Revive Our Hearts Podcast

— Audio Player —

Pressing on for Life

Dannah Gresh: Here is some of what we heard yesterday from our guest Jeanne Pernia. 

Jeanne Pernia: I did not associate that women’s clinic with abortion. As far as I knew, it was for women who needed routine care, as far as their yearly Paps, and I knew that they did give out birth control.

I was working there for a very short time, just a couple of months, and shortly after that my mom moved back to Florida. I told her to apply for the position because she was looking for work. That’s exactly where our lives started to get involved in the abortion industry.

There was this one beautiful Cuban girl, and she had come in several times. I remember that she was probably on her fourth procedure. I told her, “You know, you’ve got to stop this. This cannot be just a normal practice for you.”

I really believed in my mind—my very naïve mind—that this gentleman and I would have a future, that he would be my knight in shining armor. When I did get pregnant, I was ecstatic. I was happy. I was like, “Wow!”

When I shared it with him, immediately he looked at me and said, “Well, I don’t think this is a good idea.” Immediately he said, “You know, we have the clinic.” 

I said, “Wait a minute! The clinic is there for the women who don’t want their babies. That is not my story. I want my baby!” 

By the second weekend, which would have put me right about seven weeks, I called the doctor on a Saturday. I told him, “Listen, I need for you to come tomorrow because nobody will be here. I don’t want anyone else to know. We are going to do the procedure on a Sunday.”

Within seven weeks I told my mom, “I think we need to do another pregnancy test.” And, sure enough, the test was positive. I told her, “Please! I will not go through that again! You’ve got to keep my secret.”

Dannah: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth, author of Choosing Gratitude, for Friday, January 17, 2020.

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth: This next week marks the anniversary of the Roe vs. Wade decision in the United States that legalized abortion in every trimester of a woman’s pregnancy. Each year here on Revive Our Hearts we try to mark this occasion as a reminder to pray and to get involved in whatever ways the Lord would lead.

I think of my sweet husband Robert who often says, “Oh, Honey. What about the babies? It’s about the babies.” He just carries this huge concern on his heart for the babies. And Robert’s compassion for those babies has touched my own heart deeply as well. We don’t want to become complacent in the face of this nationwide, worldwide tragedy.

Yesterday, we began listening to a dramatic story from Jeanne Pernia. If you missed any of it, you can hear it at ReviveOurHearts.com. Dannah, we heard about how Jeanne worked in a couple different abortion clinics and how she chose to end the life of her own child.

Dannah: Yes, but we ended on a high note as Jeanne heard about Jesus, chose to say “no” to her boyfriend’s pressure, and give birth to her daughter.

Nancy: But there’s a lot more to this story.

Dannah: Yes, it’s a complicated, complex story. In fact, Jeanne’s mom actually owned an abortion clinic, and her business partner had been Jeanne’s boyfriend! But in a twist of events, the relationship with that man for both her mom (as a business partner) and Jeanne (as a boyfriend) ended.

Jeanne: We did decide that we were going to sell my mom’s portion of this business, and she was going to open up another clinic in another area of the city, and we were going to also start doing plastic surgery. So that’s what we did.

Dannah: At this new clinic, one procedure in particular didn’t go according to plan.

Jeanne: A woman who had just been put under anesthesia (the anesthesiologist was there) all of a sudden started to have a respiratory attack where she wasn’t breathing. I remember the doctor literally getting up on the table and massaging and beating on her heart! She started to come back, to start breathing again.

That was really, really scary. When she was back in the recovery room, I remember walking by and just saying to myself, “Wow, this lady almost didn’t make it!”

Dannah: That wasn’t the only scare. This clinic did not have any ultrasound technology. Doctors would measure with a measuring tape to determine how many weeks along women were in their pregnancy. One woman came in for this kind of exam.

Jeanne: Based on the tape measure, they figured she was about fourteen/fifteen weeks, which is considered a second-trimester abortion.

Dannah: But there was a problem: the baby had turned in the woman’s uterus and was positioned horizontally. The doctor’s measurement was way off!

Jeanne: So that evening they prepped her up. They got her on what they call a “dilator.” They began to dilate her. What happened was during the evening, I guess maybe as her uterus was dilating, this baby turned. When they went to measure her, they realized that this baby was not fourteen or fifteen weeks. She was more twenty-four/twenty-five weeks. Immediately, the first response that my mom had was that we needed to call rescue, we needed to get this girl to the hospital because this procedure was not going to be done!

