|Gretchen was a heroin addict|
|Written by Matthew Everhard|
Gretchen was a heroin addict. Her face showed the wear and tear of a twenty-something who had spent some hard nights on the streets of Akron. Homeless and despondent, Gretchen was one of those people who—if I’m really honest—is sometimes tough to be around. She’s difficult to love. Her once intelligent and amicable personality hid behind a mask of bawdy drug abuse.
It wasn’t infrequently that she called me, a pastor, long past midnight to rescue her from some precarious situation. Well do I remember the night that she called me around 1:00 am to pull her drunk husband off of her. It had gotten violent. A meth addict, Jeff was unpredictable and vicious. I arrived just before the police and stood between the two of them until the sirens came.
But this particular afternoon, the circumstance was different. She had gotten pregnant. Again. She sank deep in the couch with her head in her hands. Tears dropped silently from a face that had long since learned to endure self-inflicted hardship. She swore that she wasn’t using during the months that she had conceived, but years of experience knowing her personally told me differently.
"Gretchen," I said, "do you mind if I pray for you?" Not a particularly ‘religious’ person, Gretchen hesitated for a moment and then consented. With my pulse racing, I put my hand on her now burgeoning belly. In the best way I knew how, I called down the Lord’s blessing on the child resting delicately in her womb. I prayed that the blood of Jesus would cover this child. That she would have a future, a promise. I prayed that this child would be raised in what we Presbyterians call a "covenant home"; a home that honors Christ and His Word. I simply asked Jesus that this infant child would be loved by a church and her mom and dad.
As I prayed, Psalm 139 came to mind. "You formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise You for I am fearfully and wonderfully made" (ESV). If I hadn’t been so nervous praying with my hand on this addict’s belly, I might have also thought of Jeremiah 1:5, "Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations" (ESV).
When I lifted my hand from Gretchen’s stomach I felt an indescribable confirmation: the Lord would answer my plea. It was in that moment that Gretchen told me that she had planned to abort the child. I listened in stunned silence. But now, having heard me pray for this child with such certainty of her full personhood, she knew she must bring her to term.
Unknowingly, that prayer was used in a mighty way to change the course of many lives. Just a couple months after Simone was born, Gretchen and I had a serious phone call. It was agreed upon that my wife Kelly and I would raise Simone in our own home. We began the formal process of adoption—a process that took nearly two years to complete fully.
I had no idea what the Lord was up to that day on the couch. I certainly didn’t see it coming. But clearly His Spirit was at work. That simple prayer on the couch one afternoon with a drug addict changed the course of our family history forever. You see, Gretchen is my sister, and Simone—now a bouncy, curly haired two-year old—has become my adopted daughter.
Matthew Everhard is the Senior Pastor of Faith Evangelical Presbyterian Church in Brooksville Florida. He and his wife Kelly have both been active serving the crisis pregnancy ministry ‘A New Generation’ in Brooksville. Matthew has also written Abortion: the Evangelical Perspective, available from Amazon.com.