The ProLife Team Podcast 76 | Renae Kitchin & Jacob Barr | If Not For Grace Ministries

The ProLife Team Podcast
The ProLife Team Podcast 76 | Renae Kitchin & Jacob Barr | If Not For Grace Ministries
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Listen to Renae Kitchin and Jacob Barr talk about Renae’s journey leading If Not For Grace Ministries to bring hope and healing to women.

Summary

This is Jacob Barr, and in this episode of the Pro-Life Team Podcast, I had the opportunity to speak with Renae Kitchin, the Executive Director of If Not for Grace Ministries. Renae shared her journey with the ministry, starting as a volunteer in 2017 and transitioning to Executive Director in 2019. She discussed the challenges and unexpected opportunities that arose during the global pandemic, which led to the ministry’s expansion beyond the local community.

Renae elaborated on the services provided by If Not for Grace Ministries, focusing primarily on abortion healing and recovery. The ministry offers weekly recovery groups, reconciliation weekends, and ongoing support programs, including ‘Next Steps,’ which aim to help individuals process their experiences, find healing, and integrate into their local church communities.

One significant shift Renae noted was the increasing number of individuals reaching out soon after their abortion, seeking immediate help. This change has required a slight adaptation in their approach to care. Renae emphasized the importance of meeting people where they are, irrespective of their faith background, and guiding them towards healing and a deeper relationship with God.

Renae shared powerful stories of transformation and healing, highlighting the profound impact of their ministry on individuals and families. She discussed the importance of being non-political in their approach to ensure they are a safe space for everyone seeking help, regardless of their background or beliefs.

Renae’s insights into the necessity of compassion and understanding in pro-life work were poignant. She encouraged other pro-life advocates and organizations to be mindful of the diverse experiences of individuals they encounter, emphasizing the importance of providing avenues for freedom and healing.

To conclude the podcast, Renae led a prayer, reflecting on the gratitude for the work being done in the pro-life community and the continued need for support, resources, and open doors for ministry.

This enriching conversation highlighted the significant work of If Not for Grace Ministries in providing a path to healing and restoration for those affected by abortion. Renae’s dedication and passion for this cause were truly inspiring.

For those interested in learning more about If Not for Grace Ministries or seeking guidance on engaging with individuals affected by abortion, Renae’s insights and the ministry’s resources are invaluable.

Reflecting on this conversation, relevant hashtags include: #ProLifeHealing, #AbortionRecovery, #CompassionateCare, #FaithBasedSupport, #IfNotForGraceMinistries, #PostAbortionHealing, #RestorationAndHope, #TransformativeStories, #NonPoliticalApproach, #JourneyToHealing.

Transcript

The transcript was automatically generated and may contain errors.

Jacob Barr :

So Renae, I’m excited to have you on the pro-life Team Podcast. Would you introduce yourself as if you were speaking to a small group of pricey clinic executive directors?

Renae Kitchin :

Sure thank you so much for having me on today and yes, hi, my name is Renee Kitchen. I’m the executive director for if Not for Grace Ministries. And if Not for Grace is primarily a ministry that serves women and men and families who have been impacted by abortion. So we do that in a number of many different ways. I’ve been involved since 2017 i came on as a volunteer, and then the Lord quickly captured my heart for the people that we serve, and in 2019 came on as the executive director and I can’t begin to tell you the ways it’s impacted and changed my life, Nor was I prepared for a global pandemic and running a nonprofit ministry. But God has been really faithful and good to us through the whole change up in our world, and it’s actually opened many doors. So like I said, I’ve been involved with the ministry for about 5 years i am a wife of 21 years. I am a mother of four i have one in college down to one in fifth grade so pretty busy mom on top of doing this job and then on top of this job as well i am a worship director in our local community at a church here.

Jacob Barr :

Our sponsor is heritage House provides over one thousand five hundred resources and tools for the pro-life movement. From fetal models to yard signs to the precious feet pin. Heritage House is proud of nearly 50 years of standing shoulder to shoulder with pro-life advocates like you. Supporting our sponsors like Heritage House supports the pro-life Team Podcast. Thank you.

Renae Kitchin :

These podcasts are not scripted. The ideas presented may not be the official position of the speakers or sponsors. These podcasts are free form dialogues that may include brainstorming and trying on ideas to see how they fit. Please walk with us as we share stories and ideas.

Jacob Barr :

Awesome yeah actually at the Alliance for Life Missouri Conference, you played your guitar and sing one of the worship songs and I remember that. Yeah, Awesome. So tell us about, you know tell what does if not for Greece ministries do like what service do you provide what’s the what are you how are you serving women that you’re helping?

