The name of your first developmental stage as a human being was termed “zygote.” With twenty-three chromosomes from your father and twenty-three chromosomes from your mother, you became a unique member of the human family; never before conceived and never to be repeated (Wile, Coad and Dunstall). A little further down the developmental road, by the end of the third week, your tiny heart began to beat. Blood vessels and blood cells provided your embryonic body with oxygen and nutrients from your mother, working together with the placenta.  At four weeks, the double heart chambers were visible, aortic arch and major veins completed (Lowdermilk and Perry). Over the next thirty-six weeks, your eyes developed color, your tiny fingers and toes began to develop, your brain divided into three parts, and you began making facial expressions, all in preparation for the exciting day you would be born. But a tragedy exists that may stop you from completing your fetal development. 

In 1973, the court case Roe v. Wade made it legal to abort you under certain conditions. Roe v. Wade’s companion case Doe v. Bolton took it a step further, legalizing abortion in any case involving emotional, economic, psychological, familial, or physical factors a woman might name for pursuing abortion (Doe V. Bolton). Since the legalization of abortion, more than 59,246,800 abortions have been performed in the United States (Right to Life of Michigan). What is an abortion, you ask? There are several kinds: suction curettage, D&E, medical abortion, saline abortion, and D&X (WebMd). Two of the most common types are suction curettage and medical abortion. Suction curettage is accomplished by dilating the cervix and inserting a suction curette into the womb, which will dismember the unborn child one body part at a time. The fetus' body will be sucked into a suction canister, which will later be sorted through to ensure no parts were left inside the mother's womb. A medical abortion starts by taking medication by mouth: Mifepristone and Misoprostol. Mifepristone stops the uterus from receiving progesterone--a vital hormone for sustaining pregnancy--which will cause the endometrium (uterine lining) to dissolve. This leads to the starvation and eventual death of the fetus. Next Misoprostol will be taken to induce uterine contractions, ultimately expelling the dead unborn child out of the uterus through the birth canal (Mayo Clinic).

Research shows the earliest neurons in the cortical brain are established at six weeks. By twenty weeks, the connections between the spinal cord and thalamus are mostly complete, and the fetus is capable of experiencing pain (Lozier Institute). Yet abortions are performed in the state of Michigan through viability (Guttmacher Institute), which can loosely be translated to be twenty-two to twenty-four weeks gestation. Recently, Spectrum Health successfully graduated their youngest born survivor from their Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, born at twenty-two weeks and four days gestation (Spectrum Health Healthbeat). This data causes us to ask a question: is it ethical to intentionally end the lives of those who are viable and feel pain in the womb? At what point do we declare an embryo or fetus to be a human being who will be protected? Only after gestation is accomplished and birth has taken place?
One nursing textbook describes small, new life in the womb this way: “The embryo is unmistakably human” (Lowdermilk and Perry). Throughout history, there have been unforgettable events that shook our world, as leaders and citizens of various countries declared certain people groups to be either “not yet” or “not at all” human. This includes the events of World War II when Jews were slaughtered because of their ethnicity and early American history when African Americans were considered to be “less evolved” due to their skin pigmentation that could thus be kept as slaves. In our modern day, we see a death toll greater than any war, plague, or genocide: abortion. How many of our modern casualties have produced sixty million dead victims? This is our current reality, not only in the whole of the United States, but also close to home in Grand Rapids, where every week approximately 40-60 unborn lives are violently taken. This adds up to over two-thousand abortions in our city every year. What is our response as a city and nation? To ignore those headed down to death. Our country has largely responded in silence to those who face the death sentence in the name of circumstantial, medical and personal difficulty. 
In the court case of Doe V. Bolton, this quote can be found: “The Georgia statute is at war with the clear message of these cases—that a woman is free to make the basic decision whether to bear an unwanted child. Elaborate argument is hardly necessary to demonstrate that childbirth may deprive a woman of her preferred lifestyle and force upon her a radically different and undesired future. For example, rejected applicants under the Georgia statute are required to endure the discomforts of pregnancy; to incur the pain, higher mortality rate, and after-affects of childbirth; to abandon educational plans; to sustain loss of income; to forgo the satisfactions of careers; to tax further mental and physical health in providing child care; and, in some cases, to bear the lifelong stigma of unwed motherhood, a badge which may haunt, if not deter, later legitimate family relationships” (Doe V. Bolton). This quote in a substantial court case also reflects many of the modern justifications for abortion—but beyond that—it speaks to what have become social pressures on women to choose abortion over adoption or raising their child. The pro-choice organization, Guttmacher Institute, conducted a structured survey in 2004 that was completed by 1,209 abortion patients to study the reasons US women choose abortion. Their data concluded the top reasons women choose abortion are: the circumstantial change a new baby brings (74%), financial strain (73%), relationship problems or a fear of single motherhood (48%), not wanting any additional children (40%), not feeling prepared to have a child (33%), health of the fetus (13%), health of the mother (12%), parents wanted the mother to have an abortion (6%), victim of rape (1%), and became pregnant from incest (0.5%) (Guttmacher Institute). 

