A Special Little Boy

By Kayla Benfield

Somewhere in our corner of the world is a beautiful little newborn baby boy named Zion. He’s a tiny thing; when I spoke with his mom and dad, he was only three weeks old. But there is no doubt that he is someone special. Zion’s parents, Raven and Martel, are a sweet couple. When asked how they met, they laugh together as they tell their love story. When Martel talks about Raven, his voice is full of respect for her. They speak gently with each other as they tell me their story.

The beginning was difficult. Before she knew she was pregnant she found herself so sick she ended up in the emergency room. It was there that she first found out about little Zion - she was six weeks pregnant, overwhelmed, and scared.

Her voice softens as she recalls this memory. “I was scared—I didn’t know what to do. What was going to be my next step? How was I going to tell my parents? I didn’t know if I wanted to keep him.” Martel chimes in with his own thoughts, saying, “I wasn’t expecting a child…we weren’t sure if we were going to keep him or not. But I’m glad we did.”

Nausea and vomiting of pregnancy, commonly referred to as morning sickness, effects more than fifty percent of pregnant women. The name is misleading; symptoms occur day or night and can be debilitating to women in their first trimester of pregnancy.

Unfortunately Raven was one of these women, and found herself too sick to continue school shortly after she found out about her pregnancy. The physical and emotional weight of those first few weeks took their toll and she began to feel like she couldn’t continue the pregnancy. It was then that she made a call to Planned Parenthood to schedule an abortion. Planned Parenthood referred her to XYZ* Women’s Center, an abortion clinic in Detroit.

But God intervened.

By some miracle, the receptionist at the abortion clinic that day did not schedule her for an abortion appointment. Instead, she did something unheard of - she told Raven to call Another Way Pregnancy Center. To this day we don’t know why, or how. But we are so thankful she did.

Instead of sitting in an abortion clinic that day, Raven and Martel found themselves at AWPC waiting for an ultrasound. She was miserably sick and didn’t actually want to go in, but Martel encouraged her to come. She was agitated and annoyed, feeling nauseous and miserable as she waited for her appointment time. Why am I here if my mind is already made up?

Eventually one of our ultrasound technicians, Christine, walked her back for an ultrasound. Raven and Martel saw their child on the screen and her mind began to change. They talked with Christine for a long time - about pregnancy sickness, abortion procedures, fetal development. Christine encouraged her about her sickness, telling her that it would most likely subside in the next few weeks. But it was the tiny heartbeat of their son that kept coming back to the new parents.

Hearing Martel talk about that appointment, it’s clear to see the love and hope he had for his little boy. “I thought to myself, what would it be if we take our own child’s life away? Knowing he might be someone great one day! Let’s give it a chance and find out how to keep him. Once we went to AWPC and talked to Christine, she put everything into perspective. If God didn’t want this child here, he wouldn’t be here.”

For Raven, the kind words and seeing her sweet child on the ultrasound was all it took to realize she wanted to keep her baby. She left the appointment firm in her conviction, and was able to talk to her parents and convince them that she had made the right choice.

Shortly after their first appointment, Raven and Martel joined the Earn While You Learn program, working with volunteers Chris and Lilly. Raven started feeling better around the halfway point in her pregnancy and started going to prenatal appointments.

They speak with gratitude in their voice as they talk about their experience with EWYL. Raven says, “It’s so helpful. You learn so much. And it’s really calming—we just take time out to talk about what’s going on. It’s a beautiful program.”

When Martel talks about the Men’s Program, he mentions how he learned to be a father. “I learned a lot from Chris, how to be the right father for my kid. It’s encouraging to have someone sit down and listen, to motivate me - he made feel like I could do this, to not doubt myself, and to believe that I could be a good father.”

Throughout our conversation, Raven’s voice is tired but content. It beams as she tells me how special and unique her little boy is. I ask her what she would say to a woman who finds herself in the same position one day.

“It’s going to be hard. But at the end of it all—when you meet your baby, when you hear that first cry—it’s all worth it. I promise it’s worth it.”

* Name withheld to protect the worker. 

This story was adapted from our December 2017 newsletter. To read the full newsletter, click here.

What's In a Name?

