A Day at the Clinic
A few weeks ago a dear friend of mine messaged me that she wanted to get more involved with the efforts to end abortion. She is an amazing prayer warrior and such a Godly woman so I was thrilled she wanted to know how to get involved, and more importantly, how her church can get involved. We need more churches actively fighting to end abortion. As I heard one woman say, “Christians are the reason abortion still exists.” That is so sad yet so true.
Christian individuals and Christian churches must take action to abolish abortion. However, too many are absolutely silent on this issue! They may say they are “pro-life” because they support pregnancy centers, but they won’t openly expose the evil truth about abortion. And it takes addressing both sides of this issue for us to abolish abortion and save the lives of the innocent unborn.
I shared with my friend several different ways she can get involved in the fight to end abortion.
Ultimately what I told my friend though, regardless of what area she ends up serving, she has to come to the sidewalk with me to see what it’s like. Even though the sidewalk ministry may not be where she works to end abortion, she must go in order to witness firsthand the battleground where abortion is happening. In her words, she compared it to going on a mission trip to better understand overseas missions, though you may not be called overseas.
So she did just that.
Last Friday morning we went to the local abortion clinic together. I chose Friday because that is one of the killing days (as opposed to a consult day) so she could see what the clinic workers were like and what it might be like to save a baby. And boy did she get a full experience!
As we parked on a side road and approached the clinic, I pointed out that the facility is just called a “Women’s Clinic." Were it not for the pro-life ministry on the sidewalk, most people in this city would have no idea what is going on here. Whereas if it were a Planned Parenthood, everyone would know they were in the business of killing babies. But this clinic disguises that fact from passers-by (although their website makes it perfectly clear their main service is abortion).
The set up for this particular clinic, I’ve been told, is one of the most hostile to pro-life work in the southeastern region. The building entrance is on the back side, the door farthest from the street. They have recently installed a large speaker on the side of the building blaring music. The “deathscorts,” as we appropriately call them since they are escorting women and their babies in for death, are all holding large umbrellas and a smaller upright speaker blaring music. As soon as a car pulls into the parking lot, the deathscorts rush to surround the car, open those umbrellas, and crank up the volume. All of this serves to shield women from seeing and hearing the pro-life people on the sidewalk.
The deathscorts don’t want any woman to be told by a sidewalk person that they don’t have to kill their baby. Deathscorts don't want the women to hear that we will give them any money they need to help with their prenatal care, or that we will fully stock their nursery for their baby, or that there are families standing there ready and willing to adopt their baby, or that we can provide any other kind of help they may need to keep their baby. No, the deathscorts don’t want the woman to know there are life-giving choices available to her. They want her to only choose one thing – abortion.
Why? Well, as we watched the owner of the clinic drive in with his Escalade, my friend saw for herself why. The abortionist’s Mercedes and the owner’s Cadillac are why they want women to abort. Abortion is a lucrative industry.
Many people ask if there is shouting from the sidewalk? Absolutely. But shouting at people seems so ugly! Aren’t we just being mean to these vulnerable women, like the media portrays? We have to ask why we are shouting. The shouting is so we can be heard over all the efforts of the clinic to silence us. It is to be heard over the umbrellas and the loud speakers and at the back of the parking lot. The shouting is so these women can hear the last cry for help and hope that they will ever get before they kill their babies.
The deathscorts are doing everything they can to drown out the voices of hope and help. They work to stop these women from the last possibility of choosing life. So we shout in order to be heard. Besides, if it were you inside that womb about to be dismembered alive, wouldn’t you want people shouting in order to save you?
The woman faced with an unexpected, unplanned, unwanted pregnancy is in a vulnerable and difficult situation. She is desperate. She has been deceived by the clinic workers and by culture telling them that her only solution is to kill her child. She is deceived by the lie that her life would be better if she killed her baby. She is possibly* choosing abortion because she thinks there is no other option.
For this woman, we are shouting words of hope and help. “Come talk to us.” “Let us help you.” “You don’t have to do this.” “There are other options.” These are life-giving words to help a desperate woman. For her, we need to be tender and loving, yet that is hard to do when you must shout over the umbrellas and the blaring music in the 10 seconds it takes them to walk across the parking lot.
The other type of person is the wicked. These are the clinic workers. These people’s hearts have been so hardened to the mass murder taking place inside that building. They curse at those who are trying to help. They dance around and celebrate when babies are murdered. They sing songs cheering aborted babies. They taunt the sidewalk workers. We heard one clinic worker shout sarcastically to us, “Did you save any babies today?” They call the police if a sidewalk person has a toe on their grass, more incensed over accidental trespassing than murder.
