A while later, a second car pulled up. The woman driving said that she had been wanting to come to thank our group for a while. She said that she showed up for an abortion about a year ago and after speaking to “ladies praying a rosary” she left. She then introduced us to her one-year old son. According to M, “She was glowing and had tears of joy. At the time she was thanking us, a car drove by and yelled that we should be ashamed of ourselves. So ironic.”
That is a lot for one day, but here are my thoughts. First – praise the Lord! It is a rare (and joyous) day that we get to meet the children who were born because someone cared enough to have the courage to come pray in front of the abortion clinic. Our efforts are focused on empowering women to turn away from the clinic and seek help from a pro-life pregnancy help center. Because both we and the pregnancy help centers take privacy very seriously, we often do not see or hear much in the way of follow-up.
Second – we are not entirely sure who the “ladies praying the rosary” were – but it could have been one of our dedicated sidewalk counselors, one of our frequent prayer partners, or even someone participating in the spring 40 Days for Life campaign last year. Whether you have an hour a month, an hour a week, or an hour a day, we can use your help, and most importantly – God can use your efforts to change a heart and save a life.
Third – we agree that there is a need for people to pay attention to the injustices throughout life, especially those that occur in the black community. As our friend Bryan from Stand True says, social justice starts in the womb. While a popular narrative is that pro-life folks have a “fetus fetish” (yes, that is an actual accusation of our work), the reality is that pro-life people are engaged in a whole continuum of care. They are the people caring for ill family members, they are the families serving in soup kitchens, and they are the churches that take seriously the efforts to care for those society has turned its back on. In fact, it is our position which is consistent. The reason that black lives matter, the reason that we should care for the sick and house the homeless and help out the needy is because all human life has intrinsic value – value which is not determined by age, income, ability, wealth, or any other thing which changes over the course of a lifetime. We do not get to pick and “choose” which lives matter – because they all do. Ok, so sometimes we have a debate about the best way to help protect the dignity of that life. It is also a reality that we sometimes fail. We aren’t claiming that we are perfect- merely that we seek to be perfect as our Father in Heaven is perfect.
Lastly, to the car driving by yelling that we should be ashamed of ourselves – oh, the irony coming from the crowd whose mantra is the pseudo-biblical and out-of-context, “thou shall not judge.” In a sense, however, he or she is not entirely wrong. We should be ashamed of ourselves. We should be ashamed that we live in a society where women see abortion as their best and only option. We should be ashamed that in the year 2016 we think that there is something magical about the birth canal or a C-section that conveys both personhood and basic human rights. It is a shame that in a metropolitan area with a population of a little more than two million, where almost half a million people identify as Evangelical, Catholic, and Orthodox Christians, our efforts are carried out by a core of volunteers that number in the hundreds rather than the tens of thousands. We should also be ashamed that our efforts are often hamstrung by our own egos and the petty bickering that comes from differences in strategy or creed. Daring to stand up for life in the public square? Daring to pray in public? Hearing the thankfulness, seeing the joy, and understanding the love of a mother who chose life for her son, and having the rare occasion to meet the fruits of our work? There is nothing of shame there, only joy and grateful hearts.
Thanks for all of the “Love” for our new “sidewalk snapshots” – short vignettes that share our tales from the sidewalk! Are you a GCRTL volunteer who would like to share your story from the sidewalk? Let us know! Are you ready to join our efforts in your own way? Join our prayer team today.