Renae Kitchin :

Sure so we do, like I said, primarily abortion healing, abortion recovery. So we work closely with a lot of pro-life organizations, but we do not serve women who are facing a crisis pregnancy. We serve the women who have made the abortion decision, whether it’s a client from a pregnancy center, a volunteer, a staff person. We just know that there’s a lot of healing that needs to happen for those who want to either engage in this work, this pro-life work and or those that we serve. So the way we do that, and we do that one of three ways we offer weekly abortion recovery groups. We have about four to five sessions of those each year. They run about 9 weeks and about two hours each week. When we try to do this in a group setting, we have found that women and men alike who have abortion in their background tend to keep it very private because of the shame and regret that they feel and so being a part of a group brings a lot of healing as they hear other people’s stories in ways that they have dealt and been impacted themselves. So we do that, like I said, about four to five times a year. The beautiful thing that COVID actually opened up for us is moving our groups online so instead of physically being in the Kansas City metro area, we’re not able to serve all across the country and even across the globe in some instances. So we do that for women and men our men’s group is a little bit shorter, as you can imagine men don’t like to talk as much, so we try to just meet them where they are. And those tend to be more one-on-one right now. But we’re hoping as more men reach out, we’ll be able to facilitate more groups so they do the recovery group and then we invite them to what we call reconciliation Weekend. And this is not mutually exclusive to those who’ve gone to the group. Our philosophy is if you can’t give us nine weeks, we’d love to serve you over a weekend. And so this weekend experience is actually how I got involved as a worship leader. I got invited to come do the music portion of this retreat, and what this is a real intense you have to know it’s deep, but we take women and men and participants, couples, singles alike, through different interactions that Jesus had here on earth as he served and helped those who were hurting. And our hope is that they’ll be able to see themselves within those stories and understand the forgiveness and the just restoration that God wants to bring to their life. And so this weekend retreat ends in a memorial service for their children. And we have found this to be an incredibly important part of their healing process. They’re able to recognize, bring honor, bring dignity to this life that was lost and with the promise and the hope that they are in heaven with Jesus, and someday they’ll be able to see them again. And so the next part of our ministry, which I think helps us stand out a little bit from other abortion recovery ministries is what we call next steps. So like I said, many people keep other Christians, other believers, church leaders, they at arm’s length because they don’t want people to know the secret that they’ve been holding on to. And so we just want to encourage them to continue to grow in the relationship with God. And so we create a very safe community of other women and men who have gone through similar experiences and we continue to work on the areas of shame, of self esteem, of anger, of forgiveness and then we also try to get them plugged into local church communities because at the end of the day, we want them to go out living their Kingdom purpose we want them to walk in the freedom that they have in Christ. And so it’s a discipleship and mentorship and just continuing to equip them and empower them to live the life that we know God wants them to have.

Jacob Barr :

Wow. And so it’s interesting that you were, well, that you were brought on right before the pandemic and then, you know, through that tragedy, you know, the growth of going beyond Missouri or beyond Kansas City was that what you said yes.

Renae Kitchin :

Yes.

Jacob Barr :

Ok. So essentially now you’re serving well remotely. And So what was that like what was that like to go from local to serving remotely, nationally and internationally.

Renae Kitchin :

The short The short answer is overwhelming, but overwhelmingly exciting. When we moved, we were in the middle of a session in March of 2020 when everything shut down so when I came on in 2019 I’m right in that demographic where I grew up with technology. And so I’m not afraid of technology and I was trying to push us to move to an online offering and so God just kind of pushed us right into that, which was, which was hard but also opened a lot of eyes that number one, God is not limited by technology. It’s a little clunky sometimes and there’s connectivity problems and just challenges that come with it all but we’ve seen God show up so it was interesting. What was really exciting is in the past when someone would find us online and they weren’t in the local area, we had to work really hard to find them resources in the community that they were in occasionally someone would come call in and do a one-on-one session, but as I mentioned earlier, the group setting is just so much more effective in their healing process so yeah, it was, it was interesting to teach a lot of people new technology and to roll with it and recognize that what we had been doing for 17 plus years, while still very effective, was not the doors that God was opening and so when we stepped into that, we went from serving you know 15 to 20 ladies locally to like 80, we had like 87 that we’ve served this year and so, but the overwhelming part of that is as you look up and look out, you realize how much need there is and there’s not enough people doing this work to really serve those who are needing help so that’s the overwhelming part. It’s exciting from a numbers perspective, but from an actual care perspective, we need more people to join us in this work so that we can serve all the people that need the help that they that they so they don’t even know they need sometimes.

Jacob Barr :

So I also I think it’s really interesting that you were so you were a worship leader at one of at a weekend retreat I was I’m guessing and so by doing that you that’s how you were invited into this group or this ministry and that was and so at now as the executive director are you still able to act as the worship leader and or if you had to step down from that part of your participation.

Renae Kitchin :

I would do it every time if I could. I share this many times i’m a pastor’s kid. I’m a great My grandfather’s a pastor three of my uncles are pastors. I grew up in church, but doing that retreat that first time was utterly life changing. To see God show up and someone change from Friday to Sunday. So much to my board chagrin, I have done a lot of the retreat, still as a worship leader, as volunteer, I have tried to reach out to some other people, but it always ends up falling through because it’s a it’s a commitment, but we have a few people now that are kind of ready and poised to take over but I have asked everyone can I at least do 1A year because it’s just it’s a reminder of what why I do what I do and what we do, why we do what we do so I don’t ever want to lose the connection to what God does on those weekends.

Jacob Barr :

Yeah and I think music is such an important part when it comes to connecting with, well, praising God and connecting with God and hearing certain messages that spoken word, yeah, we hear, we hear it differently when we’re singing it and we’re participating in. I know it’s just it’s a very remarkable experience and yeah, it’s really interesting that that’s part of your origin story is that you were brought in through the through the through the band or through the music.

