Thursday, October 05, 2006

Gianna Jensen: An abortion survivor sees disability as a "gift"

Gianna Jessen survived her biological mother's attempted abortion and her resulting disabilities to become a marathon runner, a singer and a motivational speaker. She urged young people at a pro-life youth rally Sept. 10 to find their own courage and accountability through the grace of God.

By Maryanne MeyerriecksFort Smith Correspondent
FORT SMITH -- "We are called to a life of joy, but a life that costs something."
Gianna Jessen, abortion survivor, marathon runner, Christian recording artist and motivational speaker, brought a message of courage, hope, joy and accountability to several hundred teens, young adults and parents at a youth rally in Fort Smith Sept. 10. The rally was co-sponsored by the University of Arkansas at Fort Smith Catholic Campus Ministry and River Valley Life Teen.
After an hour of praise and worship music led by the River Valley Life Teen Band, the 29-year-old sang several praise songs accompanied by acoustic guitar. Leaning occasionally on her guitarist for support, she said that the cerebral palsy she suffered as the result of her pre-term birth following a 7 1/2-month saline abortion was a "gift."
Jessen learned that she had survived an abortion when she was 12 years old, and said, "I thought, 'Wow, my life must really have a purpose.'" Having survived that challenge, she found that, with God's help, she could overcome other challenges as well.
She has completed two marathons, the first in Nashville in 2005 and the second in London this year. She expects to run many more.
Her training process was more arduous than most other competitors because she can only run on the balls of her feet. She suffered an injury to her right foot prior to the London Marathon but still completed it in eight hours and 20 minutes. She is determined to run a marathon in five hours and told the audience, "I encourage you who feel like quitting to not quit."
"I was aborted and I didn't die," she said, "so I am used to the impossible occurring. I ask for the grace of God and the grace of God comes through."
Through God's grace, when Jessen was born in an abortion clinic on April 6, 1977, a nurse called 911. After her biological parents surrendered her for adoption, she lived in an abusive foster home for the first 18 months of her life. At that point she was placed with Penny, her "queen" who taught her to walk, with braces and a walker, at age 3 1/2. Penny's daughter and her husband, an architect, adopted Jessen, and Penny became her adoptive grandmother.
Penny is now 83 and has cared for 55 other foster children.
Jessen, whose given name means "forgiveness," met her biological mother last February. Although she had forgiven her, the meeting was traumatic. Jessen said she saw that her birth mother was a broken woman and is still in the process of recovering from their meeting.
"There are consequences to each action," Jessen said. "Every day I bear the mark of my biological mother's decision."
But yet she has found that positive thinking has helped her to overcome obstacles and tell her story to others.
"Weakness can be beautiful," Jessen said. "I am made in the image of God. That gives me my value. He molds me and shapes me as a person."
When Jessen was 14, she visited Ireland and received a Claddaugh ring as a gift. She wears this ring as a sign of her commitment to chastity, and told the young women in the audience that she "wants to be fought for, not used; honored, not left behind." She plans to use the ring as a wedding band when she meets the "extraordinary man" who will fight for her.
She told the young men that they are amazing and "capable of greatness" and urged them to be strong and courageous. She urged young women to find "knockout outfits that have a little mystery."
Jessen's career as a public speaker has led her to meet President George W. Bush and to speak to the British Parliament. She is recording her first Christian CD and plans to attend college to obtain a degree in psychology.
Carol Brown, a member of Sacred Heart of Mary Church in Barling, said, "Gianna Jessen was down to earth. She didn't put on airs. And she got to the point, speaking straight from the heart."
In the evening Sept. 10 Jessen spoke at Heart to Heart Pregnancy Support Center's 20th anniversary gala in Fort Smith.


Blogger Darlene said...

I just saw a video of Gianna Jensen's talk given to people in Australia in 2008. What a wonderful message from an amazing survivor of attempted murder, aka abortion.

I appreciate her commitment to Jesus Christ and her courage in speaking out about the heinous practice of abortion.

11:11 PM  

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