Part 3: Abortion & Our Words 

Dear Christian Sisters,

I wonder how often our words unintentionally tell young women to abort.

While on a short-term mission trip to Uganda over New Year’s, I met a man who is studying to be a pastor. He sat at the dinner table with our team as we discussed abortion in Uganda and in the U.S.

One of our pastors pointed out that when we tell our daughters not to come home pregnant, we are essentially telling them to go have abortions.

The Ugandan man realized that he had said that very thing to his daughters, so he went home to change the conversation.

A parent’s words are powerful.

That got me thinking. We need to have these same discussions in the U.S. as well as in Uganda about abortion and what we’re saying to women. The mission field is not just outside of the U.S. (See part 1 of this blog series, “Abortion & the Great Commission.”)

Changing the Way We Talk

As followers of Christ, we need to change the way that we talk and to encourage others to do the same because we are unintentionally telling women to have abortions.

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When we pro-lifers talk about abortion, we typically talk about the babies who are dying. U.S. politics are so polarized on the abortion issue that pro-choicers hear everything we have to say as yelling.

When has yelling convinced anyone to accept Christ’s gift of eternal salvation?

From their perspective, all we seem to care about are saving babies, but what about the women?
Are we caring for them through the pregnancy?
Are we supporting them as single moms?
Are we walking alongside them through open adoption?

After all, who is making the decision to abort?

The women, of course!

So, let’s consider how we might be telling women to have abortions.

How We Unintentionally Tell Teens to Have Abortions

My best friend in high school got pregnant about the same time that I did. I was at the top of my high school class. My best friend who is smarter than me and graduated ahead of me chose life. I didn’t.

For her, standing up for her daughter was her ticket out of her parents’ house. She wasn’t going to let her daughter grow up in an abusive home. So, she moved out and into an apartment and finished high school by doing all her classes as dual enrollment at the local university. She advocated for herself and for her daughter.

Her high school counselor told her she had to go to the district’s alternative school—top of the class and they wanted to send her away. Let me ask you—How is that different than saying “If you want to stay here, you have to have an abortion”?

Want another example of sending the wrong message? Here’s one that’s more recent: “A Christian school banned a pregnant teen from graduation because she was immoral”:

“We teach our students about the beauty of marriage and that sex inside of marriage is one of the things that is beautiful about marriage,” he said.

But while the school reaffirmed its decision, antiabortion groups have rallied to support Runkles. They argue that by singling out a pregnant student, the school is making it more likely that young women will choose abortion rather than suffer embarrassment and punishment.

Yes, exactly that.

And then there’s the inequality:

“It’s because I’m pregnant and you can see the results of my mistake,” Runkles said in a telephone interview Wednesday.

“There have been kids who have broken the student code and they could have hurt people or even gone to jail and they only received an in-school suspension and they’re allowed to walk this year.

As for me and my story, I was hard hearted. It was my decision. No one pressured me to have an abortion, but no one told me not to, either.

Accidental Words

So, let me ask you. What have you said to your children about abortion? You may not have children of your own, but you may have children by volunteering in the children’s ministry or with youth or young adults at your church—because your church is a family, right?

Maybe we are so rigid about “no sex before marriage” that our kids are afraid to tell us that they are pregnant.

Maybe we say, “Don’t ruin your life” by having children when you’re young as if being a mom or putting a child up for adoption is the end of your education and career—because it’s not! God’s strength in us is bigger!

How do we need to change the conversation in our homes and in our churches?

In order to change the conversation, we need to talk about our messy lives, shed light on them—get them out of the darkness and into the light. Take away the power of Satan.

Telling Our Stories to Our Children

Last spring on Good Friday, my husband and I sat down with our boys, ages 13 and 9, and told them our stories of choosing Jesus, including what our lives were like before and how we have changed. **And let me be clear: Abortion is my story, not my husband’s. My husband is the Christian hero in my story!**

Until that night, our boys only knew us as we are now and what we value today. Before we told them, they did not know that we were not always moral people.

It was hard. It was embarrassing. But they were very understanding and forgiving.

I told them that I felt like I had been keeping secrets from them and that I didn’t like that feeling. They both hugged me!

Now that it’s all out in the open, there’s no shame. We took our sins out of the darkness and brought them into the light where Satan no longer has power.

And guess what? Now our boys ask us more questions. We have frank conversations through our bible studies (because the Bible has a lot to say about sex!). Through our discussions of tough questions, we guide them into being the men whom God wants them to be.

With the love of Christ,

Cheryl

Abortion & _______ Series:

Abortion & the Great Commission | Abortion & the Church | Abortion & Our Words | Abortion & Politics | Abortion & the BibleAbortion & Revival

Part 2: Abortion & the Church

Dear Christian Sisters,

As the Lord has taken me on this journey of changing the conversation about abortion, I have often wondered if our church is welcoming to women who have unwanted pregnancies.

As it relates to the topic of abortion, how well are we Christians loving people?

“Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?”

Jesus said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the first and great commandment.

And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’

On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.”
Matthew 22:36-40 NKJV

Yes, we do get angry at the pro-choice movement because they are for killing babies, but do we show love and compassion (“Love your neighbor as yourself”) for the brokenhearted women who are pregnant out of wedlock?  Or the woman who just found out that her baby will likely have Down Syndrome?

I mean, who is making the decision to abort?

There’s no point in telling the babies that you love them enough to fight for their lives because they have no power. So, let’s tell the women that we love them enough to fight for their eternal lives because they do have the power to choose life.

