When did Embrace Grace begin and why? In 2008, my co-founder Salina Duffy and I were at a women’s conference when God clearly spoke to us. I heard, “throw baby showers for girls with unplanned pregnancies” and Salina heard, “help the mommies and the babies.” We brought our thoughts before the pastors at church and they encouraged us to try out a small-group style Bible study for girls that have crisis pregnancies, and throw them a baby shower. We had never led anything in our life and we stepped out with big faith and prayed that girls would show up - and 3 precious girls did. We were blessed to pour into their lives in their season of growing a miracle in their womb, we told them how proud we were of them for choosing life and that they were brave and courageous. We told them they would be great mommies and God had already equipped them with everything they need. During the 12 week semester, something amazing began to happen. We could see a sparkle in their eye again. Walls were coming down and hope was building in their hearts. They started to believe in themselves and what we had been telling them that God really does love them and that they have an amazing destiny and purpose. We started to see that spiritually and emotionally healthy mommies parent spiritually and emotionally healthy babies … and the butterfly effect of generations impacted can change the world. They might have come for the free baby shower but then Jesus wrecked their lives in such an amazing and beautiful way - and as leaders we have front row seats to the transformations and miracles in their lives. It’s beautiful!
What is the aim & mission of Embrace Grace? After we led our small group at Gateway for 4 years, our classes just kept getting bigger and bigger. More girls were hearing and coming to our classes and also other churches were reaching out to us asking questions like, “How are you doing this? How does this work? Can I start it at my church too?” and God started showing us what direction He was taking the ministry. We launched our non-profit in October of 2012 and our mission is to inspire and equip the church to love on single and pregnant girls. We have written amazing curriculum for church leaders to implement into their own church so that they can be not only a pro-life church but a pro-love church as well. Our vision is for every girl with an unplanned pregnancy to have a church to go to for spiritual, emotional and physical support. We promise them that they do not have to go through this alone and we create an atmosphere for friendships and families to thrive. We want the church to be the first place girls run to when they find out they are pregnant instead of the last because of shame and guilt.
Has the vision remained the same, or has it changed as you’ve grown/expanded? When we first started Embrace Grace, we had no idea it would take off on a national and now even international level that it has. We just wanted to love on brave moms and then God took this and made the impact even bigger. God started shifting our focus from the girls themselves (which we all still lead in our small groups as well at our church) and started showing us how we can equip leaders to help the girls - we help people, help people. We provide all tools to the women that have a heart to help girls with crisis pregnancies - which there are TONS of people that have the heart to help. They just needed a little push on how to do it. When we disciple and equip and teach others how to love the way Jesus loves along the way, we can change the world!
What resistance have you met, and how have you handled it? Oh there were plenty of little bumps along the way. It’s pretty typical of the enemy to try to do everything possible to stop what God is doing … but the key is to not give up. The doors were opening a lot faster than any closed doors. Burn out would tend to happen when either not enough delegation was done or if we were taking on burdens that God never wanted us to take on. We can’t fix all the problems of the girls in our program … but we can point them to the One that does. We are not their source - God is. We just get to do the introduction and cheer them on in the process. I learned that if we just stay in our lane, and get really good at what God has called us to do, partner and bridge with all of our friends that are really good at what they do, we are not only making an impact on the world, we are having FUN doing it!
Can you give us a quick story of Kingdom impact that Embrace Grace has been a part of recently? Our program is in 46 churches across the nation and growing - but the place it all started is a church called Gateway Church in Southlake, TX. We have just finished our 12th semester there and it is our biggest group of brave young moms. Because of word of mouth from the alumni themselves, we were able to just host the largest baby shower for girls with unplanned pregnancies ever done by a church family last April - hundreds came, bought gifts and blessed SIXTY-THREE moms that chose life! It was beautiful! Everyone that came was impacted by the outpouring of love to girls craving hope.
What encouragement can you give others who have a passion to begin their own ministry/organization but don’t know how/where to start? You don’t have to have it all figured out before you start. Serve where you are planted. You don’t need a title, stage, or ministry name to make a Kingdom impact. Serve where you are most passionate and what makes you the most fired up and when you are faithful in the small things, God will grow your ministry and start making even bigger things happen. Be a good steward with what God has given you, and he will bless you with more. “But seek first his Kingdom and righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” [Matthew 6:33]