Guest Post by Cristin Woodsum

I already had six beautiful children: Frank, Eddie, Charlie, Josephine, Louis and Eva. And in 2015, my husband Jon and I conceived two children that we never got to meet: Max and Gemma. They are two precious souls that our kids talk about every single day. But losing them was really hard for Jon and me. It was a time when I had to coach myself, and have others remind me that, despite the deep grief I was feeling, coupled with the feelings of loneliness and brokenness, that God was still there holding me. Even when I didn’t “feel” it. Jon and I consciously put our pain at the foot of the cross, some times better than others, asking God to take away the hurt. And for what seemed like a long time, He didn’t. He let us feel the pain, the loss, and we had to choose to accept God’s plan as perfect and beautiful, even though it didn’t feel like either at all.

The pain did subside eventually. Jon and I felt like God was asking us to open ourselves up to having another baby. That meant the potential of pain again, knowing that God wanted us to trust his plan, regardless of what that was. It was scary, but we knew we were called to trying, even if it meant not being able to hold another baby we partnered with God in creating.

We found out we were pregnant in early September. We “knew” it was a girl and that we should name her Rose. LaRosa is my mother’s maiden name, and I thought Rose was a nice little wink and a nod to her, as well as a beautiful name for a rainbow baby. But there were other reasons Rose seemed like such a great fit. First, the baby was conceived on the feast of Saint Rose (sorry if that is TMI). Second, the Dominican Sisters of Mary Mother of the Eucharist Saint Rose Guild had been praying for us for this particular intention, on St. Rose’s feast day. Finally, a priest friend of ours informed us that after our family visited his new church, a sweet little lady asked who we were and to let us know that our family reminded us of her own. She told him to let us know that Rosie was praying for us. So, obviously Rose was the name, right?


Imagine my surprise when we found out at The Big Ultrasound that our baby Rose was a boy! I was pretty disappointed. It wasn’t because that baby was a boy and not a girl. I love my boys dearly! I just felt confused by all of the signs I thought I saw indicating who this baby was, and it turned out not to be who he was at all. And even more so, after our two losses, for some reason our next baby’s name seemed so much more significant. I wanted it to have special meaning and no boy name jumped out at me as bearing any real significance. So we went back to the drawing board with the name search, and I prayed deliberately for God to help us to name this baby.

After a few weeks, I came up with Isaac. I liked it ok, but it felt a little uninspired. I mentioned it to Jon, whose best contribution up to that point was Cornelius and Gunther, and he liked it. I still wasn’t sold, but we tentatively agreed. The next morning, I was talking to my second-grader, Charlie, and mentioned that we were tossing around the name Isaac. Charlie grinned a huge grin and said, “I love that name! Isaac means laughter, because Abraham and Sarah laughed when they found out they were pregnant after they were sure they couldn’t have a baby!” 

Suddenly Isaac sounded a wee bit more “inspired” than it did before. I was diggin’ it.

The middle name was hard. Again, we wanted it to have meaning, but wanted it to sound good with Isaac too. And, let’s be real: not a whole lot of names sound good with Isaac! Then Jon and I remembered St. Francis Xavier, who was a super stud missionary, and co-founder to the Jesuit order. Isaac Xavier. Jon loved it. I liked it enough, but again, it felt a little uninspired.

The next morning, Jon asked me if I still liked the name Isaac Xavier. I told him that I liked it ok, but wasn’t sold. He said, “Well, I just realized, that if we did name him Isaac Xavier, his initials would be IX Woodsum, as in Roman numeral 9 (IX) Woodsum, and he is our ninth baby. I think that is a pretty cool shout-out to who he is. People will see us and think he is our seventh kid, but his name says he is our ninth.”

I stopped in my tracks. Isaac Xavier was the perfect name! Done! 

The day Isaac was born was a beautiful day. Jon and I took walks, talked, got some coffee, spent an hour at church worshiping our Lord, and gave birth to our beloved little IX Woodsum. The next morning I was reflecting on how good God was, and how, now as I was holding my precious little rainbow baby, that God was there when I was grieving with the losses of Max and Gemma. If I hadn’t lost them, I wouldn’t have Isaac...who was born at 6:12 (add 6+1+2, please…9!), and weighed 8 pounds, 1 ounce (8+1=9, if my math is correct). He is our precious little gift that God knew we would hold, even when we were grieving the loss of his siblings. And his name, and his birth stats shout out who he is as well. No one could have possibly have manipulated those!

