Our House at Edenham has just hosted the most extraordinary retreat. After over twenty years of retreat ministry, this was the most intense experience of the Lord at work I have witnessed. The retreat was organized by Rachelís Vineyard; in origin this is a Roman Catholic organization set up to provide a ministry of healing and reconciliation for those affected by abortion. I, as part of the training as a leader, was a participant. Although active in Ireland for the past few years, this was the first retreat in England.
It was an ecumenical experience. The retreat included Roman Catholics, Anglicans and Baptists. The leader was a lay woman. At the outset it became searingly obvious that many of the participants (ten in all) were in the most excruciating emotional and spiritual pain. They ranged in age from twenty-one to seventy-one. The first shared exercises helped them recognize and express the source of the pain. Over the next two days each person was given an opportunity to tell their story, to seek and receive the Lordís forgiveness, to recognize and Ďowní their child, and to enter into a new relationship with them in Christ.
As the pain and grief was great, so was the healing. Toxic tears of guilt and shame gave way to the healing tears of hope and reconciliation. The retreat was based entirely on Gospel events into which the retreatants entered through shared prayer and mediation. There was time for individual counselling and spiritual direction, times of worship and times of silence. Given the fact that it is American in origin, and chiefly (though not exclusively) for women, I didnít have any problem in taking part! I, like millions of others, have been affected by abortion.
In this lies the main point for this article. The mal-effects of abortion are a spiritual disease of epidemic proportions. Three million (conservatively) abortions since the early 1960s mean three million fathers and twelve million grandparents and countless numbers of siblings caught up in unresolved guilt and grief. The percentage of the population affected is so great that it is shameful so little attention is given to the mental and spiritual consequences in our society. All this means that there will be a few or even several thousand readers of this magazine who in Rachelís Vineyard terms are Ďpost-abortive.í
Rachelís Vineyard works because it is founded on fundamental truths of Christian faith. First, each human life begun at conception is made to live with God forever. Second, despite the blindness of humanity, God in Christ can bring healing and reconciliation to those who seek it; in his mercy and grace all things are possible. In the end and beginning there is the hope that all things can and will be gathered up in Christ.
Not everyone affected will find one of these retreats helpful. Many sufferers find that making a confession and seeking healing through anointing and the laying on of hands sets them on the path to wholeness. The most important first step is to recognize the problem and open it up to the Lord. If any reader would like more information about Rachelís Vineyard, look at the Irish website or contact me Ė contact details in adverts.
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