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June 2002 - Volume 1, Issue 4


The monthly e-newsletter of Rachel’s Vineyard Ministries.

Rachel’s Vineyard is a division of the American Life League.

© 2002 - Rachel’s Vineyard Ministries


Publisher: Rachel’s Vineyard Ministries

Editor: Leslie Graves

Information or comments: or

Previous editions of VINE AND BRANCHES are archived on the web at

See directions for subscribing or unsubscribing at the end of this message.


"Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Spirit."

Romans 15:13



Our newsletter usually is a collection of information and inspiration about emotional and spiritual healing after abortion.

This edition, however, is a special, short and simple newsletter because our hearts are turned now in a special way to our brothers and sisters who have suffered and are suffering the wounds of sexual abuse.

We do share some news notes with you at the end. For right now, however, we ask that you simply join us in prayer and reflection.


"Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things

you do not know."

Jeremiah 33:3


Dear Lord, we ask that you send the Holy Spirit now to let us fully come before you in prayer.

We ask that you turn our hearts from the despair and anger we feel at the destruction of innocence.

We listen to stories on retreat weekends told by men and women who have been deeply hurt and wounded in almost inconceivable ways by sexual abuse. We hear their rage and see their courage. We see them reach out to God from a pit of nearly complete despair.

In the presence of the Holy Spirit, we are privileged to witness miracles of healing.

As we read accounts in the paper every day of others who have been hurt, let us never forget that you delight most in turning your power and glory to heal the wounded.

If we have been hurt, may the Holy Spirit come to us now and whisper of His infinite love. Let us know that He intends complete wholeness, grace, and joy for us. Let us know that for every bad and hurtful past sexual experience, God will provide us with an opposite healing relationship full of love and truth if we can but reach out for healing and help.

We also ask, Lord, that you heal the hearts, minds and souls of those who have injured others in this way.

And for those of us in ministry, please humble our hearts every day as we are called to be the hands and feet of the suffering Body of Christ. Make us always grateful for the privilege of service. May those of us who have recovered from their own wounds be specially graced and blessed in reaching out to others.

We ask this in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.


"God, help me lose secrets and find myself."

  • Amy Lynn, from her book "Seeds of the Heart"


An excerpt from Chapter Twelve of "Forbidden Grief: The Unspoken Pain of Abortion" by Theresa Burke, Ph.D, with David Reardon, Ph.D.

Chapter Twelve is on "Sexual Abuse and Abortion"

"As a child, Heidi was an attractive little girl with a petite stature and a tenacious personality. Her large brown eyes were framed with a long set of auburn braids.

Heidi was only seven when her 15-year-old-brother Eric began sexually molesting her. Eric would sneak into her room at night to play "monster" ... Eventually, he began having sexual intercourse with her. This secret ritual was shrouded by a pact of silence. "Don’t tell anyone," Eric instructed, "or you’ll get in trouble."

...Somewhere inside, Heidi felt responsible. Her emotions progressed from fear to submission and helplessness. At times, the sex caused a lot of pain. Sometimes she would endure the abuse by imagining another scene to get her mind focused on something more pleasant. Other times, she would zoom in on the ticking of the clock, concentrating very hard on each rhythmic tick-tock-counting each beat into what felt like infinity. "It will be over soon," she promised herself. "It will be over soon." When Eric was finished, she always felt an awkward sense of something inside her was too dirty ever to be seen.

Heidi was trained from a tender age to believe that her value and acceptance as a female originated from her sexuality. She did not know how to set boundaries with men. They took from her what they liked, and offered nothing in return. Having experienced the violation of her most intimate physical boundaries, Heidi had never learned to set limits when someone desired her body. In addition, she grew up blaming herself for all the things that were done to her.

Heidi had her first abortion when she was only 15. While sitting in the waiting room, Heidi dimly heard the old familiar voice running through her mind, "Don’t tell anyone; you’ll get in trouble."

Later, while she was lying flat on the abortion table, her feet were placed firmly in the stirrups. Heidi felt terror as the abortionist entered the room. "Open your legs," he firmly instructed. Reluctantly, Heidi did as she was told. The doctor moved in quickly, plunging his cold steel instruments in and out of her body ... destroying the life inside. Another familiar voice began to replay inside her mind. "Just listen to the clock ... tick-tock one, tick-tock two," she whispered. She was a disposable toy for the boys and men who came into her life. Her body had always been an object dissociated from her real self, which lay shrunken and hiding inside. Why should anything her body created be any less disposable?

Why should the tiny life hiding inside her be treated with any more respect than she had ever received?"


Forbidden Grief - The Unspoken Pain of Abortion by Theresa Burke, Ph.D. with David Reardon, Ph.D. can be ordered by contacting Acorn Books 1 888 412-2676; or through


"Always be sensitive to the Spirit’s tug when he lays a sister’s burden on your heart. You don’t have to know her to love her. God may be calling you to be part of her victory as you intercede on her behalf. You will find as you stand in the gap for others, you too, receive a victory. It’s a victory over self. It’s the victory that comes from enlarging your heart and broadening your view.

