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I feel light and joy and hope again.
That was my baby. Well, her son was born in the most difficult of circumstances, but he is the joy of her life. And Jennifer Christie is our guest today on Focus on the Family, sharing a traumatic but a very hopeful story on our broadcast. And because some of this story is graphic, if you have young kids around, you'll want to use earbuds or listen later via the podcast or our mobile app. Your host is focused President Jim Daly. And I'm John Fuller.
John, listeners are going to hear from an inspiring person who triumphed in the face of tragedy and who took a courageous stand for the life of her son. God is using Jennifer's testimony to change hearts and minds on some very difficult circumstances related to the abortion topic. It's not something she wanted to talk about, but she felt God leading her to share with others. And so she's walked through the open doors that he's provided. And her message is that there is light after darkness.
And in the past few years, Jennifer has become a very active international pro-life speaker. And she her husband, Jeff, had been married for 25 years with five children.
Jennifer, welcome to Focus on the Family. Thank you so much.
Yeah. And, man, I know you wouldn't wish your extremely difficult circumstances on anyone, but you went through a very traumatic event several years ago that changed your life. So in the briefest appropriate way, what happened?
First of all, we when we broke our story, when we talk about the content of our story, we're very careful to say that our story is not one of devastation and true crime. We're really it's essentially boils down to a love story between a mother and a child, between a husband and wife, between a loving heavenly father and his people. And that's really the story that we tell. We are careful when we speak with children in the audience because we we are talking about a rape. It's not something that should be sugarcoated. But the violence is not the emphasis of this story.
Give us the time frame. When did it happen? What were the circumstances?
January of 2014 is when our our world kind of upended. I'm a sign language interpreter and as such, I do a lot of traveling for work or I did I do a lot less so now. But I had taken an assignment that was out of town. And the last day of this two week long assignment, I went back to my hotel room. It was mid-morning and snowy and cold and windy, and I made my way back to my hotel room and didn't realize I was being followed. And I did what they generally tell women who are traveling alone not to do. You know, I was not paying attention to my surroundings. I had a scarf around my face and my hood up. And I had a hotel room that opened to the outside near the parking lot. And all of those things that were not supposed to do. And I opened my door and I turned around to close it. And there was a man in my doorway. And we talk a lot about fight or flight, but we don't usually talk about freeze. And I had a moment of freezing because this is not something that happens in real life, you know? This is not something that that happens to you. You know, this is the stuff of movies. This is I had about a seconds for all this to go through my head. And then he punched me in the head and I thought and then I heard before I felt my ribs break and my fingers break. And I tried very hard to disconnect from my body and say over and over from somewhere inside myself, this is just my body. This isn't my soul. He can't touch my soul. And then I passed out. And the next thing I remember, I felt a rush of cold wind. And I heard a woman screaming and I woke up and there's this woman wearing the brown uniform of the housekeeping staff and she's leaning over me, covering me with her coat. And I realize. I'm only wearing a scrap of clothing and I'm lying in the stairwell outside the back of the hotel under the dumpsters, and she's crying. And I tried to lift myself up and I can't quite remember what happened, but I remembered fighting and I realized I was very hurt. And in the hospital, I was treated for the broken bones and a brain bleed that would leave me with a seizure disorder. And there was a lot of internal damage which we didn't realize the scope of at the time. But I would have six major and four minor surgeries over the next four years. And that was the attack.
Jennifer, it's horrific. I mean, there's no two ways about it. And it's you know, I know you've turned this into a testimony and we're going to hear the better side of this if there's such a thing there. But the God side, let me say it that way. Your perpetrator wasn't caught immediately. What was that like? I mean, knowing that that person was still out there. He did eventually, I guess, come to some form of justice.
Describe what took place at the time. I was told by the detectives and the hospital to not expect justice.
But a lot of rape cases stay in the system. They never are processed. But they came back and they said there was no match, there was no DNA match in the system, which surprised them because they felt like the attack was very well planned. They said he's probably left the state and for a long time we didn't hear anything. And that was terrifying. And so I didn't feel safe anywhere. And we ended up leaving the state. We moved and moved away far out into middle of nowhere. And I just never felt comfortable.