Local sidewalk advocate Mary Waalkes Verwys describes an interaction with an abortion-bound couple who faced the second most common reason for choosing abortion. “’How are things going in there with your girlfriend?’ I timidly began. ‘We have so many wonderful places that could help you both. Are you really sure about your decision to abort today?’ With fear in my heart, I walked closer to the young man who eyed me cautiously. As he continued to slowly draw on his cigarette, I could get a better look at him. He was a nice-looking guy, probably in his early twenties, with dark hair […] He actually seemed to want to talk with me…always a good sign. We began talking about general things, where they lived, his job, and his relationship with his girlfriend. But soon we went deeper as he assured me that contrary to what it looked like both he and his girlfriend wanted this baby. That revelation surprised me a bit at first but I believed every word he said. He seemed eager to let me know that he really loved kids. Financial strain was the only reason they had come to the clinic to abort their baby today” (Mary Waalkes Verwys, emphasis added). Mary’s account and the data recorded by The Guttmacher Institute are not rare instances. Despite the cultural narrative stating that abortion is mainly legal for cases of health of the mother and fetus and for situations of rape or incest, the data suggests that these reasons make only a small percentage of US abortions. Women who experience crisis pregnancies face many circumstances that may cause her peer group, parents, significant other, or herself to believe that abortion is the most responsible decision—or maybe her only choice. This attitude continues to be cultivated by a culture that looks down on single motherhood, stereotypes what each life season must look like (high school, college, and so on), and dares to state that unborn children should be sacrificed at the altar of hardship, personal trouble, or circumstantial imperfection. 
Sidewalk advocacy meets a woman right in the midst of her brokenness. On what could be the hardest, darkest day of her life, an abortion-bound woman is approached with love. Inside our local surgical abortion clinic, a woman can pay to have her child and pregnancy taken away, but just outside those doors, there are often caring counselors who share hope with these women that no matter the trial, there is help, love, and practical support for her and her child. Telling women that they must kill their child so they may fit society’s stereotypes is profoundly unempowering. Women ought to be most advocated for and championed when they face a crisis pregnancy. Instead, they often feel plagued with rejection, shame and judgement. Women in crisis do not need abortion, they need true crisis intervention. 
Reaching out to an individual who is moments away from an abortion appointment includes offering counseling, emotional support and connection to many practical forms of help (Sidewalk Advocates for Life). These local forms of help include: financial assistance, ultrasounds, STI testing, groceries, baby clothes, parenting classes, single mom support groups, single dad support groups, job and career support, post-abortion counseling, adoption information, GED classes, housing, and more (Alpha Women’s Center and Family Life Center). Often when I ask a woman why she is having an abortion, she tells me about a temporary life circumstance that can often be alleviated with help. Abortion tells women that death must be the answer to the trials she and her unborn child would face; offering life-affirming options equips women to enter into a season of unknowns with proper prenatal care, mentoring, and truly having her needs met. 
