We have recently been asked some good questions and have chosen to respond to these on the blog so that all can benefit.
1. When advertising abortion recovery do you offer a private, confidential phone line or a confidential e-mail address?
Because we are a pregnancy resource center we do not provide a special phone line when scheduling groups at the office. However, we do encourage this when the group is sponsored by a church. Your church may already offer other healing support groups and can use the same phone number/e-mail that is used when people register for those groups.
2. What type of setting do you use when leading a group- church, community, or home?
We have used all of the above and they all work. Each have their advantages and disadvantages.
Homes provide a more comfortable setting and may allow anonymity to remain. Women can often complete an entire group without anyone every finding out their “secret” and they can return to their pews healed but still silent.
When a group meets at a church it shows those not in the group that the church cares and supports these women. It is a different environment completely and not as homey. This can be difficult in some of the more sensitive session such as the memorial service. However, I have made arrangements with my church’s counseling center to use one of their counseling rooms for that session, which will provide a homey atmosphere.
As I said, they all work and each one has its advantages.
3. On page 65 of Session 4 you recommend “reminding group members that you and your team of leaders are available any time they need to talk or just hang out with a caring friend.” Did you give them your home phone number? How do you recommend establishing limits regarding availability?
I normally give my work and cell. (I don’t have a home phone.) Pat always gives either a home or cell number as well. I always tell my group members to use discretion. I am always available if they need me. If it is the middle of the night, can it wait until morning? I haven’t ever had anyone abuse this. E-mail is also a great option and some people may feel more comfortable sending an e-mail late at night than making a phone call.
4. In a crisis situation you recommend referring them to a blog. Specifically, what resources did you give as a referral?
No, the blog is for leaders only. If there is an emergency or crisis situation, you need to have a list of local/personal resources such as Christian counselors, pastoral counselors, your local crisis pregnancy center, etc.
5. When leading a group we understand that two people must always be present, a facilitator and a co-facilitator. If one of the leaders cannot be present or becomes ill, do you recommend canceling the group for that night or introducing another person to assist in leading even though the group is “closed?”
If you have a good facilitator and co-facilitator you most likely won’t need to cancel the group. I would be hesitant to introduce a new person to the group, but must confess that I did that with my current group. I had to be out of town the night we were supposed to go through the session on the truth about abortion. My co-facilitator is new to Surrendering the Secret and has gone through other forms of post-abortion healing. I also know how important this session is and as a nurse I have specific things that I like to see discussed during this session. I invited one of my co-workers from the center to lead this group. This is actually an ideal session to bring a guest in if needed. You can invite a local doctor or nurse to help teach about fetal development. You might also look into having someone from your local pregnancy center come in.
Other sessions that are more intense and sensitive I would not recommend bringing someone in. You would either need to see if the other leader felt comfortable leading by herself or reschedule the group. This week I have a conflict with our meeting and we will be going through the memorial service. I didn’t feel comfortable bringing in anyone at this point, so we just changed nights entirely.
6. We have noticed there are some typographical errors in the study and wondered if they will be edited when the new edition is printed?
YES! The new version will be typographically free, or at least that is what we hope! it will also be a cleaner version with less information regarding leader tips. That has all been moved to the Leader’s Guide.
7. Have the dates been determined for the training schedule in 2008?
Yes, we have scheduled our first Surrendering the Secret Leader Training for March 10-11, 2008 in Tampa, FL. Please contact Jane for additional information at (813) 931-1804
If you have additional questions, you can post those in the comments section or e-mail them directly to email@example.com.
Throughout this group, I have had to remind myself that every group is different. I can’t expect this group to be like the last one. Each one has its own personality and what work with one group might not work with the next.
We actually moved this session up several days so that we could finish before everything got crazy with Christmas. I also was headed out of town yet again. I feel like I have neglected this group with my crazy travel schedule. However, God has been faithful and everything has gone really well.
We’ve been meeting in our church which has been convenient since they provide childcare, but it hasn’t been the cosiest of all environments. I was able to talk to the counseling center at our church and they allowed me to hold this meeting in one of the counseling rooms. It was a smaller room with couches and chairs and gave the evening a nice feel.
I began by making sure that no one had any questions from the member book. Once those few questions were addressed we jumped right in to allowing each woman an opportunity to read their letter to their child. This is a very sweet time but also emotional. You want to make sure that you have Kleenex for everyone. Each woman read their letter and shared the name they had chosen for their child.
Again with this session, I felt that God was asking me to do something a little different and someting that I wasn’t comfortable with using. However, I know how important it is to be obedient, so I went prepared. I did keep telling myself that I would only use it if I was absolutely, 100%, without a shadow of a doubt sure. What was my cunundrum about? Using a baby doll in the memorial service.
