Lanita: Restoring the Heart, Inc. is a non-profit ministry that is dedicated to helping women and girls make positive lifestyle choices a norm. We do this by hosting workshops, forums, Bible studies, and outreach opportunities that provide ongoing support and resources for ladies facing the issues that we address. I am the founder and Executive Director of RTH. This ministry was birthed in 2009 out of a burden in my heart for women and girls that I saw were dealing with many of the issues I had dealt with and overcame through Christ. I was burdened because I knew many of them now stood in the shoes I once stood in, without the mentors and support, as well as positive alternatives to the negative lifestyle choices they were making. We are believing God to make an imprint in more communities, schools, and college campuses this year. If you are dedicated and have a heart to use your gifts serving young ladies, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
WHOLE: You are so brave for sharing your experience with abortion, depression, sexuality, and so openly and honestly. What is the scariest part about revealing your innermost thoughts and struggles with people you don’t know?
Lanita: Thank you, Carmen. It hasn’t always been this easy and initially it was scary, but now every time I share my story I am all the more liberated. I don’t fear what people will say or think of me because I KNOW that someone, somewhere needs to know that Jesus loves them in spite of the mistakes they’ve made; and if my story becomes the catalyst for their healing, by all means I will share as the Lord leads me. I’ve been redeemed and freed through Christ from the guilt and shame of my past so there are no fears. When I share my story, my prayer is that people will not see me but that they will see Christ IN me and see what HE has done by restoring my heart back to Him. And most importantly they will see that there is freedom in Christ, which gives me the boldness to speak without fear of being condemned.
WHOLE: Lanita, can you share with our readers some of your testimony?
Lanita: The year of 1999, my sophomore year in high school would change my life forever. I was 15 and pregnant. Unbeknownst to me, I was about to make a choice that would affect me for the rest of my life. After months of denial, my boyfriend at the time and I both decided that I would have an abortion. Not wanting our family’s to know, I researched ways to have the procedure performed without parental consent. I set an appointment with a district judge who asked me several questions and completed the judicial by-pass paperwork that I had been told I needed to get from the court before I could have an abortion without parental consent. As the judge filled out the paperwork, she asked me questions, like: “Did I know what I was doing?” “If I thought I was mature enough?” “Was I mentally stable?” “If I had been told or was otherwise aware about any of the adverse psychological consequences that may occur following an abortion?” I told the judge that I had never heard of any complications that might occur, but said I thought I was mentally stable, mature enough, and knew what I was doing. The truth was I had no idea what I was doing.
Following my abortion, I was so confused and hurt that I shut down inside. For years I cried every single day and begged God who I barely knew at the time not to be angry with me for making such a horrible mistake. Several years proceeding my abortion, I broke up with my boyfriend. At 18 years old, my grief and hopelessness remained because I felt as though the one that had caused me the most pain was now gone and so was my child. I became numb to the world. [Finish reading Lanita’s powerful testimony here.]
WHOLE: What advice would you give to women struggling with the decision of having an abortion?
Lanita: I would advise they seek their local life-affirming pregnancy resource center (Visit www.ramahinternational.org to search for help in their area) and if there isn’t one in their area, call this 24/7 Christian pro-life hotline (800) 395-4357. Most of these centers are equipped with trained, loving, and compassionate Christian women who peer counsel ladies and provide them with helpful resources within and outside of the center to ensure that they will become healthy and successful parents. They do not perform or refer for abortion, but will provide helpful information regarding different procedures so that these women are well informed before making that decision. They will also refer to adoption agencies if that is the mother’s desire.
Majority of these women are afraid and are in a panic. I would strongly suggest finding a close friend or family member they trust to talk through their feelings with. We see it every day in our local Charlotte center; many women just need someone to talk to so they can calm down. Last but certainly not least, I would strongly suggest that they seek God’s heart in the matter. Pray and pray some more. What is God’s heart towards life? We read in Jeremiah 1:5 “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart…” and Psalm 139:1-18 speaks beautifully to God’s heart for us before conception and after birth. He absolutely loves us! We may make mistakes, but God makes NONE! Dear sister, if you are reading this, there is hope and there are people that would love to help you!
WHOLE: What encouragement can you give to women who feel the need to share their stories, whether through speech or the written word, but have fears about disclosing information about their personal lives?
Lanita: I would encourage anyone that has a desire to share their story to pray about it. Seek God to see if you believe he is leading you to share with one person or with multiple people and when. Ask yourself what your purpose is for sharing is and what do you hope to accomplish by doing so? Also be mindful and respect the parties involved in your story. While others may have played a major role in your story, ultimately it is about how God restored you; always draw people back to Him. And lastly, if you have not healed from your experience, I strongly suggest seeking a support group or Bible study that helps you get to the root of that issue so that you can fully heal. Sharing a story while you are still broken can be like pouring salt on an open wound and could potentially harm more people than it could help.
WHOLE:You work at your local Pregnancy Center. What is the most rewarding part of your job?
Lanita: Since I began volunteering at PRC in 2010, my life heart for the pro-life movement and my purpose have been defined all the more. I came on staff part-time in March of 2012 as the office administrator. I work in the development department so I have the privilege of seeing up close and personal the hearts of hundreds of people who give generously to help these women and babies that they may never get to meet. That truly blows my mind. None of them are seeking a public applause, they sincerely desire to see babies saved and mother’s healed. I am also grateful for the strong presence of the Lord that rests in that place. The staff and volunteers begin every morning with devotion. We cover each other, the center, and the ladies that we will see that day in prayer. It is an amazing feeling.
WHOLE: The clients must impact you so powerfully. Granted, there are tough days, but overall, you always talk about how they inspire you. How have the young women you’ve encountered there shaped your faith and your view of God?
Lanita: There are tough days indeed. We carry the weight and burdens of these women and we shed many tears for them. However, there are more days than not that we see God’s sovereign grace in a tangible way. We rejoice when we see a young girl or a married woman come into the center with their minds set on abortion and after seeing their baby via ultrasound or hearing the testimony of someone who has walked in their shoes, they cry tears of joy and question how they could have ever thought about taking their precious child’s life. These ladies are brave. They inspire me to be more compassionate, more loving, more graceful, and more forgiving.
While we are helping them, many are helping us strengthen our faith by seeing that God can take a story so broken and mold it into a story so beautifully written. Seeing a woman come in with no hope, to leaving feeling like the weight of the world has been lifted off her shoulders simply because someone took the time to listen to her and pray with and for her. Women come to know Christ there; many rededicate their lives to Him there, many receive their very first Bible there… It is truly overwhelming and I am utterly grateful to say that at this time in history God chose me to be a part of this. I can’t leave without saying that we are always looking for more volunteers who have a heart for the unborn and desire to help this population. We will be opening two new satellite centers in 2013 and are praying that God would place it on the hearts of 100+ women to be a part of what He is doing there! If you are interested in volunteering or would like to tour the center to learn more about different volunteer opportunities, contact Mary Fleischman email@example.com.