The coffee shop was bustling with people, as recently I sat across the table from a beautiful brunette with lots of energy and a story like you’ve probably never heard. Welcome back to “Monday’s Life Change”! Today’s story is unique and powerful and evidence of the power of the Holy Spirit!
Amber grew up in Wilmington, North Carolina where she lived with her single mother. She always hung out with people older than herself and was mostly bored with kids her own age. By the age of 13, she became sexually active and by age 15, she was pregnant. She made a quick decision to have an abortion and thought very little about her pregnancy being anything more than something she “needed to get rid of, quick”.
She was dropped off at the abortion clinic where she had the “procedure” and was later given juice and a cookie and sent home. When she arrived home, Amber felt very alone and had terrible cramps. “I feel yucky and I don’t want to feel like this again”, she said. Amber remembers this being the first conscious hardening of her heart and decided that she could “choose” not to feel this way by submerging herself into drugs, partying and relationships with guys.
A few years later, after attending an alternative high school, she received an adult diploma and began attending a community college where she would study to be a paralegal. She joked, “I had so much experience with the law by this point, I figured I should be a part of it!”
She became very promiscuous and notes a time that she was “tired of being used” by guys. She decided very consciously, “I’m done being used. I’m going to be the user.” One of her older friends was a “Call Girl”, who made that lifestyle look so glamorous. Amber decided to join her and became connected with a “prestigious group of men who were pillars in the community”. They called her between the hours of 9 and 5, while they were “at work”. She became a high dollar escort to many of them and because the internet wasn’t what it is today, she was “their porn”.
A few years later, Amber settled into a relationship with one of the men who wanted her to quit working and just be with him. He was kind and urged her to go back to school. But after a couple of years, they broke up.
One hot September day just after the break-up, two of Amber’s friends were killed in a tragic boating accident. It took recovery teams three days to find their bodies. Amber couldn’t help but wonder what happened to them after they died. She knew there was a heaven and a hell, but there must be something else, she thought and she knew she didn’t have it. Sunday came, the day after their funerals. Amber woke up first thing and started getting dressed for church. Her Mom was shocked that she wanted to go and then said, “I’ll go with you.”
She jokes that she went to church and “the church didn’t fall on me, so that’s probably a good sign!” Nothing changed. She continued her lifestyle of working hard during the day at a cleaning company that she started, but was always taking pills, drinking hard liquor and smoking weed to get through it all. She felt proud of how well she “functioned” with all of this in her system.
A friend of hers invited her to church and she decided to go. She smoked all the way to church and then sprayed on some perfume and chewed some gum before she walked inside. “I knew I needed to cover it up to go to church.” She didn’t get what the pastor was talking about, but she knew he continuously talked about Jesus. She felt “I needed to clean myself up, but I can’t take away that abortion I had and I knew church people were against that.”
On December 12, 1998 Amber sat in church for a special Christmas play on the life of Jesus from prophecy to the resurrection. She sat stunned as she could picture him for the first time and everything began to make sense. “When they nailed him to the cross, I couldn’t see them do it, but I could hear the nails being driven in. As clearly as the Spirit speaks, I heard ‘I did this for you. I did this for you. I did this for you.’”
Amber realized right then that God would take her “dumb and dirty and just how I was.” She took as many friends back to see the play as she could. All the partying stopped. Her life had been changed.
Amber stopped selling and using drugs. She stopped partying. She started spending her Friday nights reading the Bible. She felt the Holy Spirit discipled her for a year and a half. She continued going to church each week and three years later, she made a real friend. Amber says that in the partying world, friendships come easy, because everyone is so transparent, but at church she had a hard time being herself because so many people acted as though they have it “all together” and she knew she didn’t. That impaired friendships from developing.
A month after choosing to surrender her life to Christ, Amber’s church hosted “Sanctity of human life Sunday” where she sat listening to the pastor talk about abortion and the great loss of life that it causes. For the first time, Amber came to grips with the fact that she hadn’t just had an abortion, she had taken a human life. “For three days, I was undone.”
She cried and cried and mourned for three days. Then, she drove up to her pastor’s office and told him her story. She told him about the drugs, the sex and partying, and the abortion. Amber was truly broken. When she looked up at her pastor, he was smiling. She couldn’t understand why he would smile at a time like this, but his words stuck with her “I am watching God make a new creation.”
He told her that God has forgiven her. He told her that she would know her baby some day in heaven and then, he shared the book of John with her.
Amber went to Honduras for her first mission’s trip and felt like she wanted to do anything God told her to do. She hoped it was missions, but after being sick for literally months after another mission’s trip, she began to sense that God might have something else for her. The same pastor that offered such guidance for her in those early days after her salvation, came to her and shared that the church would like to sponsor her to go to Bible College. They paid approximately 80% of her entire four-years at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. It was there, that Amber grew leaps and bounds. She made amazing friends and became grounded in God’s word.
“While in Bible College, I was taken under the wing of a couple, Mark and Harriette, who opened their world to me. They showed me the good, the bad, the family discussions, their sin, etc. They didn’t give me rules. They shepherded my heart and when I fell, they would pick me up with the grace of the cross. Spiritually speaking, they raised me in the faith.” Other friendships came in time as well. Amber has found life-long friends that she can be honest with and friends that would even interview suitors. They set the expectations for purity and gave her the protection she never had in a father.
Amber began volunteering at a local pregnancy center where women were given an alternative to abortion: to choose LIFE! Amber now serves as the CEO of First Choice Pregnancy Solutions. She is passionate about the unborn and fights for their lives on a daily basis. Also, beyond being passionate for the unborn, she is passionate about the Church being the Church to women and men who are broken, especially those with unplanned pregnancies. “Perhaps if people saw a group of people (Christians) who served relentlessly “the least of these” then women would see hope of support and acceptance when they are considering an abortion; people who would scream at them “we are here for you, you can choose LIFE with confidence of our support”.’
Amber’s story reminds me of a woman with a reputation, who sat washing Jesus’ feet with her tears, kissing them, and anointing them with oil. When Simon wanted to speak only of her sins, Jesus gently shared that the one who has been forgiven the greater debt will love him more. He turned and looked at the woman and told Simon, “Her sins, which are many, are forgiven.” And this should be our response within the church. It should be one of love and grace, because we have all been forgiven a debt that we never could have paid. Jesus came as our deliverer, not as our condemner (John 3:17). To God be the glory, great things He has done!