STILLWATER—When Brent Prentice, pastor of Stillwater, Eagle Heights stood in the pulpit on Sanctity of Human Life two years ago, he wanted to proclaim what God’s Word says about the sanctity of every human life.
Prentice always wanted to encourage the congregation to pray more and do even more in this area.
“We are pro-life not just once a year, but we are pro-life for all life,” he said. “I was grieved to learn many of our young people had never heard a sermon on abortion.”
During the sermon, Prentice underscored the value of life and the need to do more to help the unborn and women, both during pregnancy and after the child is born. He also made it clear that there is forgiveness and freedom in Christ for anyone who has had an abortion.
Paula Lansford, who had accepted Christ as a child, had troubled teen years. “When I was 19, I became pregnant out of wedlock with my boyfriend at the time. I chose to have an abortion. I carried that secret burden for many years, and I had attempted a few times to get help but never got anywhere.”
Many years later, Lansford and her husband, Notie, were looking for a church home and had been attending Eagle Heights.
“More than a year ago, we moved to Stillwater and were looking for church and found Eagle Heights,” she said. “What impressed us is that they are unashamed of the Word and unafraid of confronting difficult issues.”
Lansford did not expect to hear the sermon she did on that Sunday in January 2016.
She said, “Brent preached on the sanctity of human life. He challenged us to become active or ask God to search our hearts, especially unborn babies and to encourage those who already had abortions.
“Brent’s talk hit me to the core. When I got home, I was devastated. The pain from my past abortion came back. I was overwhelmed, and yet I knew Brent was speaking truth and that clung to my heart. “
That same Sunday the Lansfords had a previously scheduled appointment to meet with Prentice, to discuss joining the church.
“I was so devastated (after the sermon) that we are going to have to cancel or postpone,” she said. “My husband lovingly said, ‘Why don’t we go and visit with Brent? I think he would be encouraging, and (let’s) tell him what’s going on.’”
God used the meeting in great ways. “(Brent) was very compassionate. He wanted to help and offered a couple of tools that I knew in my head, including pointing us to Stillwater Life Services,” an evangelical pregnancy resource center.
From that point, Lansford found opportunities to see a counselor. Through counseling, her husband’s encouragement, God began speaking to her heart. “This was like God telling me, “Yes, you can do this with My help,” she said.
After months of counseling, Lansford, in one session, truly found freedom and forgiveness.
“God kept chipping away at this wall in my heart. It took us months but I received complete healing in one session. All of my sorrow and grieve and hate of myself turned into joy. I was able to accept Christ’s forgiveness for me.”
Lansford was then able to share what God did in her heart with her entire family, who embraced her, and with her church small group and select friends. She realizes now that Christ had been with her the entire time.
Months later, Lansford had experienced such freedom in Christ that she agreed to tell her story on a video, which was shown at the 2017 Sanctity of Human Life Sunday at Eagle Heights on Jan. 22.
After the video testimony was shown, many people were moved by her story. “One lady in the congregation was so touched, she approached me, hugged me and cried. It was so profound. It was like Jesus hugging me,” she said.
“(Through sharing my story), I want to help woman who had an abortion but also encourage others too,” she said. “I would want to everybody out there but to say there’s hope and healing in Jesus Christ,” she added. “God, through Christ, does offer forgiveness. It is really real.”