I spent a chunk of 2016 living in Ghana, serving in a Liberian refugee camp and the surrounding villages. I was still in college, double-majoring in English (creative writing) and Journalism (news), and I transferred to a different university that had a cheaper online program so that I could continue my studies while serving abroad and not get behind.
The fall semester started off well. I was able to get my coursework done in the evenings after arriving back at the guesthouse where I was staying. Unfortunately, we lost the use of our internet router after a power surge, and I arrived back in the United States too late in the semester to begin to catch up. I was withdrawn from my classes and planned to return to school as soon as possible.
In January 2017, I was gang raped and became pregnant with my son, Caleb. Soon after finding out I was pregnant, I began bleeding heavily. I was placed on modified bed rest and told to take it easy. The bleeding continued for months until the OB I was referred to discovered that I had contracted an infection during the rape. It took weeks to get it cleared up. I was 19.5 weeks pregnant by the time it finally stopped.
Sometime during the months I spent dealing with the bleeding, I received a notice from the university I had briefly attended in the fall – because I had been withdrawn from classes, the government revoked my federal grants, and I suddenly owed the school thousands of dollars I didn’t have.
I couldn’t return to that school without paying the debt, and I couldn’t pay them back, so I hit pause on my educational goals.
Because my son was conceived in gang rape, most of the people I had been close to were pressuring me to have an abortion I never wanted, even into the third trimester. It was such a hard time, and the only regular encouragement I felt was offered up by my pro-life OB and her staff. Those women made all the difference in the world to me.
After the experience I had with their office and with Caroline, the nurse who attended my son’s birth in the hospital, I felt God calling me toward the nursing field. I knew in my heart that he had plans for me to help other mamas, either during pregnancy or delivery, or both.
I decided to enroll in community college when Caleb was several months old to pursue my RN. I qualified for a new state program that would allow me to earn a two-year degree tuition-free. I’ve always known that getting an education would be my ticket to making it out of the poverty caste I grew up in, and after a rough couple of years, both emotionally and financially, I felt like there was finally a way for me to prevent my son from growing up in the same financial desperation.
Then the financial aid representative from the community college informed me that I couldn’t receive aid at the institution unless I turned in all of my previous transcripts. The hope I had was immediately shattered because there was no way I could come up with all of the money I owed them.
As a single mom who was struggling to find a job without a degree, it just seemed like my life had turned into a dead end. I knew God had plans for me, and I tried to cling onto my faith. But that was so incredibly hard.
Being stuck in a cycle that seemed like it would never end made me feel as though those men were still calling the shots because their actions led to so many of the contributing factors working against me. I would break down sobbing because I was ashamed: for not being able to better provide for my child, for not having the education that is so prized in our culture, for being poor, for not being able to change my circumstances no matter how hard I worked.
I battled depression because of this shame. I asked God why he would give me the most wonderful gift – my son – after such a traumatic event but not make a way for me to better our lives. But God wasn’t saying, “no.” He was saying, “wait.”
I met the Prolove Ministries team after I joined the prolife movement as a writer and speaker soon after Caleb was born. They had no idea about the educational barrier I was dealing with or the burden of guilt and shame I was carrying because of it.
Recently, the three of us were at a conference together, and while doing a panel on stage, they mentioned their new Mama Scholar program. I’ve never been someone who felt comfortable asking for help, but in that moment, I felt God telling me to stop feeling so ashamed and reach out to them to just inquire about whether my situation would qualify me for this great, new program.
Before we left the conference on Sunday afternoon, I asked her to chat. She made me feel so comfortable and spoke life into my heart that reassured me I just needed to lay that cross down. Tuesday morning, not even 48 hours later, she called to let me know that Prolove Ministries had decided I would be the first Mama Scholar recipient.
That day, they paid off the entire debt that prevented me from accessing my transcript and starting nursing school.
As I sobbed on the phone, she continued to speak life into my heart. She kept saying how excited they were to see me become a nurse and to see all of the incredible things God was going to do in my life with this gift of education. And what a gift!
I have walked around every day since like a brand new person. When they removed this huge barrier from my life, they did so with such love and kindness that they built me up and helped me to see my own potential again.
With God’s help and the help I’ve received from Prolove Ministries, I can honestly say that for the first time in the nearly 3 years since I was raped, I finally feel like I’m able to completely take back my life.
God is so faithful, and he is working through this ministry in HUGE ways. There’s no way I could ever adequately thank the ProLove Ministries team, the donors who make the Mama Scholar fund possible, and (especially) God enough. They’re not just saving lives, they’re changing them too. I’m forever honored and thankful to count mine as one they’ve impacted with their love-first mentality.