The Walkers' Story
Written by Angie Halama
Appeared in Deeper Magazine
Publication of Emmanuel Christian Center
After she woke up from the anesthesia, she could hear other women screaming and crying, "Jesus, forgive me - I killed my baby." Suddenly, anger rose up in her. It started in her toes and rose up through her feet and legs. She pushed it down before it could rise further - but the anger did not leave her.
It was January 1980 and Denise had just awakened after having her third abortion. When she and her fiancé Brian Walker discovered she was pregnant 4 months before their wedding, they panicked and were fearful. Though crisis pregnancy counseling existed at the time, they weren't aware of it. Feeling alone and desperate, they decided on abortion. They had no idea how this decision would affect the rest of their lives.
Brian and Denise had met in college in 1977. However, despite his Presbyterian and her new age backgrounds, neither of them had a personal relationship with Christ. Denise grew up knowing nothing about Christ. But she did know about contraceptives, and between the ages of 15 and 25, Denise had been sexually active with 49 different men. They were without hope and without God in this world.
The death certificate for Denise's first aborted child was signed and sealed in her heart on April 4, 1968. That was the day Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated and the day she learned that a failure was a woman with children born out of wedlock and poverty. She vowed that would never happen to her. The first time she became pregnant, she immediately thought of her sisters who had become pregnant out of wedlock. Denise was focused on her career and determined not to end up like her sisters. Though she knew it was wrong, in 1975, she had her first abortion and her second in 1976. However she vowed afterwards to never have another one.
Soon after they met, Brian and Denise moved in together. They graduated and got engaged. For Brian, this pregnancy was a responsibility he adamantly did not want and he pushed for the abortion. Denise remembered her vow, but caved in not wanting to risk losing Brian.
When Brian picked her up from the abortion clinic he brought home a woman who had changed. They got married as planned, but something was different. Brian felt a heavy dark cloud covering him since the abortion. Once he had been a "go-getter," but now he was timid and avoided taking risks. He felt ashamed of his role in the abortion. Reflecting on it, Brian said, "As a man, I'm supposed to be like Boaz, the kinsman-redeemer who is a shield and covers my family. Instead, after the abortion my seed is in the dumpster."
"I hated him for it," said Denise. She, too, felt ashamed and very angry. I purposely forced myself to "believe all the lies" about the fetus so that I could go through with the abortion.
Soon after their wedding, they found themselves in severe financial difficulty. In Denise's mind, she was truly a failure; especially when Brian sent her to apply for welfare. Their marriage was in trouble. If something didn't change, they would wind up divorced.
In 1981 Denise found Christ and then Brian not long after. For the first time in their lives they had a personal relationship with Christ. In it, they found the forgiveness for abortion, but healing eluded them. The feelings of anger, bitterness and shame continued. After intimacy, Denise would roll over and cry. They fought silently. Denise said. "You don't need to have pots and pans thrown to know that something is wrong," Brian added, "Like a lot of men, I thought if I loved and paid the bills, and was active in church, I was doing my part." Through all of it, they still didn't connect their feelings and marital problems with the abortions. As their financial situation improved, they thought, "Things will be better now." Then the old feelings would return and come between their relationship. "I knew I wasn't the apple of her eye," Brian said, "but I just couldn't figure it out."
Denise couldn't figure it out either. "Brian is a good husband. He worked a job he didn't like and brought home what he earned. He is a faithful man and a good father to his kids. He's good-looking, has a great sense of humor, and he's a godly man. All I knew was that I couldn't stand him." After years of this, Denise figured it was all her fault and that she shouldn't have married him. But because they were Christians, she knew divorce wasn't an option. "I felt trapped," she said, "and I blamed myself for why my life was miserable."
Then something happened in 1997. She wanted to be a pro-life speaker and attended training for Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life. The trainer, a woman who was also a facilitator for PATH, a Christian-based, post-abortion healing ministry, asked Denise if she had ever attended a support group to deal with her abortions. She replied, "No. I've been forgiven," thinking that forgiveness is synonymous with healing. The trainer suggested she attend PATH, "just in case there were any residual issues." Denise agreed to go only because she thought this would be important to her training as an MCCL speaker - not because she felt she had any issues.
However, on the first night of the nine-week PATH program, Denise was "shaking in her boots." The leader stood up in front of the group of women and said, "We're all safe. We're in a safe place. We can come out of hiding now and tell our secret." Denise felt the anger she had been pushing down for the past 17 years start to rise but this time she couldn't stop it. "I felt it choking me in my neck, and I opened my mouth and it just started coming out. For nine weeks I vomited up all the anger, torturous shame, all the lies I had believed and all the unforgiveness I held against myself and others - but not Brian." The facilitators of PATH later told Denise, "That of all the people they had ever ministered to, I was the angriest woman they had ever met."