"And so my sisters and brothers, pray! Someone’s victory may be birthed because you are on your knees."


"You may pray for the release of some areas of life in a friend and find that you are called upon to set right something in your own life that has acted as a stumbling block to him. You may pray that your friend be given courage to endure certain hardships and find that you are drawn to pack your bags and go and join him or that you are to give up your pocket money for the next month or even perhaps to give a fortnight’s or a month’s salary to help along his cause. In intercessory prayer one seldom ends where one begins."

  • Douglas V. Steere, from his book "Prayer and Worship"


Three quick news notes:

1. Russian translation of Rachel’s Vineyard manual

2. Spanish Translation is Now Complete

3. Still time to register for July 10-14 National Leadership Training

4. Reclaiming The Gift of Sexuality

5. Rachel’s Vineyard Retreats in May

6. Forbidden Grief featured on EWTN’s Bookmark with Doug Keck



Jennifer Healy, the co-director of the Language & Cathechetical Institute, is

overseeing the translation of the Rachel’s Vineyard retreat manual into two new languages. Ms. Healy writes, "We have people who are able to begin the work in both Russian and Romanian. They are not translators by profession, but they are intelligent, well-educated, and dedicated to the cause." A volunteer has subsequently initiated the Russian translation. Women in Russia experience a very high rate of repeat abortion. Repeat abortions are often an indicator of trauma associated with abortion (as explained in "Reenacting Trauma" and "Repeat Abortions," chapters ten and eleven respectively, of "Forbidden Grief").



Thanks to the professional efforts of Josephina and Tony Guerra, the Rachel’s Vineyard Spanish Manual is now complete. We would also like to thank Lisa Cannon for contribution to this project. Ordering information will be in our next Vine and Branches Newsletter.



There is still time to register for the July 10-14 Rachel’s Vineyard National Leadership Training, which will be held in conjunction with American Life League’s Celebration of Life World Family Conference in New Orleans.

In addition to four days of multiple learning opportunities through the Rachel’s Vineyard Training, conference attendees can also hear Alan Keyes, Mark Crutcher, and many other speakers.

For further information about the Rachel’s Vineyard National Leadership Training, please go to

For further information about ALL’s Celebration of Life World Family Conference, please go to



In addition to Christopher West, an outstanding speaker who presents John Paul II’s Theology of the Body, a new workshop has been added to our Leadership Conference July 10-14, entitled "Reclaiming The Gift of Sexuality," presented by Theresa & Kevin Burke. Those who have experienced abortion trauma and/or sexual abuse may experience the following symptoms:

Avoiding or being afraid of sex.

Approaching sex as an obligation.

Feeling intense negative emotions when touched, such as fear, guilt, or nausea.

Having difficulty with arousal and feeling sensation.

Feeling emotionally distant or not present during sex.

Having disturbing and intrusive sexual thoughts and fantasies.

Engaging in compulsive or inappropriate/destructive sexual behaviors.

Having difficulty establishing or maintaining an intimate relationship.

This workshop will provide an overview of sexual dysfunction which may follow abortion trauma or sexual abuse. The session will also include a series of homework exercises and a living scripture for couples whose sexuality has been impacted by abortion and/or a history of sexual abuse. The exercises are based on gentle systemic desensitization with communication and other practical guidelines for married couples who wish to overcome aversive, negative, and damaging attitudes and physical sensations as well as understanding traumatic triggers related to sexual relations. There will be handouts you can use in follow-up sessions with couples you are working with in therapy/aftercare, or to use with your own spouse!

A full description of other talks at our leadership conference are available at



Our thanks and prayers for the retreat team members and retreatants who coordinated or attended May retreats in:

Scottsdale, Arizona

Tampa, Florida

Camden, New Jersey

Dallas, Texas

Fort Worth, Texas

Denver, Colorado

Baltimore, Maryland

Calgary, Alberta

Richardson, North Dakota

Sydney, Australia

Prescott, Arizona

San Bernardino, California

Smithfield, North Carolina

Youngstown, Ohio

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania



Dr. Theresa Burke will be discussing her new book with Doug Keck on "Bookmark." The program will air Sunday July 7th at 9:30 AM (ET); with re-airs on Monday, July 8th at 5:30 AM; Wednesday, July 9 at 5:30 AM; and Saturday, July 13th at 6:30 PM. (all times are Eastern) Check to keep abreast of any possible updates.


Questions or comments about VINE AND BRANCHES, The Rachel’s Vineyard e-Newsletter, may be directed to the editor, Leslie Graves, at


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"God will not permit any troubles to come upon us, unless He has a specific plan by which great blessing can come out of the difficulty."

  • Peter Marshall, from his book "Mr. Jones, Meet the Master"

©2002 Rachel’s Vineyard ® All rights reserved

Rachel’s Vineyard is a division of American Life League

Priests for Life
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Tel. 321-500-1000, Toll Free 888-735-3448 •