EL CENTRO – Local Valley residents came together Saturday evening at Bucklin Park for the annual Speak Up Imperial Valley Luminaria Rally, hosted by the Real Hope Center. Â Residents joined in solidarity to mourn the loss of over 50 million aborted babies in the United States. Â The event, which began at 4 p.m., had participants place 3,000 luminarias across the park symbolizing the 3,000 abortions taking place every day in the US. Â It also included a prayer walk and a time of personal testimonies.
The event featured testimonies from all walks of women in the Valley, who shared the common experience of having an abortion. Â
One featured speaker, Jackie Bee, said, â€œThe rally brings abortion into reality. Â They have 3,000 luminarias out there. Â Thatâ€™s the number of abortions that take place each day. Â You can say that number all day long, but when you see those bags lit up, and when you picture each bag representing a baby, it makes it real.â€
Bee shared her personal story of three abortions at the event, and her connection with Real Hope Center.
â€œThe testimonies speak life into death, and they speak truth into the lie that you canâ€™t tell anybody about it,” Bee said.
â€œThatâ€™s the trick about abortion,â€ Bee said. Â â€œEverybody roots for it, and then after you do it, youâ€™re condemned and nobody wants to talk about it.â€
â€œIt also helps women who have had abortions have a place to come and grieve – itâ€™s almost like a memorial,â€ said Bee.
The Real Hope Center, run by Marty and Debbie Ellett, conducts post-abortion workshops, aimed at helping women heal from the aftermath of an abortion, of which Bee attended and now helps co-facilitate. Â
Along with conducting workshops, the Real Hope Center also helps women who are pregnant and in need of help in the Valley. Â They offer parenting classes, from which women can earn diapers, formula, clothes, toys, etc, for attending. Â They also work closely with Amaris Ministries adoption agency, to provide solutions for women looking to give their child up for adoption.
â€œThe Real Hope Center helps women on a personal level,â€ Bee said. Â â€œThey go above and beyond to help women who are keeping their baby. Â They walk with them every step of the way during their pregnancy, whether they are giving it up for adoption or keeping it.â€
One rally attendee, Allyson Derma, said, â€œThe thing that struck me the most was seeing all the lamps just lit. Â Hearing the number is different than seeing it. Â It really does strike you.â€
â€œItâ€™s a good time of remembrance for me,â€ Derma said. Â â€œTo remember whatâ€™s going on, and that there is hope in every bad situation.â€
â€œAll together the entire experience was bittersweet. Â You have that really good hope feeling, but then you remember exactly what the day is for. Â Itâ€™s bittersweet.â€
Along with helping women and hosting the Speak Up Luminaria Rally, Real Hope Center works with the Imperial Valley Coalition for Life to bring awareness to the Valley.
â€œThey are always bringing awareness,â€ Bee said. Â â€œThe more people we tell about whatâ€™s going on in the Valley, the less it will go on.â€
The one word that circulated the event was â€œforgiveness.â€
â€œI just want to say that going through all of this and different workshops, and the Speak Up Rally, itâ€™s so important that we realize that we are important and that we are forgiven,â€ Bee said. Â â€œThe grace and mercy that Jesus offers is for all sins.â€
Photos courtesy of Stacie Chandler.