« November 2017 « Feature
A Gateway of Hope
Meaningful Ministry Provides Redemption and Healing
The statistics are sobering. One in four women will have an abortion in their life and one in three people have to deal with the effects of one.
Perhaps it was statistics like these that led Abby Duffy in 2015 to fill out a connection card in church expressing interest in starting a ministry for those struggling with the guilt following abortion. Her brainchild has turned into a unique ministry at the First Seventh-day Adventist Church of Tulsa.
“I had not experienced abortion myself, but had struggled with similar feelings. I hadn’t seen ministries dealing with those specific needs,” Duffy says. When Michael Smith got her card, the First Tulsa Church’s pastor asked the Oklahoma Conference and Southwestern Union for help. Carmen Griffith, Women’s Ministries Director and Associate Family Ministries Director at the Southwestern Union, led them to the website www.mafgia.com. Antoinette Duck and Dianne Wagner’s ministry and example led to Tulsa’s current post-abortion ministry, Gateway of Hope.
The First Tulsa Church took a methodical approach to this grief and trauma ministry. Smith and Duffy prayed and shared the idea with the church elders, then prayed for 40 days before presenting it to the board. It started as a small group ministry, and now includes a Bible study, as well as a weekend retreat. A Silent Sorrow Seminar featured the two speakers from Mafgia ministry early on. The ministry and the seminar were promoted via social media, in local libraries, gas station restrooms, and especially local crisis pregnancy centers and life-advocating care facilities.
One of the unique aspects of the ministry is that it meets the needs of women and men. The idea came to Smith when he realized that men whose wife or girlfriend experienced abortion also faced trauma and guilt.
“We learned a lot by observing a similar ministry,” Smith says. “We learned to promote our ministry by placing flyers in bathroom stalls.” Smith and Duffy find the ministry reaching men and women of all ages, from very young teenagers to those who experienced abortions more than 40 years ago. One 86-year-old woman from Muskogee came to the seminar, saying she had been carrying the burden of her guilt for most of her life.
“I was raised as a Seventh-day Adventist,” says Rachel (not her real name), a participant. “It has been almost 40 years of keeping this secret of my abortion. My own mother questioned what the church members think of me. To this day I have never discussed it with any family members. Gateway of Hope reintroduced me to the path of freedom from guilt and shame. This program brought closure to a chapter of my life on unending pain and shame of my abortion.”
The small groups are structured to provide confidentiality and protect identities. Church members are aware that the ministry is available and provide positive feedback. A recent retreat asked for volunteers from the church and received overwhelming support.
“One of the things we’ve seen in all this, is that we really need this,” Duffy says. “Our group is currently on fire to share this ministry with others who have experienced grief and trauma via abortion, because we know how real the hope is that God has.”
The ministry’s namesake comes from the reassuring words in Hosea 2:15, “I will return her vineyards to her and transform the Valley of Trouble into a gateway of hope.”
To learn more about Gateway of Hope and to connect with Pastor Michael Smith or Abby Duffy, visit www.GatewayofHope.info.