In the midst of that, someone had called the police; they had called a television station. By the time I came to the back I saw what was going on. I walked in and I looked at my mom and said, “Can you tell me what’s going on!? You’ve got Channel 7 news. What’s happening?!”

She said, “No, no. We’re going to get this girl to the hospital, because we cannot do this for her here.” What ended up happening was, my mother was arrested. At that time she was married to one of the abortion doctors (she had recently married somebody else).

The girl who came to have the abortion ended up having the child. The baby was born; it was a baby girl. I know nothing; I don’t know what happened; I don’t know any of that. But the case was brought before the legal courts here. My mother and her husband (at that time) were both tried and sentenced to one year.

And for my mom because it was one year that meant she had to do that one year in the county jail. It was pretty devastating what happened with the second business.

Dannah: Florida law has changed since then to allow abortion after twenty-four weeks. The law says the procedure is allowed in the case of life or health endangerment.

Jeanne: It’s hard for me to fathom the law that’s current. Even in the state of Florida, women can have abortions up until the day that they’re going to have their babies, for whatever reason.

But back then anything past a second trimester was unthinkable!

Dannah: While visiting this new clinic where her mom had gotten in trouble, Jeanne met a young man.

Jeanne: My daughter was about six months old, and he had just come from Cuba. He had seen my little girl out in the waiting area with my roommate. He just put his eyes on her and told my roommate, “What a beautiful little girl. Are you her mom?” And she said, “No, her mom’s inside.” And sure enough, we met, we started dating. 

Dannah: Jeanne and this man got married and moved to New York. Now, do you remember on yesterday’s program, Jeanne had made a profession of faith? She prayed a prayer and thought she was right with God, but Jeanne’s life didn’t show any evidence that God had truly changed her. She wasn’t displaying new life in Christ.

Jeanne: I think that although I had made that connection with God, I think I felt somewhat relieved of my sins from before. But I wasn’t committed yet, and I started dating this man who . . . I mean, when he came from Cuba, he walked into the home of a friend of his, and this family was probably the biggest drug, marijauana people in the city!

In Cuba, this guy was a merchant marine. He had gone to college. Iit wasn’t like this was what he came here to do. But he landed in this house. They gave him a brand-new car, and they put him to work in one of their boutique stores. I was almost like, “Wow! This is America!” I mean, his whole mindset was totally twisted.

Obviously, I knew that was not the lifestyle that we wanted, but he tried to keep a lot of it secret from me. But eventually we fell into the money and the partying.

Dannah: Like He had done earlier in the story, God brought a faithful woman into Jeanne’s life.

Jeanne: She saw me with these three children on a cold New York City snowy day. I think the Spirit led this woman to me, because I was pretty much at my wits end; I was almost suicidal. I was so depressed! My husband was out. He wouldn’t show up for days!

She asked me, “You seem very, very distraught. Can I help you?” 

I said, “Yes! I am very distraught!” 

She said, “Well, would you allow me to pray for you?” 

I said, “Yeah, why not? Nothing else is working. Why don’t you pray for me?”

She asked me if I would be willing to have her come with some people to pray at my house. I said, “Yes. I would like for you to come and pray.” 

Meanwhile, I was still dabbling in the other stuff. The day that she came to my house, I’m grateful that my husband stood next to me that day. He was home the day that they came, and we both accepted the Lord!

And this time, I was willing to change my life! Talk about grabbing the Bible! She had highlighted many verses in the Psalms, and I started to pray them every night, and I would fast! All of a sudden, things were happening . . . things that I knew were supernatural.

My husband would show up, and he would say, “You know, we need to get out of this town; we need to leave all this behind.” The Bible worked! I prayed, and things were happening! She helped me get all of that other stuff that had anything to do with that other religion out of my house. 

And within three months, God delivered us—my three children, my husband, and myself—through this woman and her church. They would come by the house, and they would pick me up with my kids. I was baptized within three weeks of meeting her. They were the ones that took us to the airport and got us out of New York City!

Dannah: Wow! It’s such a joy to be reminded of the incredible transformation God can make in a life! Now, even though Jeanne and her husband’s hearts had changed, it didn’t mean their external situations got easier. Just the opposite. 

Jeanne’s husband had been completely forgiven by God through the blood of Christ, but still, he had broken the law and had to face the consequences of his choices. That led to a huge transition in Jeanne’s life. 

Jeanne: Wha-a-a-t?! I’m coming to El Paso with three kids?

Dannah: This new chapter found Jeanne moving to Texas to be near her husband as he served a prison term.

Jeanne: That was another very difficult part. I had three babies and my husband was locked up in a federal penitentiary in a city I had to look for on the map, because I didn’t even know where El Paso was!