Right now, the word “Christian” has a political connotation to it that tarnishes the Name of our Lord. If a non-believer hears “Christian” in the context of politics, does following Christ sound appealing?

A small group leader in my church makes a point in not calling herself a Christian but instead calls herself a follower of Christ. I like that.

If we want to make a real difference in the number of abortions, we need to stop being angry, politicized Christians and start being followers of Christ, showing compassion on brokenhearted women who are in difficult situations.

We need to end abortion by showing the love of Christ to women and men, not by telling them they are wrong.

The Woman at the Well

Jesus in his encounter with the woman at the well did not condemn her. He had a conversation with her. He had a conversation that led her to believe that He is the Christ and that led many more Samaritans to believe. Here is the story as John told it in his gospel:

But He (Jesus) needed to go through Samaria.

Jesus did not need to go through Samaria because that route was better or easier. Dr. Bill Creasy explains that Samaria is in the mountain range. It would’ve been easier for Jesus and his disciples to stay along the Jordan river.

(Dr. Creasy is a great resource on biblical geography and studying the bible from a literature perspective. You can get his book of John from Audible.com.)

Jesus needed to go through Samaria presumably because He knew He needed to talk to the woman at the well or perhaps just because He wanted to visit Jacob’s well.

So He came to a city of Samaria which is called Sychar, near the plot of ground that Jacob gave to his son Joseph. Now Jacob’s well was there. Jesus therefore, being wearied from His journey, sat thus by the well. It was about the sixth hour. A woman of Samaria came to draw water.

There’s only one woman at the well. Now, ladies, let’s think about that. How often do you go someplace by yourself? You might liken going to the well for water back then to using the restroom today. You don’t go by yourself. All the women go at the same time.

So why would this woman be the only one at the well? She was at the well at 6 am—while all the other women were at home making breakfast and doing other morning preparations for their household—because she was ostracized.

The other women went to the well after dinner and brought their children with them. Because she knew she wasn’t welcome, she went when no one else would be there.

Jesus said to her, “Give Me a drink.” For His disciples had gone away into the city to buy food.

Then the woman of Samaria said to Him, “How is it that You, being a Jew, ask a drink from me, a Samaritan woman?” For Jews have no dealings with Samaritans.

Samaritans of this time had some Jewish heritage from the northern kingdom of Israel when Israel split into Israel and Judah, but their forefathers had intermarried with Assyrians (when Assyria conquered the northern kingdom of Israel) and worshipped Assyrian idols alongside God. Because of their mixed heritage and idol worship, Jews of Jesus’ time would not associate with the Samaritans.

Jesus answered and said to her, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is who says to you, ‘Give Me a drink,’ you would have asked Him, and He would have given you living water.”

The woman said to Him, “Sir, You have nothing to draw with, and the well is deep. Where then do You get that living water? Are You greater than our father Jacob, who gave us the well, and drank from it himself, as well as his sons and his livestock?”

Jesus answered and said to her, “Whoever drinks of this water will thirst again, but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst. But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life.”

The woman said to Him, “Sir, give me this water, that I may not thirst, nor come here to draw.”

Jesus said to her, “Go, call your husband, and come here.”

The woman answered and said, “I have no husband.”

Jesus said to her, “You have well said, ‘I have no husband,’ for you have had five husbands, and the one whom you now have is not your husband; in that you spoke truly.”

The woman said to Him, “Sir, I perceive that You are a prophet. Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, and you Jews say that in Jerusalem is the place where one ought to worship.”

Jesus said to her, “Woman, believe Me, the hour is coming when you will neither on this mountain, nor in Jerusalem, worship the Father. You worship what you do not know; we know what we worship, for salvation is of the Jews. But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him. God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.”

The woman said to Him, “I know that Messiah is coming” (who is called Christ). “When He comes, He will tell us all things.”

Jesus said to her, “I who speak to you am He.”

And at this point His disciples came, and they marveled that He talked with a woman; yet no one said, “What do You seek?” or, “Why are You talking with her?”

I can imagine the woman staring at Jesus in silent awe as the disciples returned. Can’t you?

The woman then left her waterpot, went her way into the city, and said to the men…

…not the women–perhaps because they wouldn’t talk to her?

“Come, see a Man who told me all things that I ever did. Could this be the Christ?” Then they went out of the city and came to Him.

In the meantime His disciples urged Him, saying, “Rabbi, eat.”

But He said to them, “I have food to eat of which you do not know.”

Therefore the disciples said to one another, “Has anyone brought Him anything to eat?”

Jesus said to them, “My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me, and to finish His work. Do you not say, ‘There are still four months and then comes the harvest’? Behold, I say to you, lift up your eyes and look at the fields, for they are already white for harvest!”

There He goes again, talking in metaphors, making the disciples think! I love this about Jesus. He makes us think. Just goes to show that Christianity is a thinker’s belief system. Here, Jesus is pointing out that the harvest is right there at the well—and they were about to reap!

“And he who reaps receives wages, and gathers fruit for eternal life, that both he who sows and he who reaps may rejoice together. For in this the saying is true: ‘One sows and another reaps.’ I sent you to reap that for which you have not labored; others have labored, and you have entered into their labors.”

Ooh, I love this metaphor! I’ll sow—you reap. Or you sow, and I’ll reap. No matter which, we will rejoice together!

And many of the Samaritans of that city believed in Him because of the word of the woman who testified, “He told me all that I ever did.” So when the Samaritans had come to Him, they urged Him to stay with them; and He stayed there two days. And many more believed because of His own word.

