Today’s post is a guest post written by Mara Petro. Mara is on staff with Life International and serves on the Deeper Still team in West Michigan. She wrote this post to explain what it is like for someone who has had an abortion attending a Deeper Still retreat. This post has more information about what happens at our retreats to help those considering attending understand more about the experience.

Thank you Mara for sharing with us today!

Nervous.  Hesitant to dredge it all up again.  She doesn’t want to feel the weight of guilt and shame that she’s been stuffing all these years.  She thought it was buried – but it doesn’t stay buried.  She thought it was manageable – but it’s not. It gets in the way – of everything.  It keeps her from loving fully. It keeps her from living fully. There’s always that fear of them finding out.  She knows that keeping her secret is keeping her sick — so she goes. 

With trepidation and doubt, she steps out in faith, reaching for the hem of the garment of the only One strong enough to take her burden and set her free. Jesus. The Savior sent to rescue her has been waiting to heal and redeem her secret, eager to say, go in peace.  In His loving arms, her baby waits to meet her.  But she’s not sure of that — yet.   

 This is how many women and men come to a retreat called Deeper Still, a post-abortion healing ministry.    

 In a beautiful setting away from life’s demands, several Deeper Still team members are waiting to share the love and compassion of Christ with those God is calling to Himself.   

Women and men who have come to the end of themselves are desperate for healing.  

 Several books and Bible studies are available to help abortion-wounded hearts, but Deeper Still retreats are unique.  At my own retreat and the subsequent retreats I have served on, there was an overwhelming feeling of God’s love and the love of the body of Christ. A kiss from heaven, some have said:  

God’s love leads to repentance and salvation, bringing healing and lasting freedom from guilt and shame.  

 From the time they arrive at the lakeside cottage on Friday until they leave for home on Sunday, our guests are prayed over, sung over, listened to, cried with, laughed with, and fed well with delicious food and the Word of God. They are guided in prayers of repentance, taking every thought captive into the obedience of Christ and exchanging the lies of the devil for the truth of God’s word.   

 Each morning brings assurance of God’s mercy and forgiveness. Ashes are exchanged for beauty. Mourning turns into dancing. Guilt and shame nailed to the cross of Christ, taken to the grave, and removed as far as the east is from the west.  

The crimson blood of Christ washes us white as snow. It is finished, and we are whole again. Forgiven.   

 Now she is sure her baby is with Jesus, waiting to meet her.  Though he was violently taken from her womb, she knows he’s been safely loved in heaven.  She knows that her son doesn’t hate her for what she did because he’s never known sin — only love lives in heaven. Believing God gave her a boy, she named him Joshua, and now she’s eager to meet him too.    

 No more secrets. Like the woman at the well, she is running to tell everyone about the Man who told her everything she ever did — and still loved her — still died for her — still chose her to tell His story of redemption.  

 These are the truths taught at Deeper Still retreats.  Jesus is the way out of guilt, shame, and fear.  Jesus is the way to healing and lasting freedom.  Jesus is the truth that dispels the lies of the enemy and the world.  Jesus is the life that saves us from death.    

 If you or someone you know has experienced an abortion or is contemplating one, there is help, hope, and healing waiting for you here. We understand you and love you.  We want to lead you to the Father who created you and your baby, the Father who offers you love and forgiveness through His son Jesus Christ so you can be free to live the abundant life, He came to give you.   

 Come to a place where truth meets grace.