Dannah: For the third time, the Lord brought a mature, godly woman into Jeanne’s life . . . this time, in El Paso.

Jeanne: She took me under her wing when I told her what had happened and said, “Don’t worry!”

Dannah: Once again, the body of Christ sprang into action to help this family.

Jeanne: I saw God provide everything . . . I mean everything! Everything was provided: a home for me to live in, a job. My husband was able from the prison to get me a car through somebody else who said, “Listen, this guy’s wife needs a car to go to work!” And a church, an amazing church that was within walking distance, with pastors that knew my situation. 

I mean, it was work, church, and my kids, and going to visit my husband. That was my life for three-and-a-half years. God met every one of my needs amazingly!

Dannah: Wow! Well, we’ve been through a lot of twists and turns in Jeanne’s story, Nancy!

Nancy: It seems like there could hardly be more!

Dannah: Well, you would think so. After three years, Jeanne’s husband got out of prison and the family headed back to Miami, where this story actually began. The first surprise was when Jeanne’s mom came to visit, because she saw Jesus in her daughter.

Jeanne: She noticed when she came to visit me in Miami after we had moved back. It was about two weeks or three weeks later that she came to Christ and went to church with me!

Dannah: In the final chapter of this story, Jeanne was called to again get involved with women considering abortion.

Jeanne: Back in January of 2005, my pastor had invited Rev. John Ensor from Boston to come and speak at our church during Sanctity of Life Week. I’m at my church, and he comes. One of the other members of the church decides to stand up, and she starts talking about her experience with abortion.

Now, I hadn’t heard the word “abortion”—or don’t recall hearing it at all—for twenty-seven years. After she shares all of her testimony, everything that I had shoved down started to come up. I started to remember what I had done.

Then the Reverend starts to talk, “There are seven abortion businesses in the city of Hialeah.” Now, I’m actually looking for the exit signs; I want out of this building! I couldn’t help but realize that this was my seed. I had the first one. And now that I’m back, there are seven more?!

I mean, I literally got sick to my stomach. I remember that by the end of the service, I knew I had to meet this man. As I walked out and I walked up to him, I said, “Pastor, I need to help you stop what I began.” I remember that he stood there and said, “Well, how do you feel about being a part of a real pregnancy help center?”

I said, “Absolutely! What do I need to do?” 

Dannah: Jeanne began working with churches to help begin a pregnancy care center in her area. While visiting one church, she came across a woman who had come to the abortion clinic where Jeanne had worked many years earlier.

Jeanne: Actually, I heard this woman’s voice. My back was to her, but I knew I had heard that voice, and I placed that voice at the clinic. When I turned around, her eyes met my eyes. She remembered me, and I remembered her, and we just embraced. She was able to go through the after-abortion class.

Dannah: Jeanne was looking for a place in Miami to begin a pregnancy care center, but there was one corner she was tempted avoid. Do you remember, on yesterday’s program, Jeanne and her mom had opened an abortion clinic on a busy corner?

Jeanne: It is a very visible corner on, probably the busiest intersection in the city. It was about, I’d say, maybe 2500 square feet.

Dannah: As she worked to start this new ministry, her search for a building took her back to that corner.

Jeanne: So, one Saturday I drove by, and my body was literally shaking because I kept thinking, What if they’re still doing that? But I saw on the window that it said, “Diagnostic medical,” and then I looked over to the left and there was this little house next to it. And I remember the little house! And it said, “For Lease.” And I’m like, “Wait a minute!”

I parked, and I literally looked said, “Here, God?” 

And He said, “Yes! Here.” 

So here I was, next door to the original building where we did the abortions, where I had had my abortion. Iin this little house, where we would share the parking lot, we opened the doors on July 9, 2007!

Dannah: Jeanne now counseled women, supporting them in their decision to value life! As part of that counsel, she’d share what had happened to her next door.

Jeanne: I would point to the building, to the women that came in—those that I felt needed to hear a little bit more. I told them what my experience was, what had happened right there. One day I told the president of the ministry, “You know what? I don’t want to point at the building anymore. I want to trust God to be in the building!”

Dannah: Jeanne remembers the day this exact opportunity opened up! 

Jeanne: It was a day that neighboring churches had come to pray (you know how churches sometimes come to pray at the pregnancy center?). The pastors had come. We had prayed that day for that building because that was always like the possibility of, “Wow, if we could get this original building, that would be such an answer to prayer!”

