In light of COVID health concerns, we moved our fall fundraising dinner on September 29 to a lovely country venue, Stone Spring Farms in Hamburg, Pennsylvania. Over 200 guests gathered for a catered barbecue meal — social distance style — while bidding on theme baskets, spinning our ministry trivia wheel and tucking into whoopie pies. The program centered around the theme of Mosaic: Broken Pieces, Brave Choices, Beautiful Life. We were thrilled to welcome Toni McFadden as our keynote speaker.
At Life’s Choices, we understand life goes in unexpected directions. Our personal stories are filled with broken pieces; our clients face challenges and hard choices. But we remain convinced that, even in the hardest circumstances, God can make something beautiful.
This year’s Mosaic theme resonated even before guest speaker Toni McFadden took the podium. Several client videos spotlighted times when lives were altered by news of an unexpected pregnancy.
“I was nervous,” one woman remembered about finding out she was pregnant, “and I wasn’t quite sure how I’d take care of her. Life’s Choices helped me a lot. I don’t know if I’d be as confident being a mom if I hadn’t gone to Life’s Choices.”
“We were actually pretty excited about the pregnancy, but the timing was a bit off,” another said, sharing how she came into the office for a pregnancy test, confirmation ultrasound and parenting classes with her partner. “We were able to walk from the beginning stages of the pregnancy all the way to the birth with Life’s Choices.”
A third client admitted, “When I first found out I was going to be a mama, I bawled my eyes out. In that moment, I so badly wanted to have that plus sign turn into a negative.”
She described the transition from shock to becoming a parent, including fitting in prenatal education classes at Life’s Choices between school and work.
She explained, “They set a foundation for us, they were encouraging and supportive all at the same time.
“Having a baby opened up our eyes. It feels like we are seeing a whole new world again. Everything is so fresh and fun. Our journey turned out much better than we could ever have expected. We wake up every day with so much joy and gratitude in our hearts.”
Like our community, Life’s Choices faced challenges in the spring with COVID shut downs but adapted services and continued most of them throughout the pandemic. In the months ahead, staff will implement a federal grant to improve and expand the THRIVE education program in local schools. On the horizon are decisions about repairing or renovating the Kutztown building, which suffered flood damage this spring.
“We chose the theme Mosaic for our banquet theme,” Life’s Choices executive director Joy Stutzman said, “because we felt it so accurately describes how God works at Life’s Choices and what he does in the lives of our clients. I know I am a broken person, and it’s only because of God’s grace that anything of beauty can come out of my life.”
“I have to believe protecting the most vulnerable is near and dear to God’s heart,” Stutzman said. “When you invest in the ministry of Life’s Choices, you partner with the very heart of God.”
When Toni McFadden, a pro-life speaker and founder of Relationships Matter, took the stage, she quickly dove into her own Mosaic story. McFadden has traveled around the nation and the world speaking on the behalf of unborn lives. Most recently, she was named Minority Outreach and Healthy Relationships Director for Students for Life.
“Broken. Shattered. Hopeless. Uncertain. Overwhelmed. Lost. Defeated. Wrecked. Destroyed. Crushed,” she began, listing emotions everyone experiences at some point in time. “We live in a fallen and broken world where we cannot escape heartbreak. Some of the broken pieces in my life I had no control over. Some of the broken pieces in my life I created with my own hands.”
While a high school senior, McFadden chose, with her boyfriend at her side, to abort their child. That relationship ended and McFadden, the “good kid” of her family, hid the abortion and later medical complications from her parents. She explained how she went on to college, studying and partying and dating, when a friend invited her to a Campus Crusade for Christ event and, to her own surprise, McFadden attended.
She accepted Christ, surrendered her life and began to make brave choices. She woke early to read the Bible, stopped dating and found a new group of friends. Eventually, she was brave enough to share her abortion story with a church friend and was met with compassion. McFadden went through post-abortion counseling. She named and grieved for her unborn baby and confessed her role in that baby’s death. She told her parents what happened and forgave her ex-boyfriend for breaking her heart. She began sharing her story publicly to help others in similar situations.
“There is amazing freedom when you know your life has purpose,” she said.
Surprisingly, McFadden’s high school boyfriend contacted her and asked to meet a decade after her abortion. He shared his own story with her, and they found they had both been transformed by God’s grace. In the end, the couple reconnected and married. They have four children now, but continue to remember and honor the baby they aborted so many years ago.
In the end, McFadden said, God used the brokenness in her life to lead her to truth.
We want to thank everyone who contributed to this year’s fall banquet. Many volunteers made the night possible, and we are happy to report that, in addition to a good attendance and an inspiring program, we exceeded both our giving goal and our anticipated number of new monthly partners. Thank you for your part in God’s work to handle brokenness, inspire brave choices and yes, make lives beautiful.
For the link to the full banquet video, please feel free to contact us.