Yeah. Jennifer, maybe it would be good to describe some of those feelings, you know, immediately after and then the months and even year two after. What were those emotions like? How did you cope? Sure.
In the days and the weeks immediately following the attack, it was pretty wretched. The world was a different place.
I'd been a Christian since I was 14, and I. I didn't expect to be exempt from suffering. You know, I know that that's not the way it works. You know, I know as a Christian, even where we're promised suffering. I know that this is not our home. I knew all that. I wasn't mad at God. I didn't. But but I was mad. I was mad. I didn't fully understand how we as human beings were capable of inflicting that kind of evil on each other. I couldn't grasp that. And I I didn't want to be a part of this world anymore. I didn't know how to keep going. I didn't think I could. And my husband was trying so hard to be the rock that I needed to be there for me and, you know, to keep this. You know, he was a Marine. He had the stiff upper lip thing going. And he was like, we're going to get through this and this will be okay. But I could hear him in the mornings in the shower, like sobbing and punching the walls. And then he'd come back out and he'd smile and he'd be like, we're gonna get through this.
And I remember thinking, like, you liar. Like, we're not okay.
This is not okay. And I felt like we were really looking to each other, but we weren't quite looking up. You know, he was trying to deal and I was trying to deal. And we'd come together and we'd be like, this is OK. But we were we didn't know what to do. Right. We didn't know how to you know, there's no book for this. And we didn't really know how to cope and we weren't doing well when that sense of unfairness.
Brian, I can only imagine how was that between you and God?
I mean, in terms of Lord Yde, why let this happen and why? Yeah, the big wide question. Yeah. And I. And how do you wrestle through that?
You, you don't really I, I, I tried not to do that.
You know, I tried because I knew the world was unfair. I knew we lived in a fallen world and I, I knew things that, you know, wars and poverty and death and I knew that that happened and I didn't want to be that person to be like, why me, God? It wasn't like I was so perfect and, you know, white. I knew that I wasn't and I didn't want to go there. But in my mind, I was still.
Why did it have to happen to me and why? And I I did wrestle with that a lot. And I, I was I was just in a place of just such darkness. And we had told the kids I was in a car accident. I didn't. How do you tell your babies? Right. How do you tell them something like that? And. But they knew something was wrong. I was jumping at shadows. I was meeting. I wasn't sleeping.
I, I just things were just not good, you know, in retrospect, because you're talking to many people right now.
You mentioned you and your husband trying to do this kind of without looking up. Right. How would you do that? Differently. Oh, gosh. For that person that's listening.
Right. Absolutely. We would have gotten help immediately. We would have gotten counsel, pastoral care. We would have gotten counseling. We would have connected with couples who've been through this, which is why we now talk to couples often who'd been through this, because there is healing. There is a possibility for healing, for for reconciliation. You know, with each other, with God. It's just it is difficult, but it is possible.
But it is what you talk about, you know, defining a new normal. And I think my husband still wrestles with. You know, I was her protector. I wasn't there. And I was, you know, and as nonsensical as I feel that is, you know, of course, you weren't going to be there. Of course, this is not your fault. He deals with all of that, that masculine. I stood before God and our families and promised to protect you. And probably then I wasn't there. I failed to you. And. And so it it helped him tremendously to talk to other men whose wives have been raped and who walked this before him. And that's what I would definitely suggest to two men who have gone through this.
Jennifer Christy is our guest today on Focus on the Family. Your host is Jim Daly. And we have help if you're struggling with difficult circumstances, with unexpected turns in life. We have Karin Christian counselors here and a lot of different resources. Our number is 800, the letter A in the word family.
And you can find additional details in the episode, notes Jennifer picking up on going back to work. We need to unfold that story, your story quickly. How long was it before you went back to work and then you found yourself on a trip or work trip? Describe that for us because it takes us to the next part of the story.
Sure. This is the better part. About six weeks after the assault, I had been scheduled to interpret on a cruise. And this was something that had been scheduled. I mean, maybe six months earlier, I had been requested and there was a a large group of deaf people and several other interpreters and the agency that had booked this, I didn't tell them what had happened. I didn't back out. And the longer I waited, the more difficult it would have been to to back out of the last minute.
