On January 23, the day after New York passed the Reproductive Health Act, BJ Garrett, Executive Director of Christ-centered Abortion Recovery & Education (CARE), spoke in Chapel at Jacksonville College. As she addressed students, faculty, and staff, BJ began to recount the tragic story of her childhood: “When I was twelve years old, my mother sold me for a bag of groceries. I was being sex trafficked by my own mother before sex trafficking was a thing. When I was twelve years old, there had been so many men that had been given access to my body that I was basically a shell of a little girl. There was no real ‘me’ left at twelve years old.”
BJ felt like her life was out of control, and she made one terrible choice after another. Those choices led to four pregnancies, the first when she was only fourteen years old. She kept two of the babies, Ashlei and Austin, but she had two abortions. She still struggles with the memories of her first abortion. She explained, “I can still feel today the pressure in my gut from me lying on that table and them ripping my child from my body . . . Every time I hear the sound of a vacuum cleaner or an air conditioner turn on, I can hear the sound of them literally taking the life of my child from my body. It was horrendous.”
BJ then married a man who was an alcoholic. The marriage seemed unlikely to last, until BJ and her husband became Christians. “I cannot tell you what it was like for me to go from such ugliness and such brokenness to meeting Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior,” she said. “He is the Healer of all things.”
BJ and her husband, Jay, have now been married for 21 years. The two have a daughter, Alex, who is attending Jacksonville College. Ashlei, BJ’s first child, is a Jacksonville College graduate. She is now 28 years old and is a beautiful reminder of how precious life is. Ashlei attended the January 23 Chapel service to support her mother.
When BJ became involved with CARE, she was able to talk about things from her past that she had kept hidden from even those closest to her, including her abortions. God used CARE to help her heal, and she is now able to offer support to other women who are struggling with the same decisions she had to face. BJ explains, “CARE’s mission is to restore lives wounded by abortion and to educate the community of its consequences. In short, we minister to both men and women who are hurting from a past abortion experience. We help them understand the truth of abortion, and we offer real help and resources for those facing an unplanned or crisis pregnancy.”
In 2016, BJ accepted the position of Executive Director of CARE. She is also a graduate of the Baptist Missionary Association Theological Seminary in Jacksonville, and she welcomes opportunities to share her testimony of restoration and abortion recovery.
When asked for her response to New York’s Reproductive Health Act, BJ answered,
“First, and most importantly, taking your child's life at ANY stage of development comes with life-altering, heartbreaking physical, mental, and spiritual consequences. I know this because I've made that choice not once, but twice. We have to educate our nation about the truth of abortion.
Second, full-term abortions are already legal in several states, and there are even nonprofits that raise money just to help women pay for and end their children's lives. This is not new. New York just joined the list of these states. Heartbreaking? Yes, but I feel that educating our communities and our nation is key to stopping the heartache caused by abortion.”
Jacksonville College stands with the BMA of Texas and the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention in recognizing that life begins at conception, and we agree with Focus on the Family’s value statement regarding the sanctity of life: “We believe that human beings are created by God in His image. Therefore, every person, from conception to natural death, possesses inherent dignity and immeasurable worth – including preborn children, elderly individuals, those with special needs, and others marginalized by society. Christians, then, are called to defend, protect, and value all human life.”
New York’s Reproductive Health Act that legalizes even full-term abortions was signed into law on the 46th anniversary of Roe v. Wade. JC President Mike Smith lamented, “Christians were asleep in 1973 when abortions became legal.” It is the prayer of Jacksonville College that Christians will wake up and support ministries like CARE that work with women who find themselves in “crisis pregnancies” and that help men and women who have suffered from the spiritual and emotional complications of abortion.
For more information about CARE, visit careabortionrecovery.com.
On January 23, BJ Garrett, Executive Director of CARE, spoke in Chapel about the tragedy of abortion.
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