Church of the Resurrection

News

Posts by: Diana Soerens

The Heart of Compassion at Church of the Resurrection: An Interview with Anne

October 06, 2014

Over the years Anne has been a friend and ministry partner to many of us here at Church of the Resurrection. The ministry New Name has a quiet but powerful presence in some very dark places in our community. In this week's blog post, Anne shares how God touched her heart to start New Name and to persevere in a compassion ministry that seldom sees quick and dramatic changes.

How did you first get exposed to your ministry area?

A friend gave me the book Terrify No More by Gary Haugen, founder and President of International Justice Mission. At the time, I didn't know anything about sex trafficking or the industry spawned by this practice. My initial response to the stories of the girls and women trapped in this world was anger and overwhelming sadness. I wrestled with why this injustice was allowed and why more wasn't being done. I had feelings of guilt about why my life was so easy in comparison. I wanted to do something, but this evil was in another country—or so I thought.

What experience or moment catalyzed you to get the church involved in this issue?

Shortly after learning about sex trafficking, I read Dawn Jewell's book, Escaping the Devil's Bedroom, an in-depth look at ministries around the world reaching out to women who have been exploited and trafficked. I started attending monthly meetings at her house which were designed to help educate the local body of Christ on sexual exploitation and pray for the girls and women in the industry. It was through these meetings I learned that sex trafficking was not just in Asia, but also in the U.S. I also learned that many of the older women still in the industry locally, were actually trafficked as a minor, not from another country but from my own community, and long before anyone had heard of the term “human trafficking" or even knew what it was. I also clearly understood this truth: God desires for all involved in this industry to know Him and glorify Him. “For God so Loved the World" included anyone touched by this issue: the women who work in the industry, the buyers, the venue owners, the pimps—the trafficked and the traffickers.

A friend of mine, Heather Anderson, who was also attending Dawn's meetings, felt led to start an outreach to women exploited in our community. She called the outreach New Name, and five years later New Name is still reaching out to women. We've grown since then, and now several churches are involved across the west and northwest suburbs of Chicago, reaching out to over 30 venues and making calls to women advertised online for prostitution.

New Name's desire is for churches around the Chicagoland area to reach out to women in their communities working in the adult industry. First and foremost, we want to come alongside these women and show them God's heart, to let them know that He sees her, that they matter to Him and that He has a plan for their lives.

What have been some highlights and struggles of your ministry?

We've had an opportunity to hear the background stories of many of the women we reach out to. Some of their stories are hard stories that involve horrific abuse, bad choices, and addiction issues. We've seen such great suffering. I don't know how some of these precious women are still alive. I have to remind myself that God is not indifferent to their suffering. He died on the cross for all of it. He is their answer. He is my answer. And sometimes we get a front row seat as He reveals Himself to them. That's the best part of this ministry! To watch as He opens their eyes to their worth, and as they begin to see the gifts and potential He has placed in them. That's awesome!

What are your hopes for your ministry this next ministry year?

We have partnered with an aftercare called Refuge for Women, and have sent several women to their program in Kentucky. It's a faith-based, Christ-centered ministry that's tailored for women coming out of the adult industry. They have a 93% success rate. That is, 93% of the women that enter the program do NOT re-enter the adult industry. That's got God written all over it!

The founder of Refuge for Women, Ked Frank, and his team have felt led to open up an aftercare here locally in 2015. This is a huge answer to prayer! We are very excited to see what God is going to do. Several of the women we are currently working with would like to go to their program but can't leave Chicago. And even if they could go, there currently is a three month waiting list.

How would you like to see Church of the Resurrection more involved?

I would love to see Church of the Resurrection partner with Refuge for Women Chicago. There will be so many serving opportunities when the home opens in 2015. Many of the women come from very broken homes. They don't know what it means to have a family that cares for them and loves them. Healthy church families can adopt a woman and be that family for her. They can mentor her, cheer her on, and get a front row seat as God restores His masterpiece in her. There will also be opportunities to teach life skills, such as cooking and to tutor women working on their GED. Church of the Resurrection can be the Acts 5 church and come around these women with a loving, nurturing, supportive community.

Finally, please join us on Friday, October 24th from 7:30-9:00 P.M. at Church of the Resurrection Church for the Refuge for Women Chicago's Launch Event. You will hear from Ked Frank, Founder and Director of Refuge for Women, Congressman Peter Roskam, and FBI Supervisory Special Agent Vick Lombardo. Desserts and coffee will be served.

Anne Polencheck
New Name Ministry Leader
anne@new-name.org

The Heart of Compassion at Church of the Resurrection: An Interview with Mindy Popp

September 19, 2014

This week we continue our interview series with people in our church who are immersed in local outreach in Christ’s name. We asked long-time Church of the Resurrection member Mindy Popp about her journey as an advocate for life.

How did God first grip your heart as a pro-life advocate?

When I was in junior high school in northern California, my parents took me to the city hall for a presentation by Joseph Scheidler. Mr. Schiedler is an activist within the pro-life community who uses various methods, some controversial, to expose the dark and sad sides of “choice.” At that event I was exposed to the reality of abortion and the destruction of life that results. It seemed very black-and-white to my developing moral sense that the taking of a life, no matter how small, was not right. From that initial exposure, I jumped at every opportunity to talk and write about abortion. My research papers were on abortion. My biography papers focused on Margaret Sanger, the founder of Planned Parenthood, or Bernard Nathanson, a doctor who advocated for abortion on demand and then had a complete change of heart and mind. My high school newspaper columns tackled secularism and gave awareness to the crisis pregnancy center in our town. I watched with interest, tears and prayers, the protesters who blocked entrances at the abortion clinics during Operation Rescues in southern California in the 1980s. I worked on a political campaign for the pro-life candidate and I was “all in,” fully pro-life.