And how much time between the incident? Six weeks.
Only six, six weeks. But I mean, I was pretty much healed physically. And Jeff, my husband and I had talked about it a lot. And he was like, I think you should go, like if you're physically up to it. He's like, you need to get out of your head. You're not doing well here. And so I did. And the second day, it was a 10 day cruise, the longest I'd ever really been away from home. I'd only done a handful of cruises in my career. The second day, I get very, very second and quarantined and they give me antibiotics and I'm not getting better. And after 24 hours, one of the doctors comes in and she's like, we're gonna have to give you an I.V., something stronger, a cocktail of something and. Is there any chance you could be pregnant? And I immediately think, well, no. Like, my husband had a vasectomy after our fourth baby. We a very rough pregnancy.
No, there's no chance. And then I, like, stop like the world at time to stops.
And I've been so worried about disease and so worried about like that's what my concern was. People are like, how did you not think about pregnancy anyway? Because I was worried I was going to die. I, I was I had a lot of other concerns. You know, pregnancy was the last thing on my mind. I was thirty nine almost in pregnancy and not been an issue in our lives for eight years.
But everything time kind of standstill. And I just said for the first time out loud, I used the word rape. I said I was raped six weeks ago. You might want to test me. And she does. And it's positive. And I just kind of holding that test. I'm sort of rocking back and forth. And I just said, I don't know what to do. And it wasn't like, I don't know if I'm going to keep the baby, but it was so much more. It was just what am I going to tell people? What am I going to tell my kids? I hadn't told my mother that I had been attacked. She had moved out of state. I couldn't tell her over the phone I. What am I going to do? And this doctor who was not at all prepared, this was like, we need to make an emergency stop. Like, this is a liability. And how like we've got another week on this cruise, it maybe could be in the tube. You know, you've been in a lot of pain. We need to do an ultrasound. So the next day we make a stop. We're in Cartagena, Colombia, and they take me to a hospital. And I hadn't told Jeff anything yet. I wanted to know what was going on. And so, I mean, this looks like a little basement hospital and I'm surrounded by strangers and I'm on this, you know, a little rickety bed and they pull over and ultrasound. And I'm staring at this grainy black and white screen and they light it up. And I see this little pea on the screen. This little image. And for the first time since. Been attacked, I staring at the screen and I smile because I'm for the first time and since my world just turned upside down, I feel light and joy and hope again. That was my baby. Wow.
I mean, Jennifer, that's a. Difficult position, to say the least. I can't imagine that everybody would have that kind of response. I'm sure women listening right now who may have gone through something similar have a different response.
I'm sure that that does happen. But the majority of women who I talk to, the majority of women who experience that say the same thing, that in a time of utter darkness, they find out that they're pregnant and suddenly there's a light and all this darkness, suddenly a senseless crime makes sense. They have something real to hold on to. Right. And there was this very, very clear thought of, OK, I couldn't protect myself. I couldn't help myself. But that baby, that baby I can protect. This is something that I can do. This is something good out of something bad and something tangible that I can look forward to.
The you know, for those listening to the first part of the story. That idea of courage now takes on a whole new meaning. I mean, it's courage upon courage really doesn't feel like that, I guess.
When I was when I told the doctors later at the end of this trip, because they all knew, you know, I I remember telling them, you know, if you ever wonder what happened to us, if you ever want to know the end of the story. Know that my husband and I had a beautiful baby in the fall of 2014. And one of them, I mean, there was dead silence. And one of the doctors was like, did you ever think you could be so strong? And I just said, I don't think it's strength. I'm just a woman. I'm having a baby. And that was kind of that sort of thing.
Yeah. The doctor was in tears, right?
Yeah. One of the dogs, the doctor who gave me the pregnancy test, they had been pushing abortion all week. You don't want this. You don't want a child. For me, this is not you're not thinking clearly. What I told them, she just she put her hand on my arm and she just looked at me for a really long time. And she just she had tears in her eyes and then she just laughed. And that was the first time I realized that there was power in this story.