Affirming choices of life not only supports those who choose life, but also those who are post-abortive. Women who have had an abortion (or multiple) are told by the pro-choice crowd that there’s nothing to be grieved. Why would it be traumatic to have a standard procedure that millions of others have experienced too? Alicia shares her testimony through Silent No More Awareness: “I thought if I had the abortion I would save my boys and myself. I thought if I did what the father of the child asked [to have an abortion] he would love me, that it was my only way, that he would be with me, and that we would grow through it. But that did not happen. We broke up a while after that […] I had no counseling before [the abortion], no video, no ultrasound. And all ‘education’ was vague and scientific, presenting the baby as a non-living thing, not even qualified for life” (Silent No More). Alicia further expounded to describe feelings of self-loathing, emotional pain, feeling like she was in bondage and secrecy after her abortion. Those who are pro-life affirm the reality that post-abortive women have lost something valuable: a wonderful child. We grieve with them and help them find healing, while the pro-choice counterpart refuses to recognize their loss as legitimate. 
Sidewalk advocacy has the capacity to end abortion by eliminating the demand for abortion. When women in crisis have their needs met, they are set free from a feeling that all they can do is abort. These women do not only need a one-time counseling session, though. It is through building long-term relationships, creating a supportive community around her, and connecting her to a local Crisis Pregnancy Center that will give her the needed tools to thrive not only in pregnancy and new motherhood, but through her whole life. 
Works Cited
Wile, Dr. Jay L. and Marilyn M. Shannon, M.A. The Human Body Fearfully and Wonderfully Made! Apologia Educational Ministries, Inc. 2001, pp. 504-508
Coad, Jane with Melvyn Dunstall. Anatomy and Physiology for Midwives, 3rd EditionElsevier Ltd, 2012, pp. 115-130
Lowdermilk, Deitra Leonard and Shannon E. Perry. Maternity and Women’s Health Care, 9th Edition. Mosby Elsevier, 2007, pp. 313-318, 328-330, 318
Doe V. Bolton. Legal Information Institute, Cornell Law School, <https://www.law.cornell.edu/supremecourt/text/410/179>
National 2018 Abortion Statistics.Right to Life of Michigan, 2018. <https://rtl.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/10/AbortionsSinceRoeFlyer.pdf> Viewed June 3, 2019
Johnson MD, Dr. Traci C. “What are the types of abortion procedures?” WebMd. March 30, 2019. <https://www.webmd.com/women/abortion-procedures#1> Viewed June 3, 2019.
“Medical Abortion.” Mayo Clinic, July 7, 2018. <https://www.mayoclinic.org/tests-procedures/medical-abortion/about/pac-20394687> Viewed June 3, 2019
“Fact Sheet: Science of Fetal Pain.” Charlotte Lozier Institute, December 17, 2018. <https://lozierinstitute.org/fact-sheet-science-of-fetal-pain/> Viewed June 3, 2019.
 “An Overview of Abortion Laws.” Guttmacher Institute, May 1, 2019. <https://www.guttmacher.org/state-policy/explore/overview-abortion-laws> Viewed June 3, 2019
Thomas, Sue. “Miracle Markle is ‘Our Hero.’” Spectrum Health Healthbeat, June 25, 2018. <https://healthbeat.spectrumhealth.org/miracle-markle-is-our-hero-nicu-22-weeks-1-pound-survivor/> Viewed June 3, 2019
“Reasons US Women Have Abortions.” Guttmacher Institute, September 1, 2005. <https://www.guttmacher.org/journals/psrh/2005/reasons-us-women-have-abortions-quantitative-and-qualitative-perspectives> Viewed June 6, 2019.
Verwys, Mary Waalkes. Wednesday Mourning, second printing. Roberts Publishing Company, 2004, p.9
“Vision and Mission.” Sidewalk Advocates for Life. <https://sidewalkadvocates.org/about/vision-mission/> Viewed June 6, 2019.
“Services.” Alpha Women’s Center of Grand Rapids, 2019. <https://www.alphagrandrapids.org/services/> Viewed June 6, 2019. 
“About Us.” Family Life Center of West Michigan <http://www.familylifecenterhome.org/About-Us> Viewed June 6, 2019 
“It’s His Story.” Silent No More Awareness. <http://www.silentnomoreawareness.org/testimonies/testimony.aspx?ID=3667> Viewed June 6, 2019.