Then they said to the woman, “Now we believe, not because of what you said, for we ourselves have heard Him and we know that this is indeed the Christ, the Savior of the world.”
John 4:4-42 NKJV

So, you see, Jesus didn’t condemn the woman for having many husbands; He engaged her in conversation. As a result, not only did she believe, but many in her community believed. How awesome is that!?!

In the Church Today

Now back to today’s world. If a pregnant teen walks through the church doors, do we embrace and love her? Or do we show judgment on our faces? Do we condemn her?

Or do we have a conversation with her that leads her to believe that Jesus is the Christ? And that following Christ means choosing life?

I was once that pregnant teenager.

We went to church up to that point. Well, we did more than that. My dad was on staff. My mom volunteered in multiple capacities. I was a leader in our youth group.

But as a pregnant teen, there is no way I would go to my church. It was shameful.

It was shameful no matter where I went.

Think about the teens or young adults at your church. If any of the women in those groups were pregnant, would they think, “I’m in a mess! I’ll go to church. They’ll know what to do. They’ll help me through this, the most difficult time in my life.”

No, probably not.

Shouldn’t we go to God first when we’ve messed up? And if we don’t know how to go to God, shouldn’t we find someone who will support us, mentor us, help us turn back to God?

The Woman Caught in Adultery

It is not our job to condemn sin. Remember the story of the woman caught in adultery? To refresh our memories, here it is from the Gospel of John:

The scribes and Pharisees brought to Him (Jesus) a woman caught in adultery. And when they had set her in the midst, they said to Him, “Teacher, this woman was caught in adultery, in the very act.”

Caught in the very act. So where is the man? According to Leviticus 20:10, both the man and the woman are to be stoned to death.

“Now Moses, in the law, commanded us that such should be stoned. But what do You say?” This they said, testing Him, that they might have something of which to accuse Him.

Did you catch that? It was a setup. They caught her in the very act, let the guy go, and accused the woman so that they could accuse Jesus.

But Jesus stooped down and wrote on the ground with His finger, as though He did not hear.

Jesus drew their attention away from the naked woman and down to the ground.

So when they continued asking Him, He raised Himself up and said to them, “He who is without sin among you, let him throw a stone at her first.” And again He stooped down and wrote on the ground. Then those who heard it, being convicted by their conscience, went out one by one, beginning with the oldest even to the last.

Kinda makes you wonder what Jesus was writing in the sand, doesn’t it?

And Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst. When Jesus had raised Himself up and saw no one but the woman, 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 8:3-11 NKJV

Are we without sin? Of course not! We have all sinned. If we were there to condemn the woman, wouldn’t the Lord Jesus be writing our sins in the sand?

We are not to condemn. We are to lead women to Christ. We are to teach her all that Christ has commanded us. (Read my previous post on Abortion & The Great Commission.)

Who of us is standing up for women pregnant out of wedlock?

We women have got to figure this out! We have got to figure out how to make the church a welcoming place for all sinners!

We are empowered women. Like the widow who demanded justice (Luke 18:1-8), we too are persistent in getting justice and should be persistent in getting justice for other women. We are gifted at hospitality. We know what it’s like to be a teenage young woman.

We are the ones who are going to make a difference in women’s lives. AND we’re the ones raising boys to be gentlemen and Christ followers.

The harvest is plentiful. We need to get to work.

With the love of Christ,

Cheryl

P.S. My friends and I are meeting to figure out how to make our church welcoming to women with unwanted pregnancies. We don’t have all the answers, but we want to do what Christ has called us to do. One idea is to start a chapter of a new ministry called A Mother’s Cry, which is founded by my friend Julie Mad-Bondo. Please comment below with your ideas as well.

Abortion & _______ Series:

Abortion & the Great Commission | Abortion & the Church | Abortion & Our Words | Abortion & Politics | Abortion & the Bible

Part 1: Abortion & the Great Commission

Dear Christian Sisters,

I think we are trying to advance the pro-life movement the wrong way.

Here in the United States, abortion is a political issue.
We vote pro-life,
we proudly post about it on social media,
we put bumper stickers on our cars, and
we complain about Roe v Wade anytime that Planned Parenthood is in the news or during the Women’s March.

Is all that really making a difference? Have you ever converted someone who is pro-choice because of your Facebook posts? (I have not.) Do you even have any Facebook friends who disagree with you? (I do!)

Who Are We Trying to Convince to be Pro-Life?

Let’s stop for a moment and think about who we are trying to convince that abortion is wrong. Perhaps if we really want to reduce the number of abortions, we need to reconsider our audience.

Instead of trying to convince our pro-choice-voting friends, we should convince women that God loves them so much that He doesn’t want the pain of abortion for them. I’m not talking about physical pain: I’m talking about emotional and spiritual pain.

Abortion is not just a political issue. It’s a spiritual issue.

As Christians, we are called to love God (see the Greatest Commandment in Matthew 22:37-38) and to love people (see the second “that’s like it” in Matthew 22:39-40). How well are we loving women who have unwanted pregnancies?

Since women are the ones having the abortion, women are our audience. Men are our secondary audience. Yes, men can pressure women into having an abortion, but ultimately women have the control. And in our American society, women are empowered. Isn’t that what the pro-choice movement says?

Women who consider themselves pro-choice either do not have the saving grace of Christ or do not understand what the Bible says about choosing life. It’s our job to teach them.

The Great Commission

How often do you think about the Great Commission? Perhaps you think about it when your pastor preaches on it or when your church supports a missionary or a short-term mission trip.

