Monday, January 15, 2018

My Mom Wanted Me to Live; I Want The Same For Her, by Travon Clifton

This is an urgent prayer request, published with permission from Travon Clifton, and as you read it, you will see that what Travon has to say is quite profound.  I hope it will move you to prayer, as it did me. 
-- Rebecca Kiessling

I'm reaching out to inform some and update others on my mother's health. For the last 8 months, my mom has been battling stage 4 pancreatic cancer, and it has taken a toll on her little frame.  Only last week, we bid a fond farewell to my maternal grandmother Isabel Williams (78) and that caused further trauma to my mother's emotions.  Some of you may recall that my grandma was an unwed teenage mother, giving birth to my mom at age 15.  This had a huge effect on my mom's decision to choose life for me at age 19 when she conceived me during an awful rape. 

My mom asked me to preach my grandmother's eulogy, and at first I declined her request.  However, the Holy Spirit impressed upon me to say yes.  It was in that moment of obedience, I could really see the magnitude of her decision and my grandmother's influence as I looked into my mother's face, telling the story once again.  I could also see the endurance, perseverance, and her joy of seeing me share the love of Jesus and her mother's legacy.  This was the first time many in my own family heard me tell it (and more) outside of the Compassion Project commercials and the Life Uninvited documentary produced by Right to Life of Michigan and aired on state-wide television.

Because my mother so courageously stood with me from the womb and chose life for me, I am compelled to do the same for her as I advocate with the doctors and intercede by faith on her behalf. What I know is that I cannot bear this load alone, which is why I'm coming to you asking that you join me in prayer for my mother's complete healing.

Since I know her eternal home is secure in Jesus Christ, I can afford to be so bold in my faith and ask the Lord for this miracle.  I want to see my mother rise from her death bed and go forth in ministry, telling her side of the story so that other mothers won't feel the need to carry the shame of being raped and loving the child who they didn't ask to be conceived.  

My mom wanted me to live.  I want the same for her.

Will you pray with me for the healing of my mother Victoria Forté and share with other prayer warriors? Thank you in advance for your commitment.

You can follow updates here:
BIO:  Travon Clifton is a daughter, a wife, and a mother of two.  She's also an international pro-life speaker and blogger with Save The 1.  Her interview, Conceived In Rape, will be re-airing with Dr. James Dobson on Family Talk Tues - Th, Jan. 16-18th.

Thursday, January 11, 2018

The Rapist Was Culpable But My Birthdaughter Was Innocent, by Jerusha Klayman-Kingery

I grew up in a Christian home. My relationship with my father was rather difficult and ultimately,  unloving. I thought I could fill the void with the things of this world, seeking acceptance, attention, and affection from men, drinking and partying.

For years this was my cover-up, yet I was still empty. It wasn’t until the age of 17, when I had an encounter with Jesus Christ and surrendered my life to the Lord. I was a virgin and at this time I made a vow to God that I would remain a virgin until marriage and in addition I would turn away from my past life of drinking, partying, and seeking affection from men.

At the age of 19 I was working as a waitress at IHOP. Oftentimes, I had to work late shifts and take the bus home after midnight. One night, walking home from the bus stop, I met a man who seemed nice enough.

We began texting for a few weeks, then he asked me if we could hang out at my apartment.  I wasn't attracted to him.  I didn't want to be with him, but I never wanted to hurt people's feelings and I was so naive back then, thinking that he just wanted to hang out and be friends.  For years, I struggled with the shame that I had let this man into my home without truly knowing him.  Since then, I've learned how to forgive myself and how to be more cautious in my associations and decision-making.

He was in a chair in my family room and pulled out a gun and set it on the table right next to him at arm's length.  I was sure it was loaded. In that moment, I was terrified.  I froze.

For years, I struggled with questions I'd ask myself: "Why didn’t I grab the gun?"  But then I think, I had never handled a gun, or even knew how to take the safety off.  What if he grabbed it back and shot me?

In the moment, I had all these thoughts of how to get away -- me screaming in my head, “Run! Run!”  But in the physical, the fear that had taken over my body, seemed to take any muscular strength with it.  I heard stories of women being raped before and I had always said what I would have done.  And then, that all changed. I never predicted that I would ever be in this situation.  I felt like it would never end.  I felt like a little girl with all power stripped away.  Time stood still, noises faded out.

