Revive Our Hearts Podcast

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Your Sins Can Be Forgiven

Leslie Basham: Here’s Lisa Dudley.

Lisa Dudley: I think in the church setting people fear judgment a lot from people. I think we worry about that a lot rather than embracing God’s forgiveness. The teachings of Christ is that no sin is too great for Him if you will confess your sin and turn it over to Him and allow Him to forgive you and receive that forgiveness.

Leslie Basham: You’re listening to Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss for Friday, January 22.

Yesterday we heard the story of Lisa Dudley. She grew up in a solid home, attended church, and found herself dealing with the pain after aborting her child. When we left off the story, Lisa had joined a Bible study and realized her only hope was in forgiveness through the blood of Christ. Let’s hear part two of Nancy’s conversation with Lisa Dudley.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: Something that has really struck me as I’ve listened to a lot of stories over the last few days is people just telling one after the other the shame, the guilt, the depression, all the consequences. And then for each one it seems that the turning point has been encountering Christ in a real way, a fresh way. And they’re bearing out what you’re saying, that apart from Christ there really is no way of dealing with those issues.

Lisa Dudley: That is absolutely correct. You have to get that out. You have to. For women who’ve experienced abortion, you internalize all of it; you implode. Everything goes inside. And walking through that Bible study you’re unloading it. You are talking about it; you’re confessing it.

And once you can do that and walk through those steps of forgiveness from Jesus and receiving that, then you are set free. That’s why it’s called Forgiven and Set Free. You really are set free. You are no longer held in bondage for that.

Nancy: Was this course for you, was there a dramatic point of awakening, restoration? Or was it more like a gradual healing process?

Lisa: It was gradual. It was a gradual process, and I’m still healing today. You realize that the consequences of abortion are lifelong. I am forgiven and I am set free, but those consequences will always be there. I still think about it all the time. Everyday I think about it because I do this work; it’s what I do with my life.

But it’s also one of those things that you discover things along the way. People who experience abortion tend to block out a lot of things to protect themselves.

Nancy: Was there any point during this Bible study process where you got stuck or felt like, “I can’t get over this hump”?

Lisa: Yes. In fact, that’s when I dropped out of it. I didn’t totally complete it. It was at the very end where they do a memorial service, and you can name the baby. And I thought that was weird.

Nancy: They encouraged you to do this privately or with a group?

Lisa: Well, you’re in a very small Bible study group. They encouraged you to go pray, spend some time with the Lord and ask Him to reveal to you about your baby and maybe a name. You don’t have to come up with a name, but it’s a way to give dignity to that child and for you to say goodbye and let go.

Abortion does not allow you the normal grieving process of losing a child because you chose it, and you can’t talk about it. And so to complete the process of healing, you need to go through that grieving process. When you lose a child after they’ve been born, you walk through that grieving process.

So that’s the purpose of the memorial, so you can just complete that healing. I didn’t understand that at the time, so I didn’t do it. I ended up going through another abortion recovery Bible study years later. It was actually a weekend retreat though, Rachel’s Vineyard. I walked through the whole process. Then I got it. I understood the purpose of the memorial. And then it was a very beautiful thing, and I’m glad I did it.

Nancy: Through all this process did there come a point where you talked to your parents about this?

Lisa: Yes. Well, my father I never did. He passed away before I started speaking about it. I work for the Justice Foundation, and I’m the director of outreach for Operation Outcry. In that capacity I speak out a lot. I do a lot of medium on radio and television.

Nancy: Let me back up there. What brought you to the point of saying, “I want to speak out about this”? It’s one thing to deal with it yourself, but wouldn’t most people still keep this as, “This is something in my past. There’s no need to talk about this”?

Lisa: That’s the way it was for me. But I worked for the Justice Foundation as their paralegal, and we did other issues. We weren’t doing pro-life work at the time. Then we had the honor and privilege of meeting Norma McCorvey and Sandra Cano. Norma who is the "Roe" of Roe v. Wade, and Sandra who is the "Doe" of Doe v. Bolton and took them on as clients.

Nancy: Key figures in the pro-life movement.

Lisa: They were key figures. And we started doing this work. We had to decide how we were going to present evidence to overturn those cases. There was a lot of evidence about when life begins. There’s a lot of stuff about the baby. But the other lie that is brought out by Roe v. Wade is that abortion is good for women, that it is necessary and it’s a good thing.

So the only way we can combat that is by women who have experienced the pain of abortion. So we began collecting testimonies to combat the lie. And as a paralegal, I received those.

The way you reach other women is by speaking out. So there were a couple ladies who would go speak in churches and different venues to share and also to encourage women to share their testimonies in the form of an affidavit. I wasn’t doing it at that time. I was just in the capacity of the "behind the scenes person,"  the paralegal.

