Coram Deo ~

Looking at contemporary culture from a Christian worldview

Teri Williams ~ Spoon River Pregnancy Resource Center IMG_1268

Teri is the Director of The Spoon River Pregnancy Resource Center located in Canton, IL.


Abortion Front Lines

When you think of Orlando, Florida, the thoughts that come to mind may be about warm weather, beaches and Mickey Mouse. Close to the last thing one would want to consider in the middle of the happiest place on earth would be an abortion clinic that does not only first trimester abortion procedures, but actually abortions up to 24 weeks of pregnancy. As someone who works in a pregnancy center, even I would rather not think about abortions happening that late into a pregnancy. The loss of life, the risks to the procedure, and the impact on life moving forward is unspeakable horror. This particular clinic has come up to me three times in conversation in the past two days.

 First, I spent time with a friend who lives in Orlando and had visited this clinic. She was horrified by the surgical procedures being performed there and praying about involvement with a man who is there 6 days a week doing sidewalk evangelism. His name is John Barros. He is a part of RC Sproul’s church near Orlando.   I then mentioned this clinic to my brother-in-law and sister as they  attend a yearly conference in Orlando associated with the same church. They informed me they had heard this same man, John Barros , speak at the 2015 National Ligonier Conference and could send me the link.  {Lee Webb interviews Dr. R.C. Sproul Jr. and John Barros about the importance of sidewalk counseling at abortion clinics.)  After listening to the presentation twice, I feel a strong need to share a few thoughts.
John Barros has been given a tough, tough ministry assignment. Yes, he does see almost daily, women and couples who change their minds and choose life for their unborn child. But far and away more often, he is watching the destruction of countless lives every single day. The despair that has washed over me even thinking about the reality of this, is overwhelming. Pray for John Barros.
But secondly, listening to RC Sproul, Jr. share his experiences with this ministry I found much of what he said disturbing. Early on he makes the statement that — EVERYONE knows this is a baby. This situation is not due to a lack of education on fetal development. Everyone is fully aware they are murdering a baby. There are many of us in the prolife movement who do know enough about fetal development and Psalm 139 to believe this is a valuable life at the moment of conception. A life that God is knitting together in the womb with both a God-given purpose and a plan. But does EVERYONE believe that? Not hardly.  It has become painfully obvious to me in the past few years, that much of the church today is not prolife — they are pro choice. The definition of when life begins is extremely controversial. Women who actually admit they are carrying a baby and use the word BABY are often NOT able to terminate the pregnancy.
Secondly, he calls abortion a great evil. I do not disagree with that statement at all. However, it is not greater than any other sin. Why do CHRISTIANS not talk about the fact they have had an abortion in their past? Because they fear being told just that — their abortion is one of the biggest sins anyone could commit. I do not see this supported in scripture. I think MAN likes to believe there is a top 10 worst sins. Then I am not as bad as you because I never did….fill in the blank. Delusional thinking.
Mr. Sproul also talks about a person covering their shame or eliminating their shame by having an abortion. The bottom line reason for an abortion is NOT shame it is self–centeredness.
Lastly, towards the end of the presentation. RC Sproul, Jr. discusses a young man that he spoke to during a visit to that abortion clinic. How that young man saw the abortion as a solution to his dilemma. And if he could just get his girlfriend through the procedure life would go on. Mr. Sproul went on to say that the young man would be filled with horror afterward at the reality of what just happened, but the horror would fade until he eventually forgot the experience entirely. It would not even cross his mind until the day he died. And then it would come back. The young man would remember what he had done.
I have no idea where Mr. Sproul got that impression, but I can tell you in 17 years of working in  prolife ministries, I have NEVER met one person male or female who was able to forget their abortion experience. It often becomes something that is quite haunting. Statements are often made like, “I wish I could forget….or it was the worst day of my life….or if I had known what it would be like, I would never have done it.” It is a defining moment in anyone’s life. The reality is I have never met a person in 17 years who didn’t say “that experience changed my life forever. I walked out of that clinic a different person.” There are books written about post abortion trauma. There are prisons filled with inmates, both male and female who have an abortion in their past. Many of them will attest it was a part of their downward spiral.
While I very much admire John Barros for his commitment and perseverance in sidewalk evangelism at the Orlando abortion clinic, I honestly feel RC Sproul, Jr. was a huge deterrent to a productive, factual, compassionate conversation on this topic.