Renae Kitchin :

Yeah, i might add, that’s really cool. Add to I’ve been involved in multiple church music scenarios and the lights, the stage, the microphones, the technology you know, just the pageantry of it all, which it can be very fun to be part of is not really ever been my heart. And so when this opportunity came around, I wasn’t that familiar with the ministry but the idea of a small intimate gathering where the music is setting the stage for the Holy Spirit to really speak like the way it’s set up is everyone’s in a circle and I’m out or the musicians outside of the circle so you’re not even really like no one’s looking at you no one so it’s not about you. It’s about creating a space for God to be able to speak to people and kind of help those walls come down. And so I think that’s why it was so impactful for me is being reminded that God doesn’t necessarily need us. He just wants obedient, willing people to. You know, take a step of faith and get what they have. I mean, I will be the first to tell you I’m not the most amazing worship leader in the world, but it doesn’t matter because God just wants us to serve people that are hurting and so what I did, I was scared to death. And I got to tell you, when you see people start crying and being set free and you’re trying to sing, that’s hard. And so I had to learn how to, you know, kind of set myself outside of that so that I can stay focused on what they need. But anyway, I could talk about that for hours, but it’s beautiful.

Jacob Barr :

Yeah, well, yes let’s dive into some stories of where you’ve seen God’s fingerprints and the lives of those you know who have been helped and rescued or healed. Yeah, tell us a story.

Renae Kitchin :

Ok, I’m going to tell you two stories i think if we have time, the first set of story I stories I want to tell is that my very first weekend on staff so I’ve done a few of these weekend retreats before, but my very first weekend on staff, we had kind of a scheduling issue with our venue and had it at the very last minute reschedule our venue and it was stressful and but we’re not surprised by that and there’s always a lot of attack that comes when we know that God wants to work in people’s lives so it all worked out we found a new venue we had five couples that came so a husband and wife, and of the five couples, four of the dads were the father that was part of that abortion decision so that was a huge deal for us normally that’s not our, you know that we don’t normally get both people involved. And so we had a lot of expectation, a lot of prayer went into that weekend and we walked in and so many of those couples you could have, you know, you felt the chill between them there had been a lot of struggle in their marriage because of this decision that they were making one in particular you could tell they even told us this is kind of our last thing together to try to heal our marriage and to move forward. And so we go into it everybody’s nervous and this one older couple just jumped in with both feet and because they were older, been married a little bit longer than everyone else it LED everyone else to really fully engage and by the end of that weekend, you know, there were people were sitting closer together there was a physical touch happening. A lot of healing happened right before eyes so that was amazing, to see God and just restore not only them as individuals as they, you know, acknowledge what had happened and then recognize their children together, but then to see their marriage and their family now become whole because they had kind of brought into the light this thing that had been, you know, deeply held as a secret. And so that’s been really cool we’ve seen that happen over and over again. But that one particular weekend to see it happen five times over was just beautiful. And then just recently we had a lady reach out she was from Canada. So that was exciting because we’re reaching beyond the United States and she had just recently had her abortion. And so something I should have mentioned before is up until about 2021 most of the women that reached out were women who had abortions ten fifteen twenty even 30 years prior. In the last 18 months to almost two years now. The women that are reaching out have had abortions 2 weeks ago, three days ago, three months ago and so they’re finding us and reaching out for help sooner, which is super exciting because we don’t want them to be living in that shame and in that and that weight for twenty thirty years. That does mean our approach has to shift a little bit because someone who has had something horrible happened to them a long time ago needs different care than someone who still may be dealing with the traumatic effects of that but that that’s beside the point so this lady reached out to us in the spring, I want to say, and she had the abortion, been coerced by her boyfriend, didn’t feel like she had any support, and was just utterly devastated right after it happened, she participated in a chemical abortion at home. So that’s a whole nother level of trauma that women go through. And so her being so far away was tricky because we knew she needed a lot of care. And so we got her connected to what we call a care coach. And a care coach is somebody who is not a facilitator for our group, isn’t someone on staff, but is someone, like I said, we’ve reached 87 people but if we don’t reach all of those people well and with great individuality and just listening to them and meeting their needs and I’ll try to fit them in our mold of our program and what are we doing so the care coach is just kind of designed to, hey, I’m just going to check in on you every other day or so, see how you’re doing, kind of be your cheerleader through this process so we got her connected with a care coach. This young lady did not go to attend church, did not know much, if anything about God, but just knew that God might be the solution to the pain that she was feeling. And so as you can imagine, those of us who have known the Lord for a long time and even our program is very faith-based and we didn’t want to throw too much at her and have her be overwhelmed by what she didn’t know. And so this care coach just took a lot of time and really introduced her to who Jesus was. And so through that process, even before our group began, and then as the group went on, they would process, what do you think this means we have our ladies read through the book of John while they’re going through our recovery group as well. And if you’ve ever read the Book of John, it is a beautiful picture of who Jesus was and she met him and he changed her life. And so our care coach did a lot of research, found a local church up in the area that she lived, and she got plugged in she’s found a small group she’s found community. And we actually, just two weeks ago got a video where she got baptized she sent it to us. And so it is beautiful to see what the enemy meant for evil in someone’s life. God has now brought good beauty out of ashes. And that’s what we’re all about and so that is new for us that has not really been we’ve had that happen a few times over the last 20 years, but we’re seeing that more and more consistently and so we’re even more excited to take this work we do and bring the hope of the gospel to people who’ve never, ever even heard it. And it’s an odd way for us to do that but God’s just like, you know, step back and let me do what I’m going to do and we’re just seeing people, if they don’t know the Lord, coming to know the Lord, and if they do, just their faith strengthened in a way that will make them so effective for the Kingdom of God as they move forward.

