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.”