Nancy: You were listening to other people tell their stories.

Lisa: Listening to other people tell their stories. I was identifying. I was hearing it and I was like, “Oh.” No one in my office knew I was post-abortive. I hadn’t shared it with anyone in the office. There was a real defining moment when something was being discussed in our conference room, and I knew it wasn’t correct. They didn’t get it because they weren’t post-abortive.

I tried to get up out of my seat to tell them, “You’re wrong. That’s not the way it is.” I can’t remember exactly what it was now. And God restrained me. He said, “Be still. Just be still.” He didn’t let me speak. I didn’t understand it at the time because I was ready to tell them.

So time went on and I realized I was really supposed to be observing, learning. It wasn’t my time.

We had the opportunity to go to Israel for a pro-life conference. We were there, and I was in the Garden of Gethsemane, and we had some quiet time and prayer time. God spoke to me again and said, “It’s time. Your time has come.” I knew. It just all came over me. I knew that it was time for me to share.

So when we came back to the United States, I sat the whole staff down in the conference room. I said, “I have something to tell you.” That’s when I told them. I told them before my family knew.

Nancy: So here you had been working in this pro-life ministry and . . .

Lisa: No one knew. I had shared with my oldest son. He was 18 at the time. He was with me in Israel. I shared with him first and then came back and shared with the staff.

Nancy: Were they shocked?

Lisa: I don’t know if I would describe it as shocked. I think there was a little shock I think. There was a period of time where, “Why didn’t you tell us all this time? Why haven’t you told this?” I’d been with the Justice Foundation for nine years, so we had a long-standing relationship.

And I said, “It wasn’t my time. That’s the best way I can describe it to you. God had made it clear to me it wasn’t my time.”

Nancy: Was there a relief, a sense of relief when it was out?

Lisa: Oh yes. Absolutely. When God calls you out and you’re in that place and He sets you free to do something, it’s a great release and a great feeling.

But I still hadn’t shared with my mother, and my father was already deceased, so I didn’t have him to share with. I have a daughter that was about ten at the time. She was in school, and I didn’t want to disrupt school, so I hadn’t shared with her yet.

But I knew God was going to start putting me in a place where I was going to start speaking publicly, and I was going to have to share. My mother was a lot older and honestly I was hoping that maybe she could go on to be with the Lord without ever knowing. You just don’t want to cause that pain to your parents.

Abortion hurts the whole family. It doesn’t just affect you. It affects everyone in the family. I really wanted to spare her that. But I ended up sharing with her because I was going to go testify at a legislative hearing, and I needed her to understand why I was leaving and what I was doing.

And I was crying and I told her, “I’m so sorry.”

Nancy: Was this face to face?

Lisa: Face to face. And she looked at me. She wasn’t crying, but her eyes were teared up. She put her arms around me and she says, “Lisa don’t you know how much your father and I love you? We would have done anything to help you, and we would have helped you with that baby. I’m so sorry that you had to go through that.”

There were none of the things that I thought was going to take place. None of the, “How could you do that?” The things I was afraid of. It was a beautiful moment. It was a very close bonding time with my mother. It was very, very good. So I’m very thankful that I shared with her before she passed away.

I have shared with my daughter, and I’ve shared with my younger six-year-olds because they know what I do, but they don’t get it. They don’t understand exactly all of it. I’ll sit them down when they’re older and explain to them.

It’s important especially since I do speak out. You can’t do that and not let your whole family know. They need to hear it from you. It’s also a real huge part of healing because you’re not holding that secret inside you. The more people you share with, you face the music.

Some people take it very hard. It’s not always a positive outcome like it was with mine. But eventually it gets there, because it is an important part of the healing.

And your family members have a right to know because they’ve had a loss as well. My mother lost a grandchild due that to abortion. My children have lost a sibling, and they feel that loss.

So they need a chance to know and to grieve and to go through that process as well. Also, it binds you together as a family closer when you’re open and real about yourself and not wearing that mask.

Nancy: There’s another important issue there too, and that is when we’re hiding, whether it’s abortion or any other sin, that’s pride. Pride keeps us at a distance from God. So walking in transparent honesty is an expression of humility. And what does God do to people who humble themselves? He gives grace.

It’s the grace that we need to deal with the guilt, the shame, the negative consequences. Which isn’t to say, as you reminded us, that all the consequences go away. But there is the grace of God that comes flowing into our lives as we’re willing to humble ourselves and to step out into the light.

Lisa: Absolutely. When I think about all those feelings of fear for people to know, my mother to know, and different ones and to see it was okay, it makes me feel good. It creates a lot of regret that I didn’t go to them to begin with. I wish I had gone to them to begin with.

That’s why I said at the beginning that some day I’ll be interested to know what God has to say, why He allowed me to make the choices I did. We have free will and we make choices, and we have to live with those choices. But I also know that God many times can get your attention.

