Jeff and Tricia Bradford were engaged twenty-somethings when they found out they were unexpectedly pregnant. Afraid of shaming their family, the couple chose to quietly get an abortion—a decision that proceeded to haunt them for some 25 years. Through prayer and counsel, the Bradfords slowly came to understand that what they once believed to be the “unforgivable sin” of killing a child was actually an experience they could use to help others. In fact, Jeff is now vice president of Human Coalition—one of the largest pro-life organizations in the United States—and he and his wife sat down with the Village Church to share their remarkable story of redemption.
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Is there anything in your past that you just don’t talk about? For the Bradfords, that unspoken thing was the abortion they had when they were engaged. But true healing began when they started to talk about this sin, and now they use their story to fight for life. #TVCStories
Posted by The Village Church on Tuesday, October 17, 2017
While Jeff admitted he didn’t “remember much” about their experience at the abortion clinic more than two decades ago, the Bradfords both recalled the formulaic manner in which the procedure was handled.
“We went into the clinic… and they gave us some paperwork, and the very first question was ‘define abortion,’ and I didn’t know how to define it,” Tricia said. “And I looked to Jeff… and he said, ‘just put that it’s a form of birth control.’”
“I do remember it was cold and dark and not a very friendly place,” Jeff added. “There was no one there to counsel us, to say, ‘Gosh, you guys are engaged to be married and this is your baby. This is your child.’ It was very quick. It was get her in, do the exam, come back a day or two later, and we had the abortion.”
After the abortion, Tricia and Jeff said neither of them spoke of the procedure, and their decision to terminate the pregnancy was based solely on fear and shame.
“We wanted to please our parents. We didn’t want to shame them or embarrass them. For me that was probably the biggest reason,” Jeff said. “As bad as that sounds today—that we took the life of our child because we didn’t want to be embarrassed is horrible—we just didn’t understand at that time.”
Tricia explained that “grief set in” not long after, though neither one of them really understood the depths of their guilt or sadness. After getting married, the Bradfords felt compelled to join a church, and they soon devoted “all of [their] worldly work ethic” to their parish. Despite the welcoming atmosphere, abortion and life were “not an issue anyone spoke of,” and they came to view their abortion as “the unforgivable sin.” It was not until they found the Village Church and began counseling sessions that they were able to work through some of the emotions they had bottled up for years.
“We found ourselves in Christian counseling,” Jeff said. “I’ll never forget that first day. Tricia just began to cry uncontrollably. I had never seen her like that. But as we got underneath those tears, it all came down to the decision about 25 year ago. But it wasn’t until that day that we began to talk about it.”
For years, the couple, who are now parents to four children, had struggled to come to terms with the irreversibleness and permanence of the abortion, but finally speaking about it aloud was healing in many ways.
“There’s no taking it back… Once you take the life of your child—it’s something that we’ve lived with for 25 years,” Jeff said tearfully. “Entering counseling was really the beginning of our healing. It was taking something dark and something we had really suppressed for so many years and be able to bring it into the light for the first time.”
And in a encounter that can certainly not be chalked up to coincidence, Jeff met Brian Fisher, president and co-founder of Human Coalition, around the same time. After working as a volunteer for a couple of years, he ultimately felt called to leave his corporate job and join the organization full time, advocating for the lives of the unborn and ensuring families receive the counsel and support that were not available to him and his wife in their time of need.
“It’s saved over 6,500 children, and that’s just God’s goodness allowing me to be a part of that,” he said of Human Coalition. “And part of our hope today is to educate people them that even when you’re in sin—obviously we were; we weren’t serving the Lord—God will redeem those things.”
Ultimately, the Bradfords are grateful for the healing and forgivingness they have been granted, and they hope to share that message with others.
“The Lord allowed us to begin to take something that had almost destroyed our marriage and each other and begin to help others to the Lord with our testimony,” Jeff concluded, “and to stand in the gap for those who are sitting in the pews and dealing with this issue every day.”
(H/T: The Village Church)