Naming a new organization is not easy. We bounced around quite a few ideas until twentyTHREE61 was the name that stuck. It takes a little explaining to get to the point of what we stand for, but that’s kind of the point.
Some things are just too hard to talk about straight and direct. Fear, anger, shame, too many emotions would well up and shoot defensive walls into place blocking the possibility of engagement. Healing from abortion and sexual trauma, our two main focuses, are just the types of things that need to be talked about, but most people don’t know how to or why.
I’m a visual thinker. I see images in my mind’s eye all day long, even in the midst of conversation. After many years of helping people come out of the darkness about their past abortions and learning about the shame and regret and pain they had to bear, usually completely alone, a stark image began to imprint in my mind, that of a lone, cold, fearful, person huddled in the corner of a remote run-down building in some foreign country long forgotten. More acutely, I imagined a prisoner-of-war. This is incredibly dark and depressing, I know, but it’s unfortunately the truth about post-abortion pain, at least for more than half of all post-abortive men and women. I and many of the people on our team know this pain first-hand and can speak from this unfortunate experience. What’s most confusing is that many of us become pretty talented at hiding and masking our pain so that the people around us have no idea that there is even anything buried deep below the surface.
Obviously we didn’t want to name our organization after something so dark and foreboding. We wanted to focus on the final outcome we’ve experienced so many times over the years, the joy of finding forgiveness and freedom from shame and hiding. So when our team continually circled back to the passage of scripture out of Isaiah chapter 61, verses 1-3, the imagery of the passage fit both the dark image in my mind, but also the joyful result at the end of the healing journey.
“[God] has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives, and release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve in Zion – to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair.”
You see, the darkness of the story does not have to remain. God desires to draw these hurting women and men out of the secret places where they’ve stuffed away their shame and regret, and bring them into His healing grace and forgiveness. He desires to transform them completely! And the best part of the story is yet to come. The second half of verse 3 of the same passage in Isaiah reads,
“They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of His splendor.”
You see, once God has healed, redeemed and restored a wounded soul, He desires to plant them into a solid foundation and then allow them to grow big and strong, providing a covering of protection and nourishment for those around them, just as the big strong branches of an oak tree does for its surroundings. This is the imagery we chose to focus on.
And so since the book of Isaiah is the twenty third book of the Bible, we chose to call our non-profit organization twentyTHREE61. This way curiosity is piqued, we can start a conversation, build some trust with our new friends, and gently encourage those who have been hurting so long, terrified to consider trusting anyone with such a deeply buried secret, to possibly begin to open up that secret for God’s healing.
We desire to see all the hurting post-abortive men and women take that first and most terrifying step forward from the darkness to the light. This step requires a great amount of courage and trust. We know, we’ve been there! We are praying for them, and we would love for you to partner with us and spread the word.