You want to participate in abortuary ministry, but you can’t. What can you do?
Trying to Encourage a Brother
I spent some time on the phone the other day with a brother in Christ who has spilt sweat and tears for the unborn, outside of abortuaries. For years, he has pleaded with men and women not to murder their children, always doing so with the gospel of Jesus Christ as central to his work. He has seen horrendous behavior from mothers, fathers, abortuary workers, security guards, cops, Catholics, Atheists, and so-called “Christians.” He’s done it all; he’s seen it all with, in my estimation, grace, dignity, faith, love, and courage. There are few men I respect more.
My brother in Christ spends several days a week outside of murder mills. Abortuary work, however, is not the only evangelistic ministry in which he is involved. He proclaims and spreads the gospel in many ways.
As I talked to my brother, I could hear the weariness in his voice. He’s thinking of reducing his time outside of abortuaries. There’s no quit in this brother, no cowardice, no indifference. He’s forgotten more than most Christians know about trying to rescue the unborn. My brother has seen babies saved and lives changed, all the while knowing that if he convinces a mom to allow her baby to live and she dies in her sin and without Christ she will go to hell having made the good decision to allow her baby to live. My brother is fighting a good fight for lives and souls.
But my brother is tired. Battle-worn. He’s wearied and a bit uncertain about the decision he is considering, but he is not weak.
As I listened to my brother and tried to care for him over the phone, something came to mind—something I have thought about more than once over the last several years.
Before I continue and for the benefit of readers who might not know me, allow me to briefly share my own experience regarding ministry outside abortuaries.
To begin, while there are many Christians who don’t have the experience I do, I readily and thankfully admit that there are likewise many Christians who have much more experience than I do. I do not see myself as an expert; just experienced.
I began engaging in abortuary ministry in 2012, a decade ago. I have engaged in abortuary ministry in California, Arizona, Oregon, Iowa, Illinois, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Maryland, Louisiana, Georgia, and Florida. I have served alongside some of the very best in the abortion abolition movement.
While ministering outside abortuaries I have been threatened, assaulted, and arrested (twice). Once, I stood trial, was found guilty, and was placed on probation. During sentencing, the judge (in open court and on the record) equated my preaching of the gospel with cussing at people. My arrests resulted in an Iowa City ordinance and an Iowa state law being deemed unconstitutional and subsequently removed from the books.
I have trained and counseled many Christians in the area of abortuary ministry.
Over the years, I’ve seen the Lord save several babies. I’ve also seen countless numbers of babies go to their deaths. There is nothing easy, nothing fun, nothing glamorous, nothing peaceful about abortuary ministry. Abortuaries are among the spiritually darkest places I have ever ministered. It’s not a game, not a notch in your spiritual belt, not a sermon illustration provider. It is hard work, spiritually speaking, and it can be physically difficult, too.
And if one isn’t careful, abortuary ministry can do great harm to a Christian’s heart and to the ministry of the evangelist. I know what I speak.
Like my brother, and like many other Christians, I’ve seen a thing or two. I have the experience of doing it right. And I have experience doing it wrong. I thank God for the gift of repentance.
I have a great deal of love, appreciation, and respect for many Christian men and women, young and old, who serve the Lord and love their neighbors as themselves outside of abortuaries. There are also professing Christian men and women who–because of their sinful behavior, nomadic existence, and disdain for the Bride of Christ and the local church–have no business being outside abortuaries.
As a deputy sheriff, I saw people die in many different ways—as they were dying and immediately following their death. While I’m not haunted by those varied memories, some of those memories remain vivid. Watching babies being led to the slaughter in their mother’s womb is every bit as difficult.
It has always troubled me how some Christians can be so rightly serious and passionate in their pleadings with mothers and fathers as they approach the front door of an abortuary only to become lighthearted and talk about sports, the weather, Facebook posts, and the like after the door closes behind the murderous parent(s). I’ve caught myself and have had to check myself at times for doing this in the past. Such on/off switches outside houses of horror is out of place and might be indicative of a darkening or hardening of the hearts of some Christians. It might be indicative of a heart growing a desensitizing Teflon coating around it. Or, it could be a sign that the Christian outside the abortuary might be functioning off of muscle memory alone, forgetting that the heart is a muscle, too. Again, I know this from personal experience.