When he left, I ran and locked the door.  I slid to the floor, sat in complete shock, my heart aching, and tears endlessly flowing.  I was a virgin planning to save myself for marriage.  My whole world was shattered.

The only person I reached out to was my best friend.  I called about 30 minutes after the rape and just sobbed and sobbed, telling her something bad had just happened. I couldn't even explain it right away.

The following weeks were hardly bearable, but I did my best to carry on without any attention being brought on me.  All I wanted was to move on, and act like that was all a terrible nightmare.  On the outside I smiled, laughed, and acted normal, on the inside I was dealing with hidden pain.  I was angry.  I was hurting.  I blamed myself.  I blamed God.  I no longer saw value in my life.  I was utterly broken.  I didn’t tell a single soul.  I didn’t want anyone to know.  I had a constant mental battle, causing me to lose sleep, and although I tried everything to set my mind on other things, my thoughts seemed to never let me rest.

I began to get sick, and grew sicker by each day.  I thought it was just stress or that I had come down with something.  Though, after six weeks of this unrelenting sickness, I finally went to a doctor.  She asked what my symptoms were and then immediately asked if it was possible that I was pregnant.  I was in such denial, that I told her that I was a virgin.  When the test came out positive, I finally broke my silence and told the doctor about the rape.

The world suddenly got very silent.  Walking out of the office was the slowest I’ve ever walked.  I saw so many pregnant women around me, but it seemed too far-fetched to have happened to me.

Countless tears accompanied the many emotions running through my heart.  I looked down at my stomach and I put my hand across my abdomen.  There was a six-week old baby in there somewhere.

Soon after, I told my mom.  She was heartbroken for me, but never left my side.

Over the next few months, my attitude and heart began to change.  I started to trust God and believe there was a purpose to this whole circumstance.  Prior to all of this, my walk with Christ was very surface-level.  Amazingly, during this time in my life is where my relationship with Christ grew to a deeper level than I had never known.

This baby actually gave me hope -- a reason to live and march forward.  There was life within me, but the reality was, this baby gave me life.

I had actually always had a stance of believing abortion was morally wrong, but it wasn’t necessarily a strong stance.  I had a few people very close to me telling me that they would “understand” if I chose to abort, and they even offered to help to obtain an abortion.

Yes, I was in a vulnerable place, but despite my feelings, my heart stood strong on the conviction: How can it be justified to take this baby’s life because of the tragic act done by a man who knew what he was doing?  The rapist was culpable.  This baby was innocent.

I would oftentimes hold my growing stomach and think, “I can’t feel you, see you and I don't even know if you are a boy or girl at this point, but I feel compelled to protect you.  It's my duty and my duty alone, no matter what.”

Whether a baby is conceived consensually or through incest or rape, it’s an innocent life.  Through my journey I came to the conclusion that a life is a life no matter what stage.

I chose open adoption for my daughter after much prayer and thought.  I wanted a stable home for her
and a dedicated father.  This was the hardest decision I’ve ever made, but I put her needs before my desire.  I placed her with a beautiful family, and we have since grown into one huge family for our daughter.  I gave birth to my sweet girl, and when I laid eyes on her, all I could think was how beautiful she was.  I never thought she was a mistake or tragedy.  I was able to give my daughter physical life, while God used her to bring me into a true and deep relationship with Christ where I could fully rely upon and trust Him, no matter what comes my way.

Today, I am married to an incredible man who adores my first daughter, while we are raising two daughters and one son together.  I speak internationally to schools, churches and other interested groups about adoption, pro-life issues, self-esteem and related topics.  I facilitate an online birth mother support group, fight for the 1% of babies targeted for abortion due to rape or incest, and I embrace the women who lack support and are scared just like I was.

The lives of those babies who are recklessly justified to be ended, deserve a chance.  And so does the woman who thinks there is no hope.  Grasp her hand, walk through this rough journey with her, and believe in her ability to overcome the rape, while nurturing life.

"You (Satan) intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives."  -- Genesis 50:20

BIO: Jerusha Klayman-Kingery is wife, mother of three, and birth mother to one. She's also a part-
time missionary, singer-songwriter, pro-life activist and pro-life speaker and blogger for Save The 1.  As President and Founder of As His Miracle Grows, she and her husband speak to youth and do missions.   Follow her on her Facebook page:  Jerusha Klayman-Kingery Pro-Life Speaker

I Was Conceived In Rape And My Life Is Not An Exception, by Heather Ann

“Your life should be an exception, you shouldn’t be born.”