Teri’s Blog Archive:

Questions that deserve an answer—-and give glory to God 11/14/2013
I hope you don’t tire of the fact or consider me a “one note song”, because my blogs are centered around Pregnancy Centers, sex and abortion! Just a few simple topics, right?

Sometimes believers actually say in all sincerity, they don’t know any non-believers. Thus the necessity to share the gospel doesn’t exist. How can that be when we live in a very lost, hurting world? Their WORLD is too small, too comfortable and too safe. And I would have to add in my opinion, REALLY, REALLY BORING! Where is the challenge, the unexpected, the ability to see and hear how others do life? Ouch! Is that the problem? Were you lost and hurting before Christ found you? Me too! Be brave!

At our recent fall banquet, Pay it Forward — our theme–I was struck with a verse from John that said, “now go and do as I have done for you”. The truth is, we were given the free gift of salvation, eternity in heaven and unconditional love BY GOD’S GRACE and MERCY. We didn’t do anything to earn it. So…….PAY IT FORWARD! Not out of obligation, but following Christ’s example. You will not only discover a very unsaved, hurting and searching world, but you will realize how blessed your life truly is. The words “there but by the grace of God go I” will take on a whole new meaning.

I have had the privilege of working with a young couple recently who are expecting their first child in January. They have wanted no prayer, no discussion of God during our meetings. I asked them the last time we met what they had against God. Their answers were varied, but the bottom line was—–there is no proof. If God did exist, why would all this bad stuff happen? Ever had those thoughts before? Me too. Do I have all the answers? No, but I know the ONE who does. My only job is to point them to Him. He is more than able to take it from there.

How did I address their statements? I simply answered I would be curious to hear what they thought after their baby’s delivery. That isn’t it interesting the male and female bodies fit together, the male has exactly half of what it takes to create life, the female the other and 9 months later, the baby is delivered through a well designed path. Interesting. Nothing deep or theologically challenging to that. Just truth. Do you know of a local Pregnancy Center who could use new volunteers or financial support? Your Prayer support? I sure do. Check it out! Be brave.

Until next time………
Teri Williams, Guest Blogger
Director of The Spoon River Pregnancy Resource Center

Blog entry stardate 9/5/13 ~ Teri Williams
Yes, I do have a new PART TIME JOB (at the Spoon River Pregnancy Resource Center in Canton). And, yes, I did RETIRE last August. I definitely knew The Lord had said that part of my race was done. I knew I didn’t want to work that hard anymore, but not work at all? There was no place in my brain to even process that as “life”.

So—retirement one year later. What did I learn about myself? What did I learn from God? Suffice it to say—-I hope quite a bit.