The words for those people need to lead them to conviction for what they are doing. By analogy, what type of words would you have for the Nazi guard leading the Jews into the gas chamber? Or for a slave owner whipping a slave? The wicked need words to pierce their hearts and awaken them to the evil they are committing.
As we walk up to the building, the head deathscort approaches us with a camera as a means of intimidating us away from the sidewalk. Since I clearly don’t care whether they film me or not, I smile and wave. She flips me the bird and cusses at me. We were greeted by other sidewalk ministers though, which gives everyone a little encouragement. We are all from so many different backgrounds yet united in the fight for life. Ironically, nearly all the people on the sidewalk that day are not from the city of this abortion clinic. Yet this city boasts over 120 churches, not counting the surrounding suburbs. Where are this city’s residents in this fight to end abortion? Where are this city’s churches?
I began explaining to my friend the rules of this particular sidewalk, where you can stand and not stand. How you can cross the entrance to the other sidewalk but not stand in the entrance. How you can’t step on the grass or they’ll call the police for trespassing. how twice they have driven a car up onto the sidewalk, aimed directly at a sidewalk worker. How you can shout to try to be heard over all their noise, but not shout too loud or they will call the police for a noise violation. The clinic makes sure any minor offense is reported to the police so they can murder unborn babies without interference.
Since Fridays are killing days, those are the clinic’s busy days. We notice the full parking lot and are overwhelmed with a wave of grief for how many women are inside that very moment having their babies pulled apart limb from limb inside the womb. We stood there quietly as I held my sign which read, “Killing an innocent person is never the solution to the problem. Let us help.” Then a different deathscort flipped me off and cursed me. I ignored her.
As we walked across the driveway to the other side of the sidewalk, we noticed three police cars pull into the parking lot. The officers approached the sidewalk ministers on the other side of the road. All the deathscorts rushed over with their phones pulled out to film everything. They had called the police because one of the gentlemen had been praying out loud. And they didn’t like it.
During all of that commotion on the opposite sidewalk, a young Latina drove into the parking lot. I was hoping the police distraction would allow me to actually talk to her directly, but a deathscort noticed her too and rushed over with her umbrella so the young woman could not see me. However, I found if I moved farther down the sidewalk I could get around the view of the umbrella and make eye contact with her. You could tell she had been crying and she kept burying her face in her hands. My friend was pacing the sidewalk behind me, praying fiercely for this young woman.
I called out to the young woman, “Please don’t do this. You don’t have to do this. We can help you. Just come talk to us.” In response to me, the deathscort flipped me off and fired up her chant, “Mind your own business. Go away!” This display of ugliness from the deathscorts in response to someone offering to help would weigh heavily in the mind of a young girl unsure of what to do next. I called out, “These women don’t care about you. We care about you. Please let us help.” The deathscort began chanting again as she was joined by two other volunteer deathscorts.
I found their yelling that to be terribly ironic. “Mind your own business”? Why have they made it their business to make sure these girls kill their babies? “Go away”? Why don’t they go away? If they really are about “choice,” why are they refusing these women any chance at hearing the life-giving choices they actually have? Why do they have such a vested interest in making sure a woman kills her baby?
Why have these clinic workers made it their business to make sure these girls kill their babies?
In the meantime, three of our sidewalk ministers are being handcuffed and put into the police cruisers to be taken downtown. For what? For voicing an opinion. For offering help to woman in a crisis pregnancy. For trying to save a life. For peacefully protesting the murder of the innocent. Isn’t this what our Constitution protects? Aren’t we allowed to stand on a public sidewalk and voice our dissent? I wanted to run to the people inside the building and tell them, “We are willing to get arrested to save the life of your baby. These people want to take your money to kill your baby.”
could see me around the umbrellas. There were now four clinic workers, including one man, who kept shouting for me to mind my own business and go away. But I was not going to leave the sight of this woman. After I long time, she cracked her window and said something to the clinic workers. I have no idea what she said, but I knew she had chosen life by the reaction of the clinic workers. The deathscorts snapped those umbrellas shut and stormed off from the car. I continued to pray. She backed her car up and pulled out of that wretched parking lot.
As she pulled onto the street, she was crying and waving. She slowed down as she passed me, and we smiled at each other. I waved and told her I loved her. I wish she had stopped so I could give her a big hug. But I knew in that moment as she drove away she had chosen life for her sweet, innocent, defenseless baby.
I had such a rush of tears of joy and overwhelming gratitude to God for those answered prayers, and for the role I got to play in helping her have the confidence and courage to choose life.