Jacob Barr :

So would you say that over the last 17 years most participants were people who had were who were essentially had become believers or were believers at some point And then over the last three years you’ve been having unbelievers reach out like is that is that how, how? Yeah i wonder. Yeah that’s very interesting that you’re the unbelievers are reaching out for healing and help and help. Yeah that’s and so yeah and part of that journey is to introduce them to Jesus in order to actually experience the healing. Because without Jesus, without Jesus, how much healing are they able to get? Or is that is there even really a pathway towards true healing unless they have, you know, establish relationship with Jesus?

Renae Kitchin :

There are, there is another organization out there that does have a secular approach that I think is effective in the fact that it kind of helps people understand that they need help and that they need healing. I’ve not done a lot of research into how they bridge the gap because they’re a Christian organization, but how they bridge the gap into now how do we get you seeking after God and having him change your life. So, but they do that well and so we don’t need to do that. We can always if we have somebody who’s like, you know, I don’t want anything to do about with God or faith or anything, then we have a very strong referral that we can pass on but what’s amazing is we don’t we don’t sugarcoat it we don’t bait and switch anyone. From the very beginning we say, OK, you know, I just want you to understand this is a faith-based approach we follow the Bible we read a lot of scripture. How do you feel about that and almost always they will say, I mean I’ve tried everything else, this is the last, this is my last hope. And so I will say it’s not always successful. You know, someone jumps in, they think they’re ready and they’re just not and sometimes I wonder if it’s that we’re a little bit too they just so I don’t have that Holy Spirit yet to really help them process and interpret what we’re trying to help them understand. But we’ve rarely had anyone who has quit under those circumstances say that they didn’t feel loved and supported through the process and we’ve had pretty good success rate that they’ll stop and then months later we’ll come back so it’s just as a we just want to meet people where they are, but we also don’t believe that true healing can happen without Christ. We don’t want anyone to everything. Oh, I did six weeks of healing work and I’m good no, that’s just not the reality. We but we want to make sure we it’s that in relationship we’re not just throwing scripture at them and hoping something sticks we want them to know their love no matter where they’re coming from.

Jacob Barr :

Yeah, it seems like it’d probably be true to say, you know, after six weeks you can be, you know, you can identify the road towards Towards Healing and continue on down that road with progress to be made into the future because yeah, there’s always seems to be. It’s a, it’s a journey it’s not like we ever complete things when it comes to Jesus it’s more of like an ongoing experience.

Renae Kitchin :

We say that all the time healing is a journey. It’s like an onion, you know, something gets peeled off and we have women. I mean, one of our staff ladies has been involved with administration.

Jacob Barr :

With onions, yes.

Renae Kitchin :

Yes, exactly. Maybe fifteen sixteen years now and she still, you know, she’ll go, she’ll be facilitating a group and God just brings healing, more healing to a certain area of her life and that’s beautiful because we know that he is never done with us, that he wants to continually bring hope and healing to our lives and so that’s something that we can speak from actual experience to the ladies that we serve like this has been our journey. And then I can show you, tell you now, 20 years later, I’m still healed, I’m still healing, I’m still having God just bring to light things that I need to work through.

Jacob Barr :

So with that is this transition from you know that where people who didn’t have a faith or we’re not followers of Jesus we’re reaching out for help. What is it is it a cultural change is it something you, your team did differently were you postured differently? What might have been the agent of change that might have helped you reach the that population or that demographic?

Renae Kitchin :

I love this question i’m so glad you asked it. I only have speculation because I’m not a resource scientist, but I think there’s two things we’ve done that has maybe helped us be more safe for people. We have really stayed out of the political narrative when Roe versus Wade was overturned in June, when the elections were happening, you know, in 2020 All of that while we have a very pro-life stance, of course and we don’t want the devastation of abortion to touch the life of the child or the mom or the family. We want to make sure that no matter what, where you stand, when you come to us, you feel safe and love we know that the Holy Spirit’s it’s the Holy Spirit’s job to change someone’s heart. And so we offer the truth we don’t we don’t sugarcoat it, like I said, but we also aren’t going to publicly get out and, you know, shake our finger at the world and say you’re wrong for believing this way. We just want to by example of people right where they are so I think that has been one of the ways that we’ve been able to reach people outside of maybe the faith community because they get on our social media, they get on our website and there’s nothing political and I’m not saying that’s wrong. That’s just not what God has called us to do. And then the other thing too is, I think personally, those of us involved in the ministry have done the same thing. We have been very careful within our own personal narratives and learning how to have grace and compassion around this topic makes us more approachable. And so even just within our, you know, staff volunteer base, we’ve had lots of people willing to reach out for help because they’re like, OK, we’re watching you and you’re not hateful, you’re not being divisive. But it’s a double edged sword because I’ve also had people ask me, what do you really believe about abortion you know, the people who I think would totally get it. It’s a little bit of a double edged sword, but I would rather people be wondering and reach out for help and let us share our hearts, then have them make a very like firm decision well, I don’t want to talk to them, so I think that answers your question.

