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Liz Burns, Executive Director

I was speaking with a group of ladies recently about the felt reality of Romans
8:22-23 that reads: “For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.”

When we look around at the world surrounding us, we are truly groaning – and sometimes not just inwardly.

Sin, suffering, desperation, grief that will keep you on your knees. Read any article headline, listen to any media channel or just walk around and take note of actions, conversations or signs hanging in our community. There’s no denying that we see a clear and dividing line between the world’s definition and value of life, and God’s. While the gospel reveals a Savior who lays down his life for those who ran from him, abortion reveals humans extinguishing a life that we were meant to love and protect.

And while we are seeing abortion rates decreasing annually in the US (glory to God!), the fight for abundant life is not over. We still have plenty of work ahead of us when, according Guttemacher’s statistics, 1 in 4 women has had an abortion by the time that she is 45.

Let’s sit with that statistic for a moment. Burdensome, grievous, heartbreaking.

And yet I looked around the room at our Annual Fundraising Banquet and was also encouraged! The sheer number of individuals sitting in the room demonstrated that God is stirring within his people a desire to continue to fight, unified as ONE BODY, in the wholehearted fight for all of life.

All stages, all seasons, all people, all of life.

What we know to be true is that of those women who have had an abortion, an alarming majority have done so out of the belief that there is no other option for them. They are scared, possibly being pressured to make this decision and have countless questions swirling around in their minds.

That is why this ministry is vital.

Vital in supporting the woman or couple coming in to take a free pregnancy test in a safe and non-judgmental space where they can hear of their options and ask some of those swirling questions. Vital in supporting both mothers and fathers in their efforts to parent their children in a healthy manner. Vital in working alongside DCF to support parents seeking to learn, grow and be reunified with their children. Vital in providing free resources such as diapers, wipes, formula and gently used clothing to our community. Vital in educating teens on healthy relationships, leadership skills and boundaries to help them make informed decisions in their youth. And vital in providing a safe space for women (and Lord willing one day, men as well) to make those beginning steps toward healing as they process through emotions, questions and pains after having had an abortion.

At the beginning of the year, I felt that the Lord had brought me to a fervent prayer that the ministry that takes place in and through Branches would continue to be a wholehearted pursuit. Wholehearted in our seeking after the Lord both individually and together, and wholehearted in serving our clients unto the praise and the glory of His name!

And what I mean in wholehearted in serving our clients, I mean that we are looking at the whole person and the whole heart that stands, sits or walks in our midst. A person with a heart that was fearfully and wonderfully created by God to worship him with their whole heart.

One of the largest blessings of serving at Branches is that God has knit together a
beautiful family. A family who gathers under the truth mentioned in John 15:5 “I [Jesus] am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.”

I think often of Psalm 51 and how this Psalm highlights the prayer for God to create within us a clean heart and right spirit according to his steadfast love and abundant mercy in the forgiveness of our sins. In verses 15-17, David says “O Lord, open my lips, and my mouth will declare your praise. For you will not delight in sacrifice, or I would give it; you will not be pleased with a burnt offering. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.”

Let this truth draw you nearer with confidence to the throne of God. What God requires is that we come. Come with our whole heart and full assurance of his whole provision for all that we need to walk with him. And spoiler alert – He’s already given us EVERYTHING that we need for life and for godliness in the gift of his Son Jesus!

For every believer, God has given us a task at hand while we await the second coming of Jesus. Remember that Romans 8 groaning?

We, as the recipients of the ministry of reconciliation have been, by God’s grace, given the call to participate with the Lord in the ministry of reconciliation. We are therefore called ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us!

One faithful step of obedience to what God has called you to put your hands to the plow to TODAY could mean that you were able to play a part in preserving a life! This should make us encouraged!

It can often times feel overwhelming when we look at abortion as a whole and the very fact that it exists that we become cripple to how we can play a part in
eradicating it. But what if each day we took the time to truly engage with those around us in our regular rhythms of life?

When a coworker comes into work distressed, would you pray with them? When you encounter a woman in the community, whether it be in downtown Brattleboro,
at the grocery store, or even your favorite waitress at the restaurant that your family frequents every Friday night, who could be helped by the ministry of Branches, would you share about the services that are offered and offer to pray with her? If a friend comes to you after a Sunday service and confides in you that his girlfriend or wife is pregnant and he is worried that he won’t be able to be the father that he’d like to be for his child, would you share about services that are offered at Branches and offer to pray with him?

Jesus saw the masses through the few, and I think we can take courage in that. We pray for eyes to see the opportunities around us and we proclaim the Truth.

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