Mercy Hope: Jennifer, I’d like you to share a little bit about how you came to know God. I know a little bit about your movie career and that you were a model, and I know that at some point you came to know the Lord, but I really don’t know what it was that brought you to that place.
Jennifer O’Neill: Well, about eight years ago I wrote my autobiography, appropriately titled, Surviving Myself. I have three children and four grandchildren and I did that at the prompting of my kids. I thought long and hard about writing this story. It had to be an honest story, which was pretty scary. I asked permission of my family and my husband, but I wanted to write this story about a life that looked so good on the outside and hurt so badly on the inside. I had a very blessed life in many ways, all the fame and fortune, travel and movies and modeling at 15 in Paris, but I had this hole in my heart from the time I was a little girl, and as the song says, sort of looking for love in all the wrong places and thinking someone else could fill up that hole. So I wanted to write Surviving Myself to tell the story about a life, my life, which as I said looked so good and hurt so badly and was transformed at age 38 when I met the saving grace of Jesus Christ. So that was a story worth telling, not that I’m that special, but just that you can never get to the bottom of God’s love, no matter where you’ve been or what you’ve done. I found out that I was carrying my third child at the time, it wasn’t an unhappy time, it was a happy time, but I had some friends that had been witnessing to me—I realize now that there were many people that were praying for me that I didn’t even know, so prayer works. That was, I think my favorite thing about being a celebrity, was that people thought to pray for me that didn’t know me. So I describe the way I came to the Lord kind of like a slow-motion Clairol ad. I did not have a Damascus road experience, while I was pregnant I started to read the Word, speak to people, and the Holy Spirit started to work in my heart and by the time I had my son Cooper, we dedicated him and then I was baptized.
Mercy Hope: How long was it from the time you came to the Lord until you began to speak out for the Pro-life movement?
Jennifer O’Neill: Well…a good ten years, because it took me that long before I wrote my book, Surviving Myself, and that is the first time I publicly addressed the issue. Here’s what’s interesting, we all know that when we accept Christ we have eternal life, but I negotiated with God for a long time. I think a lot of people do especially if they come to their faith late in life. You have eternal life and you’re saved, but you have, in my case, 38 years of living a certain way and thinking that you’re driving and you’re in control, not that I was doing such a bang-up job of it, but it took me a long time to give my issues over to God, to really accept His grace in it’s fullness. I just felt, “Well God, You can forgive me of this or this or this,” or “Jesus died on the cross for this or this, but not abortion, that’s too big, that’s too hard,” which really, if you think about it, is pride. It’s slapping Jesus in the face. It’s saying, “My problem is too big for God.” My second book, From Fallen to Forgiven, deals with God’s great, deep, abiding desire for us to deal with our areas of unforgiveness so we’re not robbed on a daily basis and become bitter and shameful. Jesus did die on the cross for all of our sin. God addresses this in His Word at the end of the Lord’s Prayer. He reiterates, “If you hold anyone in unforgiveness, go take care of that issue and then I’ll forgive you and heal you,” well, that means us as well. So we can actually forgive other people faster than we forgive ourselves. If God says, “Love your neighbor as you love yourself,” He’s assuming we love ourselves. How many of us love ourselves? Very few of us see ourselves as God sees us. So the point is, God sees us as blameless, through the blood of Christ on the cross, but we don’t accept it, so there’s so many people who, the enemy can lose you, (as far as eternal life), to the Lord Jesus Christ, but can rob you on a daily basis if you don’t turn over our unforgiveness and let all the retribution be God’s. So, issues of sexual abuse, issues of abortion, those are tough issues to turn over. Quite often people just shove it under the carpet, keep it in secret, and live in shame and guilt and fear, and none of that is of the Lord.
Mercy Hope: Now, I’d like you to share a little bit about the Silent No More campaign.
