Anchored in Hope is a peer-led ministry intended to solidify healthy reliance upon God’s promises rather than isolation, shame or silence that so often follows infant loss and pregnancies ending in miscarriage. A local group of Alaskan women launched the outreach after months of intentional planning and prayer.
As she pondered the depth of her own miscarriages, Ashleigh Levesque became aware that God was prompting her to reach out to others who were suffering. With the full support of Anchorage Baptist Temple’s pastoral team, she and two fellow coordinators began meeting weekly at the church. Women at any stage of the grief process can join them as they look to forge friendships and a healthy connection to Christ.
“We’re simply here to be a support,” Levesque said. “We make a big deal about following Jesus. And if we do that, we trust that suffering cannot sever our relationship with God.”
Levesque has endured eight miscarriages and knows well the darkness that can threaten to eclipse a mother’s heart.
“The enemy uses all things to separate, but within a faith journey that’s different,” she observed. “Anger at God is allowed.”
In her own contemplation, Levesque was touched by the imagery of Jesus mourning Lazarus, even knowing he would raise him. The hope of Heaven is a bond shared by women mourning their children as they work through their loss.
The meetings, which occur from 7-9 p.m. on Thursdays, are open to all women, and a strong referral network is already in place for anyone who desires formal counseling. Levesque is keenly aware of the unhealthy alternatives to spiritual healing – depression, drugs and alcohol being among the most common. Rather than closing in upon ones’ sorrows, reliance upon God is the touchstone of Anchored in Hope.
Even with her successful pregnancy and the joys of raising a young son, she knows the sting of her losses.
“This can destroy a marriage,” she said. “Having a baby became my God.”
While they don’t have the structure to walk post-abortive mothers through their unique pain, they’re eager to connect those moms to solid healing, too. Above all, she emphasizes the resilience which can be fortified through honest conversation. Levesque cites the limitations of a superficial society unable to meet the needs of grief. Contrasted with the superficial presentation of family life on social media or sometimes even within church and professional life, Levesque knows the piercing blow of real, intimate tragedy.
“There is no beautiful ending,” she said of losing a child. “Confront this,” Levesque added. “Admit that you’ve gone through this. Isolation leads to not processing or unhealthy coping.”
With one in three women experiencing miscarriage and infant loss, the need for support is critical. The women of Anchored in Hope are already a visible resource to area community pregnancy centers and are becoming known in Anchorage hospitals as well.
Levesque has also stepped into a leadership role for a related ministry called Clothed in Compassion, which accepts donated wedding dresses, converting the gowns into burial garments for stillborn infants.
The weekly meetings are restricted to women, although quarterly gatherings for couples are in the works as way for husbands and wives who walk this path to build friendships with one another.
As the ministry grows, Levesque keeps in mind the ministry’s scriptural base, which she found in 2nd Corinthians 12:9 – “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”
Levesque and other volunteers will bring their own testimony each Thursday as they walk alongside women of all faith traditions who seek that grace.