As the women were talking with each other about what God had shown them, one of the ladies said that she felt like she could see her baby’s face, but couldn’t hold him. She just couldn’t bring herself to do it. I sat there and prayed wondering if this was the time to pull the doll that I had in a bag out. Somehow I just knew it was the right thing to do.
The rest of the time was very special and emotional. Each woman wanted to hold the doll. Eventually, the tone became lighter and the tears became joyful. Words of encouragement were shared between all the ladies, and eventually the room was filled with laughter.
God is so good!
For this meeting, I actually combined sessions six and seven. The updated learner book and leader guide actually do this for you. However, if you are working with the original version these two appear as separate sessions. They are actually relatively easy to combine, hence why it was done with the updated version.
Leaders, this session take a little more preparation than some other sessions. Remember those cards that your group filled out back in session 3? You were supposed to have collected those to be used at a later date. Well, that would be now! 🙂 On those cards, group members listed some of the things that they were struggling with at that time. They might have things on them like shame, hopelessness, regret, sadness, etc. If you can’t find them or you didn’t do that activity, have them start the session by thinking back. A great reminder of how they were feeling out that time can be found in the “embracing the truth” section of session 3.
Prior to the session you need to prepare a card for each member that has positive attributes and traits on them. Pray about what God would have you tell each woman. You want to encourage them with the cards. For example, if you have someone that struggles with the fact that God loves them, you would write “loved” on their card. I like to give a couple of different Scripture references to go with each trait or attribute. You also can list things that are the opposites of what the ladies wrote on their cards from session three. If they wrote “sad” then you might want to use “joy” on their card and list verses about how the joy of the Lord is our strength (Nehemiah 8:10). I like to use a program likeBible Gateway to find my verses.
I like to give the woman some time to read over and pray over their cards. Then ask them if there is one specific attribute/characteristic that sticks out to them. It may be one that God has been teaching them about in their own study. Perhaps it is one that they struggle with more than any other. I always add that this is not an exhaustive list as their identity is in Christ.
With this last group I did something a little different, something that Pat suggested. I’ll be the first to admit, that I wasn’t the most comfortable with the idea, but felt that God was leading me to do this. I prayed Isaiah 61 over each woman. It turned out to be a really sweet time of prayer and worship, but let me prepare you, have the Kleenex ready once again!
I was out of town for this session, so my co-leader was on her own. The purpose of this session is to begin moving the women to a place of forgiveness. I always remind people that this may not happen over night, though is some cases it can occur quite rapidly.
If you have anyone that carried a rock around for the week, have them share what it was like. Did it give heavier throughout the week? Did they realize how “silly” it was to carry around a weight that wasn’t necessary? When we carry around unresolved anger, we are carrying around a burden that isn’t necessary. We are being weighed down for no apparent reason.
The women should bring two additional letters to this session. One expressing any leftover anger that surfaced during the week and one from God to a post-abortive woman. In the past we have tried to have them write the letter from God to themselves, but it seemed difficult for everyone to do. I always ask my group to think about the other ladies in the group. What do they think God wants them to know. Maybe they have a friend or relative who also has an abortion, what would they want that person to know. By giving this assignment those faces, it makes it easier for the group.
Each member will take time to share their letter with the group. This can be a very emotional time, so make sure you have you Kleenex handy. I had one group where this turned into a time of speaking truth to each other as well. It was really neat to sit back and watch.
One section that I really stress is the “forgiveness of self” (pg. 76-77 of the new learner guide). This is something that I am personally very passionate about. When I first heard the concept that is explained in the book, I wanted to “buck” the whole concept. However, the more I have studied the Bible and forgiveness, the more I was convinced the professor was correct. I have to accept God’s forgiveness. By saying that I can’t forgive myself, then I am ultimately saying (whether I mean to or not) that Christ’s death on the cross wasn’t enough, it wasn’t sufficient. Anyway, that was just my opinion and something that has really changed the way I view things.
Pat and I (along with a two other ladies) just returned from a trip to Nashville, TN where we were at LifeWay’s Women’s Ministry Leadership Forum. Women from across the nation gathered together to share ideas and learn more about reaching the women in there church. There over 800 women in attendance. Pat taught 5 different breakout sessions on women in crisis and on post-abortion ministry.
One thing that was new this year was an author’s meet and greet time. As an author, Pat had here own little table and really enjoyed meeting the women who attended the Forum. Our group really enjoyed getting to meet people like Lisa Welchel, Kelly Minter, Priscilla Shirer, Shaunti Feldhahn,Jennifer Rothschild, and many others.
During the course of the conference many women came forward and surrendered their secret for the first time. It was a humbling and these women are in our prayers as they return home and to their churches.
If we met you at the Forum, know that we appreciate you and want to encourage you as you look to adding post-abortion ministry to your women’s ministry. Please feel free to contact us if we can help you and check back often for updates.