Jacob Barr :

Yeah, that definitely does. Was there a change three years ago that you might have changed your posturing, or has that been the posturing for a long time?

Renae Kitchin :

I think they’ve done a pretty good job just making sure that we were safe for everyone. And I can’t speak a lot to what happened before because like I said before, there wasn’t a lot of technology usage. So unless I want to go through years of binders and file folders, it’s hard to know exactly where what people were staying out in the world, but just.

Jacob Barr :

Face and also before three years ago you weren’t you know national or beyond Kansas City, missouri So there, it’s really not a fair comparison I guess because the, you know, local versus remote slash online is a very, yeah, essentially you have to sort of just look at the remote slash online I guess to really understand how you’re reaching those people that are reaching who are responding, yeah. And when I work, we work with pricey clinics a great deal and a pricey clinic we usually have two websites, one that’s client facing and then ones that’s donor facing and the client facing when we’re trying to meet the client where she’s at you know on the you know let’s say she’s you know traveling from one story to the to the Next up a flight of stairs next story. We really want to meet her on the step that she’s currently on and then help her get to the next step out of you know 10 steps or whatever it happens to be to get to the next floor and if we try and bring too much too quickly you know it very likely she will decide it’s not you know it’s it may trip her up and send her back to Google to try again. And our goal is for her to become part of that pro-life donor support community. But at the same time, we have to respect where she’s at and look at look at something that’s going to be helpful for where she’s at to help her go in the in the helpful direction. And so I completely understand, yeah, that neutral and yeah meeting someone where they are more so than spilling out everything on step one and then it’s just overwhelming.

Renae Kitchin :

Right when we’re we just we really have to stay outside of the politics of it all because we’re dealing with people who already made that decision we can’t change their decision we can change their mindset we can change their like advocacy and the what they support but we can’t go back in time and unmake the decision for them and so if we are too, if we come across too judgmental and too harsh on our stance, I think that. And once again, i don’t have any problem with people who are called to be very black and white because it is very black and white i mean, life is lost, devastation happens. But we recognize after hundreds and hundreds of stories that the decision to have an abortion is very complicated. There are so many factors that lead women and men alike to make that decision. And so one of the challenges that I always say to people is when the election was happening, I mean, I guess really we just had the whatever was the prank, the midterms or whatever People kept saying I’m a one issue voter i’m a one issue voter, like very publicly. And it comes down to that for me many times as well but I’m careful i mean, I guess this is public, but I’m careful for what I say because if I have somebody in my life who’s had an abortion but also is in stuck in a system, that’s really unfair And they’re stuck in poverty and they’re not being supported in ways that they should be from the church or people around them. I’ve completely negated all these other issues that they deal with by saying I only care about this one thing and so just being careful i don’t know the stories of everyone around me and so I just want to be mindful all the time. And I mean the Bible’s really clear don’t be lukewarm, Be clear about what you believe, but do it in love do it in a in a place of relationship. So once I get to know someone, I mean, there’s no doubt I tell people exactly how I feel and what I believe and what I stand for. But until I know that about you in with our clients as well, we want to get to know where did you come from, what led to your decision? Going back to what you’re talking about, when they’re just a couple of days, a couple of weeks outside of their abortion decision, they’re often still in those situations that cause them to make that decision. So how can we help you? What are the areas of your life that you need support and so it’s just been a total i’ve told our board it’s like turning a cruise ship. You know, we were going one way for so long and we’re still going to that destination, but we’re having to kind of turn the way that we operate so that we can meet people’s needs. And so it’s just been there’s so many needs that can get overwhelming, but I’d rather help 12 people and do it really well because of life that’s changed has such big ripple effects in the communities that they live in and so numbers don’t really matter although it’s hard as an executive director, you are held to numbers and statistics. At the end of the day, I know someday all I’m being held accountable for is did I love people well and did I share the truth with them and did I just live a bun obediently and poured out for Christ and so I just have to keep that my focus all the time so this summer when all that chaos was happening, I got very overwhelmed and I just heard the Lord say, Renee, just help the next person who fills out an intake. Don’t worry about all the people and all the lies and all of the noise just help the next person. And so I was just deep breath, OK and the floodgates kind of open and so we’ve just steadily been helping the next person so that’s I think I got off topic, but.

Jacob Barr :

No that’s perfectly on. I want to ask you, when Jesus was at the at the well and there was the woman there, you know, who had multiple husbands or it was living at someone else’s house and so on. You know, when you’re saying you know things are black and white, but at the same time Jesus offered her mercy and yeah, and didn’t come down like a hammer and so I think that when you were talking, it made me think of that. And then also like when Jesus was on the cross and you said father, forgive them for they don’t know what they do. Again, a black and white issue, you know killing an innocent man, Jesus, and here he is asking for forgiveness so while it’s black and white, it’s also, you know, grace and mercy are a different layer absolutely and so I think that I think you’re, you know, it’s not black and White’s not the only layer to look at like there there’s also grace and mercy, which are, and the whole point of grace and mercy is to go beyond the black and white otherwise it wouldn’t yeah i mean that’s sort of like by definition like what they are. So i think by going beyond the black and white and offering someone in goodness when they don’t deserve it or they haven’t. Yeah, I mean, that’s grace and mercy.

