The street in front of an abortion center can be a place of prayer ... a place of conversation ... a place of conversion.
Here's a story from one 40 Days for Life team that shows how all of these things can take place when the love of Christ is shown to others outside these places of death.
There are many experiences that one can have while peacefully praying and offering counseling to mothers in front the abortion facility in Pensacola. But one of the most memorable came in an very unexpected way.
As we stood handing out resources to moms returning to the abortion facility for follow up appointments, and offering alternatives to mothers coming for an abortion, one woman backed her car up to the area beside us.
As she stepped out of her vehicle the first words out of her mouth to the sidewalk counselor there was, ?Can I ask you a question? Why are you standing here judging these women??
This is widely the first impression most entering the abortion facility assume is the motivation of those standing and praying in front of the abortion facility. Both those who are clients there and even some who have never stood in front of an abortion facility often think that this is the real purpose of people who stand in front of the abortion facility. For this woman ... this day ... she learned differently.
The sidewalk counselor explained to her that we are not at the abortion facility to judge anyone. We are there in love to offer women alternatives and that there is absolutely no reason for any woman to think that she ?has? to have an abortion because we have a solution for her needs.
The discussion continued and the counselor learned that this woman had an abortion there at the facility a month ago, and that she had just brought a friend for an abortion. The counselor expressed sorrow for this woman?s loss and offered post-abortion healing resources for her and her friend.
The woman justified her abortion and talked about how by having an abortion she was preventing her child from having a future of being a fatherless child, being born into a culture with black oppression and police brutality.
The counselor then asked the question, ?Would it be okay for a black unwed mother to take the life of her born child, who was born fatherless??
Her answer was no.
Then the discussion moved to adoption. Could that have been an alternative to her abortion? The woman responded that she could not carry her baby and then give her baby up for adoption.
The counselor responded that you did give up your child to someone else, and that was the abortion facility.
The woman then said that her six week old ?fetus? in the womb was not viable.
The counselor responded by saying, ?right now in the city of Pensacola there are hundreds of patients in local hospitals that are on mechanical ventilators, dialysis, and/or on tube feeding. These people are not viable; they require somebody else to keep them alive, just like a child living in the womb requires a mother to keep them alive. Would it be okay to take their lives because they can?t live on their own??
She responded no.
So both agreed that it was not correct to take those non-viable human lives and that these are lives worth keeping alive and worth saving.
As the conversation continued the woman?s demeanor changed dramatically. She asked, ?How can you people stand outside an abortion facility and talk to people you don?t even know.?
The response from the counselor was, ?Because we love you.?
?We love the workers here, we love the security people here, we love the mothers and fathers here, we love all that come here, and we want them to know that there are people who care and love them and that all human life matters. We want to love these mothers to a better place and we want all mothers here to know that abortion is never necessary. We want them to know that there is help and resources available in whatever community she lives in. We have the resources that can help her choose life for her child and not have to live with the regret and pain of abortion.?
The counselor showed her picture of babies that have been spared from abortion, and told her the stories of how we have been able to help their moms. The woman?s response was the she was not surprised that the moms who talked with the sidewalk counselors outside the abortion facility chose life and that she believed this approach will eventually close this clinic down.
The woman continued saying, ?You people seem different than I thought you were. Why are you so different than anti-abortion protesters??
The counselor answered, ?what makes us different is that we are not ?protesting.? What makes us different is the fact that we are women-centered, baby-centered, and most of all Christ-centered. We are here in love, not protest. We are here to offer a better way, and life-giving alternatives to women.?
After about an hour, the woman thanked the counselor for the information and for talking with her. Her final words to the counselor are ones that will forever ring in our ears. She said, ?You are the type of people that can change the world.?
This woman?s words are both a summons and a reminder to us all! As disciples of Christ, if that is who we profess to be, we are the type of people that can change the world. The spirit we have been given is not a cowardly spirit, but a fearless, persistent, spirit of love that conquers all death.
Thanks again to the 40 Days for Life team in Pensacola for sending this inspiring first-person account!