When Samantha found out she was pregnant, she thought her life was over. “I was devastated,” she said. “I couldn’t believe it was happening to me.” Growing up in the church, she never saw abortion as an option to any pregnancy. “Everything changed when I was the one facing the decision. I couldn’t imagine living with the consequences of an abortion, but being a mom I felt like I had to give up on all my dreams,” says Samantha.
Samantha knew she needed to talk with someone, but she was scared to talk with her family and friends. So she turned to Caris, a faith-based non-profit counseling organization, serving any woman facing an unexpected pregnancy. At Caris a counselor listened and offered her resources. When Samantha decided to keep her baby, she felt like a huge weight had been lifted.
After her son, Jordan, was born, Samantha began attending a Caris Connection Group at Willow Creek where she met other women who were experiencing the same struggles she was. “I didn’t feel judged and I realized I wasn’t alone,” she says.
“I started going to church at Willow Creek and when they invited people to get baptized, I knew God was speaking to me,” she says. “I realize God has used my experiences and put people in my path for a reason. I cannot wait to see what He has in store for me.”
Every day women like Samantha find grace, acceptance, and hope through Caris’ program where each woman is valued and treated with dignity.
While the Church should be first place that women in this situation turn, sadly, they don’t because they expect to be judged. “When women experience grace from Christians they’re often stunned,” says Angie Weszely, president of Caris.
This has shaped Caris’ vision and dream of helping the church become a place of radical grace that offers hope. “As Christians, we all recognize that we have experienced and desperately need God’s grace. Once women know they can expect acceptance and grace in the church, it changes the whole story.”
It’s through this radical grace, that women discover hope they don’t have to settle for an abortion or a life of struggle. They can live a new story.
Radical grace also holds potential for everyone involved. “Demonstrating grace has the potential to transform one life at a time, starting with our own,” says Angie. “Every time we work in partnership with the church and with Christians, there is exponential transformation in the lives of women. I can’t wait to see the potential this unlocks.”
And that’s where the Care Center comes in.
Beginning in October, the Care Center will offer unplanned pregnancy counseling, and support groups using Caris’ pro-grace ministry model. “We are thrilled to be in partnership with an organization that aligns so closely with our core values of hope, dignity and transformation,” says Josie Guth, Care Center Director. “Willow has always striven to be known as a radically inclusive community that welcomes everyone with grace. I am so excited the Care Center is taking the next step in becoming that kind of community.”
This new Care Center service will be offered from 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m., Monday through Thursday. For those interested in volunteering, visit our website to sign up.