We have a bit of a routine when we all our heading out somewhere as a family. Jon will go through a Woodsum Family Roll Call done by number. “Is #1 here?”

Frank replies, “Yep!”

“Number 2?”

“Here!” says Eddie…and so on.

We were going through our roll call this week, and Jon turns to me and asks, “When Isaac gets older can we call him number 9 instead of 7? I want him to know who he is and remember Max and Gemma in heaven.”

Needless to say, I agreed.

Everything about this new little man is such a beautiful reminder of God’s beautiful plan. When we were grieving, He knew He would let us know He never left us. We just had to trust Him enough to do it.


Cristin Woodsum is a mom to nine sweet children, seven here and two in heaven. She was one of AWPC's original social media writers.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Farmington Charity's New Sign Promotes Services for Pregnancy Choices

Another Way Pregnancy Center (AWPC) near Farmington Hills’ 12 Mile & Orchard Lake intersection installed a new road sign on December 27th. In addition to featuring updated information about the non-profit’s free services, the sign now features the organization’s name for its client services operations, “A Woman’s Pregnancy Choice.”

According to AWPC Executive Director Karen Jewell, the “A Woman’s Pregnancy Choice” name has already been used in communications with clients they serve since 2014.

“Too many times women assume there is only one way to solve the problem of their untimely pregnancy,” Jewell said. “AWPC’s services empower a woman with medical information about her pregnancy and resources to learn about all of her outcome options—without fees, pressure, or judgment. Women facing an unintended pregnancy deserve respect, support, and factual information on which they can determine their choice.”

The new name’s focus on giving more options to women facing unplanned pregnancies reflects the stories of women like Dona Tidwell, who came to the center several years ago in the midst of a difficult situation, received help both during and beyond the pregnancy, and now volunteers to assist other women at the center.

“I cannot even express how grateful I am for AWPC,” Tidwell said.  “They not only helped me with the needs of my babies, they helped me with issues I ran into with being able to continue schooling and my goals.”

Under the name “A Woman’s Pregnancy Choice,” AWPC hopes to reach even more than the 400-plus women and men who came to them for help in 2016.

AWPC was incorporated in 1984 to provide emotional and practical assistance to both women and men facing unplanned or untimely pregnancies in Southeast Michigan. They offer a variety of free services, including pregnancy tests, limited obstetric ultrasounds, parenting classes & mentoring, support groups, baby supplies and lay counseling. For more information about AWPC’s services, visit their website at http://www.answers4pregnancy.com.

What If "It" Were A Treasure?

AWPC supporter Chris Moses graciously shared with us a poem he wrote and we wanted to share it with all of you! Merry Christmas!


Baby with a Christmas present

Searching for buried treasure

That’s a childhood game I fondly remember

Digging deep into the fertile, dark earth

Hoping to give wild dreams birth

How I long for those childish days

And all their innocent ways


Peering deep into my own heart

Has hidden treasure taken a part?

With promises of adventure, beauty and toil

With value greater than silver, gold or oil

Skeptics claim with hard sneers

“You’re chasing a fool’s dream” adding to my fears

But my inner life is full of wonder

And my mind takes time to ponder


So I had the latest ultrasound

Studying the life moving around

The form and substance are just like mine

Bearing fingerprints of the Divine

Although the image speaks with a clear voice

I’m alone with a terrible choice

If ‘it’ were money, power or fame

I would jump at the indulgent gain

My heart says this one in me is greater still

Yet ‘it’ challenges my selfish will

Yes it’s mine and just like me

Seeking life and liberty


They say be free of ‘it’ and a true woman be

But do they care about the real me?

Does it die or come to breath?

Someone, somewhere save me from a love of death

Then I hear the receptionist call

I numbly walk down the hall

A doctor waits ready to take

The life from me – yet I hesitate


Standing still I’m frozen by the weight

Of mine and ‘its’ eternal fate

If I were growing precious jewels inside

No one would dare disturb where they hide

But what work of jewelry can compare?

To an infant’s form so sweet and rare

Pray, pray that I won’t destroy

The gift of heaven – a baby boy!