Do you remember what the Great Commission says? Some of you just said it in your head from memory. Most of us don’t have it memorized. Here is what Jesus said as recorded in Matthew:

“Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit… (Matthew 28:19)

Most people stop right there. But that’s not all. The Great Commission goes on in verse 20:

…teaching them to observe everything that I have commanded you. (Matthew 28:20a)

When I hear the Great Commission, I hear “baptize them” and absolve myself of responsibility because it’s the pastor’s job to baptize, not mine.

But the Great Commission says to make disciples, and that is my responsibility.

Jesus did not say those words to missionaries. He said those words to His disciples. If we are Christ’s disciples, then we are commissioned to make disciples.

Further, we often quote Matthew 28:19 without including verse 20—teach them. For those of you who have it memorized, did you also memorize verse 20?

Our job is not just to go to all nations, not just to make disciples, not just to baptize, but to teach them to observe—follow, do—all that Jesus commanded.

Not just go to all nations. Not just make disciples. Not just baptize but TEACH! The Great Commission Matthew 28:19-20

Do we need to “go” to another nation to do the Great Commission? No. We go outside of the U.S. if that’s what the Lord has told us to do, but we stay home if that is what the Lord told us to do. Or as Jill Briscoe said it:

“You go where you’re sent and you stay where you’re put and you give what you’ve got.”

The “nations” that Jesus was talking about in The Great Commission were the ethnic groups other than Israel, that is, the Gentiles—us!

Jesus was telling Jewish believers in Christ (the first Jews for Jesus!) to make disciples out of everyone, baptize them, and teach them all they learned from Him. Not sure you believe me? Check out the definition of “nations”—ethnos—in the original Greek from the Blue Letter Bible.

We here in the United States are full of the nations or ethnic groups that Jesus was talking about. We are the “melting pot” of ethnic groups.

Jesus was saying that salvation through Him is for everyone, not just Israel. We are part of “all nations,” so those of us who are called to stay here are just as much responsible for the Great Commission as those who are called to be missionaries elsewhere (whether short-term or long-term).

So when we get angry about abortion, are we remembering the Great Commission? Or are we just getting hot-under-the-collar about dead babies? Does anger help us win women for Christ?

Perhaps instead of just getting angry, we should think about those women (and the men who got them pregnant) as potential disciples.

“Go and make disciples” of everyone—
even those who are pregnant out of wedlock,
even those who are considering abortion,
even those who have had abortions,
even the men who got the women pregnant,
even men who pressured women into having abortions,
even the babies who are born because the mom chose life—everyone, all nations, all ethnic groups.

Go (don’t sit around doing nothing) and make disciples, baptize them, teach them all Jesus commanded.

Encountering unwed mothers and fathers is an opportunity to show God’s love and to show them how to feel God’s mercy. That’s putting the Great Commission into practical terms.

With the love of Christ,

Cheryl

Abortion & _______ Series:

Abortion & the Great Commission | Abortion & the Church | Abortion & Our Words | Abortion & Politics | Abortion & the BibleAbortion & Revival

+20: What Does Our Future Have to Do with Our Obedience?

Why think ahead 20 years? Because the Lord has a plan and a purpose for every person’s life. Everyone’s. His plans are good, and they further His kingdom.

When I was in Uganda last December teaching the Bible to children, the Lord impressed on me that He envisions a different Uganda in 20 years and that those children were the ones who would make Uganda different and better.

I want to see that Uganda! I intend to be back in 20 years to take pictures–because I want the before and after photos!

You see, in Uganda, the average age is about 14. For comparison, the average age in the United States is about 38.

There are more children in Uganda than there are adults. Why? Because war and AIDS have killed a generation.

As a result,

  • there are about 85 students to 1 teacher in the classrooms.
  • Many, many grandmothers are raising their children's children.
  • Children are in orphanages.
  • Children are raising themselves while their parents are off working.

I want to see this different Uganda that the Lord envisions. I want to see what is now the slum of Katwe as a prosperous, beautiful place that makes the Lord smile both day and night.

So when I went to Uganda a few weeks ago to talk about purity, that is, abstinence before marriage, I started by asking the teens what they would be doing in 20 years. I told them to take their age and add 20. How old will you be? What will your life look like?

+20 What Will Life Be Like for You in 20 Years?

Why think ahead 20 years? Because the Lord has a plan and a purpose for every person's life.
Everyone's.
His plans are good, and they further His kingdom.

Question is: Will we seek His plan? Will we obey Him?

“For I know the plans that I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”
Jeremiah 29:11 NIV84

In the United States, we like to claim Jeremiah 29:11 as our very own prosperity gospel. As several bloggers have been writing recently, we are flawed in our thinking.

If you read the verse before ("When 70 years have been completed…"), then you know that God is telling His people that His plans are for the nation as a whole and that the next generation is who will see welfare.

Remember that Judah, the southern kingdom of Israel, was in exile at this time (do you ever feel like you are in exile?), and the nation was in exile because of its disobedience to God (Jeremiah 25:4-5, 8-9).

Disobedience. Remember that. We'll return to the topic of obedience shortly.

If you read verses 12 and 13, then you know why God wants to provide prosperity, future, and hope:

“Then you (My people) will call upon Me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. You will seek Me and find Me when you seek Me with all your heart.”
Jeremiah 29:12-13 NIV84

There's always a God-glorifying reason why He wants you to do what He wants you to do. God wants you to seek Him. He wants you to find Him.

And if you're going to choose to stay in exile, then He wants your children. He wants your children to seek Him. He wants your children to find Him.