Anger can be a difficult emotion for some women to express while others have absolutely no problem. Most of my experience with the groups I have lead is that the women struggle to express this emotion. This is possibly due to the fact that very few of us know how to express anger in a godly and healthy manner. Maybe it is due to the fact that we haven’t ever seen it done in our own families. Maybe it is because as Christian women we don’t think we are suppose to be angry. Whatever the reason, this session can be a challenge.
If you have women in your group who are struggling with expressing their anger, group leaders may need to intervene. Don’t hesitate to make them rewrite their anger letters and bring them back the following week. Maybe their letter is “angry” but it just doesn’t come across that way when they read it. If this is the case leaders may want to read it for her so that she can hear the words and the emotion behind the letter. I had a group once that had another member who read the letter for one of the other members. It was a different dynamic, but very powerful for both of them.
Your group’s discussions may also reveal some anger targets that no one realized existed. My last group had a great discussion on the media and their involvement in the abortion industry and how they portrayed sex in general. I asked them all to write a letter to the media and bring it back the following week.
If one of your group member is struggling to release some of the anger I would encourage you to use the rock activity found in the leader guide. At the end of the session, replace their letter with a rock and ask them to carry it around until you meet the next time. Have them put it in their purse or something that they carrry around. If there are several letter that they are struggling with, give them a rock for each letter. When your group meets the following week, have this person share what it was like to carry around the rock.
As a leader, make sure you stress the fact that group members should not share their anger letters. You do not want some body’s mother receiving this letter in the mail.
I must confess that I broke a rule for this meeting. I was actually out of town for this session. I didn’t want to cancel because we have had to do that a couple of different times because of my crazy schedule. I have a great co-leader but session 3 is important because the women look at the truth about abortion. My co-leader wasn’t comfortable with the material and I completely understood. I must admit that I didn’t think it would be best for her to lead solo either. So, I brought in Natalie who works here at the pregnancy center and has lead groups and one-on-one numerous times. I hear she did a fantastic job and the group really enjoyed getting to know her.
If you aren’t comfortable with the material for this week, it may be best to bring in a guest who can discuss the truth about abortion. It might be a doctor, nurse, or someone from the pregnancy center in your town. Just ask different people and I have a feeling they will be more than willing to help.
The main purpose of this meeting is to allow each woman the opportunity to share her story. I struggle with this session the most because as a non-post abortive woman I don’t have a story to share with the group. My co-leader also happened to be out of town and I really had no idea how everything was going to go. Thankfully one of the ladies from another church who had completed a group over the summer came and I was able to let her take the lead and start the group of.
This can be a very difficult session for both the leaders and the participants. I really would encourage leaders to make sure they allow for enough time for everyone who wants to share to share. (Remember you may have someone in your group who is not ready to share.) I skipped a lot of the discussion questions on purpose to ensure an adequate amount of time. Also, you want to make sure that you remember Kleenex. It will be a must for this session.
The group was still a little nervous as we dove right into the study. I really tried to stay out of the way and allow them to direct the discussion. I had them discuss different parts of session 1 that stood out to them. Then we discussed page 17 from the member book and which statements they most identified were true for them. Honestly, between these two things it took the majority of the evening.
In closing, I reminded them that this next week may be very difficult as they asnwer questions to prepare to share their abortion story next time we meet.
A new group began last night. There are a total of 7 in the group, but that includes myself and my co-leader as well as two other women who went through a group over the summer and are interested in starting a group at their own church. Technically we only have three participants.
I intended for the meeting to be a very stress free experience. I shared about AWPM, STS, and had them share a little about themselves. Just in the little they shared, it was obvious that each one of the ladies are at a different place in dealing with their abortion. A couple have worked through it to some degree, but are wanting to take the next step while there is one that has not taken any steps what so ever.
Some of them shared what they were wanting to accomplish by taking STS while others shared their fears and anxieties. I was surprised at how honest and transparent they were. My whole goal was to give each one of them hope. Therefore I had one of the ladies who had completed STS over the summer share her story. She did a great job, especially since I put her on the spot.
We went over the basic structure of what each meeting would look like. My goal will be focusing on the “Connecting” portion of the member book. Obviously if they have questions from the material and/or homework we will also do our best to cover that. I asked them to look over and work on chapter one for next week, but not to do the homework since it actually prepares them for the following week. This way we can hit the ground running next week by discussing chapter 1 and then will assign the homework and have them begin looking over and completing week 2. (If anyone has any ideas on how to do this better, I am definitely open. I want to keep it as uncomplicated as possible.)
Today, I have been thinking about a couple of verses that I can pray for these ladies and God has directed me toward the following:
My soul, wait in silence for God only, For my hope is from Him. He only is my rock and my salvation, My stronghold; I shall not be shaken.
O Israel, hope in the LORD; For with the LORD there is lovingkindness, And
with Him is abundant redemption.
Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that
you will abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.
I will post again next week to let everyone know how our second meeting went.