I don’t know if maybe He had put things out there to get my attention, and I missed it.

Nancy: Undoubtedly, for all of us.

Lisa: I’m sure. So those are questions I’ll have for Him some day when I’m with Him in heaven. But the good thing that has come out of it is that God has taken the darkest part of my life, the most painful thing that’s happened in my life, and He’s turned it around for good.

Every time I speak I tell people, “If just one woman is spared the pain that I have experienced, if one woman can find the healing that I have found, then it’s worth it. I’ll shout if from the rooftops.” I’ll share wherever I’m asked to share. Because every time we speak and let people know that we’ve had these experiences, if they’ve had that experience also they think, “Oh, I thought I was the only one. I’m not alone.”

Nancy: Have you had people tell you that?

Lisa: Absolutely. I’ve spoken in a lot of churches all over the country. It never ceases to amaze me the people who will come forward and grab my hand. Sometimes they’re a little more vocal than others to say, “I understand. I’ve experienced it too.” Some will be ready to say, “What can I do to help?” And others, they’re not ready, and they walk away.

It’s in the church. It is absolutely in the church.

Nancy: More than most people would think?

Lisa: A lot more. The statistics, I’ve heard two different ones, one in three and one in four have experienced abortion—and that’s in the church.

I know when I’ve spoken in a church before in a smaller setting, I’ve had them stand up every third person. I say, “Now look around at the congregation. That’s a lot of people that are hurting. It’s our job as the Body of Christ to reach out to them and love them and let them know that there is forgiveness, that there is healing.

I think in the church setting people fear judgment a lot from people. I think we worry about that a lot rather than embracing God’s forgiveness. And the teachings of Christ is that no sin is too great for Him if you will confess your sin and turn it over to Him and allow Him to forgive you and receive that forgiveness.

So we see a lot of that in the church. I’ve had pastors and pastor’s wives who’ve experienced abortion. And because they’re in the church in the position of the church, many times they’re afraid to speak out about it publicly.

Nancy: It seems like fear is a common thread here.

Lisa: It’s fear. That’s what it is. That’s what the enemy uses. He uses that to keep you trapped and in bondage. That’s the best way I can describe it. And there are just so many people that are hurting. So that’s why we really try to speak in churches as much as we can. We want to get this message into the churches to let them know.

A lot of pastors get nervous about talking about abortion because they see it as a political issue. Abortion is not a political issue. Abortion is a moral issue. It is a family issue. It is a huge issue in our church that we need to deal with and we need to talk about because it’s there.

Nancy: And what’s a way to get that started in a church?

Lisa: Invite someone to come and share their testimony. That is the best way. There are two things that really need to take place. Someone needs to be available to go ahead and try to start a Bible study in the church. If not, there are abortion recovery programs all over the place. Pregnancy care centers do them a lot if a church is not equipped or in a place where they’re ready to do the Bible study. But that’s an important thing for the church to put the right things in place to receive these people as they come forward with their pain.

I know pastors have talked a lot about, “I’ve had people come in and say they’ve had an abortion, and they don’t know what to do. And I don’t know how to counsel them.” They’re very afraid of this subject. I’ve told them, “You counsel them the same way you counsel about anything else. It’s no different.” There are programs in place to help.

But the biggest thing to open people up is sharing testimony. And that’s with any issue, it’s not just with abortion. But any time you share testimony in a church about God’s grace and what’s He’s done in your life, you talk about this dark place and now you’re in this place of light with the Lord. It moves people. It touches people’s hearts.

That’s when the Holy Spirit can work because it opens them up. The Holy Spirit can start doing His work to bring these people out of the place that they’re in and living in that sin. Because you’re held in bondage by that sin until you confess it and you release it.

Nancy: When you share your story in churches, do you sometimes feel that people are almost paralyzed that the subject is being talked about that openly?

Lisa: Yes, depending upon the church and the denomination and those types of things. I’ve seen all different types of reactions. I’ve had a couple people just walk out very angry that I had been there. Most of the time I’m embraced, and it’s a very positive thing. “Thank you so much for sharing.”

Nancy: Do you sense that as you share, it sets other people free that they can do the same?

Lisa: Absolutely. It happens because even if they won’t come forward in the church publicly, they will come to me and they’ll say, “Thank you so much for sharing. I really did think I was all alone.” And so then that’s my opportunity to minister back to them and let them know that there is hope. “There’s healing for you. Let’s talk about what we can do to get you into an abortion recovery program, a Bible study. And you can be in the same place that I’m in.”

Because many of these people are crying, and they’re still suffering so much from that pain. They can be released from that pain if they’ll just take that next step.

