MY HUSBAND AND I HAD BEEN TRYING UNSUCCESSFULLY FOR A THIRD BABY for some months when I began working in the POC (Products of Conception) room at Planned Parenthood in Roanoke, Virginia. The timing of those two things could not have been worse. As anyone who has struggled with infertility knows, when you try month after month and fail to get pregnant, the anxiety and mental torment skyrocket. My job of reassembling aborted baby parts added to my agony. I was in no frame of mind to look at baby after baby murdered and ready for discard.
It began to make perfect sense why I wasn’t getting pregnant. I felt certain that God was punishing me for what I was doing. Why would God bless me with a child when I contributed to destroying them? Suddenly, I began to have a recurring dream: I would arrive at Planned Parenthood early on a Saturday morning to set up for a day of procedures, and as the only staff member there, I would begin to hear babies crying. I would frantically search the rooms for the babies, but even though the crying seemed to be near me, I couldn’t find the source no matter where I looked. It was terrifying. I would wake up in a cold sweat.
One day when I was scheduled to counsel patients, our visiting district manager noticed my time spent talking with each girl was a bit longer than she was comfortable with. She began timing me.
“April, you’re spending ten minutes with each girl. You should be spending half that amount of time. What are you talking about?”
“I’m just giving them their options,” I said.
“Stop giving them so much information,” she replied. “You’re just scaring them. They are here to get abortions, so just nudge them towards that and be done with it.”
I couldn’t believe it. These women were about to make one of the most significant, irreversible decisions of their lives, and ten minutes was too much? I remember thinking what a joke it was that we were called “counselors.” We weren’t counselors. We were mostly ushers; we ushered women towards abortion. I was able to hold it together on the job well enough, but when I made it to my car at the end of the day, I would lose it. I was falling apart.
The trouble I got in that day possibly sped up my termination. Perhaps they saw my prochoice resolve weakening, because as soon as I messed up again, they fired me on the spot after 16 months of employment. I had given a patient expired lidocaine, something that happened with regularity among many of the employees. It was an infraction that usually warranted minor disciplinary action, such as a write-up or a lecture—but not an immediate termination, or so I thought. I had never even been written up before.
I was scared to death. The loss of my income was going to put my family in hard times. I called AND THEN THERE WERE NONE, having heard about the ministry from a sidewalk advocate, and told them that I had just quit Planned Parenthood. Nichola and team rushed to my side and offered transitional financial aid while helping me find a new job, and even did one more thing of extraordinary grace and caring. In the years before I started with Planned Parenthood, I was an extreme drug addict and alcoholic. I should have died several times over. In the process, my teeth took a terrible beating. My mouth was a tragic mess of decayed and broken teeth, some missing and most showing awful rot. AND THEN THERE WERE NONE knew my teeth might hinder employers from feeling good about me and bought me a brand-new set of teeth. I couldn’t believe it.
In time I did get pregnant but ended up miscarrying. Even though I was no longer with Planned Parenthood, I still couldn’t shake the idea that the curse I had brought on myself was still in effect. The cloud of guilt had followed me well into my post-Planned Parenthood life.
In the meantime, AND THEN THERE WERE NONE never wavered in their commitment to me, being there in every way, and bringing me to their healing retreats which were everything they promised to be. I fell in love with all the women who work there, as well as the people who they have helped come out of the abortion industry—my tribe. But after two years, I began to feel the need to get something off my chest. It grew with each day. Finally, I could take it no more. I pulled Nichola aside.
“Nichola,” I said, “I have a confession to make. I’ve done something very bad. I just didn’t know what you would have done if I had told you the truth—if you would have still helped me.”
“What is it?” Nichola said with a bit of deep concern in her voice.
“You know when I told you I quit Planned Parenthood? Well, I didn’t. I was fired.”
The hearty smile and hug that came from Nichola didn’t just feel like forgiveness, but like a bit of grace I had never experienced before. “You were meant to be in our tribe, April. Whether you were fired or left on your own doesn’t matter one bit.”
The feeling I had that day changed me. The grace I was shown helped clarify something for me, about who God is and how he works. If He would allow Nichola and AND THEN THERE WERE NONE to minister to me when I never truthfully quit Planned Parenthood, would He also curse and punish me?
Today I think that God allowed my infertility for what may be a whole host of reasons—to bring me to trust him, or perhaps he just wanted the son I was given a few years later to be here with me now.
I experienced God’s love in a new way through Nichola and AND THEN THERE WERE NONE. His open arms embraced me with their arms; His grace has been a gift like no other.