we advocate for women in this space, not that we are adopting extreme liberal policies, but that we are advocating for the programs and the budgets that we know that exist to support the things that women need post-birth. What were you going to say?  

Jamie Ivey: I think one more thing else I want to say is we think often, the pro-life movement is just focused on the unborn. 

And while that is massive and needed and all the things, if we’re gonna have a holistic view, then we’re also focusing on the woman and we’re also focusing on the child in foster care, the woman who’s going to grow up and might have to make that exact same choice and proximity matters. And so as you’re living your life the way when you get close to people, your ideas change. 

When I spent seven years serving in my local county jail. Guess what? My ideas about women and how she found her that way, found herself in jail. My ideas about why she has children in three different foster care systems. Everything was just uprooted because I got close to her and I could touch her and I could look in her eyes and she could tell me about the circumstances that she grew up in that I didn’t understand. 

And so being pro-women, It is pro-life. And oftentimes, we need to get ourselves out of our comfort zones into different circumstances that will adjust our whole worldview on what that looks like. Because honestly, all of these pro-women things, they’re just all connected somehow. They all have a string together. 

And so, just to encourage people, we’re not saying you have to leave what you’re doing. All of us up here are doing ministry in different areas that are all pro-women. And I think that’s something that’s beautiful to think about, too. 

Bri Stensrud: And I think it’s going to change depending on where you are in your life and who you have in your life and the resources that you have. 

And so Missie, talk to us a little bit about what it looks like to shift in showing up in different seasons in your life.  

Missie Branch: Jamie was exactly right. Easy for a lot of people to sit back and let these issues pass by them because it’s not necessarily knocking at your door. And of course, we can get riled up at election season, but in reality, this stuff is all around us. 

There are crisis pregnancy centers that could use all kinds of help. And I don’t advocate just showing up with stuff, but I do advocate calling them and saying, what, how can we be a blessing? How can we volunteer? I have three daughters who I’ve sent to volunteer at all kinds of things. Also, you can go babysit. 

You can start chapters for things like Embrace Grace at your church. Another practical thing is buying all the things that someone would need for a baby shower that they wouldn’t have. And showing up with those things. I used to be a cake decorator. And so, we would just make cakes for women who wouldn’t get in a baby shower. But we can take a cake and a couple of us can rally around and support the moms in the community.  

You can, things as simple as babysitting or bringing meals or providing meals. But it really requires being proactive. And it’s not like we don’t know how to do that in America. The movie theater doesn’t call us and say, hey, this is what’s showing. We go find out, we buy our tickets, and we show up, because that’s what we want.  

And in the same way, for our community, for the people who are the least of these, for the people who, when we stand before the Lord, He’s going to say, What happened to you caring for this young lady? We have a responsibility. 

So, I think, thinking outside of the box, being willing to sacrifice a few dollars and a few hours, and being willing to model something for those underneath us who we disciple or in our children. It’s well worth it.  

Amy Ford: Bri, I have a question for you. We’ve been friends for a long time, and I’ve been friends with you as you worked in the preborn space, then ended the adoption space, and now you are such an amazing, fierce warrior for life in the immigrant and refugee space. Really being an amazing voice, being boots on the ground. I’ve heard some people say, well, you know, I don’t really understand how that connects with the pro-life movement or the holistic pro-life view what we’ve been talking about. 

Today, what is the best way to answer that? If people are?  

Bri Stensrud: Yeah, I think when we talk about being whole life, pro-life, there’s a couple of ways you can look at that. And the first way is you can be whole life, pro-life around a certain issue. So we want to be whole life, pro-life around abortion-vulnerable woman and her child. 

And so, what that means is we want to holistically care for her, everything from healthcare to food, to housing, to all the economic things we’ve just been talking about. So when we say I’m whole life, pro-life, you could mean I’m whole life for that woman and that baby’s whole life.  

Then there’s a really a broader definition of, I am whole life. I’m pro-life for the whole life. And really what that is, it’s not an intimidating scope creep of what it means to be pro-life because the very things that have anchored me in my work in the preborn space, the dignity and sanctity of every human life that we get from Genesis 1:27 is each and every person is made in the image of God. 

