During the Advent season, our thoughts turn to images of a young, poor couple making a grueling, 90-mile journey, probably in a caravan which offered some protection from bandits and robbers. The young woman, nine months pregnant, is riding a donkey—not especially comfortable for a woman in her condition. She and her betrothed are likely living off bread they brought from home. When they arrive at their destination, exhausted and cold, they are dismayed to find that the local inns are full up. As they search for shelter, the woman suddenly goes into labor.
As most of us know, this little drama has a happy ending: A baby—the Son of God!–is born in a primitive stable. His cries mingle with the baa-ing of sheep, the braying of donkeys, and the singing of angels.
The familiar narrative gives us a warm glow this time of year. But as we sit in our cozy, comfortable homes, perhaps the story should also remind us that there are thousands of American women in the same position as Mary—young, poor and unexpectedly pregnant. Women for whom the outcome may not be quite so happy.
One person who does think of these modern mothers and babies all the time is my friend, Dr. John Bruchalski, who lives in Northern Virginia. John has a deep desire to give women and their babies the best care possible. He and his wife, Carolyn, believe in the gospel of life. In 1994, they began a nonprofit, faith-based healthcare outfit called Divine Mercy Care as a meaningful way to help America’s vast, underserved community of poor, pregnant women—many of whom consider abortion because they cannot afford medical care.
Divine Mercy Care partners with all the local pregnancy care centers. It raises funds to serve patients who have nothing, but need everything. In his spare time, John travels the country telling medical students and young doctors that, yes, they CAN practice medicine this way. That they don’t have to leave their faith in the car before walking into their clinics.
All of this commitment did not come out of nowhere. John told me about an incredible spiritual transformation he underwent more than 20 years ago. John had been raised a Catholic, but had not taken his faith that seriously. But during this spiritual awakening, John said, “the scales came off my eyes.” He says he heard an audible voice telling him, “Johnny, if you want to help the Holy Spirit revitalize medicine, be the best doctor you can be . . . and [serve] the poor daily.”
After that experience, “Jesus Christ became everything to me,” John said. He tells young doctors, “If you want joy, if you want that purpose back in your life as an OB-GYN, and you want to have some fun doing it, open your life to this way of approaching the human person, with dignity.”
Divine Mercy Care now has five doctors and a staff of 25.
During the Advent season, may our meditations on the infant Jesus, born in poverty 2,000 years ago, and his mother, lead to a desire to help all the modern-day mothers and babies who need our help.
Oh, and that spiritual transformation Dr. John went through all those years ago? It had a greater impact than you may imagine. You see, once upon a time, John Bruchalski performed abortions—including third trimester abortions.
And now you know the rest of the story—a glorious story of how greatly God can and will transform us when we allow the Christ Child to journey into our hearts.
To hear more of Dr. John Bruchalski’s story go to www.metaxastalk.com.
— by Eric Metaxas
Metaxas is the voice of Breakpoint, a radio commentary (www.breakpoint.org). Copyright© 2015 Prison Fellowship Ministries. Reprinted with permission. BreakPoint is a ministry of Prison Fellowship Ministries.