Remember–He is the great teacher:

  • The Father teaches (Isaiah 48:17)
  • The Son teaches (do you really need a citation here?)
  • The Holy Spirit teaches (John 14:26).

When you find Him, you can learn the way you should go, His straight path for you.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding in all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your path straight.
Proverbs 3:5-6 NASB

In both the United States and Uganda, we have forgotten that "in all your ways acknowledge Him" and "seek Him" and "search for Him with all your heart" means obeying Him.

I mean, really–Why is it that we expect God to prosper us when we don't obey Him?

Obeying Him

Purity. Obedience.

Seems to me that when it comes to purity, to abstinence before marriage, and to adultery, we have followed the world's ways, not God's.

For the wisdom of this world is foolishness before God.
1 Corinthians 3:19a NASB

So, what does God say?

Marriage is to be held in honor among all, and the marriage bed is to be undefiled.
Hebrews 13:4 NASB

What does that mean?

It means PURE.
It means abstinence before marriage.
It means that the only person you should EVER have sex with is your husband or your wife. If you're not married, then you don't have a husband or a wife and therefore no sex.

As I told my teen just the other day, premarital sex is adultery. By having premarital sex, he would be cheating on his future wife.

The body is not for immorality but for the Lord and the Lord is for the body.
(Emphasis mine) 1 Corinthians 6:13b NASB

If you are married, then you have exactly ONE husband or ONE wife (Genesis 2:24)–and you will ONLY have sex with him or her (Exodus 20:14).

God does not want the pain of premarital or extramarital sex for you.
God does not want the pain of pregnancy outside of marriage for you.
God does not want the pain of abortion for you.

God wants you to trust Him with all your heart.
God wants you to seek Him with all your heart.
God wants you to acknowledge Him in all your ways.

God wants to make your path straight.
God wants to teach you to profit.
God wants to lead you in the way you should go.

Too Late–I've Already Disobeyed

Too late, you say? You've already had sex outside of marriage?

Me, too.

Don't be fooled into thinking that just because I am blogging and following the Lord now means that I have always followed the Lord. You're not that naive.

I am a GenX-er who has done what most others in our society have done. I am in my second marriage (and my last, just in case you were wondering!). I did have premarital sex. I am not perfect.

I will not preach from a "holier than thou" pedestal. I want you to have life better than me. I want you to learn from my mistakes. I want my children to have life better than me. I want my children to learn from my mistakes.

Let's work together to stop generational sins!

It's not too late. It's never too late to turn back to God.

It's Never Too Late to Turn Back to God

We can change the course of our lives, and we can teach our children so that they do not repeat our sins.

+20. What will your life be like in 20 years? What will your children's lives be like in 20 years?

The Lord has changed the course of my life, and I am teaching my children purity so that they do not repeat my sins. God's promises are not just for me and my children. They are for all of His church.

If you are having sex outside of marriage right now, stop. Do not continue in sin.

How shall we who died to sin still live in it?
Romans 6:2b NASB

For if we go on sinning willfully after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins.
Hebrews 10:26 NASB

For this is the will of God, that you be sanctified [separated and set apart from sin]: that you abstain and back away from sexual immorality; that each of you know how to control his own body in holiness and honor [being available for God’s purpose and separated from things profane], not [to be used] in lustful passion, like the Gentiles who do not know God and are ignorant of His will; and that [in this matter of sexual misconduct] no man shall transgress and defraud his brother because the Lord is the avenger in all these things, just as we have told you before and solemnly warned you.

For God has not called us to impurity, but to holiness [to be dedicated, and set apart by behavior that pleases Him, whether in public or in private]. So whoever rejects and disregards this is not [merely] rejecting man but the God who gives His Holy Spirit to you [to dwell in you and empower you to overcome temptation].
1 Thessalonians 4:3-8 AMP

God has a lot to say about sex. These are just a few verses.

But as we Christians know, we need only go to the throne of God in confession, true repentance, in order to be forgiven.

Therefore let it be known to you, brethren (that is, fellow Christians), that through Him forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you.
Acts 13:38 NASB

He who conceals his transgressions will not prosper, but he who confesses and forsakes them will find compassion.
Proverbs 28:13 NASB

I have confessed my sins before the Lord. I have confessed my sins before my husband. I have confessed my sins before my children.

And I am free from guilt!

Let the wicked (that's me!) forsake his way and the evil man his thoughts. Let him turn to the Lord, and He will have mercy on him, and to our God, for He will freely pardon.
Isaiah 55:7 NIV84

Therefore repent and return, so that your sins may be wiped away, in order that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord.
Acts 3:19 NASB

It was for freedom that Christ set us free;

therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery (to sin, sexual or otherwise).
Galatians 5:1 NASB

The Lord is calling you and your children to walk in a manner worthy of the God who calls you into His own kingdom and glory. (See 1 Thessalonians 2:12 NASB)

When we trust in the Lord with all our hearts
When we do not lean on our own understandings of the world
When we acknowledge Him in all our ways
He will make our paths straight.

God’s Perfect Plan or Sometimes God Just Likes to Show Off!

For My thoughts are not your thoughts,
nor are your ways My ways,”
declares the LORD.
Isaiah‬ ‭55:8‬

I thought I had the perfect plan.
God had a different plan—a plan that brought Him more glory.

And even though God’s plan was harder, I continued to rejoice through the difficulties.