And then you move through the Scriptures, you read in Psalms that we were made in our mother’s wombs. We were known before the age of time in Jeremiah. I have a plan for you and you are destined. I have a calling, you have purpose, all of these things.  

And you move into Matthew and you just, what Jamie read and Matthew about when did we see you, Lord? And it’s as you’ve done unto these, you have done unto Me and as you have not done, you have not done it. So, all these same things that biblically convicted me to care for preborn life are the exact same biblical underpinnings that root me in every other human dignity issue so that I can convictionally say I care about and want to affirm the dignity of every life from womb to tomb.  

And so, it’s not scope creep from a biblical perspective, maybe from a dictionary definition of what it means to be pro-life, because traditionally we would say pro-life is, I’m against abortion, which we all are. 

We think that there’s immense harm and violence, not only to children, but to women. When it comes to abortion, but also we know that those same things, that dictionary definition doesn’t encompass what we believe as Christ followers. It falls drastically short of what we’re called to and commanded to do as Jesus followers. And that is to care about the inherent dignity and value of all life.  

And that’s where I think sometimes, we get a little bit of the wires crossed is, okay, so, you’re saying that now that I care about preborn babies. Now, I got to care about all these other things. Well, you should because you’re a Christ follower, but that doesn’t mean that Save the Storks is gonna go out and start doing ESL classes for refugees and immigrants. That doesn’t mean Amy’s gonna go out and start racial-reconciliation groups, or you’re going to start doing human-trafficking work. And I’m going to start doing, I’m going to start building wells and developing nations or something.  

No, we’re the body of Christ here. We know how to function, and we should all be knowing what we’re doing so that the body can function appropriately. And we can be effective for the glory of God. 

So that’s what I really mean when. Great. What am I going on to next? I would love to figure out what is the next kind of bucket that I get… 

Amy Ford: The Bri adventure.  

Bri Stensrud: Okay. So, Amy, okay. Speaking of adventures, Embrace Grace. This is, amazing woman who found herself pregnant and ended up marrying Baby Daddy. Tell us a little bit about Embrace Grace, because you did have this “bump in life”, and that was, that’s the book you wrote. So tell us a little bit about Embrace Grace, and if people don’t know about it, and also I know you have a bag full of stories that are just so amazing about this kind of work that a lot of times the church is, what am I supposed to do? 

What is the tangible thing I can do? This is an amazing mentorship turnkey, beautiful way to show up for the church, specifically. 

Amy Ford: Embrace Grace, it is support groups in churches for girls with unexpected pregnancies. So, we have over 950 churches and support groups, all 50 states that do Embrace Grace, but it is turnkey because it’s digital curriculum. You just press play. 

Here’s a great teaching, but I will say it’s not that simple…  

Bri Stensrud: Because you got to show up like you just talked about earlier. And then they’re really,  

Amy Ford: It’s messy. It is.  

Bri Stensrud: Messy in the best way possible.  

Amy Ford: You have front-row seats to miracles when you lead this group. It is amazing. I, it never gets old. It’s just amazing. And it is hard work and it’s hard. You hear hard stories, but you watch God totally work in these girls’ lives. And it’s just beautiful. Sometimes they are a little bit more hesitant. And a lot of what Jamie was saying earlier about, I’m totally on board with the vulnerability thing. I invite girls to church all the time. 

And one time a girl said, can we give, can you give me one more week? I really need to stop smoking before I go. I’m like, just come, 

Bri Stensrud: Put it out in the parking lot and walk in.  

Amy Ford: But that is what is in their head. They think they have, they think church is for good people or perfect people. And what have we done to convey that? 

And I think it has been a lack of vulnerability. And that even with our first group, we just share our own stories, and all of a sudden their walls start coming down. Cause they’re like, well, if that’s that lady’s story, that’s way worse than mine. And then if God did that for her, then maybe God will do that for me, too. 