But then I thought about the two teenage girls who had gone in together earlier. I thought about the man who walked his girlfriend inside. I looked at all those cars in the parking lot. And I grieved again in my heart. Though we saved a baby that day, we had three people arrested and at least 12 other babies who were not so fortunate to survive their mothers’ decisions.
The sidewalk ministry is tough. It is a true, spiritual battleground. But if you’ve ever said #blacklivesmatter and you support peaceful protests, then this is a battleground you can’t neglect. At this clinic, 60% of the abortions performed are on black babies. If you’ve ever said #alllivesmatter and you support peaceful protests, then this is a battleground you can’t neglect. This is where lives of all color, gender, and creed are being torn from the mother’s womb.
crisis centers are choosing life and asking for help. But many women are not even going go the crisis pregnancy center. There must be a voice to help those women and their babies who are already choosing abortion.
If you think that some things aren’t done right at the sidewalk, then come out and do it differently. Come out and change it. If you think it doesn’t really work, say that to the little baby who was saved out there on Friday. I’m fully convinced if we had not been out there that day, that woman would have chosen differently. Our presence, our encouragement, our on-the-spot prayers made a difference. It saved her life and her baby’s.
I have been reading through a book with my children telling the life stories of great heroes of the Christian faith. It has short biographies of people like Dietrich Bonhoeffer and John Bunyan. This week we have been reading about the life of Peter Cartwright. He lived from 1785 to 1872 and was a traveling minister as this fledgling nation began to move westward.
Oftentimes there weren’t enough townspeople, or even enough of a town, to support their own church minister, so ministers would “ride the circuit” where they would travel around the area holding tent revivals and church camps. Peter Cartwright was known for being bold in standing firm on true biblical doctrine, even confronting the stereotypical charlatans trying to dupe people out of money by peddling a false doctrine. But more importantly, he was known for speaking out against the institution of slavery.
Cartwright knew there were many Christians attending these camp revivals who owned slaves. But somehow they had failed to see the contradiction of living as a Christian while owning another person as property. To address this, Cartwright could have pounded the Bible in the pulpit and thundered at the crowds, demanding them to emancipate their slaves. Instead, he preached on God’s commands for us to love others – all others. And you cannot love another person while owning them as a slave.
It was like a light bulb finally went off in the minds of these people. Many of them realized how they could not follow God while owning slaves. One woman, Mrs. Stewart, had been so stirred in her heart upon realizing what she was doing that she decided to free her slaves and led many others to do the same.
Through his life and ministry, Mr. Cartwright was able to appeal to the hearts of these Christian slave owners to change their stance on slavery. But the most amazing thing is what seems so obvious to us today (you can’t own another person and be following God) was so unclear to these people. How did that happen? How could Christian people not see the wrong in slavery? How did the Christians in Germany not see the wrong in Hitler’s regime during Bonhoeffer’s life? How did Christians not see the wrong in segregation during Martin Luther King, Jr.’s life? How do Christians now not see the evil in things like abortion or racism? I think we can find three possible reasons for it that apply not only to these examples, but to many current social issues.
1.) Not all Christians are actually Christians. This is probably the most important thing for anyone to understand. Not everyone who describes themselves as “Christians” are Christians. Just because you claim that title or check that box on a form does not mean you are a true follower of Christ. Jesus warns us about this in Matthew 7:21, “Not everyone who says to Me ‘Lord, Lord’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven.” This should be the scariest verse in the Bible for many people. Not everyone who says they are following Jesus actually belong to Jesus.
So how do we know who are true Christians and who are not? Jesus tells us how in John 14:15. “If you love Me, keep my commands.” John says the same thing in 1 John 2:3-4, “And by this we know that we have come to know him, if we keep his commandments.” This isn’t some “judgy” way of looking at other people. Jesus equates our love for Him to our obedience of Him. Though many people may say they “love Jesus,” if they are not doing God’s will, then they do not. They are not following Him, thus they are not real Christians.
Jesus says in Matthew 7:13, “Wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it.” Jesus tells us that there will be few who take the difficult path of following God in true obedience. Those who will enter the kingdom of God by the narrow gate are not those who who just had an emotional experience at youth camp, or who had a fun week at VBS, or who attend church when their spouse drags them. Only those who walk in obedience to Him. And because of that, we should honestly expect to see more people not following God’s will than those who are.
If our love for God is determined by our obedience to God, then what is God’s will that we are to obey? The Pharisees asked, “’Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?’ And Jesus said to him, ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’” (Matthew 22:36-39). Jesus says, “Love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you.” (Matthew 5:44).
