Gabrielle Walker. Samantha Ellefson. Olan Kendell Quals. These names, along with two dozen others, are typed neatly on small cards taped to little tea lights displayed on a lace tablecloth. Little, white Christmas lights, scattered around, set the scene for guests coming in.
This isn’t a celebration, though. It’s a funeral.
Each candle burns in memory of a child who wasn’t ever born. This is a memorial service for babies who have been aborted, and their mothers and fathers grapple with grief, depression, faith and forgiveness.
They search for some kind of closure as a demo of Steve Siler’s song, “We Forgive You,” plays. The lyrics flow over them, reaching a place that words spoken during therapy never could.
Would it have been a girl with a diamond smile
Or a darling boy with a dimpled chin?
Is it past, and still it makes you cry,
Wishing you could have that choice again?
That the music touches them so deeply isn’t just the hopeful thinking of a songwriter, either. It’s scientifically proven that songs reach the brain through the limbic system, making it easier to process the message—and do so at a faster speed.
It worked for at least one of the women who was mourning her child at that memorial. “I felt the shame just fall off of me, and I was released and set free,” she said.
Siler founded Music for the Soul, a gospel-centered recording label that produces albums around tough topics: eating disorders, depression, addiction, etc. His most recent undertaking is the production of an album for post-abortive men and women.
This project has been in the works for almost a decade. While he penned “We Forgive You” about six years ago, it took several more years for his vision, an album titled “Healing the Abortion-Wounded Heart,” to come to fruition.
After he set “We Forgive You” to music, Siler sent the demo out to several support groups.
Cindy Cole was running an abortion recovery group in Franklin, Tennessee when she got the recording.
“The things post-abortive women need most in order to finally be set free are forgiveness from God, forgiveness from her child and forgiveness from herself,” Cole told Siler. “Your song encourages women to receive that forgiveness.”
The goal is for Music for the Soul to finish the album and distribute it to pregnancy and therapy centers across the country. In order to do this, Siler must raise $35,000 to cover production and distribution costs. To offset the costs, local business leaders have joined together to host a free fundraising dinner in Huntsville, Alabama on September 29th.
While Siler was working on the album, mulling over the idea and the topics, he met a man who was using another one of the Music for the Soul albums in his ministry. However, that album was about pornography addiction, and most of the men in his ministry were healing from the trauma of abortion. Post-abortive fathers suffer, too, and it’s something groups and ministries often overlook.
Music for the Soul writers and producers set out to find underserved populations and reach them through song.
After realizing the gap in coverage for men, Siler started working with other counselors to determine what areas from both a man and a woman’s perspective they were overlooking. What they learned was men, and the women who have already had an abortion, were left out of the treatment plans.
“I want the folks who have been wounded to know that they can be free,” Siler said. “There can be hope, and there can be a future story for him. When those folks are healed, they are the ones who should be championing for why they don’t believe it’s a good idea for people to [have an abortion.] They have lived the experience. That gives them an authority that many of us do not have.”
To some extent, Siler is one of the people who is living with it.
When Siler and his wife were expecting, doctors told them their son would be born with spina bifida, that the couple should seriously consider aborting the child.
“It threatened to rend our family asunder because one parent on each side wanted us to abort, and one parent on each side wanted us not to. We were thrown right into the middle of this issue in a flesh and blood way…It ceased to be a rhetorical issue at that time.”
They decided not to abort their child, but the experience gave Siler a better understanding of how expecting parents can be pressured into thinking they don’t have any other choice.
“From the moment he was born, my son was a light in our household—tender hearted and full of love,” Siler said. “In introducing us to the world of disability, he enlarged our compassion. And even before he was born, he touched hundreds of lives as people prayed for his wellbeing. Even with the difficulties we have faced, I cannot imagine life without him.”
There are more than a dozen people working on this album who, like Siler, have had a personal experience with abortion.
“When we write these songs, we go back to professional therapists who counsel on these issues, and I ask them to shoot holes in it,” Siler said. “Where are we wrong? What should we be saying that we’re not saying? What are we missing? What have we stated improperly. Until we get the endorsement from those who have lived it and counsel on it, we don’t record. That’s what takes so long.”
It has been a long road to production for this album, but Siler and other Music for the Soul supporters are hopeful the event in Huntsville will provide the funds needed to complete the album. If you would like to be part of this project, register below for tickets to the free fundraising dinner, 6:30-8:00 p.m. on Thursday, September 29th, at Huntsville’s First Baptist Church (Fellowship Hall) located at 600 Governors Drive.
For more information, contact the dinner host at Whitespace Innovations: [email protected]
To purchase tickets to the event, click here.