“It’s just hypocritical. The UK offers world-class healthcare to severely disabled children. Their families are provided with extensive social support. We pride ourselves on dismantling the barriers facing disabled members of society. So why are we aborting 90% of unborn disabled children?”
For Westminster student Ben this is not a theoretical question. When his wife Valentina was expecting their second child, an ultrasound scan revealed a number of serious health issues.
“After 3 months of tortuous waiting and more scans, we were given a 25% chance that our son would survive infancy. When the doctors offered us an abortion, we refused. We knew that this child was God’s gift to us. Healthy or not, he had been entrusted to our care as his parents.”
What we had been through was, for most people, a 'no-brainer' reason to abort.
Ben and Valentina’s son nearly died within a few days of birth. He continued in hospital for six months, in and out of intensive care. He had such a range of health problems that his care required the expertise of twenty medical teams. When their son finally came home, Ben and Valentina wrote in a prayer letter to friends that life often “felt like an experience of waterboarding - drowning in pain and frustration, only breathing again in order to feel more torment.”
“Throughout this time abortion became a personal concern for us. What we had been through was, for most people, a “no-brainer” reason to abort. But we have found that through this ordeal, our convictions on the matter of abortion did not change and have actually grown much deeper. We now understand better than we ever did before why some women might have an abortion, but feel more strongly that they should not.”
The issue continued to churn inside me. I realised that very few books have been written by UK-based authors on this subject.
Opportunities arose for Ben to speak on abortion. He turned up to one event to address 50 students, coming straight from a sleepless night in hospital with his son. Despite the exhaustion, he felt God’s help as he opened up the Bible’s teaching on a topic that most of his listeners had never heard addressed before. “The hunger to learn was palpable. I was struck by the immediate interest amongst these young Christians. Several of those attending began to share what they’d learned with friends. One student told me that she now wanted to use her life to speak up about this issue.”
Ben started to dig deeper. As he searched for Christian teaching about abortion he was struck by the silence of the evangelical church in the UK.
“The issue continued to churn inside me. I realised that very few books have been written by UK-based authors on this subject. When my wife Valentina and another friend advised me to write something myself, I contacted Chris Richards, a consultant paediatrician and elder in a local church. After much thought and prayer, my wife and I co-authored this book on abortion with him.”
We must not just be ‘anti-abortion’, but clearly ‘pro-life’.
“The aim of the book is to rouse the evangelical church in the UK to repentance on the issue of abortion. Our prayer is that Christians will stop ignoring this controversial subject and make a real difference in the wider culture.” As Senior Minister of Hope Church in Tyneside, Ben has a particular burden to rouse fellow pastors. “There is a crying need to start teaching clearly and boldly what the Bible says about the status of every unborn child as a human person from conception who deserves our love and protection. But it is critically important that our commitment to speaking the truth about abortion is matched by our sacrificial care of pregnant women and those who have had an abortion. We must not just be ‘anti-abortion’, but clearly ‘pro-life’.”
Interacting with lecturers and the community of students in Newcastle has been invaluable.
Ben combines ministry with part-time study at Westminster to deepen his own theological knowledge. “I chose Westminster primarily because of the in-person element. Alongside the heart-warming and mind-stretching lectures, interacting with lecturers and the community of students in Newcastle has been invaluable. It’s a real help to bounce ideas off others over lunch or coffee. As an Anglican myself, it’s also been great to interact with believers from several other denominations. I’ve realised how much I share with these fellow students in our common love for the Lord Jesus Christ and our desire to serve him and make him known.”