Initially, I was thankful to let my throat, my feet and my mind rest. Not thinking about teens having sex was leaving room in my brain for other far more pleasant topics! The problem was I truly lost my identity. I had no idea who I was and where I belonged anymore. “What do you do?” Nothing. I am retired. My sense of loss was overwhelming. My self esteem went in the toilet. So many of my friends were still working. They had a place to “be” every day. I was just struggling not to turn on the t.v. at 9 and watch The View! Not that there is anything wrong with that! I was just scared I wouldn’t get up—–for the rest of the day! As I wrestled and wandered through the weeks, my main motivation was to fill my days with activities that would have value. Mondays were the worst! I had a whole nother week to try and fill with…. what? I didn’t know. Staying super busy was very much how I had done life ALL of my life. Now my energy and focus was put into FINDING ways to stay busy. Then my husband went on a business trip to Malaysia! Who goes there? I had no idea how to fill 10-12 days and nights with no job and no kids. Lord, would I really be alright or would I finally land in a deep dark black hole? I honestly was not sure. I am not a good enough writer to convey how deep my sense of loss was at not having a job or how much I missed the daily social interaction with people I dearly loved. How much I feared being alone and seemingly having no skills that anyone wanted to tap into. But I knew it was where The Lord wanted me to be. But, Lord, I still have the desire to teach, just not so often! Do I not get to teach anymore? Have I reached the part of my life that says—I use to be an…..ugh, I could not deal with that as a reality. Please don’t get the idea that I spent each day crying, depressed, lonely and unable to have fun. I did have fun! But….part of this process daily involved trying to calm my frantic desire to find value and just enjoy the moment. I actually did so many things that I love. But it took me soooooo loooonnnnggg to appreciate having the time to actually do them. It took months for me to be ok staying home all day—truly not leaving the house and enjoying that. The turning point seemed to come early this summer. In June I read a book by Tim Keller entitled, The Freedom of Self Forgetfulness. Life changing.

One morning after reading this, the thought came clear as a bell. Am I going to continue to make plans for my day or am I going to let The Lord plan my day and be willing to wait? What things does He want me to be involved in??? The reality was and still is—-as Tim Keller puts it—-the verdict is already in! I do have value. I don’t have to prove to ANYONE ANYTHING because I am loved and forgiven just because I am HIS. Teri, STOP struggling for purpose and significance in activity and rest in ME. As this became clearer to me that I had done this ALL of my life, and now today, since August 2012, HE was offering me REST. He WANTED me to rest. He wanted me to relax, find refreshment, reflection, respite and renewal in Him. HE wanted me to rest. It was God-given time off. How could it have taken me so long to realize that? I had actually been offered the job at Spoon River last October. I realize now that had I taken that job, it would have been for many WRONG reasons—most of them about me. A place to “be” and a new identity. I had abilities that others found valuable. Now, I can honestly say, I have come to enjoy more and more of my days without plans to stay constantly busy. I even stay home all day on occasion! I am looking forward to working part-time at Spoon River. The Lord has given me vision for moving the ministry forward–using many of the things I learned throughout my career in Peoria. Am I concerned about failing at this job? Not really — it honestly isn’t about me. This is the Lord’s work in His place for His glory. It isn’t about me. I cannot tell you the freedom I have found in that realization. The Lord is at work and I get to join Him. What a thrill. Until next time…..

