Christine Dhanagom

Post-abortive actress finds healing on set of reality television show

Christine Dhanagom
Christine Dhanagom
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December 4, 2012 (LifeSiteNews.com) - Despite her public career as a Christian actress, Vanessa Ore considers herself a very private person. Not someone who likes to share intimate things about herself with strangers. How she ended up on the set of a Christian reality television program pouring out her soul and surrendering her deepest, darkest secret – a past abortion – is, she says, a mystery of God’s grace.

Vanessa had been invited to participate in the show, titled “Surrendering the Secret,” by its producer, Cecil Stokes. The first episode is scheduled to air on January 22nd, 2013, the 40th anniversary of Roe v. Wade.

Stokes knew that Vanessa was post-abortive when he invited her to a screening of the pro-life film October Baby which he had produced. Viewing the film was an emotional experience for Ore, and prompted her to share more of her own story with Stokes.

It was then that Stokes dropped a bomb-shell: would she consider sharing her story in a televised bible study focused on post-abortive healing? The “Surrendering the Secret” study from which the show took its name had already brought healing to post-abortive women across the country.

Vanessa can’t quite account for the impulse that drew her to say “yes,” except to say that she didn’t really know what she was getting into until she was there.

“I got into the project not really understanding, not because it was hidden from me, but not really absorbing the enormity of what this project could be,” she says.

Vanessa was a godsend for Geoffrey Rogers, President of Knock TV, the new Christian television station where the idea for the show was conceived.

The original plan, says Rogers, was to produce a short pilot to test the ground-breaking concept of bringing a Christian message to the popular reality television genre. The station had recruited Stokes to produce the show, and found four other women who had already been through the study and were willing to do it again on camera.

Vanessa would be the only one for whom it was a completely new experience. The pilot would pull together fifteen minutes of footage from before, during, and after the study, focused mainly on Vanessa’s experience. After the first day of filming, though, it was clear that something more extraordinary than a short pilot had come together.

“This is not a pilot, this is your first show,” Stokes told Rogers. “There is no casting director that could have picked these women more suitably for this than God Himself.”

“We refocused everything we had, all of our resources, all of our funding, everything, on the first season of ‘Surrendering the Secret,’” says Rogers.

Vanessa, meanwhile, was adjusting to the shock of an experience more intense than anything she had bargained for. While her conversion to Christianity had brought some healing from the abortion she had as a teenager, Ore says she had kept the experience “in this little compartment in my brain,” and never acknowledged the ways that it was still affecting her life. 

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“Some women do see the abortion as something that affected them dramatically throughout their whole life,” she says. “Then there are others that I guess, like me, I didn’t realize that I needed healing until I was in the study.”

According to Jill Marquis, the study’s group leader, Vanessa’s experience is not unusual.

“It’s very common for women to walk out of the abortion going, you know what, I’m fine, it’s dealt with, I’m moving on, great. And we’re really not fine and it manifests itself in different ways for different women,” she says.

Marquis noted that one of the more subtle effects that her own past abortion had in her life was in her relationship with her children.
“I did not have as close a connection to my children because I think that in the back of my mind somewhere I thought that God was going to take them from me, because that was what I deserved,” she said. “Once I had been through this study and I recognized that, it really changed the way that I engaged with my kids.”

The Bible study, she says, is a “paradigm shift,” that allows women to leave their past abortions at the foot of the Cross. Women are encouraged to go through the study at least twice in order to receive that grace more deeply.

“Healing from abortion is a process,” says Rogers, who notes that the transformation of some of the other women in the show who have been through the study before is just as remarkable as Vanessa’s.

For Ore, providence seemed to have arranged an especially powerful first-time experience. As she went through the study, opportunities began to surface to share with others the healing that she was experiencing.

A few weeks into the study, she was contacted by Kendra White, the script writer and producer of the pro-life short film “Aaron.”  White was looking for an actress to depict a post-abortive woman who experiences her aborted son’s forgiveness after imagining a day at the park with him. White had found Ore’s profile on the entertainment industry website IMDb, and had no idea that she was herself post-abortive.

The film was released on LifeSiteNews last month, where it has been viewed over 30,000 times.

In addition to acting projects, an unexpected opportunity arose in Ore’s personal life when a friend called her to say that she was pregnant and considering an abortion.

“I just felt from my heart that God filled me with the words to be the voice of that child. I just spoke truth to her and told her what I was learning in this Bible study,” Ore recalls.

Her friend chose to keep the baby. The experience was a direct answer to Ore’s prayers. During the bible study, she had asked God for an opportunity to minister to a woman considering an abortion.

As she began to open up more to others about her own past, Ore says she has been shocked to realize the number of women who, like her, are on the other side of that choice and suffering from having made the wrong one.