 - Chris Moses

Making Abortion Unthinkable

Originally written by Sydna Masse at Ramah's Voice.

“How could I have walked into that place and allowed them to take my child?” the caller asked. “I had no clue an abortion would feel like this afterwards!”


Few understand the potential emotional, spiritual, psychological or physical impact when choosing abortion. I was no different when I walked into an abortion clinic as a teenager in an unexpected pregnancy. Abortion was sold to me as a way to “erase” the evidence of my lost virginity. Sounds easy, right? Wrong!

When I discovered that pregnancy centers existed in 1991 to help provide individuals with another choice besides abortion, I was overjoyed.  It was quickly obvious to my heart that had I walked into a pregnancy center for a pregnancy test, the child I aborted would likely still be alive. Over the years, it has been my extreme honor to help these unique non-profits in any way possible!

While a pregnancy center did not exist in my community when I was first pregnant, a local center offered abortion recovery services to help me discover God’s amazing healing eleven years later. Then I began my full-time work – from managing Focus on the Family’s ministry to pregnancy centers to founding and operating Ramah International.

America’s pregnancy centers have thankfully made a dramatic difference in the abortion issue. These primarily faith-based non-profit pregnancy centers offer 3-4 levels of complimentary services to their communities:

  1. Prevention – Abstinence education and support,

  2. Intervention – Medical quality pregnancy testing combined with abortion education (outlining procedures and their risks), parenting programs as well as material and emotional support for those facing an unexpected pregnancy,

  3. Reconciliation – Assisting post-abortive individuals in discovering God’s peace at an emotional and spiritual level,

  4. Medical – Offering ultrasounds, limited pre-natal services as well as STI/STD testing.

In Ramah International’s first ministry year back in 1997, the Alan Guttmacher Institute published a report entitled, Facts in Brief: Induced Abortion, which outlined, “At current rates 43% of all American women will experience abortion at least once before 45 years of age.”

Astounded by that broad statistic, God began to place the vision for Ramah International on my heart. The world clearly needed a focused support system for training, promoting and managing abortion reconciliation ministries within pregnancy centers and church settings.

Using the 43% American post-abortion rate, Ramah International began focused training of pregnancy centers in outlining the emotional and spiritual impact of abortion to their ministry contacts. Our goal was to make abortion an unthinkable option due to the potential for regret, grief and pain. It began by asking a simple question – if nearly half of all American women have experienced abortion, why is it that you rarely hear anyone talking publicly about this choice?

The overall silence of post-abortive people spoke volumes to those considering abortion. As expected, many discarded abortion after receiving more practical and unbiased information from their pregnancy center. With the physical and emotional support through their pregnancies, pregnancy center clients had a much better choice than abortion.

As the years passed, the Alan Guttmacher Institute revamped their post-abortion statistics down from 43% to 33%. They also outlined that as many as 44% will chose to abort multiple times. Because post-abortive people are nearly impossible to survey, it is difficult to outline trends in how abortion impacts the heart. That does not mean that this silent agony has not influenced our nation deeply.

This month, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued a new report stating that the abortion rate in 2013 was half the rate recorded in 1980. The last time the CDC recorded a lower rate was in 1971, which was two years before the infamous Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion was passed.

Think about that statistic. The number and rate of abortions tallied by federal authorities have fallen to their lowest level in decades.  The abortion rate for 2013 was half the rate recorded in 1980. The CDC tallied 664,435 abortions in 2013, discovering that the abortion rate was down 20 percent from 2004.

This CDC report verifies that abortion is a concept that 20% of America’s younger generation are choosing to avoid than just 12 years ago. Many are openly embracing secondary virginity or simply choosing to remain sexually pure until marriage.

Abortion advocates may claim this lowering abortion rate as the result of their contraceptive services. But teenagers haven’t changed much over the years when it comes to using birth control.  While other factors are involved, the lowering rate has been impacted by pregnancy centers being used by God to change our nation’s understanding of abortion’s impact one life at a time.

You may never know when you may need the services of your local pregnancy center. I encourage you to discover your local pregnancy center today to learn the many ways they are making a difference in your community. Please thank them for their service in reducing the abortion rate in our nation.