Equipping the Church for Life | A Share Your Story Blog
A quick encyclopedia search outlines sanctity of life as “…the theological or philosophical understanding that all human life has an inherent dignity, worth, and sacredness that sets it apart from all other beings within the world.”1 But what defines a life? This is just one of the confusing questions that we face in today’s world as we trudge through an ever-shifting paradigm of what’s morally acceptable in our culture.
The Bible reveals that God knows us intimately and specifically, even before we are born:
“Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you, and before you were born, I consecrated you…” — Jeremiah 1:5a
So even before a child can be detected on an ultrasound, they are known and loved by their Creator. But in a climate where the value of the unborn has become a hot-button topic, how can Christians advocate effectively for children in the womb?
One Woodside couple has found an answer. For several years, Jesse and Patty Lee have worked with Care Net Pregnancy Centers to serve couples facing the challenges of pregnancy and parenthood. The Lee family discovered Care Net after joining Woodside Royal Oak in 2020, after which they quickly moved to get their Life Group involved with the ministry.
“If there was one ministry that we really wanted to get involved with that the culture and the world is in dire need of, it would be the issue of abortion and sanctity of life,” Jesse said. “Before coming to Woodside, I knew nothing about pregnancy centers or how to go about dealing with the issue of abortion as a follower of Christ. So, Care Net was kind of like a revelation for us.”
After attending a Care Net informational meeting with their Life Group, Jesse and Patty learned that the Detroit tri-county area has the highest abortion rate in Michigan. To combat this, Care Net pairs expectant mothers with female advocates to mentor and educate them about pregnancy and the risks of abortion. When Jesse learned about the center’s Man2Man program (a male mentorship for fathers-to-be), he knew that’s how he wanted to get involved.
“The guys have an important role in parenthood,” Jesse said. “Being a father at a stage of life where they might be going through a crisis, they don’t really know what to do. One thing I did learn is that if the father of the unborn baby is on board with taking care of the baby, abortion wouldn’t be an issue in this world. It’s just empowering the dads to take ownership and encouraging them to step up in the role of being a father and a husband.”
“Maybe discipleship is the word,” Patty added, “because most of the clients Jesse has worked with would probably identify as non-Christian. I think just understanding what God’s design is for a family and encouraging those dads to see what that vision is and their role as the father of the family is kind of the overarching mission of the Man2Man program.”
Clients of Care Net receive all services for free, including ultrasounds, parenting programs, financial courses, and career counseling. The ministry will walk with the parents until their child is one year old, teaching them infant and toddler care and offering additional support. But as Jesse and Patty became more involved, they saw a need to minister to Care Net clients even after that one-year mark.
“As we learned more about Care Net,” Patty said, “one of the things we learned was that they need to put a cap on those relationships so that they can continue to serve other moms and babies. After that, it’s really in the hands of the community to come in and support them through the rest of life and parenthood. So that’s where we saw the biggest gap. A lot of these people have never walked in a church, so it can be very intimidating to go into a church on a Sunday. So, our Life Group was like, ‘Why don’t we throw a first birthday party for these families who are graduating from Care Net and host that party at our church? And hopefully that’ll be a segue to joining our community and open that door for them.’
“One of the issues,” Jesse said, “is that a lot of the clients could go back into the culture that got them into that issue in the first place rather than continually being discipled in Christ through a local church. So, once they graduate from the program, we thought maybe these parties would help bridge that gap and hopefully even change the perception of the church too — loving them and being at a place of giving grace rather than criticism.”
Since they began hosting these birthday parties in 2022, Jesse and Patty have seen God move in the lives of several former Care Net clients, some of whom they are still building relationships with. They have also seen an outpouring of members at Woodside Royal Oak volunteer at the parties, contributing to everything from event facilitation to food and decorations.
“If it’s not the church, then who else would it be?” Jesse said. “God has a heart for the unborn, so it’s up to the church to speak differently than what culture is saying is right. We need to act upon what’s true and what pleases the Lord. There’s no other institution or organization but the church to truly do that.”
Jesse and Patty hope to arrange Making Life Disciples classes at Woodside to encourage additional members of the church to get involved. Affiliated with the ministry of Care Net, Making Life Disciples is a course that teaches its students how to compassionately walk alongside women and men that are wrestling with the decision to abort their child.
“The course teaches you how to be kind of like a first responder,” Patty said, “in case you come across a woman or a couple who are trying to make that decision. One of the things that stood out to me is that even if that person doesn’t choose life, you’re still discipling that person.”
“Right,” Jesse said. “You’re still empathizing with them. There’s even post-abortive ministries and recovery care. There’s grace for all who sin, which is all of us. It’s actually very important to be with those people after they have an abortion, to walk with them.”
Woodside supports multiple Christ-centered organizations that help people celebrate, understand, prioritize, and protect the sanctity of life. Access our sanctity of life resource to learn more about how you can take action to protect life and the dignity of personhood in your community.