Jesus says this again in John 13:34: “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.” The first thing we must do to walk in obedience is to love other people, whether friends, enemies, different gender, different race, different political view, and different nationality. We are to even love the people who don’t love other people!
Paul says in 1 Thessalonians 5:17-18. “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” So obedience to God would include being thankful and rejoicing IN ALL THINGS, whether it is fair and just, or unfair and unjust; whether it is in wealth or in poverty; whether in fullness or in hunger; whether in success or in suffering. And the way to be able to do that is by praying without ceasing.
Paul says again, “For this is the will of God: your sanctification; that you abstain from sexual immorality.” (1 Thessalonians 4:3) Peter emphasizes this in 1 Peter 1:16, “God says, ‘Be holy, for I am holy.’” This is the will of God to be holy, and specifically to exhibit holiness in our sexual conduct. He is our God and we are His people. We are to be holy because God is holy.
How can we ever do that? We will all fail at doing God’s will, so the question becomes: are you even striving to? Are you brokenhearted and grieved when you do fail? Do you approach God with a broken and contrite heart, sorrowful over your sin? Or do you presume on God’s grace, hardened to the convictions of the Holy Spirit and unwilling to repent? These are the things that tell us whether we are true Christians or not.
2.) We fail to follow God when our actions are guided by society. In each of those examples given above, the Christians in those societies were misguided in how they were treating others because they were using society’s standards to determine their stances on those issues. It was socially acceptable to own slaves. It was just “the way life was” for races to be segregated. Everyone else blamed the Jews for the failures of the nation. A woman just gets to choose whether to stay pregnant or not. In each of those scenarios, it had reached a social norm to treat certain humans as “less than” human. And that made it easier for folks to live with this dichotomy of “being a Christian” and devaluing other humans.
Anytime throughout history that man has placed himself in a position to assign worth to other humans, he has failed miserably. Wherever man gets to make those decisions, there will always be a people-group oppressed, devalued, and dehumanized. Wherever people allow God to set the standard of human worth, people are uplifted, loved, cared for, treasured, and given life.
How do we avoid dehumanizing others in our society? We must continually look to God’s Word to form our opinions, our stances, our actions, and our behaviors. When we look at social norms, we will get it wrong every time. So what do you use to determine your stance on things, your feelings? voter polls and social media trends? hashtags and marches? Or do you use God’s Word?
3.) We fail to follow God when we allow society to rename the issue. In order for evil to prevail, it simply needs to be renamed so people don’t recognize it as evil. Society will hijack the terms surrounding the issue to make it more palatable. In the Civil War, one side was fighting for the emancipation of slaves; the other side was fighting for “State’s rights,” where the issue of slavery would be left at the state instead of federal level. In Germany, Nazis convinced people to look the other way for national pride. The people were convinced that these steps were necessary to get the nation back to a place of pride and prominence. So you were either for Jews or you were for Germany. The evil of murdering babies in the womb has been renamed “women’s reproductive rights” or a “woman’s right to choose.” It’s called pro-choice vs. pro-life; who wants to be against “choice”?
Each of these issues has been framed in a way that disguises the evil that is actually being discussed. Slavery should have never been about state vs. federal laws. It should have been about human dignity and worth. Nazism should have never been about the pride of the German nation vs. Jews being blamed for its failure. It should have been about human dignity and worth. Abortion should have never been about “women’s rights” vs. the right to life. It should have been about human dignity and worth. Again, we are in grave danger when we reframe and rename the issue to hide the true evil at stake.
How do we prevent that from happening? What do you allow to frame the issue for you? Can you see past the hashtags and media hype and taglines about an issue? Do you stop to consider the larger idea at stake or just your personal preference? Do you consider what God would desire or are you more interested in the social hype for the cause of the day?
Ultimately, we cannot look at what some Christians do to determine what God actually desires us to do. Many of those people are not actually Christians. And many of those people are true Christians, but are failing to do what God commands. Therefore, we must always go back to God’s Word to guide our actions instead of what those around us are doing. We must consider what God commands from us, not what others demand.
Yet we are all humans living among humans, all equally sinning. What do we do when all of these efforts fail? What do we do when “Christians” are not truly following God and aren’t obeying His commands? What do we do when other people’s actions are more guided by society than by God’s Word? How do we respond when society has renamed evil as good? We go back to what God’s Word says. “For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.” (Matthew 6:14). “Then Peter came to Him and asked, ‘Lord, how many times will my brother sin against me and I forgive him and let it go? Up to seven times?’ Jesus answered him, ‘I say to you, not up to seven times, but seventy times seven.’” (Matthew 18:21-22).