Who am I Writing To?
For whom is this article intended? Well, maybe everyone who reads it. But I do have a particular group of Christians in mind. They are the people who came to mind as I tried to encourage my dear brother who is thinking of decreasing his time outside of abortuaries.
When it comes to abortuary ministry, I see the Bride of Christ as a not-yet-perfected and somewhat dysfunctional family consisting of four groups of Christians:
- The “Doers”
- The “Wonts”
- The “There Can’t be Cants”
- The “Cants”
There are those who legitimately cannot engage in ministries outside abortuaries. There are those who won’t do so. And there are those who believe that there are no legitimate reasons for a Christian not to man a post outside abortuaries.
If you’re reading this and you are among the “Doers” in our Christian family and you are doing it in a God-glorifying, Christ-honoring, gospel-proclaiming, people and soul-loving way, I do have you in mind as I pen this article. I thank God for you. While you are not the focus of this article, I see you. And I praise God for you.
If you’re reading this and you are among the “Wonts” in our Christian family, meaning you won’t stand outside of an abortuary for even a single morning (the time of day when most baby murders likely take place), then I would have you prayerfully consider why this is and discuss it with your pastor(s). If you make a list of reasons under the heading “I Won’t Do It” (and I encourage you to do this), I think you will be hard-pressed to find justification in the Bible, for anything on your list. If this is you, I want to encourage you to pray, seek godly counsel (preferably from your pastors), read your Bible, and consider if there might be one or more underlying sins that are keeping you from going (e.g. fear, indifference, laziness, self-love). While I hope you find this article sanctifying and edifying, if you’re a “Wont” I don’t have you in mind as I’m writing.
“Can’t be Cants”
If you are reading this and are of the mindset that no Christian has a legitimate reason for why he or she can’t stand outside of an abortuary and plead for the lives of unborn children and for the souls of those bent on murdering them, then the bars of your cage (think “cage stage;” if you know, you know) might be too thick and too narrowly spaced for you to be able to see the hubris and lack of grace in such a position. Like the “Wonts,” but for different reasons, I don’t have you in mind either as I write this article—other than to hope you repent.
A Word to My Brother
To my brother who I talked to on the phone (he might read this): thank you for being a “Doer.” If you decide that you need to spend less time outside of abortuaries, even come off that particular field of battle indefinitely or permanently, know that you are not a “Wont.” You are not a “Cant.” And you’ve never been a “There Can’t be Cants.” Brother, if you come off the abortuary field of battle, whether for a time or for good, and the reason has nothing to do with sin, then you have no reason to hang your head. There is nothing for which you should be ashamed—nothing for which you need to apologize. I love you and I praise God for you.
It’s you “Cants” to whom I am directing most of my attention in this article. It’s you I have in mind. And I have something to say to you.
A Word to the “Cants”
I believe there are legitimate reasons why some Christians can’t minister outside of abortuaries.
The following list is certainly not exhaustive.
Work. Many Christians work during the days of the week and the times of day when unborn babies are being slaughtered in the womb.
Family—particularly Christian moms. Raising children, whether one or 12, is a lot of work. If some or all of the kids are school-aged, whether they attend government or private schools or are educated at home, this adds to an already full-to-overflowing plate. Some Christian moms can make this all work and still find or make time to minister outside an abortuary. Other moms just can’t.
Distance. Some Christians don’t live anywhere near an abortuary. And it’s not up to me or you (the reader) to determine for someone else how far is too far.
Health. Some Christians, due to health constraints can’t do any kind of street/public ministry. And again, it’s not up to me or you to determine for someone else how infirmed is too infirmed or not infirmed enough. Some readers who swim in the abortion abolitionist waters might immediately think of John Barros in Florida. I have a great deal of love and respect for John. For many years, John (sent out by his church) has been outside an abortuary in Orlando six days a week, all day long. And John will be the first to say that he is not a healthy man. Oftentimes, with a little plastic megaphone in hand, John is balancing on crutches as he calls out to murderous parents. “If John can do it you can do it, too” is not a biblically loving argument to make against some Christians whose health precludes them from standing or even sitting outside an abortuary.
