The Birth of a Ministry. The Testimony of Rev. Stacey Edwards-Dunn.
Updated: Aug 1
People often say that God can use your greatest trial, as an opportunity to reveal your purpose in life. Rev. Stacey Edwards-Dunn knows this to be true. It all started in 2007 when Stacey and her husband Earl came together in holy matrimony. They knew when they entered into the marriage that they wanted to have a family, so after the ceremony, they immediately began to try to have children. After a significant amount of time had passed, they realized that they were struggling to conceive. They sought out medical attention from a doctor and discovered that they were both dealing with a male and female infertility factor. The doctors informed them that the only option they could explore to have a biological child was to go through the process of In Vitro Fertilization (IVF). At that time, insurance was not going to cover the cost of this extremely expensive procedure. Nevertheless, they knew they wanted a child and was willing to make the sacrifice, so they began to move forward with the process. They did some research and found a fertility clinic in Barbados that had an excellent reputation. The cost for an IVF in Barbados was also significantly less, so the decided to go on an “IVF vacation.”
They flew to the Caribbean full of hope and completed two cycles of IVF while there, but sadly both attempts failed. Stacey and Earl, entirely disheartened by both unsuccessful IVF procedures, decided to return to Chicago to go through another cycle back at home. After their third IVF attempt and spending nearly $75,000 on the procedures, they still were unable to conceive. The doctors responded by saying that Stacey was dealing with unexplained infertility, but she was not satisfied with that answer. She went back to the doctor for more testing and discovered that she had lupus. With a new understanding that this illness could be a contributing factor that was preventing her from getting pregnant, she sought out a doctor who specialized in offering support to women who have an autoimmune disease and desire to get pregnant. Stacey and Earl hoped that under the care of their new doctor, they would finally be able to have a baby. Sadly, their fourth IVF attempt still left them childless. They were devastated and felt like they were on an emotional roller coaster ride. At that time, the word of God is the only thing that sustained them. They continued to meditate on Luke 1:37 that says “For with God nothing shall be impossible,” and despite what the doctors said, God still had the final say. They made a decision to change doctors again. Their new doctor put Stacey through a series of tests and discovered that Stacey had a small uterus and only one fallopian tube, which also served as a barrier for her getting pregnant.
Upon uncovering this new information, the doctor placed them on a different personalized treatment to prepare them for another IVF. They went through their fifth IVF cycle with their new doctor, which ultimately failed. Still believing in faith that God would bless them with a child, they attempted a six IVF cycle, and they finally conceived. Ecstatic about the fact that God finally answered their prayers, they began to prepare to welcome a new child into the world, but their hopes were suddenly crushed when Stacey lost the baby. This heartbreaking experience immediately brought them to their knees, knowing that they could only turn to God for direction and comfort.
In the midst of Stacey dealing with her personal struggles with infertility, she found herself offering counsel and support to several other women and couples at her church, Trinity United Church of Christ, who were going through the exact same situation. She realized during those counseling sessions that there wasn’t a safe space for black women and couples who are struggling with infertility to go for support. There was also a lack of education around this topic as well. So after lots of prayer and wrestling with God, Stacey made the decision in 2013 to start a nonprofit called Fertility of Colored Girls (FCG). She shifted all of her attention on getting this ministry off the ground, taking a break from the IVF treatment. Stacey and Earl finally came to the point in this journey, where they decided they would adopt. Stacey was at peace with that decision until one day Earl shared with her that he felt like they should try one more time to have a child. Stacey was initially hesitant concerning moving forward with another IVF cycle because she knew that insurance wouldn’t cover the procedure. However, even with that understanding, Earl encouraged her by saying that “God will make a way.” So they went forward with the procedure in December of 2013, and in January 2014 they found out that they were pregnant. Nine months later, they gave birth to a beautiful baby girl named Shiloh. On that day, they knew that God had truly blessed them with a miracle.
The birth of their child allowed Stacey to serve as a living testimony for those who she was offering support to through her nonprofit. Stacey, who initially only intended her nonprofit to work with couples in Chicago, was blown away by how quickly the word about FCG. After they got their website up and they established their social media presence, Stacey began to get phone calls from people all over the country asking her to help them start chapters in other cities. The organization has grown beyond what Stacey ever could imagine, and as of today, has been expanded into 10 different locations across the United States.
Stacey knows that she is called to help and give hope to couples who are struggling with infertility, and through this ministry, God has allowed her to help over 200 couples to become parents. FCG has offered financial support to hundreds of couples to offset the expenses for treatment and adoptions and is on a mission to help more. This year, they are on an eleven state tour to spread their message, and by 2020 are working to establish chapters in 10 more states.
Seven is the number of completion, and after seven IVF attempts over seven years, God brought to completion the birth of not only their beautiful daughter but the birth of a national ministry. Through this experience, God taught Stacey the importance of patience and preparation. Although she wanted to have a baby right away, God knew that she wasn’t ready for a child at that time and there were some things that God needed her to experience first before bringing a child in this world. Looking back over her journey, Stacey believes that Fertility for Colored Girls was the first baby that God needed her to give birth to. God showed Stacey that she had to go through her own experience of pain so she could understand what couples are going through and can minister to their needs. She also has a deeper understanding of the stigma that runs so deep for individuals who have struggled with infertility. So many women feel like they are not enough or they are not whole because they can’t have a child, and Stacey is committed to helping them to understand that couldn’t be further from the truth. If there is someone who is reading this article and is struggling with infertility right now, Stacey’s wants them to know that they are not alone. There is a community of people who can walk along this journey with you, and more importantly, God is with you. God sees every tear and hears every prayer. His plans for you are greater than you can ever imagine, so continue to trust in Him, because there is hope. For more information on Fertility for Colored Girls, visit www.fertilityforcoloredgirls.org.
If you were encouraged by this week's Faith Friday Feature, be sure to subscribe to receive other testimonies of faith once a week. New to Faith on the Journey? Check out other Faith Friday testimonies here.