Renae Kitchin :

Yeah, we actually talked about the woman at the well at one of our at our retreat and what I love about that story is what you just said. But also she’s the first person that he reveals that he’s the Messiah. And so just the picture of with all of that dysfunction and all of that sin in her life, God still had huge purpose for her testimony and so I love being able to share that hope with the women and men we serve because they do they come to the well at the middle of the day they avoid everyone, you know, and it just to open up your eyes that God can use this thing that has happened in your life and not even just that thing there’s so many things that happened to lead to that decision that they may have shame about and so God’s going to use that story for his glory and for the good of those around you and I think that’s when we get to that part, you start seeing everybody like they sit up a little taller, like they start realizing God, God’s going to use them if he if they let him.

Jacob Barr :

Yeah and I think, like, I can imagine myself being that woman at the, well, you know, broken with sin, not knowing that Jesus knows who I am. And so when he, you know essentially shows his understanding and in his loving direction. I mean, it’s just, it’s a, it’s an example for everyone to feel invited towards, you know, a positive response and a, you know, a change or a positive turn into the future yeah. So now I’ve lost track of where I want to go next. Let’s see so Oh well, let’s see so we went over some good stories we oh, so and I was sort of in my mind thinking that I was trying to figure out like what what’s new when it comes to helping reach the unbelieving, you know, the person that may not be following Jesus and I think the answer is to meet them. Yeah i guess the answer is to be neutral or to not have that political roadblock or yeah, attention that’s not needed, that will drive someone to try somewhere else for help.

Renae Kitchin :

Yeah, I mean i think I, as you were saying, it’s mostly pregnancy center directors that listen to this. My, I don’t know if the right word is admonition or counsel to each and everyone of you that might be listening is because of the work you do. I mean there is an element of you have to be somewhat political you have so don’t hear that you’re wrong or we think you’re wrong. That’s why we exist, so that you can do what you need to do. But I would highly recommend that you do some training at your centers, which we offer as well i didn’t mention that, but I just had to have compassionate conversations so often people come to volunteer at your centers or to work at your centers and this is part of their background and this is the way they’re trying to, you know, pay, pay the Lord back for the decision that they made. And whether they go through our healing or someone else’s healing just to encourage them or make it a requirement that they need to go through healing. We had a gentleman that was served at a local pregnancy center here that had, he came to us, he came to one of our weekends and he’s actually very instrumental in helping us get our men’s program going. But he would go into those counseling rooms and he would talk to those young men, and he was doing a great job i mean, his success rate with helping people change their minds with or make a better decision was pretty high. But the minute he left that counseling room, the enemy would just attack him all night long you save that baby, but you didn’t save the two that you know you aborted and so he needed that piece of that healing to so the enemy didn’t have a foothold and so he went through it and it just was life changing for him i mean it just brought so much healing to his marriage to his family was able to talk to his kids. It just so you don’t you can know the Lord you can be very far along in your faith journey but if the enemy has a bit of a foothold so as a center leaders I would just be very sensitive sometimes we get in these bubbles and we’re talking at our with our Co workers and we can be very unguarded about our political beliefs or whatever because we all think we’re in the same boat. And you may not know that oh you know this person who’s been volunteering for a few months actually had an abortion never told us it’s not your fault but to just be always kind and compassionate you know you don’t want to be thrown out there i just can’t believe someone did that i could never do that you know, just so those are things we all probably have felt in our own hearts before, but publicly and verbally and you know around others to be very mindful and so a great thing to do is to have training for your staff or just go through, you know, some sort of program about compassionate talk or what trauma informed care is, how to meet people when they’ve gone through trauma, whether it’s through their abortion or things in the past we don’t want to re trigger people and think we’re serving them and really we’ve just re hurt them. And so there’s so many layers to this that I would just encourage each and every central leader to become more aware of the things that people are bringing in, whether they’re clients, volunteers or staff there’s a lot of ways the enemy tries to hold people back and anything we can do to provide avenues for freedom is good so we would love to talk to anyone about that and we by no means are experts, but we’re seeing a lot of success with those that we the pregnancy centers that we work with just that they are having healthier people serve their clients, which is going to be a win win all around.

Jacob Barr :

So when a church has like a small group Bible study and it’s helping people confess or you know that’s a confessional community maybe perhaps involved and it starts to get to the level where it goes beyond the skills of that Bible study to take on like trauma related pieces like on the scale of one to 10 maybe they start to hit the seven and eight area and it starts to get pretty hard. Is that you know, Would that be a reasonable reason for someone to reach out to your group in order to try and help out with some of those seven plus on the Richter scale when it comes to trauma being brought up out of a small group And then? That might be a way to sort of transition from that small group without the right training and counseling skills to maybe into a group that’s able to handle those more difficult trauma based stories and pieces in someone’s life is that reasonable?