Counsel. Some Christians shouldn’t be standing outside of abortuaries because their pastors—men who will give an account to God for how they shepherded the souls in their church families—believe they shouldn’t be involved in that kind of ministry. The reasons can vary (e.g. sin, spiritual and emotional maturity, lack of immediate accountability, lack of parental approval, and safety). And it is not for me or you to determine how pastors shepherd their flock and tend to their sheep. The autonomy and authority of the local church actually, really matter.
Here’s the beautiful part. If you’re among the “Cants” in our Christian family, I hope you’re listening.
The gospel is the power of God for salvation (Romans 1:16).
If You Can’t Stand Outside an Abortuary
The manner and/or method of how the gospel is communicated, dispersed, and/or disseminated is not where the power of the gospel lies. The power is in the gospel itself.
What I’m about to say should in no way whatsoever be heard as an excuse for the “Wonts” of the Bride of Christ. Nor should it in any way whatsoever be heard as a marginalization of the life-saving, gospel-rich work of those standing outside of abortuaries—the “Doers” in our Christian family. What I’m about to say should be an encouragement to us all, especially to the “Cants” in our Christian family.
Most of my time these days is spent crosswalking in my community. As I stand on corners in my community, I often have much time to think, pray, worship, and think some more. One of the things that struck me not that long ago—something about which I was reminded during my recent conversation with my “Doer” brother—is how much gospel-driven abortion abolition work Christians can do away from abortuaries.
Every gospel tract I distribute, whether to men or women—young or old, has the potential of saving an unborn child’s life. How? The gospel is the power of God for salvation to all who believe (Romans 1:16).
Think about it.
I hand a checker at the grocery store a gospel tract, or I place one in the card reader slot at the gas pump, or I slip one in a case of beer at the store or in a book in Barnes and Noble, or I leave one with a generous tip at a restaurant, or I put one on a car sporting a “COEXIST” bumper sticker (those folks never seem to want to coexist with Christians; go figure). A person receiving a tract reads it, repents, and believes the gospel. Maybe it was a mom or dad that was having thoughts of murdering their unborn child.
See where I’m going?
Hundreds of motorists each day drive by me while I’m crosswalking. No, “Stop and Talk” (what is written on the crossbeam of my six-foot cross) is not the gospel and the positive responses I receive from many motorists are not necessarily positive responses to Jesus or the gospel. But how many people driving by have maybe previously heard the gospel from someone else? What if seeing the cross reminds them of the gospel they’ve heard? What if that young lady driving by was planning to kill her baby the next day, but now has changed her mind? What if that young man driving by was on his way to try to convince his girlfriend to kill their child, but he changed his mind?
What if I stand on a corner in my community with one of the several abortion-related, gospel signs my church has? Is that sign any less true or powerful on a street corner than it is outside an abortuary? No! For the gospel is the power of God for salvation to all who believe.
I’ve talked to hundreds, even thousands of men and women on street corners around the country, over these many years. I’ve given away even more bibles and gospel tracts while doing so. How many unborn babies’ lives may have been saved as a result? I’ll never know this side of heaven. But the thought of it brings me great joy and hope.
Christian moms and dads: you are quite possibly stemming the blood-red tide of abortion by raising your sons and daughters in the fear and instruction of the Lord and proclaiming the gospel to them. You may be preventing the future murder of one of your own grandchildren. Or your kids may be communicating gospel truth to friends who, as a result, may not murder a child someday.
Work, school, soccer practice, the doctor’s office—on and on the list goes. Christian, every day of your life is filled with gospel opportunities. And any one of these opportunities, if taken advantage of, could lead to the saving of a soul, which could lead to the saving of an unborn life.
To say that Christians have to stand outside of abortuaries to do any meaningful work to end abortion is to denigrate the power of the gospel of Jesus Christ. It is quite possibly creating an idol of a manner or method of gospel communication. I’ve seen this happen with open-air preaching, too.
So, no, Christian; if you can’t stand outside an abortuary when babies are being murdered, but you are engaged in biblical evangelism in any of its many forms, doing so according to the context of life where God has placed you and according to the personality he has given you, then you could very well be helping to abolish abortion. Hold your head up. Don’t be ashamed. Don’t be ashamed of the gospel (Romans 1:16).