And they start to, this sounds like it’s a safe place. And then it opens up the door for discipleship, sharing the gospel, introducing them to the rest. You are all of that. It’s just awesome to see how it happens. You just press play. It’s amazing. Teaching, powerful teaching, inner healing, emotional healing.It’s so good at EmbraceGrace.Com. But yeah, there are so many,  

Bri Stensrud: So many stories. And I was going to also just say just the mentorship that happens. Oh yeah. So, it’s, it’s a small group activation is what it is. You’re bringing in women who are surrounded by other women.  

Amy Ford: They meet other girls going through the same thing. They’re going, it could be unique situations, but.  

Bri Stensrud: And then you continue that on. The baby is born, and then you have embraced life groups. It’s a continuation of pre and post-birth.  

Amy Ford: Yes, and we want to, it’s not a transactional experience. It is a transformational experience. The church can walk alongside these girls forever if she’ll stay connected.  

Bri Stensrud: We want to feel a part of the community in the church,  

Amy Ford: family, a spiritual family. And so that is the church. And so that’s what we want. Embrace Grace might be that first bridge to get her in the door, to have the courage and be brave. Our tagline is “help her be brave” to get her in the door. 

And then she’s like, okay, this isn’t what I thought it was at all. These people are for me and maybe Jesus does love me. All of it starts resonating, but I don’t, I know we’re running low on time. I’ll just tell you a two-minute version, please. There is one just others always stories, but there’s one that’s been on my heart a lot lately because it’s so cute. 

But there’s a girl that went through Embrace Grace, and she’s a young mom. She thinks she’s probably about 20. But the Embrace Grace leader, she has five or six kids herself and she had been helping babysit this Embrace Grace mom’s baby whenever she had to go do work or whatever. And so, all her kids would help babysit. 

But one of the, her daughter was one of the leader’s daughter, who’s about 10. She was like, why does this mom like Uber places? Why doesn’t she have a car? And she’s like, well, it’s hard to be a single mom. And she just doesn’t have the finances. So she’s having to get around getting rides from people or whatever. 

And she’s like, can we help her buy a car? And she’s like, I don’t know. That’s a lot, but she said, I’ve gotten really good. This 10 year old, I’ve gotten really good at baking cupcakes. What about if we sold cupcakes? And this leader is just phenomenal. She was like, we could try it. 

So they started baking cupcakes and putting it out there: Hey, my daughter’s 10. She’s selling these cupcakes. You can buy them. They’re this much money because we’re saving money for the single mom a car. And people just started buying a dozen cupcakes and giving them 500 bucks.  

Bri Stensrud: It’s so cute because I don’t want to be making 500 cupcakes in my house. 

Amy Ford: They made a ton, but, it was in six weeks they had all the money saved for this Ford Explorer. It was, and then someone came forward that owned a repair place that said, or an oil change place. They said, we will cover her oil changes for a whole year. Someone paid for her auto insurance for a whole year. 

People started putting gas cards in the glove box and then they have, and I have a video of it. They had a video of this girl going to the church parking lot. She thought she was just going to an event and this little 10-year-old, handed her the keys to this car and she is, cannot even believe it. 

And the faith of that 10-year-old, how amazing is that? And people wanted to help. She just, you just needed to put something out there and that it, we, this is stuff that we see all the time, but it’s just about having faith. And knowing that God is going… 

I’m not their provider. There are some times when the Lord says, you need, you’re supposed to pay your electric bill. And I’ll do it. But there are some times when God says, get out of the way. I’m about to do a miracle here and you’re not her provider. You’re not the genie in a bottle. You’re not the savior. You’re not the savior. Get out of the way. And and we pray and we ask God and we believe and she, then she sees a miracle and she sees God provide and he does it every time. It’s just beautiful.  

Jamie Ivey: What was that? What’s that 10 year old’s name? 

Amy Ford: I’m blanking on it. Okay, so cute. She spoke at our gala, too.  

Jamie Ivey: Jessica is her name. I’m just making this up. I want to be like Jessica when I grew up.  

Amy Ford: Absolutely.  

Missie Branch: We want to be like her when we grow up.  