Renae Kitchin :

Yes, I would say it depends on what the story is i mean, like I said, we’re not experts however, we’re very connected with people who could provide help so we do a lot of referrals for like when someone comes into our ministry and they want to deal with their abortion but through the intake process, we realize there’s been sexual abuse in their background and they’re really kind of stuck there. We will say, you know, pause. There is a organization called Save One that has a really good service called sexual soul ties, I think or something like that and so we have no issue with, it’s not about the number, it’s not about your body that counts in our end of the year statistics, we just want to make sure so we would provide that so if someone brought up an abortion, but then we realize there’s more issues like in a small group, they can absolutely reach out to us. I can’t guarantee we can meet their needs, but we would do our best we’re connected nationally to other organizations that have resources and we can be kind of their champion making sure they get connected and moving forward. So I think yes, we would love to help anyone, but just know that we’re not licensed trained counsellors, we’re just peer counsellors. We’re like I said, we’re just willing vessels and so, but we’re not beyond saying you know hey this is beyond what we can do, but here let’s get you the help that you need through this organization or this person.

Jacob Barr :

So do you happen to have like one weekend retreat game plan for believers and a different one for a mixed audience of believers and people that don’t know Jesus yet?

Renae Kitchin :

No. And I think that’s what’s really unique about our retreat. Our retreat is very intense. However, it’s very what’s the right word, entry level appropriate. So we don’t, we don’t they’re not required to make some sort of statement of faith at the end or anything all we do is we for these stories, that of Jesus helping people and help them process where they could fit into those stories so we’ve had people that were kind of on the fringe that walked away still fully impacted. And I wouldn’t know for sure if they’re still in church or anything, but they were definitely impacted by the way we, you know, we explained how Jesus loved people so.

Jacob Barr :

What sort of activities would someone experience at A at a weekend retreat?

Renae Kitchin :

So yeah, they’re we like to tell people just trust us because it’s pretty intimate and it might feel a little weird from time to time, but at the end of the day, we want what’s best for you and we’ve been doing this a long time and so it’s very multi sensory. There’s a lot of active participation where we’ll do things like our first session we identify with the woman caught in the act of adultery. And so they’re invited to pick up a rock, and the rock represents the condemnation of the lies they believe and we do an activity with that in on Saturday, we do an activity with the women caught in the issue of blood. And so we have people who will act out skits and we always joke, you know, they’re not Academy award-winning skits, but there’s we just, you know, people learn in different ways. And so you never know what parts of the weekend are going to really meet that one person’s need versus someone else’s And so we have them act out this skit, and then the guy who plays Jesus leaves his cloak in the middle of the floor. And then we do an activity of, like, we want you to reach out and touch the cloak so it’s just things like that it’s like tactile sensory. And then they’ll experience the activity and then when they’re done with the activity, we spend process time so we keep the retreats small. We try not to have more than about 6 to 8 participants because we ask them lots of questions, like, what did you feel why did you choose the rock that you chose? What does it feel what would it feel like if you laid that rock down and didn’t carry that weight of condemnation anymore so just a lot of participatory, but I mean we have, we’ve had some retreats where people are a little hesitant, but once the once the walls come down, I mean it’s beautiful to see how they feed off of each other, how they learn from each other. And then on Saturday morning also, they have an opportunity to share their story, their testimony, not just their abortion story, but kind of their background, their childhood. And so that’s very healing for some of these women and men because they’ve never heard someone else’s story before if they haven’t gone through our group. And so that’s a really beautiful time to see kind of OK, I’m not alone. That’s exactly how I felt. And so they kind of bond at that point so it’s a lot of different things. I don’t want to give too much away because it might take away from someone’s experience, but hopefully that gives you a snapshot of just we just tell them, trust us and then you know, of course, go ahead.

Jacob Barr :

Yeah oh, I was just going to say since the. Yeah, with all the textile pieces in play. So when it comes to the remote experience, you know, 2 hours a week for so many weeks in a row, what’s the, do you do you feel like people have a better experience with one or the other? Or do you have plans maybe in the future to put together if there’s a group of 6 to 8 in a new state, like what would that look like down the road? But yeah, I guess what which one is, you know, I guess when it comes to the benefits of the textile and that, you know, picking up the rock and putting it down and touching things, how does that compare to, you know, the zoom or the online alternative?

Renae Kitchin :

Well, it’s two different things so the zoom group is not the same as the retreat so what’s really interesting, I’m glad you asked this question because when COVID hit and we moved online and started reaching women from all over, I thought, OK, the weekend retreats are probably just going to die because, you know, people aren’t going to fly in to Missouri for this retreat. And I was wrong. People are buying plane tickets and they’re flying in to Kansas City. We also have a retreat spot in Springfield, missouri. And it has been amazing so I would say for the retreat we know some groups that do virtual retreats. I don’t think I’m interested in that if someone wanted that, I would refer that on. But we also have donors and people who are willing to donate airline miles and cover scholarships. And so we’ve yet to have someone who really wanted to come, have not be able to come. They’ll take it’s beautiful i mean, it just blows your mind but it’s because they build such a bond in that group, that week to week group that they’re just, they want so desperately to touch us, to hug us, to be in the same room with us and so we’re seeing God just continue that ministry i wouldn’t say it’s booming because it is hard if you live really far away. But we have had plenty of people fly in so we’re just like OK, we’re just going to keep doing it and those but we are trying to get connected with other retreat ministries that are more. There’s a few that have multiple locations all over the country so once we kind of know where they are and what their schedules are, we refer them on if you would like a retreat experience, here’s a great one you can go to.