Sounds harsh, right?

Can you imagine going up to another human being and telling them they don’t have the right to live? It’s unthinkable some people actually deem it acceptable to look into the eyes of another human being created in the image of God, and proclaim they shouldn’t have been born.

If you’re pro-life, you are probably nodding your head in agreement.

But what about protecting babies conceived in rape? Shouldn’t we advocate just as fiercely to protect their lives as well?

You see, I’m one of those babies who was conceived in rape. And only by the grace of God, I survived to tell my story.

My birth mother decided not to have an abortion, but she also chose not to keep me. In fact, when she brought me into this world, the hospital barely let her hold me, for fear she’d get attached.

I wasn’t even given a name.

So there I was, a nameless baby conceived in the most horrific of circumstances, without a home.
Heather Ann as a child. 

Thankfully, she placed me up for adoption, and at two months old I was adopted by two loving parents. Since it was a closed adoption, I was told I would never be able to meet my birth mother. But through volunteers we were able to put together the pieces, and when I was 19 years old, I met her.

She wasn’t surprised I found her. She mentioned if I was anything like her, she knew I’d find her one day. Looking back, I now see it was God’s hand who orchestrated the entire thing.

As I talked with her, she began to fill in the gaps. More importantly, she answered the question I’ve wondered my whole life, -- “Why was I not wanted, why was I given up?”

But nothing could have prepared me for her answer.

When my birth mother was 19 years old, she was drugged and raped.

As I heard her tell the story, it felt as though I were choking on glass, I felt dazed, and my heart rate increased as I listened to how I was brought into this world.

I was the daughter of a rapist.

She went on to mention how she was young, and knew she couldn’t care for me. She wanted me to have the best home possible with two parents, so she placed me up for adoption to give me a chance to thrive and succeed in life, which I have.

I am thankful she did, but the inherent shame I felt concerning how I was conceived deepened, and stayed with me for many years.

At the time, I wasn’t yet saved, sure I knew Jesus, but I didn’t really know Him. Using the gap as a stronghold, the enemy exploited my pain and shame to torment me.

But 10 years later, I accepted Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior, and my life forever changed. The Lord picked up the shattered pieces of my past, and made beauty from ashes.

I understand now, my birth mother placed me up for adoption because she loved me, and wanted the best, not because I was an unwanted baby. And today I know, I am a daughter of the King, and my identity is in Christ.

I’m thankful God spared my life, and now I want to do my part to advocate for other babies who don’t yet have a voice to fight for themselves.

Heather Ann at the 2017 March For Life in Washington D.C.

But you see, if it were up to most politicians, I wouldn’t be born. I would be deemed an exception, and sentenced to die, simply because of the way I was conceived.

So pro-lifers, I want to leave you with a challenge. Babies are dying, by no fault of their own. Sitting on the sidelines is easy. It’s comfortable. It won’t cause much disruption. But we aren’t called to live comfortable lives. We are called to speak up for the voiceless, the downcast, the orphans.

If not us, who?

Marching for life is a wonderful thing. It’s great to show up and network with pro-lifers across the country.

But it’s not enough.
Pictured from left to right: Yohanka Reyes, mother from rape and Executive Director of Mary's Pregnancy Resource Center, Heather Ann, child from rape and pro-life writer, and Rebecca Kiessling, child from rape and Save The 1 Founder and President.

Once you leave the streets of D.C. or wherever you march for life, I pray you take that same passion you have for protecting babies and channel your energy towards ensuring your elected officials will pass pro-life legislation, without the rape exception.

And to those of you involved in politics, who have the power to do good, do it. Don’t compromise. Don’t sell out. Don’t support legislation that has the rape exception.

Babies conceived in rape are still babies.

It’s time to wake up. We can’t go on killing innocent babies, nor deeming certain lives more valuable than others.

So pro-lifers, if you are really pro-life, be all in. Get off the fence. Stop compromising on life. Be unequivocally pro-life, without compromise, and without exception.

As Matthew 25:40 states “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for Me.”

BIO: Heather Ann is the Operations Manager for a non-profit which provides respite care for children with disabilities. In addition, she is a published freelance writer, and has written for various organizations, including Save The 1. Heather is a fierce advocate for unborn babies, and believes every baby has the right to be born, regardless of how they were conceived. You can follow her here.