On Wednesday, April 10, 2019, the staff of Spectrum Health Maternal Fetal Medicine will gather to hear a presentation on the latest type of abortion they would like to approve for practice. The Women's Health Medical Director will present his formal recommendation to approve KCl abortions to be preformed on babies with lethal abnormalities.

What is a KCl abortion? Intracardiac potassium chloride (KCl) abortion was first recorded as a method of induced abortion in 1988 [1]. This procedure is preformed by these means:

1. Potassium chloride (KCl) is injected directly into the left ventricle of the fetal heart, using a long needle that is inserted through the mother's abdomen, guided by a free hand ultrasound. Up to 20mL of KCl can be injected into the fetal heart to cause asystole (the most serious form of cardiac arrest). The doctor will use between 10mL and 20mL of KCl, continuing to inject the substance until the ultrasound shows decreased fetal cardiac activity.
2. Once complete asystole has been achieved, fetal demise has been induced.
3. Next the doctor will assess what kind of delivery will be necessary for the deceased fetus. Options could include a spontaneous delivery, D&E, or more invasive procedures could be necessary if complications occur. [2]

The following conditions could be diagnosed as a lethal fetal abnormality: Central Nervous System abnormalities [including anencephaly and hydrocephaly], cardiac abnormalities, structural birth defects, kidney disease, trisomy 18, other chromosomal abnormalities or genetic disorders, prematurity, and Hypoplastic left heart syndrome. [3] Any unborn child diagnosed with one or more of the above conditions could be aborted by the KCl procedure at Spectrum Health, if this type of abortion is approved.

A staff member of the Maternal Fetal Clinic reports: "For those that do not know, Michigan law permits abortion up to 24 weeks and given these patients often learn of their baby's birth defect at the 20 week anatomy ultrasound, many [abortions are] occurring between 20-24 weeks."

Many medical sources report that unborn children can experience pain at 20 weeks. [4]

"Within 20 weeks of fertilization, pain receptors and nerves connecting these receptors to the brain are already developed. After only eight weeks, babies are shown to respond to touch, and after 20 weeks, they will actually recoil from painful stimuli. When experiencing pain, the baby will produce more stress hormones as well, showing that this sensation is real to them." [5]

The goal of a KCl abortion is to induce fetal cardiac arrest by injecting potassium chloride into the baby's heart. If a child already has developed pain receptors, one can only imagine the pain a 20 gauge needle injected into the heart would cause. But this is not the end of the unborn child's trial; next the substance is released into the heart, causing the child's heart to arrest over a period of (approximately) five minutes.

The Grand Rapids community has a right and responsibility to know how our local hospitals treat developing babies in the womb. Tomorrow Spectrum Health Maternal Fetal Medicine will determine if they will add another type of abortion to their practice. Is our community comfortable with the way children with disabilities in the womb are being treated? Can we ever justify abortion?

If this news concerns you, contact Spectrum Health Maternal Fetal Medicine: 616-391-3681

[1] “Feticide with Intracardiac Potassium Chloride to Reduce Risk of Hemorrhage in Medical Termination of Pregnancy.” Journal of Gynecology and Women Healthcare, 2 July 2018, article.scholarena.co/Feticide-with-Intracardiac-Potassium-Chlorid-to-Reduce-Risk-of-Hemorrhage-in-Medical-Termination-of-Pregnancy.pdf. p.3
[2] ibid p.1-3,5
[3] Tosello, Barthelemy, et al. “Lethal Fetal Abnormalities: How to Approach Perinatal Palliative Care?” The Journal of Maternal-Fetal & Neonatal Medicine, 25 May 2016, p. 756., doi:10.1080/14767058.2016.1186633.
[4] “Fact Sheet: Science of Fetal Pain.” Charlotte Lozier Institute , 2018, lozierinstitute.org/fact-sheet-science-of-fetal-pain/.
[5] DaCosta, Alyson. “What Does Science Say about Fetal Pain?” Live Action, 21 Jan. 2017, www.liveaction.org/news/what-science-says-about-fetal-pain/.

