Embrace Grace celebrates a decade of sharing Christ’s love with women in need

Embrace Grace celebrates a decade of sharing Christ’s love with women in need (Embrace Grace)

What began as a small group ministry at a Texas church took root and flourished, helping churches around the world reach pregnant, single women and create a space of safety, empowerment, and love.

Embrace Grace started in 2008 when founder Amy Ford detected a lack of belonging in the church for single, pregnant women; she began a small group ministry in her own Texas church. 

Four years later the ministry became a non-profit with outreaches within several congregations in and out of her home state. 

Now, a decade after that incorporation, nearly 900 Embrace Grace chapters are found around the world, bringing together pregnancy centers and churches to inspire and empower women experiencing unplanned pregnancies.

“We’re really excited,” Ford told Pregnancy Help News recently. “I've been speaking at a lot of pregnancy center benefits, doing their galas. And I am so blown away by the pregnancy centers working on getting more churches to do an Embrace Grace group. They see that their partnership with the church is getting stronger.”

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From Idaho and Wyoming to Ohio and Tennessee, pregnancy centers and churches come together through the program to empower women to choose life for their unborn children and a better life for themselves.

Embrace Grace at Ottawa church

Jacqueline is one of those women. 

             Ginger Ntagabo and Jaqueline
              Princess Day and baby shower/Embrace Grace

A resident of Ottawa, Canada, the 25-year-old experienced an unplanned pregnancy, and thinking she would no longer be welcomed in the church, she began missing services. Then, she learned an Embrace Grace group was to start earlier this year, and she decided to participate. 

“She came faithfully each time, even when she was going through very difficult circumstances,” said Ginger Ntagabo. “She knew she would feel better if she came. She attended every week, and she did her homework. She really engaged in the process.”

Today, Jacqueline attends services regularly once again.

“She testified at the end of the baby shower that if it wasn’t for Embrace Grace, she wouldn't have come back to the church,” Ntagabo said.

A baby shower, given by the congregation, and a Princess Day, providing make-up, hairstyles, nails, and other beauty sessions, are part of the Embrace Grace program. These special events were held at Ntagabo’s church, Peace Tower, in early November. 

“Jacqueline was shining,” Ntagabo said. “Embrace Grace is a tool for transformation.”

The Canadian woman, whose husband recently became lead pastor of the church, learned about Embrace Grace several years ago. She said she always hoped “someone would step up” to start a program at her church.

“After a couple of years, I was like, ‘Okay, nobody is running with it.’ I felt like God was wanting me to launch it and to show that we are [the church is] a safe place for women to go – that was important to me,” Ntagabo said. “Embrace Grace is a tool to really shine the light of Christ, show that you are welcome, and you don't have to worry or fear. You can come to us and be safe.”

A beacon of light

Such light radiates from women as they experience the love showered upon them through Embrace Grace.

Christi McCall began co-leading an Embrace Grace group with Ford last spring at the church they attend, after participating in various ways, including helping with the baby shower and Princess Day endeavors. This semester, she became the leader as Ford’s travel and speaking engagements increased. She recalled a young woman who attended the sessions who seemed to want to “be invisible.” 

      Embrace Grace Princess Day/Embrace Grace

“She literally came in a hoodie wrapped over her head, crossed arms, and would hardly talk,” McCall said. “Slowly, she would open up, but I mean it was painfully slow. By Princess Day, she came in, all done up beautifully. We were doing their makeup and all that for them, but it was so sweet to see how God just kind of breaks the shell around their hearts because they're just loved unconditionally, and we are celebrating them.”

“We're planting seeds,” she added. “We're loving them, and we let God do the rest,” McCall said.

In addition to the Princess Day and the lessons from the Embrace Grace curriculum, each woman who participates receives gifts through a collective baby shower put on by the church. When they walk in and see tables full of gifts, astonishment appears on their faces, McCall said, to the delight of those who organize the shower.

“People adopt a girl and usually it's like a group of women that do it together,” she said. “They each have a big round table, and the girls get to fill out what their favorite colors are and if there’s a theme of their baby room. The tables are piled high with presents, all wrapped adorably. They walk in and you can almost hear a collective “aww,” and then watch the tears. It’s so over the top, it's so sweet, just like God's love is for us, so, so precious.”

Tweet This: After 10 yrs nearly 900 Embrace Grace chapters exist worldwide, joining pregnancy centers & churches to empower women in unplanned pregnancy

Celebrating a decade of impact

Ford and her team in Texas hosted a gala in October to celebrate 10 years of Embrace Grace that included Heather Lawless, founder and CEO of Reliance Pregnancy Center in Lewistown, Idaho. 

    Amy Ford/Embrace Grace

“She leads Embrace Grace as well, and she's had hundreds of girls go through Embrace Grace and the transformation that she's witnessed,” Ford said. “We had Lauren McAfee, the daughter of Steve Green who owns Hobby Lobby,” said Ford. “She spoke more like an endorsement of how much she loves Embrace Grace, that their family gives to us, and she's trying to get Embrace Grace going at her church.” 

“She's had a share the love event, which is a love box packing party, at her house,” continued Ford. “And then we had a testimony from a leader from California that flew in to share her perspective …. She has dealt with homelessness and all kinds of stuff with single, pregnant moms – the miracles have been insane!”

A short film had been created, Ford added, and an Embrace Grace participant from a Fort Worth church provided music with her daughters.

“She’s now super-involved with her church,” Ford said. “Halfway through the song, here comes about 30 choir members walking into the ballroom with white robes singing behind her and her two girls.”

“It was so powerful and so amazing,” said Ford. “People were clapping and cheering and giving a standing ovation. It was such a great night. We had an awesome 10-year-anniversary!” 

Moving forward

In addition to Embrace Grace, Ford and her staff developed a program for fathers called Embrace Legacy and an extension of their first program to continue helping women move forward. Called Embrace Life, this endeavor will receive an update next year.

“It should release March of 2023, and we're super excited about that,” Ford said. “That’s a big, big project we're releasing.”

“My word for 2023 is ‘grow,’” she added. “And I really feel like God it's going to be creating growth, and not by addition but by multiplication. It’s by people telling people telling people, and that's what we're seeing.” 

Ginger and Jimmy Ntagabo
 Peace Tower Church, Ottawa/Embrace Grace

Ntagabo said she looks forward to witnessing Embrace Grace grow amid other churches in Ottawa, and that she believes partnerships with pregnancy centers, colleges, and other entities in the city will also take root and grow.

“I’m really wanting to see mamas know how much they are loved and how much their babies are loved,” she said. “It’s like God's favor is on this ministry beyond my wildest expectations. It's just such a beautiful way of making an impact not only for one generation but for generations coming into the world.”

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