The following is an article written by “TJ” an inmate at a Florida Correctional Institution. The institution is a level 6 maximum security prison… a high percentage of the inmates will call this home for the rest of their lives.
TJ shares how abortion impacted his life and of his participation in a Rachel’s Vineyard (RV) after abortion program specially adapted for use in prison by the local RV site leader Donna Gardner and Tom Lawlor, Director of Prison Ministry for the Diocese of Palm Beach. TJ is half way through his facilitator training and will be part of the Rachel’s Vineyard Team in the prison.
Over 50 men have participated in this prison outreach bringing reconciliation and peace to those in darkness and a number of Rachel’s Vineyard leaders have emerged from the prison population. Here’s TJ’s story: –Kevin Burke, LSW
Healing a Father’s Heart
The Spirit of the Lord is upon me because he has anointed me to bring glad tidings to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, and to proclaim a year acceptable to the Lord.” (Luke, 4:18)
Rachel’s Vineyard is a ten-week seminar offered here at the Correctional Institution on Wednesday mornings in the Chapel. The service it provides for those who attend is immeasurable. However, few really know what it is about. In order to understand what this program offers, one must first become aware of the scourge of abortion.
I’m writing this article…to share with you a real-life experience that kept me in the deepest and darkest misery for twenty-seven years. My hope is, if you were involved in a similar situation, that you may find help.
Twenty-seven years ago, as a teenager, I was involved in two abortions because I lived as an irresponsible, arrogant, prideful, selfish, self-centered human being. Those abortions lead me down a road of drugs, alcohol, irresponsible sex, crime and so many other destructive things.
How could abortion lead to all that? Because it produces guilt, whether the person realizes it or not, which turns to bad decisions, self-hatred, anger towards others, violence and all kinds of other messed up emotions. While these are taking place the person is in denial, refusing to recognize there is a problem. Or, if he or she does admit to a problem, they don’t know that it is rooted in an abortion that may have taken place years ago. At the time of my abortion experiences I knew none of this.
I was told that an abortion is simply getting rid of a glob of cells or tissue, that it was not killing a baby.
Let’s look at some facts. Day one: the sperm fertilizes the egg in the fallopian tube; forty-six chromosomes combine which predetermines all of the person’s characteristics. By day eighteen there is a heartbeat. At eight weeks all the body systems are present. The baby is rapidly growing. The genital organs are clearly differentiated in sixteen weeks and the baby grasps with hands, kicks, and turns. This is not a blob of tissue, but clearly a little human being.
Abortion has been a divisive topic long before the 1973 Supreme Court decision in Roe v. Wade made it legal. Two of the biggest arguing points are a mother’s “right to choose” and the baby’s “right to life.” Rarely does the father even get a say in the argument even though twenty-three of those chromosomes are his and the rest of his life is affected by the decision.
Every day 4,300 babies are killed by abortion. It is said that one in every three adults has been involved in an abortion. If you’re one of them, and if you’re like I was, maybe you hate yourself or your spouse or girlfriend or even your parents. Perhaps you’re mad at the doctor or God or experiencing every messed up emotion that could entangle a person’s life. I was.
Humans are not designed to carry burdens alone, and we don’t have to. There is hope, and there is help to heal from the brutality of abortion. That’s what Rachel’s Vineyard does. It is led by Donna Gardner and Tom Lawlor, two of the most awesome people I’ve ever met. They have love and a great passion for what they do and for the men and women inside and outside who have experienced the devastating tragedy of abortion. They can help mend the affects of years of wrong choices and destructive behavior.
Even if you don’t fully understand some of what I’ve said and how an abortion years ago could be responsible for so much destructive behavior – come and check it out and learn. Take a step forward and give yourself a new beginning. Sign up now by sending a request to the chapel. It will be a life changing experience for the good.