We all have things in our pasts that have wounded us. We may carry shame and close off those parts of ourselves from others – even from God.
Rachel’s Vineyard Retreat offers healing for those who carry wounds from an abortion experience. Bridgehaven now hosts these retreats twice a year, with the most recent taking place over the weekend of March 9. To help the facilitating team prepare a couple weeks before the retreat, the Bridgehaven staff went through an exercise based on the story of Lazarus that Rachel’s Vineyard participants go through during the retreat.
If you’re not familiar with the story, by the time Jesus arrives on the scene, Lazarus had been dead and wrapped in a tomb for four days. Lazarus’ sisters say to Jesus, “If only you had been here, our brother would not have died.” Jesus’ heart breaks for their grief, and He weeps with them. But He has something greater planned – something beyond anything they could imagine. He orders the stone guarding the tomb to be rolled away and commands Lazarus to come out. Lazarus steps out of his tomb, his burial linens are taken off, and he breathes in his new life.
In this exercise, one of the facilitators read the story, and we meditated on Jesus’ love, power, and healing. We were given a chance to identify parts of us that had died because of sin and have those parts wrapped in bandages. For example, some chose to have their hands wrapped to represent feeling powerless to change, while others chose to wrap their heads to show a spirit damaged by negative thoughts. We then could choose to be wrapped in a sheet – buried. We felt the death and coldness of our tombs as we identified with Lazarus’ sisters. “Lord, if only you had been here, our brother would not have died.”
But it doesn’t end there! One of the facilitators came to us one at a time and asked if we believed Jesus is the Resurrection and the Life – that if we believed in him, we would have no death. Upon proclaiming a simple yes, we were commanded to come forth in the name of Jesus, and our tomb and bandages were taken away. We were told to breathe in our new life and then went into a time of discussing what we had just gone through.
It was a powerful experience.
Rachel’s Vineyard Retreat is filled with exercises like this, designed to help participants work through their experiences and wounds, to allow God to help them breathe in new life. Some exercises walk through Scripture that relates to their experience, while others are designed to help them deal with their emotions – namely anger and grief. They are given permission to mourn for their children and to build relationships with them, which is something most of the participants have never even thought of. On the final day, a memorial service is held to honor their children before the participants depart.
If you or someone you know could benefit from an experience like this, Bridgehaven will be hosting our next Rachel’s Vineyard Retreat this coming November 2-4. We also provide counseling for abortion recovery throughout the year. Give us a call or click here to learn more.