I was anxious for nothing. God knew my prayer requests. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, guarded my heart and mind. (read Philippians 4:4-7)

A Mother’s Cry Ministry

After returning from my first mission trip in January (to Uganda), I knew the Lord was asking me to speak boldly about abortion and purity—but I didn’t want to.

Cheryl in Uganda with beautiful orphans. Photo by Mike Kelly, PhotoEmagery
Cheryl in Uganda with beautiful orphans.
Photo by Mike Kelly, PhotoEmagery

I met Julie Mad-Bondo, founder of A Mother’s Cry ministry, which is all about stopping abortion one woman at a time, and at God’s prompting, I agreed to speak whenever she wanted me to.

Yay for Julie and her ministry! but a real challenge for me.

I wrestled with the Lord over this. When I figured out why I didn’t want to do what God was calling me to do and talked it over with several people, I got over my issues. I knew I was going to say “yes” to God, probably by the weekend of our church’s women’s conference the first weekend in March.

In the meantime, I felt Satan’s attacks—because, of course, he wants abortion, premarital sex, and adultery.

Whenever I feel Satan’s attacks, I know I’m on the path that the Lord chose for me. Although his attacks are exhausting, they actually motivate me to do what God asks because there’s nothing more peaceful than being in God’s will.

Resist the devil and he will flee from you.
James 4:7b

Jennie Allen

At the McLean Bible Church women’s conference March 3-4 with keynote speaker Jennie Allen, founder of the IF:Gathering, I did fully submit to God’s will. At Jennie’s prompting and while at the conference, I took the first small step to doing God’s will.

Jennie Allen, Founder of IF:Gathering & Keynote Speaker at McLean Bible Church Women's Conference
Jennie Allen, Founder of IF:Gathering & Keynote Speaker at McLean Bible Church Women’s Conference

And then the second.
And then the third.
And then the doors of opportunity just started flying open.

Suddenly, I had a speaking engagement scheduled for the spring and two more tentative dates for the summer.

Uganda

Then Julie asked me to speak to teens and women at the end of June—in Uganda!

Of course I said, “Yes!” I love the people of Uganda and longed to see my new-found friends. What an incredible opportunity to encourage women and teens in Uganda and then return home to do the same in the United States.

Uganda in Africa

New “Employment”

Cry loudly. Do not hold back. Raise your voice like a trumpet! Isaiah 58:1aA couple weeks later, my employer offered buyouts, which would be followed by layoffs if necessary, because they were reorganizing.

Oddly, I had an incredible peace about taking the buyout. I felt like the Lord wanted me to be home with my family while simultaneously speaking boldly about abortion and purity. So, I took the buyout.

Hip Replacement Surgery

Before my last day, we found out that my husband, Russ, needed to have his hip replaced. I thought the timing was perfect because I would be free from work to help him with recovery before going to Uganda.

But it was unclear as to how much of Russ’ pain was from his back and how much was from his hip, so he first tried injections to relieve pain. He seemed to be doing okay until the middle of May.

In May, the pain got progressively worse. He was miserable.

In early June, Russ called to get surgery scheduled and got a doctor appointment to discuss surgery for the day I was to return from Uganda. The doctor’s office was concerned about scheduling surgery so soon after injections. Evidently, there’s increased risk of bone infection when surgery is soon after an injection.

Russ is no wimp. The pain was bad. So, the doctor called him in for a new x-ray. We found out that the reason that he was suddenly in so much more pain is because he had avascular necrosis or AVN, a condition in which poor blood supply to an area of bone leads to bone death. Yes, the bone was dead.

That’s why he was in so much pain. They scheduled surgery for July 11.

I had been doing more and more nursing for Russ so that he would be more comfortable. I was conflicted. I wanted to be home for all of June to take care of him, but I also knew that God was sending me to Uganda. It wasn’t just that I wanted to go. I was convicted that the Lord was sending me.

But at the very least, I could shorten my trip by a day. I changed my flights so that I could leave Uganda as soon as my speaking obligations were complete. I’d be home Monday, June 26.

Flying Standby

When Julie had asked me to go to Uganda, the challenge was figuring out how to pay for the flight, which would’ve been about $1200 if I had purchased the tickets in March.

Then it occurred to me that I could fly standby.

Russ is retired from an airline. As a retiree, he and his immediate family (that’s me!) fly standby for little or no cost. Because I’d be flying with a different airline, there was a cost, but the cost was less than $500, much better than $1200!

Although the money part of standby sounds wonderful, the unpredictability can be very unnerving. Choosing standby when I have to be in-country at a specific time ready to speak was a risky choice. But I had complete peace about it.

Peace that passes all understanding. (Philippians 4:7)

Standby passengers get whatever empty seats have not been sold. Our names are on a standby list. We go to the airport and wait at the gate to find out whether we get on the plane.

Yes, that means we can pay for parking, check our bags, go through security, etc. and not get on the plane.

What if we don’t get on the plane? Then we check other flights to see if we can get on another plane. Sometimes we spend a whole day in the airport. Sometimes we get a hotel room and stay overnight because we’re stuck someplace that is not home. Sometimes you give up and drive the 10+ hours to Chicago instead.

I’ve done all those things for over 15 years with two boys in tow. It can be nerve wracking, but you have to remember that you don’t have control so there’s no point in worrying.

I have learned to create contingency plans, keep myself and the boys calm, and be ready to make last-minute decisions.

It can be fun, but it can also be nerve wracking. Many people don’t like to fly standby because it’s not predictable—including my husband! He remembers how much better it was to fly standby before 9/11, rising fuel prices, and airline consolidation. Planes used to go out with more empty seats than they do today.