She believes that the show will encourage others to seek the healing that she has found. Her hope, she says, is that her experience will help other women realize that “they don’t have to live in the shame of that decision.”

“There’s forgiveness,” she says with conviction. “Their baby, which is a real baby, is in a beautiful place waiting for them.”

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Dustin Siggins Dustin Siggins Follow Dustin

PBS defends decision to air pro-abortion documentary ‘After Tiller’

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By Dustin Siggins

Under pressure for showing the pro-abortion documentary "After Tiller" on Labor Day, PBS' "POV" affiliate has defended the decision in response to an inquiry from LifeSiteNews.

The producers of the film say their goal with the documentary, which tells the stories of four late-term abortion doctors after the killing of infamous late-term abortionist George Tiller, is to "change public perception of third-trimester abortion providers by building a movement dedicated to supporting their right to work with a special focus on maintaining their safety.” 

POV told LifeSiteNews, "We do believe that 'After Tiller' adds another dimension to an issue that is being debated widely." Asked if POV will show a pro-life documentary, the organization said that it "does not have any other films currently scheduled on this issue. POV received almost 1000 film submissions each year through our annual call for entries and we welcome the opportunity to consider films with a range of points of view."

When asked whether POV was concerned about alienating its viewership -- since PBS received more than $400 million in federal tax dollars in 2012 and half of Americans identify as pro-life -- POV said, "The filmmakers would like the film to add to the discussion around these issues. Abortion is already a legal procedure."

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"This is an issue that people feel passionately about and will have a passionate response to. We are hopeful that the majority of people can see it for what it is, another lens on a very difficult issue." 

In addition to the documentary, POV has written materials for community leaders and teachers to share. A cursory examination of the 29-page document, which is available publicly, appears to include links to outside sources that defend Roe v. Wade, an examination of the constitutional right to privacy, and "a good explanation of the link between abortion law and the right to privacy," among other information.

Likewise, seven clips recommended for student viewing -- grades 11 and beyond -- include scenes where couples choose abortion because the children are disabled. Another shows pro-life advocates outside a doctor's child's school, and a third is described as showing "why [one of the film's doctors] chose to offer abortion services and includes descriptions of what can happen when abortion is illegal or unavailable, including stories of women who injured themselves when they tried to terminate their own pregnancies and children who were abused because they were unwanted."

Another clip "includes footage of protesters, as well as news coverage of a hearing in the Nebraska State Legislature in which abortion opponents make reference to the idea that a fetus feels pain." The clip's description fails to note that it is a scientifically proven fact that unborn children can feel pain.

The documentary is set to air on PBS at 10 p.m. Eastern on Labor Day.

Kirsten Andersen contributed to this article.

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Pete Baklinski Pete Baklinski Follow Pete

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He defended ‘real’ marriage, and then was beheaded for it

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By Pete Baklinski

A Christian man was executed during the night by a high-profile ruler after making an uncompromising defense of real marriage.

The Christian, who was renowned for his holiness, had told the ruler in public that his relationship with his partner was “against the law” of God. The Christian’s words enraged the ruler’s partner who successfully plotted to have him permanently silenced.

John the Baptist was first imprisoned before he was beheaded. The Catholic Church honors him today, August 29, as a martyr and saint.

While John’s death happened a little less than 2,000 years ago, his heroic stance for real marriage is more pertinent today than ever before.

According to the Gospel of Mark, the ruler Herod had ‘married’ his brother’s wife Herodias. When John told Herod with complete frankness, “It is against the law for you to have your brother’s wife,” Herodias became “furious” with him to the point of wanting him killed for his intolerance, bullying, and hate-speech.

Herodias found her opportunity to silence John by having her daughter please Herod during a dance at a party. Herod offered the girl anything she wanted. The daughter turned to her mother for advice, and Herodias said to ask for John’s head on a platter.

Those who fight for real marriage today can learn three important lessons from John’s example.

  1. Those proudly living in ungodly and unnatural relationships — often referred to in today’s sociopolitical sphere as ‘marriage’ — will despise those who tell them what they are doing is wrong. Real marriage defenders must expect opposition to their message from the highest levels.
  2. Despite facing opposition, John was not afraid to defend God’s plan for marriage in the public square, even holding a secular ruler accountable to this plan. John, following the third book of the Hebrew Bible (Leviticus 20:21), held that a man marrying the wife of his brother was an act of “impurity” and therefore abhorrent to God. Real marriage defenders must boldly proclaim today that God is the author of marriage, an institution he created to be a life-long union between one man and one woman from which children arise and in which they are best nurtured. Marriage can be nothing more, nothing less.
  3. John did not compromise on the truth of marriage as revealed by God, even to the point of suffering imprisonment and death for his unpopular position. Real marriage defenders must never compromise on the truth of marriage, even if the government, corporate North America, and the entire secular education system says otherwise. They must learn to recognize the new “Herodias” of today who despises those raising a voice against her lifestyle. They must stand their ground no matter what may come, no matter what the cost.

