A few weeks ago, my message was on God promising to rebuild and restore us (link available here) and immediately after I had put it up I started googling the word rebuild and restore to find a correlation between the two words and the 1st page that came up belongs to the wonderful gentleman who has shared his story with us. Of course I was curious as to what they do and went through their website, found out that they runs a center that walks with women who have had abortions where they journey with these women to help them find healing. They are based in the UK,
so if you are based there and have had an abortion and would like to visit them, their website is http://www.postabortionhealingcourse.com.
Without further ado, I would like to introduce you to Jonathan Jeffers, the founder of Restore and Rebuild, who will share with us how his then girlfriend’s abortion affected him and how he healed from the trauma.
I (Jonathan) am not a Psychiatrist. I am not a Psychotherapist, nor a Counsellor. I am an ordinary man who in my early 20’s made a decision, with my then girlfriend, to terminate our pregnancy. When I became a Christian, the Lord brought to my awareness the thoughts and feelings towards the abortion that I had suppressed for 15 years. With His help, the help of friends, counselling, and engaging in personal research, I was able to process my buried emotions and heal from the psychological and spiritual impact that the abortion had had on me.
I have since worked to create and set up the post-abortion healing course, aimed at helping women, and men, recover from the effects of abortion and now run this with my wife, Francesca. The following is the story of how I set up the course and some thoughts on how men and women with experience of abortion can find healing at the foot of the cross.
The story so far….
A friend invited me to a course in Christian basics called ‘Alpha’, where I gave my life to Christ and became a Christian. Through the church I had started attending, I met Joanna Thompson who was the National Director of CareConfidential, an affiliation of pregnancy advice centers throughout the UK.
We started talking and I told Joanna about my experience at the time that my girlfriend had an abortion and I was the father of the child. I told her that if I had one clear regret about the past, it was the casual way in which my girlfriend and I had made the decision to procure and abortion. She was a lovely person and our relationship had been good. Why had I not thought about having the child and giving it a go? Life had not turned out as I had hoped afterwards, and looking back I regretted the loss of the relationship and not having the child.
As Joanna told me about her work I became interested in the idea of becoming involved. I wished that someone had challenged my thinking all those years ago, and I thought that perhaps I could be of use talking with other young men who find themselves in similar circumstances. It so happened that a month after that meeting, CareConfidential was running a conference on how to set up a pregnancy crisis center. I signed up for the conference but being there felt strange because there were far less men than women in attendance. The few men who were there were mainly partners of the women attending. In a seminar called “Post-Abortion Stress and its Effects”, some of the ladies that had had abortions spoke of the strong connection that they had with their aborted babies and went on to list the psychological risks, a term known as ‘Post-Abortion Stress’. I listened politely but didn’t get it at all; it just didn’t make sense to me. I found it hard to believe that women who had gone through an abortion would be feeling this way.
At lunch during the seminar, I sat next to a lady called Margaret O’Hara, who asked me why I was at the conference. I told her my story, my subsequent regrets of letting my then girlfriend have an abortion and my plan to become involved with an advice center. I mentioned the seminar I had been to, and that I disagreed with what had been said, finding it a bit ‘far-fetched’.
At one point in our discussion she said, “I have been thinking about what you told me and I feel God is prompting me to ask you a question – if your child had been born, how old would they be today?” I immediately replied, “Twelve-and-a-half years.” I can remember the hairs on the back of my neck standing on end. How did I know that? If someone had asked me, “When did your girlfriend have the abortion?” I would not have been able to answer, not to within two or three years. I had completely forgotten when it happened. Yet all those years later, I remembered exactly how old the child would have been, including his birthday month. I found this very disturbing.
At that time, Margaret was running what was then one of the first post-abortion groups, and after the conference, she took me through a course. This came as something of a revelation, and turned out to be one of the most difficult, but rewarding, things I have ever done in my life. To be honest, the abortion had affected me deeply on a number of levels. It had resulted in a deep sense of guilt which left me feeling depressed.
Subconsciously, because of the abortion,
- I became afraid of being close to someone to avoid the risk of having my partner getting pregnant and having to procure another abortion.
- I withdrew from relationships, and feared commitment.
- The abortion had damaged my confidence, making me unsure the importance of children, and not wanting children.
The interesting thing is that all this was hidden. If someone had asked me what was wrong before talking with Margaret, I would have said, “Nothing – I’m fine.” But something really was wrong. As I worked it all out, I realized that the experience had been holding part of me captive for many years. Once I became aware of this it was possible to resolve it. Over the course of nine weeks I became a different person. The freedom I found was amazing. It was like coming back to life from a place of death.
This experience is what led me to set up the post-abortion course at Holy Trinity Brompton.
Next week, Jonathan will share with us how he founded his ministry, rebuild and restore . He will also shed more light on how women and men can find healing at the foot of the cross for a past abortion.