Here’s my story:
The impact of the decision is still painful. And every time Brandon Avance leads a new group of men through Celebrate Recovery, Watermark’s biblical recovery ministry, he meets at least three other men struggling under the same burden. For many men, it’s pain that’s been buried for decades. But terminating a life through abortion was much more than a ‘choice’, said Brandon. It’s a tragedy that affected him deeply for years to come.
Brandon grew up going to church whenever the doors were open. His weekdays were spent going to chapel and classes at a conservative Christian school. “At the time I thought of Christ as a taskmaster or a tollbooth operator. Once I paid my fine, or did what God asked, He’d allow me into Heaven. I think that’s because I grew up in a church that was very works-oriented. The message was, ‘Be baptized and do good works until you die’.”
While others in high school drank, smoked or partied, Brandon was working out, playing football and training himself for his dream of playing college football. He later received a scholarship to play football at Louisiana Tech.
Brandon describes his college experience as a slow decline of morality.
“I began to fall away from the Lord at age 19,” said Brandon. “At a state school in Louisiana, my comfortable Christian lifestyle was no longer comfortable. First, I started going with my friends to the bar, but not drinking. Then I started drinking. Later, I started a physical relationship with a girl. The shock came when she called me a couple of months later and told me that she was pregnant.”
“First, I got mad at God and blamed Him for letting this happen to me – especially since I stood against the grain for a long time. But then, I just worried about what we were supposed to do,” said Brandon.
The two decided to end the pregnancy through abortion.
That decision began years of rebellion for Brandon. He poured himself into football and enjoyed the accolades he received as an athlete in a small college town. Women, alcohol and drugs were all part of the party scene Brandon immersed himself in.
The party began to slow down when Brandon didn’t make it in the NFL and returned to Dallas to start his career.
Then in 2005, his mom was diagnosed with breast cancer, and Brandon moved in to her home as she battled the disease. “That’s when God opened my eyes. I prayed for my mom and in asking God to save and heal her, God showed Himself to me. I saw that I’d been chasing worldly pleasures, and had still not found anything that was significant or satisfied me. That was a big moment, because it moved me toward wanting to know Christ.”
“As my mom went through chemotherapy,” said Brandon, “I decided to go through Celebrate Recovery, Watermark’s biblical recovery ministry, so I could empty myself of the ‘cancer’ of sin in my life.”
When he first came to Celebrate Recovery, Brandon says he focused on struggles relating to alcohol and drugs. But the guilt and shame of the abortion still lingered under the surface. “I couldn’t really see that the root issue for me was that I’d been part of an abortion,” said Brandon.
“Because I was a Christian when I took part in it, I didn’t think God could or would forgive me.”
The abortion was a secret Brandon had shared with just a handful of people. But God used the recovery process to help Brandon see that he was not alone. “Once God opened the doors and I shared, I saw that many men struggle with guilt and shame from being part of an abortion. I felt like I had committed the unpardonable sin, and I really needed community with other believers to understand what God’s Word had to say about sin and to see that I was forgiven.”
Understanding the grace and forgiveness available to him through Christ was life-changing for Brandon. The tyrannical, rule-making god Brandon had pictured for so long was replaced by a compassionate Heavenly Father. “What I can see now is that God loved and chose me,” said Brandon. “God is a loving father who runs to me, the prodigal son. It is Christ’s sacrifice, not my work, which is sufficient to cover all my sins.”
Today, Brandon is celebrating 18 months of marriage to his bride, Kaity. Both Brandon and Kaity are actively involved in discipling others toward full devotion to Christ.
Brandon also serves as a leader in Watermark’s recovery ministry and speaks openly about the grace available through Christ for men and women who are burdened by the pain of abortion and other struggles. “Somehow, we’ve reduced abortion to simply a pro choice vs. pro life debate,” said Brandon. “I see it as a tragedy that affects you for the rest of your life. For a lot of guys, there is grief, responsibility, anger, destructive coping mechanisms and intense pain – all over that decision.
It’s a privilege to tell men that God loves us more than we realize, and His grace is abundant once you open your eyes to it.”
If you are a man struggling with the pain of being part of an abortion, please contact Frank Gray at firstname.lastname@example.org for details on this ministry.
Story provided by Watermark Church