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Amy Ford empowers the Church to “Help Her Be Brave”

Amy's Story

As she recovered from fainting, she could barely register the words of the nurses: “You shouldn’t have a procedure today. You’re too emotionally distraught.” 19-year-old Amy Ford couldn’t stop weeping. She’d gone to church all her life, knew that God intended sex for marriage only, and believed that all life is precious. When she became pregnant by her boyfriend, Ryan, however, her thinking was guided by one word: fear. “Fear for how it would completely change all the plans I had for my life and all the plans Ryan had for his, fear of disappointing my family and my church, fear of how it would change all my friendships and more,” Amy explains. Though their choices did change their life plans, and did hurt and disappoint family and friends, Amy says their loved ones didn’t reject them. Instead, they chose to love them and help prepare for their beautiful baby son, Jess. 

Though grateful for the support they received, Amy and Ryan still struggled with tremendous guilt and shame. Those feelings were magnified when Ryan asked the pastor who had mentored him to marry them. The man declined, saying that because they had sinned, he couldn’t marry them. Another pastor married them when Amy was four months pregnant, but the wound of the first response still festered. “Rejection after rejection crept into our hearts, and the shame became unbearable,” she remembers. Amy says the burden of shame made it hard to even walk out of their apartment each day. At church, it seemed that no one quite knew what to say to do, so they didn’t say anything, making her feel invisible.  So, she left. Amy and Ryan didn’t return to church for more than five years. 

Embrace Grace

When the Fords started attending Gateway Church, they felt welcomed and accepted, and Amy says her heart started to heal. Gateway is also where Amy and a friend decided to start a small group for women with unplanned pregnancies in 2012, and chose the name Embrace Grace. Just three women showed up. “All three seemed defeated and scared for their future,” Amy says. By the end of the 12-week group, “all three seemed like completely different women. Whatever was coming, whatever God had in store, they trusted Him to take care of them and their babies. Love had transformed them.” They kept leading groups, developed a curriculum, and found that it took off. Today there are more than 700 churches in the U.S. and overseas who use the Embrace Grace program. Another big help in healing came when the pastor who had refused to marry them called and asked for their forgiveness. They remain close friends to this day.

Seeing The Needs

Amy acknowledges that most Christians are staunchly pro-life, but also believes that if abortion became illegal today, the church wouldn’t be ready. The church simply isn’t prepared, she says, to nurture young moms spiritually, emotionally, and practically. Amy posits this belief on research, as well as her own experience, that of others. For example, Amy talked with a young woman recently, who told her she had called three churches for help with her unplanned pregnancy. Sadly, only one called her back.  

Amy points to statistics that clearly state the need: 

  • 40% of all U.S. births are to unmarried women
  • 18% of all U.S. pregnancies ended in abortion in 2019
  • 85% of all U.S. abortions were with unmarried women in 2013
  • 40% of U.S. women who had abortions in 2015 were attending church regularly

Amy says we can all learn how to see and find the women who need our help. Just a few ideas are:

  • Look for wedding rings on young, pregnant women.  Smile and engage them in conversation to see if they’ll open up about the support they need. 
  • Have lists ready with local ministries and resources and their phone numbers. 
  • Reach out to local high school/college counselors and teachers to make sure they have community resource information and numbers.
  • Watch your Facebook (or other) market pages for single moms looking for baby items.  Reach out with an offer to connect her to help. 

We All Have A Role 

It’s not enough simply to vote pro-life, Amy says; we all need to do what we can to provide spiritual, emotional, and practical, support to young women. To find our roles in the pro-life movement, she says we should ask ourselves three questions:  

  • What passions, skills, or time do I have that could help a young mom? Budgeting, fixing cars or appliances, babysitting, looking for work are a few examples. 
  • What makes me pound my fist on the table and say, “Someone needs to do something about this!”? Maybe I’m the one who could counsel woman at a CPC or speak up at a civic meeting.    
  • What is my story? Someone who’s had an abortion or an unplanned pregnancy – or knows someone who has – and found help and healing in God can be a great encouragement to others.  
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