Jennifer, I want to make sure we capture that conversation with your house. Yes, because that's critical. Yes. What took place? You went to the ultrasound.
Right. And I came back to the ship and one of the member who was one of the nurses or doctors was like, why don't you go to the captain's quarters and call your husband? So I. I called him and I just said, are you sitting down? Very. Let's get right to it. And he said, What's wrong? And I said, I'm pregnant. And there was no ambiguity as to how it happened. You know, I'm pretty fertile. And, you know, if the vasectomy wasn't going to take, it would have not taken sometime in the last eight years. And there was a second of silence. And then he just said, OK. And I said, OK. OK, what? Like, that's not enough. I need more from you. And he said, Sweetheart, this is a gift. He said, this is something beautiful from something that's been so terrible and painful for us. He said, we love babies. And I said, yeah, yeah, we love babies. He said, we can do this to somebody awesome. We can do this.
How critically important was that to you?
I would never have not had my baby. But his support, of course, meant the world to me. I changed some of that. It definitely I mean, absolutely. Absolutely it. I mean it immediately. A rush of peace, a rush of joy, because it is very jarring, you know, and it's I felt very protective of my child from the second I saw him. There was an immediate feeling of defensiveness because I knew the way the world was going to see him. But knowing that my my husband welcome 10 was like, this is gonna be great. There was the joy that followed.
Well, you know, it's the right answer because that child's the right answer is not guilty of anything. Right. Existence. Right. We're all guilty of existing. Right. But it's very unnatural not to want to simply eliminate that because every day someone is thinking. But when you look at your boy today, who's now five. Does it harm you in some way? Do you think about that day, those terrible circumstances, and have as many people make that argument? I know I would remind you every day.
Right. And that's the implication would be that so if you have an abortion, then you forget, you know, then you forget that you're raped. You know, otherwise you have this reminder and you don't forget. No woman is ever going to forget what happened to her that lives with you every day. That changes you up with a child. I've never looked at my son and flashback to that day that I have plenty of reminders as the my existence. I mean, I have I have PTSD that doesn't go away. I have random flashbacks from different things. I have different triggers that I can't quite control smells or that that just happens. But I've. My son is nothing but a joy. I mean, it really it's so inconsequential. He's just part of our family. I mean, we talk about this all the time. My husband and I, we travel. But. And we speak on this, but I've never looked at my son and connected him with that at all. He's just he's just a kid. It's just hours when people ask if he's a reminder, something that I. I sometimes say. I said, if you really want to know if he's a reminder. Sure. Yes. You know, he's a reminder that women can triumph over our circumstances. He's a reminder that love is stronger than hate, that good wins out over evil. You know, if you want to know he is or might.
And that's the kind of reminder that he is. Wow, that God is still on the throne. You know, his victory from a partial victory for the masses, all of those. You know, if you want that, that's the reminder that he is. But a reminder of that day.
No, never, Jennifer. I mean, this is a powerful story of forgiveness. This is exactly you know, in fact, I'm thinking of Steven being stoned.
There's that loose semblance of that that, you know, God does not embrace the shedding of innocent blood. And you can't give him a circumstance where you can justify that. And those are hard words. But you and your husband have so wonderfully demonstrated that with that decision, perhaps the most difficult decision a woman can make in this regard. And I am I am really blown away by your courage, both you and Jeff, about doing the right thing. And you said, no, no, no. God has a purpose. This is his design, even though difficult. And we're going to walk through it. That is unbelievable. I'm so grateful.
It's really it's more common than you think. There are a lot of mothers from rape out there. It's the more it's the more prevalent responds. You know, that's not what you hear often. I mean, we're silenced and not many mothers from rape speak out because the hatred is so enormous. The backlash is so is so unbelievable. But really, most women who conceived from rape choose life. It's not an extraordinary story. Well, I mean, it's the natural response. It's the way we're designed, you know, to love and to nurture new life. And and we do feel it a tremendous amount of, you know, protectiveness and defensiveness and love for these lives.
