Saturday, March 12, 2016

Saving Lives


Since Cities4Life (C4L) has had a presence on the sidewalks of Charlotte's busy abortion centers, the rate of abortion in NC has dropped by 25%. The decrease began the year sidewalk counselors from C4L began ministering to the abortion-minded Mamas.

It is an effective model. Having been a C4L sidewalk counselor over two years now, I hear many reports from the women who choose life about what changed their minds. They validate what we believe to be an effective front-line ministry model.

It would be difficult to summarize in one short blog all that we do that makes this ministry effective. However, I am going to try. For a more in-depth discussion which details a year of actual cases, you can buy the book Singing in the Darkness by clicking HERE.

This summary is in the order of what I have personally observed to be the most compelling strategies for reaching abortion-minded women. Different counselors may have a different order of priority. This is not a scientific study, nor have I kept data to support my views. However, it does reflect my experience over the past two years listening to those who choose life, and those who regret their abortions. All these factors have been repeatedly demonstrated to be key in women choosing life for their babies.

1. Spiritual: First, a belief in God is critical in changing hearts and the tide of abortion. I always try to find out if the mama believes in God, and appeal to her understanding of what God would have her do. Being in the South, and the Bible belt, I meet very few women who don't voice a belief in God. Most agree God would not have them abort. Most also say God will forgive them so it is okay for them to knowingly sin. We always have verses ready to answer these statements. If we have extended counseling time, which we don't always have, we present the Gospel. The hope and redemption through Jesus is powerful and key to what Cities4Life accomplishes.

2. Reveal Obstacles: Determine the obstacles that make the women feel the need to abort. Then address each one with a list of community resources that can help with that need. We have a huge resource book with lists of largely Christian agencies and groups that can help. This includes: help with housing, counseling for the couple, baby supplies, maternity clothes, utility assistance, help filing for Medicaid to cover pregnancy costs and doctor visits, parenting classes, food programs and pantries, supportive mentorship through local churches, adoption options, pregnancy resource centers, home based businesses for moms to remain home and bring in income. In the few seconds we have to convince mamas to walk over to us, we tell them we have real help, and if they will just stop to talk with us, we will prove it.

3. Show up: A committed presence on the sidewalk for as many hours as the center is open is invaluable. Many women are convicted that abortion is wrong simply by the loving presence of people urging them to make another choice. The people on the sidewalk feel called by God to be there, but I believe many Christians are called and ignore the calling. I did for quite some time because I didn't believe I could ever do this, nor God could use me.  I learned half the battle in following God and promoting change in our world is to just show up. Never underestimate the power of the Holy Spirit and prayer in confronting this front-line spiritual battle.

4. Graphic Signs: I know many object to the use of graphic signs of what happens during abortion. I cannot stand to look at them myself. However, many women see the sign, and turn away from aborting simply because they suddenly realize how horrific, barbaric, and violent the act of abortion is to the baby. Many women have told me that when they saw the sign, it was the first moment of knowing what they were about to do was wrong.

5. Sound system and proclaiming truth: First, the sound system is effective in reminding the women that God loves them and loves their babies. We have had many women tell us they were in the back room being prepped for abortion when they heard our voice over the sound system reminding them of God, and they left at that critical last moment! Over the sound system, we let them know there is hope and help and resources, and they should talk to us. We always proclaim the hope of the Gospel and the need to do what is right before God. We also talk about the dangers of the specific center, the terrible record of the abortionists, and the problems medically, physically, spiritually, and emotionally following abortion.

6. Mobile ultrasound unit on site: This is one of our best tools in "sealing the deal" for life. If we can show the mama her baby's beating heart, few can deny the child's humanity. In fact, way up at the top of the list of strategies is proclaiming the baby's humanity, and emphasizing that humans have intrinsic value based on the fact that they alone are made in God's image. We try to logically argue that human value is NOT based on size, level of development, environment, or dependency (SLED method). This strategy is a good one whether the mama believes in God or not. The only logical point at which a baby is human is at the moment of conception and using the SLED method is very effective in showing them this truth.

The mobile ultrasound is a wonderful tool for many reasons. If a mama can be encouraged to leave the abortion center and the "crowd mentality" and coercive methods of the security escorts, they have a better ability to relax and let their true feelings and core values emerge. The vast majority of women who see their children on ultrasound choose life, and have an instant change of heart. The quiet, peaceful environment of the mobile RV engenders trust, and affords us time to have in-depth discussion of needs, fears, and especially God.

7. Literature: We have wonderful illustrated pamphlets that show fetal development at each month, describe how the baby is developing, and includes scripture verses with the beautiful photos. On the front of each we have a list of resources, and we write our name and phone number for mamas to contact us with needs or questions. Sometimes, we give our literature to friends of the mama, who bring it in to her if she is already in the abortion center. It is a new way for them to encourage the mama to leave, and consider her options. Almost always, the friends say, "She has already made up her mind." This is so often not true, and thus we reinforce the idea that they can help save a life and the pamphlet might help. I am always surprised at the number of women who show up at abortion centers that are still conflicted, and can be swayed to choose life.

8. Follow-up: This is key and what marks Cities4Life as different from many other abortion deterring groups. We write a list of what we intend to do to help the women, and then make every effort to fulfill those promises. This is also an area where our ministry needs help. We need more people willing to provide the follow-up. At this point, most of the counselors are largely the ones who follow and help the women. Ideally, we would like local churches and other ministry groups to take over once we deal with the crisis of abortion vs. life.

I send a daily Bible verse to every woman who chooses life who will let me do so. I have found that it opens regular contact and conversation, and has often led to salvation of the women I work with! If they are struggling, they have an open line of communication and don't feel so alone. It costs me very little, and seems to be very important to some of the moms I work with.

All our counselors stay in touch with the moms they help through text and phone calls. All of us have received messages thanking us for being there. Many grateful women tell us that without us there the day they came to the abortion center, their precious babies would now be dead instead of the source of love and joy they now experience.

This is not an exhaustive list, but it gives an overview of the strategies that I believe are most effective. However, in closing, I reiterate that it is not the counselors who save the babies. It is God's convicting and Holy presence. No strategy "works" if God is not fully present in the hearts and minds of those on the sidewalks proclaiming life. Nothing we do will change a mama's heart if she has closed her ears to God. The good news is God can and will enter the life of anyone willing to have Him.

It is an immense privilege to be a part of this ministry. For further information, please go to charlotte.cities4life.org .
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Deuteronomy 30:19

I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse. Therefore choose life, that you and your offspring may live,

Proverbs 6:16-17

There are six things that the Lord hates, seven that are an abomination to him: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood,

For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother's womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them.

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.

“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations.”




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