When I founded Mercy Ministries in 1983, I had a deep burden for helping young women, including those facing an unplanned pregnancy. I still do!
I remember our first-ever pregnant resident at Mercy had a truly heartbreaking story. She was just 13 years old, and pregnant with the baby of her mother’s 37-year-old boyfriend. To most people, abortion in her situation would have been acceptable. But she had the guts to choose life for her child, no matter what it cost her personally… and it cost her a lot.
Let’s face it – every woman facing an unplanned pregnancy needs incredible support! For girls who decide to parent, their needs feel unending. As Christians, we’ve got to be a lifeline for these girls!
When a young woman becomes pregnant, how does the church respond? Is there judgment, or is there mercy? Does she feel safe reaching out for emotional and spiritual help? Can she get help for the practical needs that can be overwhelming?
Practical support for a young mom is crucial! I know some churches understand this, and do a great job providing essentials like diapers, car seats and clothes. But many single moms don’t receive this kind of help. Sometimes they’re embarrassed to voice their needs, or they’re in survival mode with their own needs buried under so many responsibilities. Without people in the church caring enough to ask how they can help, single moms can slip right off the radar – and eventually, right out of the pews!
At Mercy, we know that in order for the courageous girls in our program to be great moms, they need practical, emotional and spiritual help. Getting healing from the wounds of their past is critical for their future, and we help them do that through biblically-based counseling, a focus on forgiveness and helping them find their true identity in Christ. Girls at Mercy also receive life-skills training in areas like budgeting, parenting and meal preparation.
What about the young women in your congregation who have chosen life for their babies but who desperately need discipleship, mentoring and help with practical, everyday things? Maybe they’re too afraid or too stressed to ask for it themselves. I encourage you to ask God to highlight the single moms around you who you can come alongside to help strengthen. They need us!!
James 2:13 tells us clearly, “Mercy triumphs over judgment.” Do you know someone in this situation who needs mercy from you today to triumph over the judgment and scorn she has felt from others? I encourage you to reach out in faith, knowing that your kindness and service will impact her ability to see herself as Christ sees her… beloved. Your help will make a huge difference in her life, her child’s life, and future generations!
Nancy Alcorn is the Founder and President of Mercy Ministries, a free residential counseling program for girls ages 13-28 facing life-controlling issues such as addiction, unplanned pregnancy, sexual abuse, eating disorders and self-harm. Nancy started Mercy Ministries in 1983 after spending eight years working for the state of Tennessee at a correctional facility for juvenile delinquent girls and investigating child abuse cases. Thousands of graduates have had their lives transformed and their hope restored through Mercy’s program. Nancy has also authored several books, including Mission of Mercy, which releases in May 2013. For more information, go to www.MercyMinistries.com.