Over the years my heart, my motives, and my pro-life strategies have changed. When I moved back to Wheaton in 1997, I got involved with CareNet Pregnancy Services of DuPage, one of our key partner organizations at Church of the Resurrection. I helped with the Hike for Life and their annual banquets and I went through their counselor training. Yet it wasn’t until I started going to the abortion clinic in Glen Ellyn to pray that my heart began to break for the women who were making this “choice.” I’ve always loved babies, and the thought of destroying one was just too much for me to bear. Now I was watching these women, these girls, coming to this place in distress. Some were young, so, so young. Some were mentally impaired, being brought by the adults in their lives. Some were already moms with car seats and other children in the back. Some were laughing, flipping us off, but most showed signs of discomfort or tears at being there. Each one had a story that not one of them envisioned would end at this place.

Now I see a fuller picture of what it means for me to be pro-life. I stand before the clinic on many Saturday mornings thinking about the darkness that enshrouds that place. I wonder at the “escorts” who lead the women from their cars to the clinic door and ask myself, What misplaced compassion has brought them to this work? Did they once walk in the same shoes as these girls? I watch the weary nurses and clinic workers drag into the back entrance and wonder how they ended up in this industry. I see the shiny expensive car pull up hours later as the doctor is escorted into the side door to begin her “procedures.” I struggle to not feel angry. I struggle to not judge. I remind myself that our fight is not against flesh and blood, but against the evil one. It is the evil one who has made his lies sound so compassionate and reasonable. It is the evil one who manipulates science and language. It is the evil one who entices women with a quick fix, but once the deed is done, turns back on them as their accuser.

What have been some highlights and challenges of your ministry?

Bishop Stewart encouraged Nancy Kreuzer and me to begin a Sanctity of Life ministry here at Church of the Resurrection some years back. We appreciated the leadership that Fr. Gregory Whitaker and now Pastor Matt Woodley have given to this ministry.

Some of the highlights have been hearing from people at Church of the Resurrection who have participated in the 40 Days for Life as they shared what being on location meant to them. Some continued to go back and pray. Others say it was very emotional, especially when they could actually watch young woman walking in to have an abortion.

Our partnership through CareNet’s Connections program has also been a highlight. We’ve had many wonderful women from our church come to the six baby showers that have been held for different moms in need who had considered having an abortion. The women of our church have also come alongside these moms by providing the practical help of taking meals, helping with babysitting, etc. Through their loving presence and care, these women have displayed Christ’s love to these pregnant moms and their children.

For the past three years we’ve had people from our church go to the March for Life in Washington, D.C. This past January Bishop Stewart, and his daughter, Madeleine, Diana Soerens, Pastor Matt Woodley all attended. To know that our church leadership puts a high priority on the sanctity of life is a huge encouragement.

Perhaps the biggest challenge we face is to pass the torch to the next generation. It seems to be seen as “the issue of our parents.” So we’re wrestling with how to better communicate that life is sacred from conception to natural death in a culture that knows the science, but still views one life (the mother’s) as more important than another (an inconvenient or “imperfect” baby). It also is our challenge to move people from saying to themselves “Yes, I’m pro-life” to helping them know how they can make a difference.

What are your hopes for your ministry this next ministry year?

It has been so encouraging to have our ministry team grow this past year with new people and our hope is to see that growth continue. We are also very excited about getting people from our church to participate in the 40 Days for Life, the March for Life Chicago on January 18th, 2015 and the workshops that Prof. Morse Tan will be leading before and after the March—all of this flowing from our celebration of Sanctity of Life Sunday. We also want the message from our church to be heard that women and men who have been affected by abortion are loved and valued, that our church is safe place to find forgiveness and healing even if you’ve had an abortion. .

How would you like to see Church of the Resurrection more involved?

Here are some practical ways you can get involved during the next season:

  • Come and pray for an hour of quiet prayer at the 40 Days for Life prayer vigil this fall.
  • Join us at the CareNet Annual Banquet on October 21st at Drury Lane (email rusty@henningerpopp.com) to find out more about our ministry partner.
  • Small groups of people (friends, prayer groups, pastorates) can host a CareNet Connections baby shower for a pregnant mom. (email Cindy Kiple to find out more).
  • Come and pray, year round, on Saturday or Wednesday mornings at the Aanchor Health Center (abortion clinic) on Roosevelt Rd., in Glen Ellyn from 8:00-9:00 a.m. (email mindypopp@hotmail.com).
  • Mark your calendars now to join us Sunday after church on January 18th at the Chicago March for Life.
  • Also, mark your calendar for a two-part workshop “A Thinking Christian’s Guide to Being Pro-life,” led Morse Tan on January 11 & February 1st. (watch for details!)
  • We are also working toward launching Restore, a post-abortion healing small group, at our church.
  • And if you are interested in joining the Sanctity of Life team in any capacity, please let me know
Mindy Popp
Member of the Sanctity of Life Team
mindypopp@hotmail.com