Yeah. Well, again, I so appreciate your willingness to share your story. Absolutely. And the impact it will have on people, both men and women. And it's fantastic. Jennifer, let me ask you. Maybe the most important question, which is about forgiveness and then what happened to the attacker? I mean, how did you forgive and what was the outcome?
Well, what happened to him? First of all, we learned about two years later, we got a call from the FBI that the man who attacked me.
We had a DNA hit a woman, a redhead, apparently targeted redheads. Another woman had been found raped and murdered. And then a few months later, another redhead raped, murdered. And then several months after that, the man was found killed by the brother of one of his earlier victims, a man on an Indian reservation. So I my knowledge of what happened after that is limited because I'm not Native American. It was in the hands of tribal police. And so it gets kind of complicated from there. But he was killed. And so my chapter ends. My case was closed. As far as forgiveness goes. And that's a daily exercise. But and this makes people really angry for some reason, whenever I talk about forgiveness. Even Christians, you know, you shouldn't forgive him. And he did all this damage. And that's not the way he commanded. You know, we're supposed to forgive and and that's for us. That's for you know, I, I, I've had to walk through forgiveness. And it's something that that keeps me on my knees. And I'm grateful for that. You know, I forgive for my daughter so she can see what a godly woman, you know, is supposed to do in the valley. And I forgive for my sons, you know, who are becoming then, you know, the good men of tomorrow. I forgive for my husband, you know, so I can be a partner and the help mate that he deserves. And I forgive for my God so he can mold me into the woman that he designed me to be.
And, you know, for the people who who watch me, who follow our journey, you know, so they can see what it's supposed to look like, you know, we forgive because we are told to forgive. And that doesn't mean that it's easy and that doesn't mean that it comes naturally. It doesn't. We can only do that through Christ. And it it is difficult, you know, but it is it it is an everyday thing. It's not a once and done kind of endeavor.
Well, it's amazing. And Jennifer, we want to ask people to pray for you. Continue to pray for you and your husband and for that little one. What's his name? Joshua. Joshua. Jehovah's Aves. That is beautiful. Well, and so appropriate.
And if this program is touching your heart and maybe you have experienced something similar to what Jennifer experienced. We're here for you. We have Karen Christian counselors who can talk with you, who can pray with you, who can help you. And of course, we have many, many resources to help you, including additional counselors right there in your area, most likely. So just get a hold of us and start that discussion with someone who cares.
You're not alone. And there is hope, as we've heard today, so beautifully from Jennifer Christy, our guest. Our number is 800, the letter A and the word family. Eight hundred two, three, two six four five nine.
And also, let me encourage you, Jennifer. We have a wonderful program here called Option Ultrasound. And we've saved over 450 nine thousand babies by placing those ultrasound machines in pregnancy resource clinics around the country. Even a couple outside of this country. And they're just doing great work with those machines showing the little pea sized babies. You had described, Joshua, early on. And when women see that, they choose life change. A great majority of them. And we're grateful for everyone who has participated in that program. Let's keep moving forward in that regard. Sixty dollars to save a baby's life. Join us in that fight. I would love to reach a million babies saved. I kind of use that million alive by 2025. And we're 440000 men. And I want to get to that million mark as soon as we can.
Well, we hope you'll help us with the generous donation today and save a baby's life. And if he can make that a sixty dollar monthly donation and you'll save one baby every month out of the year. And in fact, right now, some generous donors have stepped up and they've offered to match your gift to save even more babies. And of course, we do want to remind you that coming up on September 26, we're gonna have a big online event to value life. It's called Sea Life 20/20, where to be having inspiring speakers, award winning musical artists and the star of the show, as was the case last year in New York, Times Square is a live ultrasound of a third trimester baby.
You can find details registered to watch and participate. Make a donation as well. To save a baby. When you visit our Web site, the link is in the notes or call 800, the letter A and the word family. Jennifer, thank you for being with. Thank you so much for having me. We really appreciate it. On behalf of Jim Daly and the entire team, thanks for joining us today for Focus on the Family. I'm John Fuller, inviting you back next time as we once more help you and your family thrive in crisis.