Amy Ford: Absolutely. I’ll send you the video. It’s so…  

Bri Stensrud: And even just the testimony of her mom, allowing her to get close enough to a really messy issue. What a discipleship moment for that family and for that daughter so that you’re not withholding the messy parts of the world and the messy parts of beautiful people made in the image of God and not saying, okay, I’m not going to talk to her about all the things that encompass that. No, it was simply about showing up and getting close enough to be curious about a story. 

And then. What did God inspire in her heart? Not what did her mom tell her to do, but what did God inspire in her heart? Because her mom allowed her to get close enough to something that was probably a little bit complicated to talk about, a little messy. But it allowed that girl to meet that new mom right where she was. 

It was amazing. So speaking of meeting women right where they are, very cool story about Save the Stork buses and how they came to be. It’s just such an important part of what you guys do. And part of the ministry of historic buses is really going to places around the country in communities that are extremely abortion vulnerable. 

And could you just tell us a little bit about the mission of the buses and why that is a really unique and wonderful option to meet women right where they are?  

Annie Humphrey: Yes, because with the buses, we have 89 and the 90th will be delivered on February 18.  

All: That’s amazing!  

Annie Humphrey: Thirty different states. But the buses are intended to give that woman a pause, meeting her where she’s at so that she’s able to, this is what we call the modern day of divine deliverance, vessel of divine deliverance. 

But it’s also a shelter of love because what Amy just described is that love really will save the world, and combined with a childlike faith, I think we, when we were born, we all had the innocence of that childlike faith. And it’s because of the world that we lose sight of that confidence, that faith and that 10-year-old, if she had too many adults telling her that can’t be done, she probably would’ve been discouraged and she probably would’ve stopped. 

With the buses, they are built with that woman in mind to bring her a window to her room and then reinvest in her with the words of encouragement and instill that childlike faith in her, and so these buses are equipped with state of the art ultrasound so that she’s able to see her baby on a TV screen, but also staffed with medical professionals that will guide her through the medical portion of her experience on that bus.  

But also, staff with counselors who are resources, counselors and also trauma-informed counselors so that they know where to guide this woman. So once she has that pause, when she’s able to decide and choose life, then we will connect her with organizations like Embrace Grace, because she needs to be handheld the entire journey.  

And when Bri talked about the whole life, it really is not just about that baby. It’s about making sure she does not walk alone from the moment she thinks she’s pregnant, till the moment that she gave birth, till the moment that she is trying to get her degree while juggling with a toddler and beyond. And that is how we want to meet her where she’s at.  

With the historic buses, going through different neighborhoods, some of the places are more strict with the buses, and we have to sometimes Planned Parenthood would call on us and, and try to create issues. But you know what? All of these counselors, all of these bus drivers are on the bus. Very intentional about meeting that woman where she’s at sometimes going to the neighborhood that is not so safe. 

But the bus is also wrapped intentionally with love, compassionate based messaging so that when she sees it, it’s almost like an inviting call for her to step into that bus. And it’s really designed with her in mind. State of the art seatings and every, every single ounce, like inch in that bus has continued to be revamped and reimproved. 

And just from the coloring, the texturing of the floor to the wall, we’re so intentional about what it looks like because she’s worth it. And that is the beginning stage of her meeting her baby. And we want her to know that she’s got this, when the whole world may tell her otherwise, but we need her to start listening to the truth and to be able to say, Hey, you got this. We will help her be brave. We’ll help her along the way. And it will be the long haul, a relational transformational long haul walking with her.  

Bri Stensrud: And I love what you just said about the long haul, because the church really is designed for the long game. And a pregnancy changes you. No matter how that pregnancy is resolved, no matter how that pregnancy ends, you are forever changed by that pregnancy. 

And so, it is important for us to continue doing the good work of walking hand in the long game with abortion-vulnerable women, no matter how that pregnancy is resolved. Because they are forever changed, and there’s an opportunity for the gospel, and there’s an opportunity for freedom from shame, and there’s an opportunity for community, there’s an opportunity for relationship and discipleship. 

So together, church, we can do this.