You didn’t want heaven without us
So Jesus you brought heaven down
My sin was great, your love was greater
What could separate us now
What a wonderful name it is 
What a wonderful name it is 
The name of Jesus Christ my King

As I type these words, I am seated in a bumpy bus on my way to Washington DC. Not for the sake of travel—as much as I love to explore—but as a reminder.

Earlier this year I was outside Heritage Clinic for Women when I saw [who we'll call] Bri for the first time. Bri was a young college grad with so much ahead of her. At that time in her life, she was working toward getting the job of her dreams, had a boyfriend she loved, and a close-kint family. Sounds rather picturesque, but nine weeks to the day we met, Bri's life seemed to begin to unravel.

Those two blue lines threatened to change everything. The words she did not want to hear as an unmarried young woman were suddenly a reality.

“I’m Pregnant.”

This could not be. Bri grew up in a conservative family that would surely be very angry when they found out she’d been with her boyfriend. And would he leave her? What would come of her dreams?

On her way into the abortion clinic, I waved to her, hoping she would put her window down so we could talk.

Bri did her best to ignore us and keep driving, determined to put it all in the past.

We always pray radically for life. I often ask the Lord that NOT ONE child would die anywhere in the world by abortion, as I stand outside the clinic of death.

That day I saw deliverance.

I noticed that she was making her way back out to the car just a little while after entering Heritage. Either she had been administered the abortion pill or she decided not to go through with it, because surgical abortions take longer than the amount of time she had been inside.

Oh the seeds of hope growing in my heart.

Maybe, just maybe the little soul in Bri's womb would have a chance at life.

Coming to the exit of the abortion clinic,  Bri rolled her window down and began to sob.

“I just couldn’t go through with it.”

Oh praise the Name.

Sometimes I feel the weight of it all as a sidewalk counselor; that 9 week old baby was only minutes away from having his life violently stolen away. But his mom had mercy on his little life. And they both walked away alive that day.

Another sidewalk counselor and I got to be right there with Bri as those tears fell, comforting her and encouraging her that she had made such a beautiful choice of life.

Bri deeply struggled with the thought of telling her pro-life family. Would they still love her when they discovered that she pursued abortion?

She still needed to receive greater medical training to pursue the job she wanted to have. What if her baby held her back?

Bri's boyfriend did not yet know about the life of his son. Could he handle the responsibility of fatherhood? Would he explode when she shared the news?

So many fears threatened to overwhelm the heart of this young mom.

Abortion would tell a woman that because she feels ill equipped for motherhood, the most responsible choice would be to “have a baby later” and “let this one go.” By His grace, we stand boldly against these deathly tactics. It is NEVER empowering to tell a woman that because she cannot handle her circumstances, she should sign the dotted line and escape her pregnancy today!

Women like Bri say no. It felt easier to her that day to pursue abortion; she wouldn’t have to tell her family, or boyfriend or have a new baby to care for, but she refused to do what felt easiest that day and made a decision that will change the corse of her life and save her son.

Today Bri texted me. “I am forever grateful that I changed my mind that day. So grateful. Of course now I can’t imagine my life without my little [son], even if it has been a difficult road on my own. But I am so happy. He is the light of my life.”

Over 61,000,000 children have died from abortion in our country alone. And the stat is over 1 billion worldwide!

Yet somehow this continues. When will we have enough? When will the advocates of death realize their activism has only lead to broken hearts and lives being violently ended?

Today I march for Bri and her son because they deserved better than abortion.

Today I march for my friend Corrine because she was almost aborted.

Today I march for William, who’s mom chose to end his life in the first trimester and refused to hear about options of life.

