Why, if her own infertility journey is over, would a woman choose to work with infertile women? Not for the money. She does it for free, despite her own family’s financial needs. Not for the recognition. Few people outside the insular world of infertility even know what she does.
Lisa Graham works with infertile women because she has a servant’s heart, and because it is a joy to watch God work in the lives of women who entrust their stories to her.
Seven years ago, after her own journey made her aware of the profound lack of spiritual support for women battling infertility, Lisa was urged to start a prayer group for infertile women. A friend told her, “You should get women together, share your stories, and pray for one another.” At first, Lisa felt intimidated by the idea of being the leader. But another woman, “who knew scripture much better than I did” agreed to partner with her, and the two women launched a unique ministry.
“We meet once a month,” Lisa explained. “We go around the circle and everyone shares what’s happened to them since we last met: test results, where they are in their cycle, the next doctor’s appointment…. Sometimes, there are losses to share. And almost always tears. Then, we anoint each woman with oil and pray for her. Every month, we say, ‘Jesus is in the house!’ You can feel his presence in the room.”
Talking about infertility makes many people very uncomfortable. Unfortunately, that includes those who are expected to minister to us during times of struggle and heartache. E.W. Carter of the Regional Council of Churches said, “Clergy don’t know how to talk about infertility in the 21st century, so, when faced with the unfulfilled longing for a child, they are often silent.” That silence can make infertile couples – especially women – feel judged, neglected, and marginalized. Lisa Graham’s prayer group models one simple solution to this problem.
“It’s amazing to me that there aren’t more churches doing this, but we are the only group like this in Atlanta. Every month, Christians, Jews and non-believers gather together to honor God, to share their burdens, and to support one another. It is a simple ministry, but it’s very powerful. We see so many miracles – women getting pregnant after their doctors have said they can’t, women conceiving naturally after IVF has failed… we know God is at work.”
Luke tells the story of the Pharisees insisting Jesus rebuke his disciples for calling out praises to God for the miracles they’ve seen. Jesus’ response is “If they keep quiet, the stones will cry out” [Luke 19:40].
That is how “alumni” of Lisa’s prayer group — who are now mothers — feel about acknowledging God’s role in their stories. Many of them return to the group every month to pray with and for other women. They feel compelled to share the good news of their own experiences with those in desperate need of hope and inspiration. “We praise God for what He does, and we claim His promises for one another,” said Lisa. “The rest is up to Him.”
As National Infertility Awareness Week approaches (Apr 24-May1), consider whether you — or someone you know — might benefit from a group like Lisa’s. If so, forward a link to this blogpost to your ministry team or your doctor and let them know there is a simple way to deliver meaningful support. If you prefer to protect your privacy, feel free to send their contact information to me (firstname.lastname@example.org) and I will forward information on how and why to start a prayer group.
Remember: The God who is so generous and faithful that He must be praised or “the stones will cry out” is ready and waiting to help all those who call on Him. What are you waiting for?
Find more resources and cause for hope at PregnantWithHope.com