Monday, December 15, 2008

A Christmas Story (continued)


If you are just tuning in, you will want to read the last post featuring Part I to this modern Christmas Story. Read it and hurry back!

So it continues ...

Later that evening:

"Hey girl, you don't look like you belong down here. What's up?" A young woman with ultra-damaged, bleached hair asked. She slunk over to where Mary stood alone on Broadway in the heart of Downtown Portland.

"I don't know where I belong anymore." Mary was too tired and discouraged to fear the tough looking street girl.

"Let's sit over there, on that bus bench. Tell me all about it. I got all the time in the world." The girl gently pulled Mary to the empty bench.

"Why do you care?" Mary looked closely at the young woman's face, surprised by the sympathy she saw in the girl's sunken, hazel, eyes.

"Maybe I don't. Maybe I do," the girl shrugged. "I'm bored, lonely, and hungry. I listen; you buy me a burrito. Oh, my name's Nancy." She smiled revealing several missing teeth.

"I'm pregnant. My parents kicked me out. My boyfriend says he needs time to think about the whole deal, and my God-focused high school expelled me when I tried to talk to the guidance counselor, today. Oh, and my best friend told me I was crazy. So much for love and grace, huh?" Mary handed the girl a dollar bill.

"I don't know much about love and grace, but I do know something about your problems. I got kicked out when I was thirteen. I was really into boys and did some stupid stuff. My dad talked me into an abortion. Now, I mostly do drugs and have sex for money to survive out here. Believe me, you don't want this life." Nancy stuffed the dollar into her pocket and looked away, ashamed.

"What can I do? No offence, but I don't want to end up on the streets." Mary hoped she hadn't overstepped her boundaries, but for some reason she believed she could talk candidly with this girl.

"No harm. It's the truth. You don't want what I have. Later, after I'd already made my choice. I heard about this special home. You know, a real nice place out in Gresham. They help pregnant girls, like you. You can live there and they don't care how you got pregnant. It's called Bethany House. You even get your own room, meals, counseling, support, and from what I've heard, lots more." Nancy pulled a crumpled flyer from her inside coat pocket "See, here's the place. For some strange reason, I've been carrying this around for months. I guess now I know why." She held out the faded paper.

"Thanks. You know something, Nancy, no matter what you've done, God loves you. I'm going to tell you my secret. You probably won't believe me either, but, oh well. My son is the Chosen One, Jesus. When He's born something amazing is going to happen. You can count on that." Mary smiled, feeling a little flutter in her abdomen for the very first time.

"I'm ready to believe anything at this point. I better go. Call that number, okay?" Nancy rose and walked away. There was a new bounce to her step.

Glancing at the paper, Mary knew what she had to do. Find a safe place until the baby was born, and hopefully, Joe would decide to marry her and accept the child. She hurried to a nearby phone booth. As she slipped the coins into the shiny slot, Mary instinctively understood that somehow everything was going be all right. Just as the angel had said, with God all things are possible.

Alone, pregnant, and afraid -- not the words most of us consider while reflecting on our Savior's mother and the feelings she must have felt during the first weeks and possibly months of her pregnancy. We picture a loving Joseph, a cozy stable, and a Mary filled with joy. Certainly, there was joy, but I suspect that Mary, who wasn't more than 14 or 15 years old, was actually terrified. After all, it wasn't every day a girl found herself pregnant by God Himself. Most of the Jewish population expected the mother of their Messiah to be royalty, not a common young girl engaged to a carpenter.

What did her parents think? What about her friends, or their neighbors? Before the angel appeared to Joseph, did he calmly accept his wife-to-be's astounding circumstances? After all, sex outside marriage was punishable by death. Had Joseph denied Mary his name, where would she have gone?

Thankfully, Mary didn't have to answer that final question, but there are so many single, pregnant women in our world who do. Yes, yes, many of them have made poor choices that led to an "unplanned" pregnancy. I refuse to say unwanted, because God wants all of His children. No one is created without God's hands in the design, married, or not. Certainly, committing to purity and having sex only within the covenant of marriage is preferable and God's ideal. However, the staggering statistics easily demonstrate that God's best is not always the norm in our world today.

Consider:

Teen pregnancy rates are much higher in the United States than in many other developed countries. They are twice as high as England and Wales or Canada, and nine times as high as the Netherlands or Japan.

Each year, almost one million teenage women -- 10% of all women aged 15 to 19 and 19% of those who have had sexual intercourse -- become pregnant.

78% of teen pregnancies are unplanned, accounting for about one-fourth of all "accidental" pregnancies annually.

It's difficult even to imagine the Virgin Mary as yet another statistic, but had she found out in 2008 that she was pregnant and alone, what would she have done? We have young, hurting women who desperately need to experience the love of God in tangible ways that will help them make better choices in the future, and allow them to raise their children up in the Lord in spite of their own difficult circumstances.

Having a safe, Christian refuge to call home is crucial first step in this process of healing and change. Such a refuge, Bethany House, offers a home and program of hope for pregnant young, women and their babies. With godly principles woven through the fabric of the program, women are able not only to gain practical and education insight about pregnancy and motherhood, but also are allowed to grow up spiritually and emotionally, thus finding a new hope and future for themselves and their unborn children.

During the Christmas Season, as we celebrate the birth of our Savior, there is an opportunity to reach out and touch the lives of many wounded women and their children -- women with no husbands, even families in sight. Women who have no warm bed to rest a tired head, no food to eat, and no medical care. There is simply not enough room at the inn for these women.

We, precious sisters, can bring tidings of great joy. A ministry like Bethany House cannot operate on its own. It wasn't meant to.

With financial support, in-kind donations, and the love of volunteers, it will continue to flourish. Sisters, Princess Warriors, this is a ministry that I support wholeheartedly. I wanted to give you an opportunity to give the gift of life this Christmas. We know so many people who have everything. Why not send a donation to this program in their name?

Instead of purchasing another item for re-gifting next year, give an eternal gift. I personally know that this 20-year-old ministry has struggled financially this year like so many of us and so many other worthy ministries. However, any gift can help keep their doors open.

Sadly, three maternity programs in my area have closed this past year due to finances, and all at a time when pregnancy rates are once again on the rise. Many Christians speak out against abortion yet do nothing tangible to support life. Bethany House is an opportunity to give in relation to God's truth and your values.

Believe me; God will gift you back in mighty ways.

To learn more, or give an online donation, visit: http://www.bethanyhousenet.org/
Let's make our own Christmas Story this year as we touch two lives at a time and generations beyond with Christ's love and generosity. Thank you for letting me share this with you. God bless you.



1 comment:

Kimberly said...

Thank you for this message & story Carol.

I've supported teen crisis programs similar to this. It's vital we show God to these lost and hurting souls through our own lives.

Praise the Lord!