toxic charityToxic Charity – Book Review by Teri Williams

I am really not into reading non-fiction unless it has to do with sexually active teens, but since I have burned out on that material, let’s head in another direction. With retiring, I figure continuing to read will help me use and not lose my brain and thinking power too quickly. I need to stay useful.
Ministry has been my life and pondering what makes ministry effective is always the question or how can we be even more effective and promote life/heart change rather than quick behavioral intervention, which often ends up being short-term at best. Having just finished reading “Toxic Charity” by Robert D. Lupton, my thoughts are still in the ruminating mode, but Lupton did make a convincing case for re-evaluating the heart of volunteerism especially in America where we are quick to send money, probably because it is far easier than entering into messy situations personally and allows us to feel that we sure helped in some way! Sarcasm intended.
The inside cover of the book states the following; Public service is a way of life for Americans; giving is a part of our national character. But compassionate instincts and generous spirits aren’t enough, says veteran urban activist Robert D. Lupton . In this groundbreaking guide, he reveals the disturbing truth about charity: all too much of it has become toxic, devastating to the very people it’s meant to help……Our free food and clothing distribution encourages ever-growing handout lines, diminishing the dignity of the poor while increasing their dependency. We converge on inner-city neighborhoods to plant flowers and pick up trash, battering the pride of residents who have the capacity (and responsibility) to beautify their own environment. We fly off on mission trips to poverty stricken villages, hearts full of pity and suitcases bulging with giveaways–trips that one Nicaraguan leader describes as effective only in “turning my people into beggars.”
Step on any toes yet? Agree? Disagree? The thought struck me as I wrote that maybe this “quick fix” mentality is just an extension of the fast food mentality we have all come to live by—-drive thru, drive up, text, twitter, connect—–we don’t want to wait for anything. Hmmmmm…
At any rate, the book continues with examples of “toxic charity” all around the world. Lupton’s premise is that we need to move from toxic to transformative charity. Let me share just some of the thoughts that I continue to ruminate over.
–authentic relationships with those in need have a way of correcting the we-will-rescue-you mindset and replacing it with mutual admiration and respect
–is the need a crisis or is this chronic?
–when we do for those in need what they have the capacity to do for themselves, we disempower them
–for all our efforts to eliminate poverty in the United States, our entitlements, our programs, our charities, we have succeeded only in creating a permanent underclass, dismantling family structures, and eroding their ethic of work. And our poor continue to become poorer.
–the money spent by one campus ministry to cover the costs of their Central American mission trip to repaint an orphanage would have been sufficient to hire two local painters and two full-time teachers and purchase new uniforms for every student in the school.
–contrary to popular belief, most mission trips and service projects do not: empower those being served, improve local quality of life, relieve poverty, change the lives of participants or increase support for long term mission work.
–contrary to popular belief, most mission trips and service projects do: weaken those being served, foster dishonest relationships, erode recipients’ work ethic and deepen dependency.
Ouch! Read the book! There is so much more to his premise than criticism. Dr. Lupton spends the last few chapters of the book with a very detailed “how to” guide to transformative charity and no, it cannot happen in days or weeks, but over a period of months and years. The goal being life and heart change which impacts individuals, families, entire communities and becomes generational in its focus. This is a very thought provoking and potentially life changing read for anyone with a heart for others in need.
“If there is one take-away message that this book can offer to those in service work or supporting it, it is this: the poor, no matter how destitute, have enormous untapped capacity; find it, be inspired by it, and build upon it.” Dr. Robert D. Lupton

Blog entry stardate 7/23/2013 ~ Teri Williams
As Christians we are aliens in this world but we have been given a wonderful instruction book for how to survive life on earth and in many ways actually thrive. So ..why can’t we get this whole relationship thing right? Christians divorce at the same rate as non-Christians, young Christians today don’t believe in waiting for marriage. God didn’t really mean that. That was then—this is now. Playing house by living together prior to marriage is acceptable—I just don’t want to tell my parents. Does monogamy mean being faithful to one person at a time or to one person for life? How did we get so far off track? We look just like everybody else! Why?
At first I thought I would have my second blog entry be a discussion on forgiveness. Then I thought how about learning to fight fair. Those interestingly enough both play into the success or failure of marriage relationships today. So I guess more on those at a later date.
Introducing the idea of healthy dating relationships to your preteens and teens as well as those twenty and thirty something’s who are still single is a parents’ job. It is not a one-time-glad-that’s-over conversation. It is ongoing. No they don’t want to hear it from parents and yet they long to have someone be brave enough and care enough to be honest. Parents spend so much time setting expectations and giving their opinions on so many topics every day, why would this be an area of silence? The next question then is; what standards are set for parental behavior? What do they see mom and dad modeling? If a parent is dating and having sleepovers, what message is being communicated to children watching very closely? Sex has the power to create life, change life and end life. Take that apart and think about it for a few minutes. What then is the real impact on us and on life; on future decision making ability? We are the only creatures on earth who can physically engage in sexual intimacy face to face. It was created by God to be a private celebration between two people who have spent time investing and building a great relationship, then committing to each other for life thru marriage. How has it become casual and recreational? Is this another example of drive up, drive thru, instant gratification, I can’t wait philosophy of life? Abstinence is possible. It’s a choice. It’s also a work of the Holy Spirit in a persons life–both young and old. Are you walking the talk in this area of your life or do you look just like everyone else?

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