As they left from praying, the phone rang. The president was at the clinic that day, and it was the owner of the building, asking us. I ran out to the parking lot and I told the pastors, “Wait! Don’t leave! Don’t leave! Look at what just happened!” And that’s what happened!

Dannah: So now, in that very location where Jeanne used to help women end the lives of their children, she’s on the front lines of helping women embrace life! 

Jeanne: I walked through there, and I don’t want to forget it all, because I know how important it is to remember why I do what I do. Today there’s laughter in there! Today there are women who are hearing their babies’ heartbeats and are getting the opportunity to have their babies! That’s what I’m there to do today, to encourage them!

Dannah: There are many dark parts of Jeanne’s story, but God is now using that story to show His power to change a life and encourage others.

Jeanne: I have had the opportunity to go to China, to Vietnam, to Colombia, to Cuba (where I’m working very actively right now), to Mexico, to Peru, to Khazhkstan, to all of these countries where abortion is so prevalent! Today God has opened up not just Miami/Dade County, but the world, because women need to hear that there are people that are out there that are going to help them to have their babies!

Dannah: Yesterday we heard how, as a fourteen-year-old, Jeanne had dreamed of being a doctor. The path of her life took her far from that goal. But we asked if that fourteen-year-old Jeanne could see herself right now, what would she think?

Jeanne: She would be very proud of what she’s doing right now, because I’m a doctor for God. I speak life and I help women make the right decisions in so many ways. I help them to understand that they can have their babies.

Dannah: Jeanne stays involved with vulnerable women there in Miami because the need is so great! She says that you can get involved right where you are.

Jeanne: I would say that if they could find out where their local pregnancy help clinic is, even if they have two hours a week, they can come and be trained. They could be there to help the women. We realize that if you help the woman, you save the baby.

If anything happens, we know where the baby’s going. It’s the mom that we’re really focusing on. She needs to know who she is in Christ. She needs to know that there are other options. She needs to know how valuable she is. 

And once again, these pregnancy care centers, they don’t just run off the energy of God. They need the financial help. If everyone does a little bit, then these centers can be . . . I know that here in Miami, we need the monthly donors so that we can provide the services, so that we can keep these clinics open. . .

We want to train volunteers, and we need staff as well. We need women who really want to come and be a voice for the voiceless and be a mom to these girls that maybe don’t have a mom. So many of them come from other countries, and they have no help! That’s what makes the difference.

Dannah: Wow, Nancy! That is a powerful call for all of us to get involved in supporting life in some way!

Nancy: That’s right, Dannah. I do hope that many of our listeners will find a pregnancy care center in their area and get involved in some way. It’s striking how God brought women into Jeanne’s life at crucial times in her journey. Those women had compassionate eyes to see a woman who was in need. 

Maybe more importantly, they had the courage to get involved, to start a conversation, to set aside their own agendas, to sacrifice their time for someone else. And now, as a result of the investment of those women, Jeanne is sharing the gospel and speaking up for life around the world! And I just hope that each of us will be on the lookout for those God-ordained opportunities.

Dannah: You know, Jeanne’s story has pointed our attention to the upcoming anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision. Now, this isn’t the kind of anniversary we like to celebrate, but instead we want to mark it as a reminder to keep fighting for life!

If you are married, Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth reminds you that your husband’s sin doesn’t give you a free pass to sin!

Nancy: You don’t have to let a harsh, badly-behaved man turn you into a harsh, badly-behaved woman!

Dannah: Helpful lessons from the life of Abigail . . . and we’re going to get more practical advice from Nancy on how to apply this teaching next week on Revive Our Hearts.

Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth wants to courageously celebrate life. It’s an outreach of Life Action Ministries.

*Offers available only during the broadcast of the podcast season.

Support the Revive Our Hearts Podcast

Darkness. Fear. Uncertainty. Women around the world wake up hopeless every day. You can play a part in bringing them freedom, fullness, and fruitfulness instead. Your gift ensures that we can continue to spread gospel hope! Donate now.

Donate Now

About the Teacher

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth has touched the lives of millions of women through Revive Our Hearts and the True Woman movement, calling them to heart revival and biblical womanhood. Her love for Christ and His Word is infectious, and permeates her online outreaches, conference messages, books, and two daily nationally syndicated radio programs—Revive Our Hearts and Seeking Him.

She has authored twenty-two books, including Lies Women Believe and the Truth That Sets Them Free, Seeking Him (coauthored), Adorned: Living Out the Beauty of the Gospel Together, and You Can Trust God to Write Your Story (coauthored with her husband). Her books have sold more than five million copies and are reaching the hearts of women around the world. Nancy and her husband, Robert, live in Michigan.