Today I march for one of my previous patients in the hospital who shared with me that her life began as a result of rape. Her mother attempted to end her unborn life with a coat hanger. Because this attempt failed, she continues to live today.

Today I march for Melissa Ohden and Gianna Jessen who both survived saline infused abortions years ago. That procedure was meant to permanently extinguish both your lives; instead, both your abortionists had to sign your birth certificates. Your lives are a reminder that VICTORY is always in its way.

Today I march for the million embryos locked away in bio freezers. You are not forgotten.

And to “L” “G” “J” and all our other ladies who boldly and bravely chose life in Grand Rapids over these past years, we march FOR YOU & WITH YOU. For all our post-abortive women, we stop with you and sense the sadness as we march the streets of DC in agreement that your little babies were so very valuable. We grieve with you and support you in love.

By His grace, we will not allow push back, anger from our critics, pro-choice resistance, or challenges of any other kind to stop our passionate pursuit to protect every unborn life.

This is only the beginning.

I have found that dwelling on Scripture during my time at the sidewalk magnifies my focus. Scripture is our guide; with it God purifies us, gives us wisdom and understanding, and strengthens our walk with Him (Ps. 119:97-105). When we advocate for the unborn, using God's Word in prayer, meditation, and conversation clarifies our vision, strengthens our hearts, and helps us develop Christ-centered methods of outreach.

There are many passages in Scripture that tell us about God's heart for the vulnerable, children, and the broken. Take time to meditate on Scripture that reminds you of God's nature (Defender, Father to the fatherless, etc.) and what He commands His people to do in response to the at-risk.

Here are 5 passages to start with:

“A Father to the fatherless, a Defender of widows, is God in his holy dwelling” (Psalm 68:5). 

“Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy” (Proverbs 31:8-9).

“Defend the poor and fatherless: do justice to the afflicted and needy” (Psalm 82:3).

“For Thou [God] hast been a strength to the poor, a strength to the needy in his distress, a refuge from the storm, a shadow from the heat, when the blast of the terrible ones is as a storm against the wall” (Isaiah 25:4).

“Truly, I say to you, as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.” (Matthew 25:45b).

Don't just read Scripture before you sidewalk counsel, bring it with you! You can use a physical Bible, your phone, or quote passages you have memorized. His Word is of great depth; you can never exhaust it. Be purposeful with your "down time" at the sidewalk, while you wait to talk with the women and employees; use these moments for prayer, dwelling on His Word, strengthening relationships with your sidewalk team, and reaching out to pro-choice protesters. May His Word be your guide in each interaction you have, knowing the freedom and security that comes from abiding in Jesus.

I was seated in a comfortable brown rocking chair, with my head leaned back and eyes closed. I could hear something very disturbing happening and I could not figure out where it was coming from. I finally made sense of the voice; my sister was being harmed. Some man in the other room of our home, just down the hallway from me, had a gun and was threatening her. He did not know I was there and seemed to be trying to intimidate my sister. Would he kill her? Was he going to kill me too? What about the rest of my family? Where were they? Did I have my phone? Could I call 911?

I couldn’t seem to bring sense to any of it. I was disturbed. I could not get out of my chair; something was wrong. I could hear the assault happening in the other room, but I was compounded with a question. Will I charge in there and try to save my sister or preserve myself and try to hide?

I wanted to cry and scream. Of course I was going to stop the man from hurting my sister. Why couldn’t I move?

Suddenly, I woke up. It was 4 in the morning and it had all been a dream. My eyes opened in the darkness with a pressing thought; of course I am going to do something. What is the matter with me? How could I sit there like that?

I laid there in bed praying. What was I supposed to make of this? I had slept peacefully for over four hours, and suddenly the extent of the conviction in my heart wouldn’t allow me to return to rest.

The questions came.

You’re not ok with your sister being assaulted, but are you ok with the unborn being violently harmed?

You are willing to risk your comfort for your sister. Are you willing to lay down your life for those who are discarded by our nation?

If it comes down to it, would you be willing to step in front of the perpetrator of violence to save the victim?