But every empty seat is lost revenue. Airlines have changed so that they send out full flights. It saves them money and keeps them in business, which we appreciate because we have retirement benefits tied to their business!

So, I listed as a standby passenger on four flights:

  1. home to Amsterdam
  2. Amsterdam to Uganda
  3. Uganda to Amsterdam
  4. Amsterdam home

KLM 777
Standby made Julie nervous—and understandably so. What if one of her speakers didn’t make it to Uganda? Not only would she have to punt, but it would affect her reputation.

But I had absolute peace—no worries at all.
I felt absolutely confident that I would get there on time.

Change in Plans

It was one week before I was to leave for Uganda. Russ was in so much pain that he wanted to change his surgery to an earlier date. Although I hated seeing him in pain, I did not like the risk of bone infection. Bone infection sounded like worse pain and worse consequences than AVN. So, we prayed.

After prayer, we both had peace about asking the doctor if he would reschedule the surgery for an earlier date.

Later that day, Russ texted me with a new surgery date: Tuesday, June 27.

I was scheduled to land on Monday, June 26—twenty-four hours earlier, as a standby passenger.

June & July 2017 calendar, showing events on 21st through 28th

I had a moment of panic. What if I didn’t get on that plane?

Then I realized that God had planned everything.

After just a moment of doubt,
I had peace that passes all understanding (Philippians 4:7).

Getting on the Plane

Getting on the first plane was the hardest thing to do. Not because there were no seats but because I was leaving my husband behind.

But I couldn’t prevent him from falling.
I couldn’t prevent him from getting into a car accident.
He was in God’s hands. I had to trust HIM.

Faith. The Lord was testing my faith.

At the gate, Julie wanted to know what the next option was if I were not to get on this flight. I didn’t know. I hadn’t looked up the next flight option.

I had unbelievable peace and said,
“I’m getting on the plane.”
And I did.

In Amsterdam, I had absolute peace, and I got on the second plane!

In Uganda

Julie had put together a speaking team of three: herself, the founder of A Mother’s Cry; Rhonda Darville, founder of the Bahamas GodParent Center, and me.

Cheryl Krichbaum, Julie Mad-Bondo, Rhonda Darville
Cheryl Krichbaum, Julie Mad-Bondo (A Mother’s Cry), Rhonda Darville (Bahamas GodParent Center)

We had a great time! We spoke to teens on Friday, women on Saturday, and churchgoers on Sunday. We encouraged one another, we learned more about Ugandan culture, and we laughed at ourselves!

I especially enjoyed hearing from people who were encouraged.

  • Encouraged to think 20 years ahead and to think about how pre-marital pregnancy would take them off the straight path that God has planned for them
  • Encouraged because they, too, are special needs parents (John 9) as we are
  • Encouraged with specifics on how to avoid the temptation of premarital sex
  • Encouraged to think that they are critical to the prosperous Uganda that God wants for them

Cheryl speaking to teens and tweens in Uganda

Going Home

Julie was just as concerned about my getting home as she was my getting to Uganda. I was going to the airport alonelate at night in a foreign country, a white woman traveling alone in Africa. What a dear friend!

But, again, I had peace that passes understanding. (Philippians 4:7)

Emmanuel, our driver and protector, very kindly saw me all the way to the door and watched me go through security. (More on my dear friend Emmanuel later, but isn’t it appropriate that his name is Emmanuel?)

When I went to check my bag, I got my seat assignment—I was getting on the plane to Amsterdam!

Once in Amsterdam, I had a 7-hour layover, which provided opportunity to pray and reflect on the weekend.Just my hand and my purple pen as I write in my spiral-bound notebook

When I went to the gate, the gate agent told me that the flight was full and asked if I would take a jump seat. I had never been asked that before. It sounded exciting!

Again, I wasn’t nervous at all. There’s nothing I can do about the situation, remember? This was all in God’s hands.

On Facebook, I requested prayer. Then I went to get cleaned up.

When I returned to the gate, I watched person after person get on the plane. The gate agents were all very efficient.

I amended my request for prayer on Facebook, saying that if they hadn’t heard from me by 7:45 am, then assume I was on the plane.

It seemed like everyone was on the plane. The gate agent made a phone call. She was talking in Dutch, but I understood “Krichbaum”! I tried connecting to the WiFi so that I could quickly post on Facebook that I was getting on the plane, but I couldn’t connect to the Internet.

The flight attendant got off the phone and reached for my passport.

I was getting on the plane!

But Russ and my family and friends had to trust that “no news is good news.”

Boarding pass labeled
After I got settled in a seat meant for flight attendants, I started crying while singing “Praise God from Whom all blessings flow” in my head. A flight attendant noticed and asked me what was wrong.

“Nothing! I’m just so grateful that you let me on the plane!”

Cheryl buckled into a seat meant for flight attendantsI explained to her that my husband was having surgery 24 hours after I landed, and I was so appreciative that they let me on the plane.

I really wish I had gotten a picture of the gate agent who asked the flight crew for permission for me to be in a jump seat and a picture of the flight crew who were so kind to me. Even though I don’t have pictures of them, I have prayed for them over and over!

Russ picked me up at the airport. When I got in the car, we lost it! I don’t think we’ve ever been so happy to see each other.

Surgery

Russ was the last surgery of the day. It was delayed by a couple hours. Russ asked if I was still okay with the surgery.  “After this past weekend, of course!”

Everything went perfectly.

After surgery, the nurses stopped Russ’ gurney a couple steps away from the bed and had him take the two steps to the bed.