By the end of the first session, through prayer, the Holy Spirit revealed the sexes of her first two aborted children. The first was a boy, whom she named Roy, and the second she named Bethlehem, a girl. He also unveiled that the sin of abortion stood between her and Brian. In her second PATH session, she dealt with the third abortion. The Holy Spirit had revealed to Brian, who was attending a different post-abortion ministry, called Conquerors, that this child was a boy. They named this child Stephan.
The Conquerors group Brian attended consisted only of men. Brian said, "We dealt a lot with receiving God's forgiveness and also owning up to our responsibility." Frankness and accountability were important, as well as the Word of God. When I came out of there, I could feel the load lifting." The programs brought both of them the "real healing" that they desperately needed, which they stress is different from forgiveness. He and Denise began to be able to open up to each other and talk about how they felt.
Now, in 2003, Denise reflects, "I'm at the place with him where I accept him as he is, I love him as he is. I have forgiven him and I'm at peace with him. I no longer see him as the enemy in my life."
Brian adds, "I no longer see her as the stranger that drifts in and out." Instead of turning away from him, Denise now turns to Brian when she's hurt. "I get to hold her and comfort her. It's just wonderful!" He points out, "This is not anything we did. I couldn't dream this up." God brought them restoration.
God also brought Brian and Denise an entire ministry. Denise became a licensed minister and they began Everlasting Light Ministries, which is dedicated to healing the wounds of abortion. ELM has three programs. Rich in Mercy is a ministry to the post-abortive family. Any family member who has been touched by abortion - mothers, fathers, siblings, grandparents or anyone who has assisted someone in getting an abortion - can attend the eight-week program and weekend retreats. It is open to anyone who has been wounded because abortion is not just a woman's issue. Everlasting Love is a marriage course from which post-abortive husbands and wives would greatly benefit. Brian and Denise can attest to the "particular havoc the enemy wreaks" on such couples.
The third part to their ministry is called The Stephan Project/TheQuilt of the Unborn Child. It came about when Denise, a quilter, decided she wanted to make a quilt to honor her three aborted children. However, God told her the quilt wasn't big enough. "It's not just about your children," he told her, "but about all the children. I want you to make a quilt that honors ALL the unborn children who have died by abortion."
The Quilt consists of 24-inch squares; each square dedicated to an unborn child. Anybody can make a square. Just as war memorials honor soldiers who have fallen, the quilt is designed to serve as a memorial for the millions of children who have died.
While political action is very important to end abortion, Denise sees "that we also need a heart change. We call it abortion. God calls it murder. We must repent." Changing the heart of the nation on abortion is vital. Currently, an average of 4,000 babies die every day from abortion. In the U.S., one in four women have had an abortion. A demographic this large means many of these men & women are in church congregations and dealing with post abortion trauma. This ministry is an opportunity to reach those inside and outside the church with the healing and forgiveness offered in a relationship with Christ.
Abortion is often a long held secret and on average it takes people 10 years to before they begin to seek help. Unfortunately, post-abortive people are treated as "social lepers" and are not given the chance to grieve the child who has been lost. Denise believes that those who participate in Rich in Mercy, Everlasting Love, or The Quilt of the Unborn Child open the gateway to healing or the closure they need to begin to live a new life.
Brian is particularly concerned about the fallout abortion has on men's lives: "It is important for men to confront this issue and refuse to stand on the sidelines anymore. Abortion can drain a man of his sense of purpose and vision. Many seek to medicate their pain with drugs, alcohol, workaholism, etc. Self-respect can dip drastically. It can block or break intimacy and trust between spouses, and the men are clueless as to why. Abortion robs men of their children, and the trust and respect from their spouse that are essential for harmony. I was robbed for many years and that hurt deeply." He invites them to take advantage of Everlasting Light Ministries, and even take a crack at quilting. He joked, "Men can just pretend it's a deck or a piece of wood." Brian said: "the main thing is to examine yourself Biblically, being honest about how you feel and owning up to your responsibility."
Although the ministry is currently available in the United States, the Walkers are open to the ministry going overseas. Worldwide abortion rates are staggering, especially in China, Russia, Cuba and Israel. A missionary to Russia recently stated at their church that the average abortion rate for Russian women is eight. Someone has to go and share the good news, and Brian & Denise are willing to be post-abortion healing missionaries.
Abortion changed the lives of Brian and Denise Walker forever. With their ministry, God has guided them to a place where they can change the lives of those affected by abortion. Anyone can be completely healed and restored from the aftermath of abortion through the power of the Word and the blood of Jesus Christ. He did it for the Walker's; He will do it for anyone.
You can learn more about their ministry by contacting them at 763-560-8383.
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