“For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.” ~ Psalm 139:13-14
For Women’s History Month, we are sharing wisdom from our sisters in Christ on a very common and natural part of their lives and ministries – the tragedy of abortion and crisis pregnancy. Jandi* in Nepal, Rina* in Bangladesh, and Priya* in India, share their experiences. We’ll begin with Jandi, and share Rina’s and Priya’s answers in our next two posts.
As the legality of abortion has long been at the forefront of debate in the US, the issues that lead to abortion can often seem like an afterthought. We wanted to gain these women’s perspective on this justice issue, from a place rooted in scripture and lived experience.
All of these women have a wide breadth of ministry. Helping women, their families, and their babies is a natural outflowing of walking in the footsteps of Jesus. These are just short summaries of their work and outlook. We will continue to share more about this aspect of ministry in all of our supported countries in the future. We pray we can all learn from them in our own contexts – to love the mother and the child. To love the pre-born and the born.
Jandi, the wife of our Nepal coordinator, Shalva*, leads many ministries, especially in the areas of women’s empowerment and poverty alleviation, in addition to consistent personal evangelism and discipleship. Jandi knows the challenges women and their babies face in Nepal.
“Abortion is not very legal here, but it is acceptable for some medical reasons. Like if people get pregnant at a very young age. Or if people have an illegal relationship. Abortion is legal for the woman’s health. For girls who get pregnant out of wedlock they will probably get an abortion. If the woman can explain everything about her out of wedlock situation, the abortion is legal.
It is so important to stop the causes that lead to abortion. We work to teach other churches and Christians about issues like this, as well as financial classes to address poverty, and other problems. It is the responsibility of people to help one another and lift each other up.
In Nepal the women carry all the burden of preventing pregnancy and caring for the children, but the men won’t do anything. This is very bad. We teach about family planning, to both women and men. In Shalva’s church planting and personal discipleship, he encourages all men to take responsibility and use condoms or get vasectomies. He tells them it is much safer for them than for their wives to get a hysterectomy. This message is not common here. Men expect their wives to take all the responsibility.
My married friend, Bina*, got pregnant and had a boy, their third child. Her husband Anju* works abroad. He comes back once a year, and each time they have become pregnant. Bina is left to raise her children and run their home on her own – very difficult. When Anju came back and met his son, afterward, my husband encouraged Anju to have a vasectomy. Bina did not have a hysterectomy because the doctor believed it would be unsafe. Anju was scared, like most men are here. But my husband told him he had done it himself, and that Anju did not need to be afraid. So in this way we also helped with family planning. Bina was so happy!
A young woman who is pregnant has to face so many problems. Unmarried girls are forced by society to seek abortion because they are rejected if people know they are pregnant. Even in families, because of poverty, mothers can sometimes starve after giving birth, while trying to feed their baby. When a family cannot afford a child, they or their siblings can die because there is not enough food. So many other problems come as well.
I see how hard it is for a woman to raise a baby without any money. It is terrible for the mother and her baby. Abortion is not good, but not being able to provide for the baby is just as important. We cannot choose between mother and baby.
When a girl or woman in crisis comes to me, I find out about her situation – what does she want to do? How did this happen? What is her financial situation? Many women in Nepal do this because they are abused by their husbands. If the mother wants to keep the baby herself, we find people to support her to find a job, pay several months of rent, and make sure they have enough food. Many churches take in women who are abused by their husbands, or girls abused by their families. If this is not an option, I see if I can find a couple to take care of the child. That’s what our church does. I ask many churches in different parts of Nepal, and we set up an agreement for adoption with a good family. I keep the baby in my home till the adoptive parents can reach here. Recently, baby Coral was born, and my mother and I took her in for the first 20 days of her life until the family could come for her. So many issues come in life.
You don’t just share the Gospel and preach. You do. Act on it in your lives.
In Him, Jandi“
Read from Rina in Bangladesh and Priya in India.
*Names changed for safety