Nancy: Lisa speak to a woman who’s listening right now who has grown up in the church as you did, maybe Christian parents, maybe have come to know the Lord as a child, made wrong choices, was sexually active, got pregnant, chose to have an abortion, was afraid, was ashamed, has not told anybody. And they’re listening to you tell your story. Speak to that person now.

Lisa: You’re not alone. And Jesus is waiting for you to come to Him with this. There is hope, and there is healing.

I do want to share with your listeners there is a national helpline for abortion recovery. It’s answered 24 hours a day, seven days a week by volunteers who have experienced the same pain of abortion.

Nancy: We’re making that hotline number available if they’ll go to our website ReviveOurHearts.com. There’s information there about that helpline and other resources including the Forgiven and Set Free study that you’ve talked about. So there are links to that information if you’ll just to our website ReviveOurHearts.com.

Lisa: And if they’ll call they’re there to listen. They’re there to comfort and to pray with you and then to help you find a Bible study in your area. We have them all across the country. And so I encourage you to call the helpline and talk with someone about what you can do to get into a Bible study.

Once you’ve walked through that, you will be so happy and so relieved. It is just a very positive experience and I encourage you to do it. I want you to know you’re not alone. The feelings you’ve had that you’ve had locked up that you thought you suffered with all this time by yourself, that you couldn’t talk to anybody about, I understand. There are hundreds and thousands of us across this nation who have had the same experience, but we’ve walked through abortion recovery, and we don’t suffer anymore.

Nancy: There is hope.

Lisa: There is hope. Absolutely.

Nancy: Hope through Christ. I want to take a moment and just pray for those listeners. I think there are probably many now. And by the way, one of the things I’ve found is that it’s not just younger women. We’ve found that older women—I’m sure you’ve experienced this Lisa—even dating back to the days before abortion was legal, 60, 70, 80-year-old women coming out and saying, “Years, decades ago I had an abortion, never told anybody, have lived with this all my life.”

And we’re saying, “You don’t have to stay in the darkness. You can step out into the light. That’s where God’s grace will be. That’s where you can find forgiveness and freedom and new fruitfulness in Christ.

And to look at you Lisa and to see, to think of what you’ve been through but to see not only has God rescued and redeemed you, but He’s using you to be a means of blessing to other lives. It’s combating all that the enemy has done in your life as you’re now being used to speak life to others.

I want us to just take a moment and pray for our listeners who’ve been touched as you’ve shared your story.

Lord thank You so much for the awesome, amazing grace of Jesus Christ and for what Christ did in going to the cross to shed His innocent blood for our sin including the sin of shedding innocent blood. Thank You Lord that at the cross and through Jesus Christ there is forgiveness. There is grace. There is restoration. Through repentance we can be renewed and restored whatever the sin.

Lord, I just know that there are people who have been listening over these last moments who are in bondage, and they’re still being held in that grip of fear and shame and secrecy. Oh God, how I pray that You’ll give them the courage and the faith to step out of the darkness into the light, out of the deception into the truth, out of pride into humility.

Lord give them a sense of hope and draw them, call them to Yourself. I pray that they will reach out to that hotline, to those resources, to our website, to someone who can walk with them through this process. I just pray that You will set captives free.

Lord not only for the women who’ve been affected by abortion but for the moms, the grandmoms, the men, the children, other siblings. I pray, oh Lord, that You would do a great work of release and freedom and victory and taking back the ground that’s been given over to the enemy in this area.

Thank You, Lord, that You are a great and redeeming God who is able to take even the sin of our past and make us new creatures and give us hope and a future and a life and fruitfulness and usefulness. Thank You, Lord, for this servant Lisa and how she has been open and shared with us. Thank You for redeeming her life and how You’re now using her to be a means of blessing and restoration in other lives.

Thank You, Lord. We love You, and we give you praise in Jesus’ name, amen.

Leslie Basham: All sin can be forgiven. That includes the sin of abortion. Nancy Leigh DeMoss has been talking with Lisa Dudley. This girl who attended church all her life made some far-reaching, bad choices. She now tells others about the power of forgiveness.

If you missed any of Lisa’s story, we’d like to send it to you on CD. Maybe you know someone who needs to hear it. When you donate any amount to Revive Our Hearts we’ll send you the CD series From Abortion to Redemption. You’ll also get two copies of a booklet called, The First Nine Months. You’ll be moved at the value of life when looking through this booklet. You can keep one for yourself and pass one along to someone who needs it.

Ask for From Abortion to Redemption and The First Nine Months when you donate by phone. The number is 1-800-569-5959, or donate at ReviveOurHearts.com.

What does anointed mean? The word gets used a lot in church, but do you really know? Nancy will take a thorough biblical look at divine anointing on Monday. Please be back for Revive Our Hearts.

Revive Our Hearts is an outreach of Life Action Ministries.

 

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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.