COLUMBIA — In 1974, Rhonda Porter got an abortion.
It was legal. It was simple. It was done.
“I believed there was nothing wrong with it,” she said.
Now she is a mother of four and a grandmother of five who has become a Christian. At 59, she is a member of Open Heart Baptist Church who prays for God to save babies at the local abortion clinic. Her ministry to the church uplifts forgiveness, the releasing of pain, and the healing hand of a God who eases sorrow.
“I feel that people who are sitting silent in our churches who have gone through this, they’re sitting through the pain and the guilt, they aren’t forgiven, they haven’t forgiven themselves, that’s holding back the floodgates of heaven to heal our land,” Porter said. “If we who have lived through this can help others live through it and be powerful through a testimony of how God has helped them, then they are going to be able to be effective. It’s going to take the power of all the saints to put an end to this, and I think the more that are healed, the more that will speak up.”
When Porter walked into the Planned Parenthood center 39 years ago and learned that she was pregnant, the employee asked her, “Do you want to keep it?” Porter admitted that she had no compelling reason at the time to say yes.
Over the course of the decade she gave birth to a couple of children and remembered how she used to be comforted by a white Bible that her mother had given her in sixth grade. Porter used to like reading the letters in red, the words of Jesus. Now she started to read those same red letters to her own children.
Relatives kept asking her to go to church so she chose to go one day with her aunt to a Southern Baptist mission in Norwalk, Iowa, a suburb of Des Moines.
“I gave my life to the Lord and I came home and told my husband, ‘We’ve got to go back to this church,’” she said.
Her “husband” at the time was actually her live-in boyfriend. Dan Porter was a Christian who was not following the Lord, but when the pastor of the Norwalk church visited him the Holy Spirit convicted him to become obedient to Christ’s commands. The pastor then instructed them to get married, to be baptized, and to begin reading God’s Word.
“We did all those things right away and kept learning at our church,” Rhonda Porter said. It also launched Dan, who is a 1991 graduate of Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and a current member at Open Heart, on a 30+-year journey of college and seminary education as well as various pastorates in Southern Baptist churches.
About six years after her husband completed his studies at Midwestern, Rhonda found herself in the midst of a devout prayer group at First Baptist Church, Wellsville. A few women began to talk spontaneously and also transparently about how they were all hurting.
“I had a friend that had a miscarriage and wanted the baby so bad,” Rhonda Porter said. “Another woman lost a baby from an IUD that caused a problem. Knowing that I had chosen to end my pregnancy voluntarily brought healing when we could all share our different ways that we had lost a baby. I realized it wasn’t the most unpardonable sin, but it is a very hidden and guilt-ridden thing that so many women are holding onto.”
One way that she tries to make a difference is through her Babes in Baskets prayer ministry. The explanation is straightforward. The mother of Moses placed him in a basket and let him go. Through the pain of that separation God was able to do a wondrous thing as eventually the Israelites were delivered.
“She saved him from death by setting him free in that river,” Porter said. “We can set women free by putting them in baskets of prayer.”
Porter is also part of the regular group of kingdom Christians who go to the abortion clinic in Columbia and pray on a daily basis for life to win out. These diligent believers have just completed their eighth round of a prayer discipline known as “40 Days for Life” at a place where so many deaths are being recorded.
“You feel that sadness of how Jesus had to feel for His people who have turned their backs or don’t know any better,” Porter said. “They don’t understand, and it is such a powerful thing. You do feel that sorrow. It’s a humbling experience.
“I know there are people that don’t know what they’re doing. I didn’t know what I was doing.”
Porter wants to connect by email with women (or men) who have been impacted by abortion. Above all else, she wants to pray with Christians who may be struggling to overcome guilt, shame, depression, and a lack of forgiveness. Her ministry email is firstname.lastname@example.org.
“I just know that the Lord is not pleased after this many millions of babies have been killed,” she said. “We’ve got to take a stand.”