Jacob Barr :

Well, that’s good. Well, so, Renee, I really enjoyed talking with you. Is there anything you’d like to say before we wrap things up and then if, yeah, whatever that happens to be, would you then maybe close us in like an encouraging prayer that people could consider praying as they’re wrapping up this podcast and trying to take in these ideas?

Renae Kitchin :

Yeah well, just thank you for having me on. I think one of my biggest frustrations is probably the best word to use it’s just people don’t know that there is abortion healing. And so any opportunity that I have to be able to share on any sort of platform that might reach more than two people is super exciting. And as a person in the pro-life work that you might be doing, don’t feel discouraged if this is something that you can’t do or you don’t have capacity to engage in because we’re here and there’s multiple ministries that do an excellent job and so just becoming aware that there’s services like this out here is huge and so the other thing I’m, I would say is as I’ve been doing this work on staff for three years, I hear over and over again, well, we just don’t do that or that’s not something we offer and I would just say like i would challenge you that I feel like that’s not an acceptable answer anymore statistics say one in four women will have an abortion. And so and I would say it’s even higher just with the chemical abortion, but that’s a discussion for another day. And so if you don’t do it, if you can’t do it, there’s not somewhere local. Get resources like ours on your website. Get your staff trained on how to have these conversations, how to pass people off when they’re in the middle of their crisis pregnancy. This is not the time to deal with their abortion. Now you’re building a relationship with them, a place of safety with them, but you’ll have a relationship with them a year or two down the road they might come back and volunteer at your at your center or whatever. And so just making sure that you’re aware and passing along the message that God wants to bring hope and restoration to your life is huge. And so that, I mean, if there’s anything that I could be thankful for is the way God has opened doors for us just to continue to share that there’s healing, that there’s hope, that there’s freedom, that there’s purpose. This is not the end of your story this is not what identifies you as a person. It is something that happened that God has died on the cross and saved you from if you accept Him and so we just want to bring that message to each and every person so that you can move on and live on in the freedom and purpose that He has for you.

Jacob Barr :

So before you end this in prayer, Renee, I guess we’ll have one more question. So if an executive director wanted to audit the experience of the of the weekly gathering online in order to then be able to say to her board like I went through this and I can say I can tell you about my experience, I can tell you about what was being shared. Would that be something that they could do or would that have to be like a special group in order to you know, was she just would you invite an executive director to join a normal group or what would that look like for her to like audit the experience before referring clients to this experience?

Renae Kitchin :

I would love nothing more than to have someone join us so we have, we always have like a mentee that is training we’ve had people just sit in and observe we tell our clients, you know, they have to sign the same confidentiality, they’re going through the same training, but I would like nothing more and then we do offer about two to three times a year we do a 5 hour training which can be done via Zoom or in person. We just did one last Saturday we had 11 people there it was amazing. And so that would be a great way to kind of get in the weeds with what we do. But if they ever wanted to sit through a group, we would welcome that because if anything, number one, opens their eyes to what can happen when people go through healing, it might excite them and give them a picture of like, hey, we can do this and we would love to equip you we can’t. There’s only five of us, you know, we can’t do it all and so if we can excite you into doing it, so we would we welcome it either way we either want to help you get going with your own thing, or we want you to be confident that if you refer someone, they’re going to be taken care of very well.

Jacob Barr :

Yeah, that makes a lot of sense and then that person who may be hesitant that would definitely help build confidence in the decision and being able to explain to the board the benefits and how it would impact and reach their clients with this, with this need does that makes a lot of sense?

Renae Kitchin :

Yep, Yep.

Jacob Barr :

Yeah so would you close this in prayer and yeah. Thank you so much, Renee.

Renae Kitchin :

You’re welcome. Let’s pray God we thank you for who you are. We thank you that you loved us so very much, to send your son to die for us and to give us just a reason to live and a reason to serve you. I just thank you for this work that you’ve placed before us. I thank you for all of the obedient hearts that are going to be listening to this podcast and the work that they do, the work that goes unseen and unnoticed by everyone else god, I just pray a special blessing over each and every life, each and every family. God, I just thank you for the ways you’re moving in our culture, that you’re shedding light on the truth of when life begins and the effects of abortion and the just, the devastation that can happen afterwards god, that you’re just bringing people boldly to share their stories and to bring the truth. I just pray you continue to raise up people who are willing to share. God, I pray for open doors for each and every one of us and the communities that we serve, that churches would be set on fire to reach this population of women and men who either face these unplanned pregnancies or those who’ve made this decision god, may these women and men feel welcomed and loved and accepted just as they are. May your Holy Spirit just be in each and every one of our words and actions and processes and procedures so that you can come in and change hearts and lives. I thank you for your faithfulness. Thank you for the faithfulness of Donors and just resources that you’ve brought to each and every one of us i pray for more. There can never be enough God. And we know that you are the giver and sustainer of each and every one of us so I just thank you for the hearts that are represented here in this community. I pray for each and every one of the clients that have come to us and who have yet to come to us God, that you’ll continue to work and bring them closer to you. We love you and we thank you in your name amen.

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