A dear Sister from my local church ministers as a sidewalk counselor in front of a nearby abortion clinic. Recently she shared this account with me. It is so moving. It is this kind of real world story from the trenches that I hope will stir us up to step out in faith. The story stirs in me hope and faith, and demonstrates how desperate our world is for what we often hold to ourselves.
Here is Christa's story in her own words
(The names have been changed)
Dear Friends and Family,
I am anxious to give you an update on today's sidewalk counseling outside a nearby abortion clinic.
I arrived at 7:30 a.m. and within the first 10 seconds, I locked myself out of my car, and locked my wallet, phone, tissues, gloves, lip-balm and all my counseling literature IN the car. I had to borrow a phone to call home, and bless her heart, Hollie ran over to bring me a spare key, so I was able to get all my stuff and start interacting with people when they began arriving around 8:00 a.m. (Thank you, Hollie!!) I observed the clinic workers as they went in, one by one, through the side door: the office manager, the technicians, the anesthesiologist, and finally the abortionist, all of whom I tried to greet with a friendly "Good morning." No one wished me a good morning. Imagine that?
One sad thing was the sheer volume of customers: every 5 or 6 minutes, another couple went in. By 9:00, the waiting room was overflowing with people waiting their turn to abort their babies. Every time the door opened, I could see wall-to-wall people, standing room only, on top of each other. Some of them would come outside to wait. I commented, "Crowded in there, huh?" One guy said, "Yeah, and it's really hot. I couldn't stand it in there." Some of the counselors refer to it as lambs being led to the slaughter, or cattle being herded. What a business they've got going in there.
Most couples walked right by me, ignoring my offer of some "important information", but many took it and walked right into the building. A few slowed down to take it, look at it, and listen to a few more words before they went in. Sometimes the girl would march by and say, steely-faced, "No thanks. Don't need it." But the guy walking behind her would take it from my hand. Mostly I said, "Here's some information that they won't give you in this clinic. It's really important that you know the risks of abortion, and they will not tell you this inside." If I got another 10 seconds, I would add, pulling out the appropriate flyer, "Around the corner is the Lighthouse clinic, where all their services are free. They won't take a dime from you, but they'll do your ultrasound and help you though your decision." If I got another 10 seconds, I would say, "Inside here, you'll pay $175 for an ultrasound, and they will not let you see what is on the screen. If you ask them to see it, they will refuse. They are in the business of hiding the truth from you." But it was rare that I got to go that far.
One young man came out, lit a cigarette, and was obviously distraught. My fellow counselor, Jeff, said, "Is your girl in there?" He said, "Yeah." Jeff: "You don't look happy about it." Guy: "No. I don't want her to do this." Jeff: "Why don't you go in and get her out?" Guy: "It's not that easy, but I'm trying. I'm trying! Say a prayer for me." I asked him his name, and he said, "Billy." I asked him her name, and he said, "Jeannie." He dialed his cell phone, trying to reach her inside. A little later, she came out from the back door with her mother. The mother was about 50, Jeannie was about 19. Billy joined them on the sidewalk and a loud, tension-filled argument ensued. I stood very near them and heard everything. They did not seem to mind my being there, as if they didn't notice me.
Billy: "Don't do this. Don't do it! It's not right!"
Donna (the mother): "Oh, look who's worried about what's right all of a sudden!"
Billy: "I know, I've made mistakes. And I'm sorry. But this doesn't make it right."
Donna: "You're an abuser!"
Billy: "I know I have problems. I'm going to get help. I want this baby. I can support it. (To the girlfriend) Please don't do this, babe!"
Donna (the mother): "I just know I can't raise another baby!"
Jeannie, crying: "I don't even know if I love you anymore. I don't even want to be with you any more! I hate you!" She raised both arms to pummel him, but he fended her off.
Billy: "I understand. And you know what? You don't have to be with me. I just want you to know I I'll take care of our baby. By now he was weeping, and he bent forward as if in anguish. "We've made some bad mistakes, both of us have. But doing this won't make it right. You can't make it right by piling another bad thing on top of it! We can't reverse this! Don't make the decision in a panic. Take some time to think about it."
Donna (the mother): "She HAS been thinking about it."
Billy, to the girl's mother: "It's only been 2 weeks. Donna, you're trying to force her into this. (To his girlfriend) Last week you were picking out names!"
Jeannie, crying: "I don't even know what I think. I'm so confused. I don't know what I want."
This whole time, they kept going back into the clinic, and out again, yelling at each other. Every time they went in or out, he would be crying in the open doorway, "Baby, please don't do this! Don't do this! It's not right!" I could see all the people inside in the waiting room, just inches away from this anguished couple, hearing all the drama, loud and clear. I wondered what they were all thinking as they were waiting for their abortions.
Then the three were all out on the sidewalk again. Billy: "You know it's not right." Turning to the Jeannie's mother, he asked her, "Do you think this is right? She answered, "No, of course it's not right. But what else can we do!"
Mother and daughter pulled aside to talk privately. At some point, I repeated the suggestion, "Why not take her around the corner to the Lighthouse center? They will sit you down, listen to your story, and help you think through your decision."
When the ladies rejoined him, he urged them to walk the three blocks to the Lighthouse pregnancy resource center. "Baby, let's just go talk to them. We have nothing to lose, and they can help us."
Back and forth the battle went. My homeschooling friend was across the street with another friend, praying. It was their first time coming to pray at an abortion clinic. I could see them gripping each other arm in arm, eyes closed tightly, crying and praying with all their might. I wondered what God had me there for. I just prayed.
Finally, mother and daughter moved away and I heard the mom say, "It's your decision. It's your life, and only you can make this decision. I love you. Maybe we can even think about adoption. Call me when you need a ride home." They hugged and the Mom left. I thought her attitude had changed and it was a breakthrough.
Now it was just me with Billy and Jeannie. I said, "You know, in this clinic, they don't care about your lives. With them, there's only once choice when you walk in there; they want your money. Then they spit you out, and they won't even call you to see if you're okay." (I knew this from the abortion clinic website which says, 'We won't call you. You can call us if you have any problems.') Billy turned to Jeannie and said, "You know it's true, baby. The last two times you were here, they never called you. They don't care at all about you."
I managed to add, "But at Lighthouse, they are very loving people who won't take a dime from you. They will walk you through this decision, and they'll be there for you week after week, as long as you need them. They have a lot of resources to help you through this. They just want to help. You have nothing to lose by going there are talking to them. You can always come back here if you want to."
Billy said, "Baby, these people aren't going away. They'll be here if we want to come back. Let's go take a walk to talk to those people. Please. Take my hand, and I'll walk you there." She finally agreed, and off they went around the corner. I called the Lighthouse people to let them know this couple was on their way, and told them just a little about the drama that precipitated their coming. The woman was appreciative of the heads-up.
Well, we were rejoicing, counselors, and praying people alike. That took a lot out of all of us. What a battle, but how glorious to see God move in people's hearts. I never witnessed a man in the throes of anguished repentance before. How humbling to have been there and witnessed this. I was quaking and shaking violently for the next 45 minutes, as the tension worked its way out of my system. Besides, it was really cold!
That's the story. Thanks for listening. I know it's not easy to read about people in such pain and anguish, but I thought you'd want to know what your prayers did today. I wish more people could witness the street-reality of this spiritual battle with their own eyes. Lives are really lost or won every day (mostly lost) in this, and 679 other cities in America.
Thanks for coming by.