by Tessa Redmond
SHEPHERDSVILLE, KY (BP) – Cedar Grove Baptist Church is discipling women with unplanned pregnancies and single moms. The church partners with Embrace Grace, Inc., a non-profit that equips churches to love and support women and families through gospel-centered small groups with the intent of integrating them into local bodies of believers. “I think, historically, churches have made single pregnant ladies feel like outcasts, so this is an opportunity for us to not do that anymore,” explained Christie Vaughn, women’s ministry leader at Cedar Grove. “It’s an opportunity to really build relationships with people that are hurting and feel like the last place they can go is to the church. But we want them to know that’s the first place they should go.” Cedar Grove offers two different small groups: Embrace Grace for single, expecting moms and Embrace Life for moms who have given birth to their babies. Over the course of 10 to 11 weeks, leaders share their testimonies and present the gospel. Eventually, meetings explore parenting, financial habits, Bible study practices and time management from a gospel perspective. “It’s about relationship building,” Vaughn said. “It’s not just about an opportunity to get together and talk about the gospel. That’s one step. Let’s see how we can help you live out the gospel.” The church then provides a free baby shower to moms who have completed all or most of the program. And according to Vaughn, each woman has walked away changed. “They’ve gone from being hopeless and not knowing how in the world they’re going to handle having a child, or having another child, (and) they have hope,” Vaughn said. “They know they’re not alone. They know the Lord cares about them, and so they don’t feel lost anymore.” Several moms who have walked through Embrace Grace and Embrace Life are now attending church, both at Cedar Grove and with other congregations. One is doing a Bible study with Vaughn because she wanted to continue meeting. Vaughn believes local churches should consider ministries like Embrace Grace small groups because they facilitate lasting, generational change. “I think it’s this type of ministry that really changes people’s minds about abortion and changes their hearts towards abortion,” Vaughn said. “Their minds aren’t going to be changed by protest. Their minds are going to be changed by somebody reaching out to them in love, and supporting them, and sharing the gospel with them. When their hearts are transformed toward God, their hearts are going to be transformed about abortion.” Providing Embrace Grace groups has also impacted Cedar Grove members, who have discovered many commonalities they share with the young women who have benefited from the ministry. Leaders have been able to share their experience with abortion, adoption, sexual abuse and pregnancy outside of marriage. “It’s just neat as our church has come together around this ministry,” Vaughn said. “We kind of get in this habit of just focusing on what’s right in front of us, and we lose sight of the world outside the church walls. This has helped us to refocus ourselves on the Lord and then to reach out to our surrounding community.” To learn more about the Embrace Grace and Embrace Life groups at Cedar Grove Baptist Church, visit cedargrovebaptist.church. To learn how your church can start an Embrace Grace small group, visit embracegrace.com.