Russ said, “That’s all? I want to walk to the door!”

The nurses looked surprised but led him across the room to the door and back.

It was late at night, so they kept him overnight. The next day, Russ did great with the physical therapy exercises and practice going up and down stairs and in and out of a pretend car, so they let him go home.

They say that hip replacement patients will have a walker for two weeks. Russ stopped using his the first day.

They expect Russ to be on a cane for two weeks after the walker, but he often walks without it.

Russ does use the cane when walking on our block, and it works really well for closing the back door after the dog comes back inside!

To God be the glory!

God’s Plan Brought HIM More Glory

Do you remember all the way back to the beginning of this story? I had a perfect plan. Russ could’ve had surgery in May and be fully recovered before my trip to Uganda.

But sometimes God likes to show off.

Do you remember the story of Joshua and the Israelite army conquering the city of Jericho (recorded in Joshua 6)? It made no sense that marching around the city for 7 days and yelling would make the walls of resistance to God’s plan fall down. But that’s what happened.

And God got the glory!

Do you remember the story of Gideon and the Israelite army (recorded in Judges 7)? God reduced the army to 300 so that Israel would not “become boastful, saying ‘My own power has delivered me'” (Judges 7:2b).

And God got the glory!

Let me not sound boastful. This trip was not about me. It was about obedience and faith.

To God be the glory!

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your path straight.
Proverbs 3:5-6

Uganda Prayer Request Update

I decided to return to the states from Uganda a day earlier because of my husband’s hip and back pain, so I’ll be returning on Monday, June 26th. 

What a blessing to make that decision because just yesterday we found out that Russ’ hip replacement surgery could be moved up to Tuesday, the 27th! 

The whole trip will be June 21-26: I’ll be traveling Wednesday and Thursday; speaking on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday; and traveling Sunday and Monday.
We covet your continued prayers. Thank you for praying along with us!

Back to Uganda

Abortion is illegal in Uganda. But the law doesn’t stop women from having abortions. It never has, and it never will. It does stop them from seeking help for the physical and emotional scars.

When I went to Uganda in December, I thought I would only go this one time. But after just 2 days of ministry, I knew that I had to go back to continue teaching the bible and encouraging the Ugandan children and young adults.

If you’ve seen the movie “Queen of Katwe,” then you have a sense of the poverty there. If you haven’t, then read on and look closely at the pictures below.

We ministered in Katwe. We walked the streets, over the ditches of sewage, past the goats and chickens, and into the little one-room homes that housed families of as many as 10.

We prayed with families. We encouraged them.

For example, there was one young woman who was going to college and hoping to get a job with an airline. I told her that my husband has been in the airline industry his whole life and that she may get flying benefits for her parents so that they can fly standby for free. Her mom looked surprised that she would get out of Katwe to see other parts of Africa or the world.

Hope. We did our best to help them feel hope.

Not crying that day was the hardest thing I ever had to do. My smiles in those pictures were forced in order to provide encouragement.

But in my heart, I was crying that those mothers had to send their children off to boarding school in order to provide a better life for them.

I was crying that 7-year-olds were carrying 1-year-olds on their backs and caring for them because the parents were off working.

I was crying that 5-year-old boys were playing with old bike tires and empty plastic bottles because those were the only “toys” that they had.

I was crying because no one was watching the baby who was crawling toward the ditch full of sewage. (See picture above.)

What’s going to change Uganda? This generation of children.

How are they going to change Uganda? By having the heart of Christ.

How will they know how to have the heart of Christ? By people teaching them all that Jesus commanded. Jesus said:

“Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe everything that I have commanded you.”
Matt 28:19-20a

I believe that Uganda is going to look very different in 20 years, and I want to see the transformation for myself.

Little did I know that not only would I go back to Uganda, but that I’d go back within 6 months. I’ll be in country June 23-26! This time not with my church but with a new ministry called A Mother’s Cry, which is all about stopping abortion one woman at a time.

Abortion is illegal in Uganda. But the law doesn’t stop women from having abortions. It never has, and it never will. It does stop them from seeking help for the physical and emotional scars.

Julie Mad-Bondo, the founder of A Mother’s Cry, asked me to go with her and her friend Rhonda to speak to teens on Friday and to women on Saturday. Officially, my topic is purity, but I’ll be touching on abortion, too. Rhonda will talk about abortion. Julie will talk about marriage.

The Lord has made it abundantly clear to me that I am to talk boldly about abortion and purity. They go hand-in-hand. We cannot talk about stopping abortion without talking about the benefits of purity. The Great Commission does say to teach them to do all that Jesus commanded (Matt 28:20a).

I am not writing to ask for money. I am using our flight benefits to fly standby, which is a little unnerving because there’s never a guarantee that I’ll get a seat on the airplanes, but it is significantly cheaper than buying a ticket. Russ and I have put money toward the trip and relatives are chipping in, too.

What I would like is for you to join me in prayer. I have the following prayer requests:

  • That Jesus, who is The Word, would be the words that I speak; that I would get out of the way of what God wants to accomplish
  • That our audience’s ears and eyes would be open to what God wants them to hear, learn, and do
  • That our travels would be safe
  • That our travels would not be delayed in any way (especially for my status as a standby passenger)
  • That we would remain healthy throughout the trip
  • That our families would be healthy and safe while we are away

Please also pray for Mama Evah, who organized these events and runs Destiny Village school and orphanage; Pastor Fred, the lead pastor at Saints Gate Church; and others who will continue to shepherd the teens and women long after we have returned home.