Jennifer O’Neill: I’m the national spokesperson for the Silent No More awareness campaign. Awareness is the operative word and so is campaign. It’s not a group, but it’s a group of people who have come together who regret their abortions, they realize that they’re not alone, which is the title of my new book, You Are Not Alone, which is an invitation to heal and address the issue of abortion. Silent No More are men as well of women that have come out of the closet, come out of the pain, accepted Jesus’ grace and healing and hope for their lives, even for abortion, and these very men and especially women, become incredible billboards for the truth that abortion hurts women. And, of course, the cornerstone of concern is the baby, but God tells us in His Word that our babies are with Him in heaven and there is no retribution or condemnation in Christ, they will know us and there will be no tears, so it’s really those who are left behind in the shame and the guilt that suffer. 43% of women, churched or unchurched, have had an abortion, if they’ve reached the age of 55. That means that if we’ve sidestepped abortion in our life, you can be pretty sure we know someone who’s been involved with an abortion. It’s pervasive, it’s an equal-opportunity destroyer, it is something that affects and infects families and society. The good news is that as people come out and are truthful, the truth will set you free, and the truth needs to be know that the aftermath of abortion leaves women in high percentages of depression, higher use of alcohol and drugs, difficulty having relationships, difficulty having further children, 140,000 immediate medical needs following abortion annually—that’s legalized abortion, it’s not safe. I had nine miscarriages along the way of having my children, so we need to know the truth about it and we need to know there are other options. 85% of those who have had abortions were pressured or coerced in some fashion, that’s my story about it. Even though we’re all responsible for everything we think, say and do, in my case, I become pregnant in the ‘70s, abortion was legal, I was engaged to be married, and this is a good reason to teach abstinence until marriage, because I thought I knew this man and I became pregnant, I was thrilled that I was pregnant, I was so excited, but he was adamant against having the baby and threatened me and pressured me and everybody told me, including the doctor, that I was just carrying a blob of tissue, that it wasn’t a baby. So with the advent of the ultra-sound, we can see the humanity even beyond what God says, that He knit us together in our mother’s womb so He knows us from the beginning of time, so it is a baby. I folded emotionally and I hated myself because innately, even though I didn’t have my faith of the support of that, I knew it was wrong, and women know it’s not a blob of tissue, we’ve all been a fetus once, all of us sitting here, hello fellow fetuses. So, that’s the story about Silent No More and its website is www.silentnomoreawareness.org and my website is www.jenniferoneill.com. There are further healing materials on my website, Life After Abortion video and workbook, the new book that’s out now in all the stores and on Amazon.com, You’re Not Alone, which is a real invitation, not only for those who have had an abortion, for grandparents that lost their children, for parents who took their daughter down maybe thinking they were helping her with an abortion, so it’s for everybody and it’s time to heal.
Mercy Hope: As you travel across the country doing this, you’re working very hard, how can your sisters in Christ be praying for you and supporting you as you’re out there?
Jennifer O’Neill: What a wonderful question. Thank you so much. You can report to them and tell them, as they well know, and I know you know because of that question, that prayer works. That for any of us who are on the front lines on this very tough issue, there’s a huge amount of warfare going on, and God says in His Word not to grow weary in doing good and so prayer is the answer, the answer, the answer, the answer. Just pray for God’s wisdom for me, and strength that I don’t rely on myself, that I rely on the strength on the Holy Spirit. I would ask them to pray for a covering for my ministry and everyone that’s working in the Pro-life movement. Covering and prayer and support, that’ll do it, because prayer works.
Note from Mercy Hope: Dear friends, please take a moment to lift Jennifer up in prayer. Women like Jennifer O’Neill, and Sandy Rios, and Brandi Swindell, and others who we’ve featured on FaithTalks.com work so hard to “Stand in the gap” in our culture. They are fighting on the front lines and they need our fervent prayers. They speak the truth whether the people listen or fail to listen. Only God knows the daily struggles and challenges they face. The temptation to compromise or give up altogether can be strong. If you’ve never personally worked in public ministry believe me when I say not growing weary is no diminutive command! It is our privilege and duty to “hold up the arms” of these dedicated sisters in Christ through our intercession. So please join me on my knees and together we can help lighten their load.
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