In Psalm 35, David shares these words in his distress:

“How long, O Lord, will you look on? Rescue me from their destruction, my precious life from the lions! I will thank you in the great congregation; in the mighty throng I will praise you. Let not those rejoice over me who are wrongfully my foes, and let not those wink the eye who hate me without cause. For they do not speak peace, but against those who are quiet in the land they devise words of deceit. They open wide their mouths against me; they say, ‘Aha, aha! Our eyes have seen it!’

“You have seen, O Lord; be not silent! O Lord, be not far from me! Awake and rouse yourself for my vindication, for my cause, my God and my Lord! Vindicate me, O Lord, my God according to your righteousness, and let them not rejoice over me! Let them not say in their hearts, ‘Aha, our heart’s desire!’ Let them not say, ‘We have swallowed him up.’ Let them be put to shame and disappointed altogether who rejoice in my calamity! Let them be clothed with shame and dishonor who magnify themselves against me! Let those who rejoice in my righteousness shout for joy and be glad and say evermore, ‘Great is the Lord, and who delights in the welfare of his servant!’ Then my tongue shall tell of your righteousness and of our praise all the day long” (Psalm 35:17-28).

Am I, as a woman who is involved with front-line pro-life ministry, becoming complacent to the cries of the unborn? Am I getting comfortable and justifying myself because “I’m already doing something”?

There’s more to this battle for life than just arriving at the sidewalk once a week. That is of incredible importance, which I do not wish to downplay; we need to be there in the moment of crisis. However, do I think that because I have seen some children rescued from abortion that I somehow don’t have as much of a responsibility to respond to the desperate pleas of those who will be at-risk in the days to come?

Will I stay in my brown rocking chair?

By His grace, NO. We must keep praying. We must keep spending ourselves for those headed down to death. We must keep speaking up. We must not be complacent.

Think about this: the way I am treating the unborn reveals a lot about my relationship with Jesus.

What is my utmost priority? For an easy exit? To have personal comfort?

If it’s my utmost desire to know Jesus and make Him known, by His grace, I will love those He loves. My ultimate purpose in speaking up for the unborn must be out of a desire to bring honor and glory to the name of Jesus. He is utterly worthy of every life He has ever created.

A.W. Tozer has said, “The essence of true worship is the love of God.” [1] Can my ministry to the at-risk be described as an outflow of knowing Jesus? Do I advocate for the at-risk out of mere duty, or out of a heart of worship and determination to see His victory in places of darkness?

This week, empowered only through His grace, I am called to speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves. What will my response be to the cries of the vulnerable?

“Let it not be said I was silent when they needed me” (William Wilberforce).

“Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, for He has visited and redeemed His people...that we, being delivered from the hand of our enemies, might serve Him without fear” (Luke 1:68, 74).

[1] Tozer, A.W. (2015). Evenings With Tozer (p. October 1). Chicago, IL: Moody.

Our vlog from a few weeks ago discussed the important topic of being confident and secure in sidewalk ministry. Hear a few points of encouragement from our heart to yours!

May we be fully confident that we are here at the sidewalk for a purpose and that God is with us. We have nothing to fear; nothing in all creation can separate us from His love. And that includes while we're [...] at the sidewalk. Take heart in the truth that He is providing everything we need for life and godliness. He's going to give me grace to respond to a difficult pro-choice person. He's going to give me grace to engage with women who are facing so many different circumstances: the woman who's boyfriend is coercing her to have an abortion; the woman who really doesn't see any reason why not to have her abortion. [Through] all these different situations we may encounter, Jesus is with us. He first loved us; He first pursued our souls. Think about that. When I was one who spat in His face, He pursued me. Just remember that no one is too far away for our God to rescue.

Pray with expectancy as you go out on your sidewalk counseling day; "Today my God is able to rescue every single child." I often pray that the Lord would end abortion everywhere around the world, and [that] not one child would die anywhere in the world. Not just here, but that no child would die from abortion anywhere. 

Realize that you can never be too expectant.

