To some, saving a life—or even changing one—might seem like an impossibility. But in one maternity home in Florida for a pastor and his wife, it’s just a dream come true.
It started as a dream 25 years ago. After attending a Lutherans For Life event and hearing the stories of women in crisis pregnancy situations who felt they had no option but to abort their children, the Rev. Edward DeWitt and his wife, Sheryl, started wondering if there was something they could do to help.
“Wouldn’t it be wonderful if there was a place, a home, where women could turn and find the love and support and the hope that they need?” Sheryl recalls thinking. The two “dreamed of a place where single, pregnant women would find forgiveness in the love of Christ, rather than the judgment and shame that they so often feel.”
The two dreamed for decades until Pastor DeWitt’s congregation — the Lutheran Church of the Redeemer — finally served as the means by which “God was bringing to life what was for so long just a dream,” Sheryl says.
And in 2013, that dream became a reality: Redeeming Life Maternity Home in Sanford, Fla.
The DeWitts are speaking up. By sharing their story through the #eyesoflife campaign, they are giving voice to what millions of others believe as well: that all life, from conception to natural death, is sacred, valued and a gift from God.
The maternity home — a duplex purchased by the church in partnership with Lutheran Church Extension Fund and then renovated — now includes six bedrooms, four and a half baths and an office. The first resident moved in December 2013, and Sheryl was hired shortly after to serve as the executive director of the church’s unique outreach.
Now, after spending several years interacting every day with women who often feel helpless and hopeless, Sheryl believes the greatest blessing of her role “is seeing Christ at work in the lives of our residents. So many of them are injured emotionally or physically from a very early age, and they don’t trust people or God.”
But watching these women — and their children — slowly and steadily “grow in the knowledge of who Christ is and His amazing love for them is my greatest joy,” she explains.
It’s an understanding she’s eager to share with others in the Church who are looking for ways to assist and help too. “Now, more than ever, I understand how critical it is that we reach out to women in crisis pregnancies with a positive choice, a choice for life,” she says, as well as “comprehensive, long-term services to help them make a life decision.”
And if taking on a project like assisting with a maternity home seems too massive a task, Sheryl encourages something just as good: Start with prayer, especially for women in difficult situations, like many of Redeeming Life’s residents, “that their suffering might be eased, that the Holy Spirit will work faith in them, that they will overcome their past and see a hope for the future, and that they will hold fast to the Word of God.”
The DeWitts’ vision of caring for mothers and children is now a reality, and Sheryl rejoices to be able to see it firsthand, up close and personal, each day. “I see with eyes of life when I watch a mother see her baby on an ultrasound for the first time,” she says.
“I see with eyes of life when I see a mother’s face when she feels her baby move for the first time. “I see with eyes of life when I see a mother realize she is dearly loved by God,” she continues. “I see with eyes of life every time I look into the precious face of a baby, and I give thanks their mother chose to give them eyes of life.”
To some, saving a life — or even changing one — might seem impossible. But in one maternity home in Florida, it’s just a dream come true for a pastor and his wife.