Six months before my wedding day I found out that I was pregnant. My fiancé and I had been intimate only one time, one time too many. Life quickly became a frantic blur. I was afraid, embarrassed, and didn’t know what to do. I didn’t want to break my grandmother’s heart, and I didn’t want anyone in my church to know.

I had recently had a series of X-rays on my lower back, and I wondered what the radiation might have done to the fetus. I called several doctors and asked about the radiation from the X-rays. Everyone said I should abort.

Abortion—a word that had never before entered into my personal thought processes. In a panic I called a clinic. I was told how much it would cost, and how far along in the pregnancy I had to be. I set a date.

The day of my appointment I had to meet with a counselor. She assured me that “it” was only a small fuzzball, and that I had nothing to worry about. The procedure was a nightmare. Something inside me died that day—literally—and I became emotionally numb.

The joys of preparing for my wedding faded, and I found myself wanting to run away from it all. Matters worsened when one day our wedding photographer locked me in his studio and attempted to hold me down and rape me. I was able to escape, but I never said a word about the incident. Had I lost my self-value? Did I now deserve this kind of treatment?

Signs of Trauma

The choice to abort my baby just about destroyed me. I had no clue how it would impact me, my marriage, my family, and my relationships. What was supposed to have been a solution to a crisis only created a larger-than-life crisis. I was convinced that I was a failure and could never be a fit mother. So when I got pregnant after I was married, I had another abortion.

My husband and I went to counseling, only to be told that our marriage couldn’t be saved. I began taking drugs for depression. One night in desperation I called an abortion hotline: “Christian help for the post-abortive woman.” I told the woman on the other end of the line what I had done, and that I needed help. Her response: “You know that abortion is murder, don’t you?”

Soon after, my husband and I visited a local church with friends. The sermon was about abortion. The pastor ranted and raved, finally declaring that God would not, could not, forgive a woman who aborted her baby. He confirmed how I felt about myself, and I fell deeper into despair.

The shame was unbearable. I felt entirely alone—nowhere to go, no one to turn to. I became bulimic. Food began to control me. I would binge-eat until I could hardly swallow another bite, then purge. The eating disorder only added to my shame, proving to me that I was a failure.

The years passed, and I finally became a mother. I had three beautiful children, a son and twins, a boy and a girl. I was in love with my babies, and I had each one dedicated to the Lord. But I was still a broken woman. I was insecure and bulimic, and my marriage was in shambles.

A Glimmer of Hope

My sister suggested that I visit a Christian acquaintance of hers. This kind woman earned my trust, and I told her about my abortions. She did not condemn or shame me, but encouraged me to repent of those sins. She assured me God would forgive. Together we prayed. After that I never again struggled with bulimia, and I had renewed strength to fight for my marriage.

Although I believed God had forgiven me, I still felt miserable. When a baby dies because of an abortion, the mother often feels too ashamed to grieve, thinking it hypocritical for her to grieve a death over which she had control. My unresolved grief continued to surface in other areas of my life. I continued to carry my heartache.

Twenty years later, at a Generation of Youth for Christ (GYC) conference, I realized that I had to grieve. I met Antionette Duck and became acquainted with her ministry, Mafgia. Antionette addressed the issue of abortion, and she was like a breath of fresh air. I left GYC with hope. My story wasn’t over yet. I had experienced redemption, but I wanted more. I wanted restoration.

As I researched abortion recovery programs, I realized I wasn’t alone. My pain and emptiness was not uncommon, and there was help. My desire for restoration continued to grow. I wanted a full life. I wanted all that the Lord had in store for me.

I finally attended an abortion recovery weekend retreat and was blessed beyond words. I was given the opportunity to shed tears of grief for what I had lost. I took my babies out of the sea of statistics, gave them names, and claimed them as my own. There will always be a scar, but there will no longer be an empty hole.

Since then I’ve had the privilege of joining Antionette as cospeaker with Mafgia Ministries. We offer hope, redemption, and restoration through Jesus Christ for those who have been impacted by an abortion. In a compassionate, noncondemning atmosphere, we seek to educate and equip those who have a burden for this issue.

We encourage those in leadership positions to take up this cross and break the silence. We believe abortion would never be considered an option if our young people were properly educated about the nature of abortion and given a chance to explore their own personal values.

I tell my story because it needs to be told. I’m only one of millions who have walked this valley of trouble. After decades of lonely incompleteness, I have experienced the Lord’s redemptive power in my life.

For more information about Mafgia, contact [email protected]

Dianne Wagner lives in North Carolina with her husband, David. They have four adult children. Kristi Jensen is editor of Inside ASI.

At an ASI Southern Union Conference chapter meeting I had the privilege of sitting down with Al Trace, director of the School of Massage at Black Hills Health and Education Center in Hermosa, South Dakota. Before moving to South Dakota, Trace taught advanced massage techniques at Wildwood. Al shared with me his incredible testimony of following God’s lead in his life during tough years of hardship and health challenges.

“I may not be able to challenge people with doctrinal statements, but nobody can refute my story.”

As we began Al said, “A lot of times as Christians we are challenged to know how to share the gospel. . . . But I would always tell my students that everyone’s got a story. God allows us experiences that can be life-changing. I may not be able to challenge people with doctrinal statements, but nobody can refute my story.”

Beginning Again

Seventeen years ago Al married Brenda, a woman he met online. Both Al and Brenda had been in previous marriages. Before they committed themselves to each other, they wanted to be sure that God would bless their relationship. Unbeknownst to Al, when Brenda and her ex-husband divorced she prayed that if God wanted her to remarry, He would give her a clear sign: not just any sign, but a black, leather-bound Bible.

Only a week and a half after meeting Brenda, Al proposed. Brenda agreed, but the newly engaged couple was still waiting upon the Lord for His blessing before marriage. Brenda admitted to Al that she’d “laid out a fleece, like Gideon,” when in the Bible Gideon sought God’s guidance.

Al jokingly asked for a hint, but Brenda refused to say, reiterating that the fleece was between her and God, and that she had never breathed a word about it to anyone.

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Time went on, and after several months of long-distance dating, Al invited Brenda to come to northern California to meet his kids and family. Al was in the process of moving out of his apartment. On a Thursday evening Al and Brenda began packing books from one of Al’s large bookcases. One of the books was a black, leather-bound Bible that had been given to Al, and that he had forgotten he owned. He turned to Brenda and asked if she would like the Bible.

“Are you giving it to me?” she asked.

“Yes, I’m giving it to you,” Al answered.

Brenda started crying and told Al about the fleece she had laid before the Lord.

This sign encouraged Al and Brenda that the Lord would bless their relationship. Seventeen years later they are still happily married.

Al and Brenda have continued to seek God in all they do, even following His call to South Dakota to be director of a massage school. Al’s enthusiasm and passion radiated as we spoke. His testimony is a humble reminder that God still works in our lives today. He still calls us, leads us, and guides us. God’s leading in our lives is our greatest testimony, because as Al said, nobody can refute a personal story.

Kristi Jensen is content editor/creator for ASI.