John the Baptist was not intolerant or a bigot, he simply lived the word of God without compromise, speaking the word of truth when it was needed, knowing that God’s way is always the best way. Were John alive today, he would be at the forefront of the grassroots movement opposing the social and political agenda to remake marriage in the image of man.

Click "like" if you want to defend true marriage.

If he were alive today he might speak simple but eloquent words such as, “It is against God’s law for two men or two women to be together as a husband and wife in marriage. Marriage can only be between a man and a woman.” 

He would most likely be hated. He would be ridiculed. He would surely have the human rights tribunals throwing the book at him. But he would be speaking the truth and have God as his ally. 

The time may not be far off when those who defend real marriage, like John, will be presented with the choice of following Caesar or making the ultimate sacrifice. May God grant his faithful the grace to persevere in whatever might come. St. John the Baptist, pray for us!

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The Wunderlich family Mike Donnelly / Home School Legal Defence Association
Thaddeus Baklinski Thaddeus Baklinski Follow Thaddeus

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German homeschoolers regain custody of children, vow to stay and fight for freedom

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By Thaddeus Baklinski

One year to the day since a team of 20 social workers, police officers, and special agents stormed a homeschooling family’s residence near Darmstadt, Germany, and forcibly removed all four of the family’s children, aged 7 to 14, a state appeals court has returned custody of the children to their parents.

The reason given for the removal was that parents Dirk and Petra Wunderlich continued to homeschool their children in defiance of a German ban on home education.

The children were returned three weeks after being taken, following an international outcry spearheaded by the Home School Legal Defense Association.

However, a lower court imposed the condition on the parents that their children were required to attend state schools in order for them to be released, and took legal custody of the children in order to prevent the family from leaving the country.

In a decision that was still highly critical of the parents and of homeschooling, the appeals court decided that the action of the lower court in putting the children in the custody of the state was “disproportional” and ordered complete custody returned to the parents, according to a statement by the HSLDA.

The Wunderlichs, who began homeschooling again when the court signaled it would rule this way, said they were very pleased with the result, but noted that the court’s harsh words about homeschooling indicated that their battle was far from over.

“We have won custody and we are glad about that,” Dirk said.

“The court said that taking our children away was not proportionate—only because the authorities should apply very high fines and criminal prosecution instead. But this decision upholds the absurd idea that homeschooling is child endangerment and an abuse of parental authority.”

The Wunderlichs are now free to emigrate to another country where homeschooling is legal, if they choose, but they said they intend to remain in Germany and work for educational freedom.

“While we no longer fear that our children will be taken away as long as we are living in Hessen, it can still happen to other people in Germany,” Dirk said. “Now we fear crushing fines up to $75,000 and jail. This should not be tolerated in a civilized country.”

Petra Wunderlich said, "We could not do this without the help of HSLDA,” but cautioned that, “No family can fight the powerful German state—it is too much, too expensive."

"If it were not for HSLDA and their support, I am afraid our children would still be in state custody. We are so grateful and thank all homeschoolers who have helped us by helping HSLDA.”

HSLDA’s Director for Global Outreach, Michael Donnelly, said he welcomed the ruling but was concerned about the court’s troubling language.

“We welcome this ruling that overturns what was an outrageous abuse of judicial power,” he said.

“The lower court decision to take away legal custody of the children essentially imprisoned the Wunderlich family in Germany. But this decision does not go far enough. The court has only grudgingly given back custody and has further signaled to local authorities that they should still go after the Wunderlichs with criminal charges or fines.”

Donnelly pointed out that such behavior in a democratic country is problematic.

“Imprisonment and fines for homeschooling are outside the bounds of what free societies that respect fundamental human rights should tolerate,” he explained.

“Freedom and fundamental human rights norms demand respect for parental decision making in education. Germany’s state and national policies that permit banning home education must be changed.

"Such policies from a leading European democracy not only threaten the rights of tens of thousands of German families but establish a dangerous example that other countries may be tempted to follow,” Donnelly warned.

HSLDA Chairman Michael Farris said that acting on behalf of the Wunderlichs was an important stand for freedom.

“The Wunderlichs are a good and decent family whose basic human rights were violated and are still threatened,” Farris said.

“Their fight is our fight," Farris stressed, "and we will continue to support those who stand against German policy banning homeschooling that violates international legal norms. Free people cannot tolerate such oppression and we will do whatever we can to fight for families like the Wunderlichs both here in the United States and abroad. We must stand up to this kind of persecution where it occurs or we risk seeing own freedom weakened.”

Visit the HSLDA website dedicated to helping the Wunderlich family and other German homeschoolers here.

Contact the German embassy in the U.S. here.

Contact the German embassy in Canada here.

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