Full-circle Faith: A Testimony of Choosing Life

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Editor’s Note: The following article appeared originally at reformandamin.org. After Dr. Jurkovich shared on social media a personal pro-life experience, Reformanda Ministries asked him to write an expanded version of the story which had gone viral online in December 2020. The article has been republished here with permission.

By Brad Jurkovich

Pastor, First Baptist Bossier

Graduations always bring about a complete swell of emotions. And it doesn’t matter the kind of graduation—your own graduation from high school or college or watching someone else celebrate their graduation accomplishment. It simply is difficult not to get caught up in the emotion of the journey that is fulfilled in graduation.

On Dec. 18, 2020, our daughter Cassidy experienced the very rewarding tradition of the “pinning ceremony” for graduates from the Nursing School of the University of Louisiana, Monroe. The next day she would graduate from the university. Stephanie and I are so proud to see Cassidy become a nurse. She has wanted to achieve this goal since she was in elementary school.

So, as we watched our daughter—our first child—graduate from college, there was a flood of memories and emotions that filled our hearts. We remembered moving her into her small dorm room on campus. We remember crying as we said goodbye when leaving her on a new college campus. We remembered the ballgames and the pressures of her studies she fought to achieve. We remembered meeting her boyfriend Nate for the first time, and we remembered when they got engaged and ultimately married while still in college.

All of these emotions and memories rose to the surface. But later in the day of her pinning ceremony, I was struck that what we were really witnessing was a journey of faith that has now come full circle. A faith journey that began weeks after Stephanie and I found out she was pregnant with Cassidy.

As any new parents are when they discover they are expecting a child, we were excited and nervous all at the same time. It was 1997, and I was in seminary preparing for a life of full-time pastoral ministry. Stephanie was working at a nursing home as a physical therapy assistant. We had prayed for a child and believed God to be the giver of all life. We thanked God together for allowing Stephanie to become pregnant. We knew then—and still know now—that every child is a gift from God.

And as we visited the doctor for the first time, we continued to be excited knowing that this precious life that was developing inside of Stephanie was growing and growing. But it was at the second visit with our doctor that our faith would be tested in a way neither of us had ever experienced before.

At about 12 weeks into the pregnancy, we arrived at the second appointment with our doctor. The radiology technician was looking and listening to the baby on a monitor. We could tell that she began to appear concerned. We asked her what she was seeing. What was so concerning? She said that the doctor would need to be the one to talk with us.

Obviously, this was quite unsettling to hear, and our thoughts were going to a million different places. We were then taken to a smaller room where the doctor would come visit with us. As the doctor walked into the room, we sensed a warm demeanor. He showed us what he was seeing on our baby’s ultrasound. He pointed out two areas on the brain of the baby. It was amazing how much detail we could see.

The doctor began to explain that what we were looking at were cysts forming on our daughter’s brain. Medically speaking, we were looking at Choroid Plexus cysts. We began to ask a series of questions. Could the cysts go away on their own? What are the effects of these cysts? Would any impact be long term? What is the impact on Stephanie? We asked these questions and many more of our doctor.

He shared with us the percentages of babies who have these cysts and how they see some amount of deformity or disability when born. But then, in other cases, the cysts sometimes go away on their own. We were hearing words, terms, and percentages that we had never before heard. This was all quite overwhelming.

People ask their doctor for recommendations on so many things. So, with all of this presented to us, we asked him what he recommended. Without hesitation, he looked at us and said, “You know, you guys are young. I would terminate this pregnancy and just try again. It shouldn’t be a problem for you guys.”

These words struck our hearts in such a vicious way. Terminate—or abort—our baby? Stephanie and I looked him in the eye and said emphatically, “No. Not an option.” In that moment, the doctor took on a much colder, agitated demeanor and simply said, “Then there is nothing else I can help you with today.” And he walked out.

There we were, in a small doctor’s office in a bit of unbelief of what we had just heard and experienced. But we knew then what we still know to be true today—God alone gives life, and to take a life is sin. It is wrong. The Bible is God’s Word, and in His Word, Psalm 139:13-16 says, “For You created my innermost parts; You wove me in my mother’s womb. I will give thanks to You, because I am awesomely and wonderfully made; Wonderful are Your works, and my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from You when I was made in secret and skillfully formed in the depths of the earth; Your eyes have seen my formless substance; And in Your book were written all the days that were ordained for me, when as yet there was not one of them.”

God is the creator and designer of all human life, and we are not to take the life of another. God’s Word makes this clear in Proverbs 6:16-17: “There are six things that the Lord hates, Seven that are an abomination to Him: Haughty eyes, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood.”

The innocent life of a baby must be defended, protected, and valued in every way possible. Stephanie and I believed that in this doctor’s office, and we believe it still today. But from a human perspective, we knew there were greater risks for our pregnancy. Even then, we believed that God could protect our new baby. No matter what, we were not going to terminate our pregnancy. We were going to pray and trust God.

We left the doctor’s office that day and never returned. We sought out another doctor and a new hospital. We shared our burden with family and close friends. We asked them to pray with us—and pray they did! I remember getting a call from a friend in another state who played drums with the worship team at his church. He called us and said that he called the entire worship ministry at rehearsal that night to pray for our baby and for us. God was moving!

A couple of months later, we visited our new doctor. While we were anxious for the latest pictures and update, we trusted in our great God. As we viewed the pictures, we could see why the doctor was so happy. Our daughter’s cysts were completely gone! We were filled with joy and thankfulness! Our faith had most certainly been tested.

We have had many challenges in life over the years—challenges that God has allowed to test us, shape us, and strengthen us. But as we watched our first-born child graduate and become a nurse just a few days ago, we remembered especially this particular test of faith. And we are so thankful for the faith and courage God gave us that day in our doctor’s office to choose life.

Cassidy will begin her first job in a hospital very soon—in Labor and Delivery.