So I'm praying: 
  • "Jesus, please stop the hands of the abortion doctor. May he be unable to preform abortions. May it effect his heart."
  • For the pro-choice activists to experience conviction. "If they're here, then they risk something, because I can pray for them by name."
Take heart. Be confident that if the Lord has lead you here [to sidewalk advocacy], you are supposed to be here!

I was seated expectantly in a large church a little over a half hour from my home. I had signed up for a day-long anti-human trafficking educational event, and I was feeling much more informed on how trafficking affected the Grand Rapids community and was freshly disturbed over another horror of our modern day. After our lunch break was over, I made my way toward the area where one of the workshops was just beginning. I placed my purse on the table near me and sat in a chair closer to the speaker. The first question the energetic lady asked was: “What are some human rights?”

Suddenly, I felt passionately led to say, “A right to life.” I thought, “I don’t need to be the one to talk all the time. Besides this is a Christian organization and we are in a church; obviously these women want life defended!” But something was not well with my soul upon choosing to say nothing.

A beat of silence went by when a woman raised her hand.

“A right to choose?”

The leader smiled, nodded her head, and affirmed the comment.

A shiver went down my spine. 

It was suddenly very clear; the Lord had indeed been leading me to be a voice for the unborn in a room where at least two ladies were caught in the enemy’s deception on the value of life. It was like I could feel my heart breaking in two, simultaneously passion boiled.

HOW can we do this?

I nearly dropped my jaw, trying to recollect my thoughts as other women chimed in to the conversation. “A right to shelter.” 

Our leader proceeded to talk with us for over a half hour on the horrible ways predators try to lure children into trafficking via social media and other phone apps. I agreed that this was wrong and needed to be stopped, but my mind was confronted with a question.

What if these children were never even granted a right to live in the first place?

With the ideology and philosophy the leader was promoting, women could actually continue to be trapped in situations of trafficking. Abortion is a great cover up for abusers who do not want parents or law enforcement personnel to find out about their trafficking ring. One woman I spoke to who was trafficked in Grand Rapids shared with me that before she was set free, she had at least five abortions. Can you imagine the sorrow of soul this poor woman must have faced? Can you imagine the lot of her sweet children who did nothing to harm their mom and who had to pay the price for her abuser’s wrong?

My heart wanted to fail within me. The whole drive home through rolling hills and cloudy blue skies, I was newly invigorated. 

I will fight for the unborn to my very deathbed.

When Advocacy Misses the Mark

The woman leading the workshop I attended is not the only person in the world to pursue one cause simultaneously turning a deaf ear to others who are vulnerable.

There are so many areas of need in our very broken world. The beautiful challenge for us as followers of Jesus is that we must be His hands and feet to all the at-risk. Though you may not start a ministry for every different type of vulnerability, we must be very careful that when we stand for one cause, we do not victimize or harm others who are at-risk.

Truly, it seems to me, every issue of undue vulnerability has to do with our understanding of the importance of life.

Does that life matter? 

If not, it’s ok to do nothing.

This is the whole justification of the pro-choice side wrapped up in one statement. 

It is essential that we run to Jesus and ask Him to fill us with His love for those who He has so wonderfully created. We must know what His Word says about life and build our understanding thereof on His unshakable foundation. Every life is valuable to our God, and this truth is what causes us to go forth and change this world for His glory. Truly it is only Jesus who can transform this world and the individuals in it.

What Does God’s Word Say About the Vulnerable?

Earlier this year, I began compiling a list of verses on God’s heart for the destitute, broken, widowed, vulnerable, at-risk, or poor people as I read through the Word. This list (with a few extras added to it) is not exhaustive in any way, but it shows so much of how our God feels about those our society sometimes sees as a burden.

“The Lord will destroy the house of the proud: but He will establish the border of the widow” (Proverbs 15:25).

“Whoso mocketh the poor reproacheth his Maker: and he that is glad at his calamities shall not be unpunished” (Proverbs 17:5).

“He that hath pity upon the poor lendeth unto the Lord; and that which he hath given will He repay again” (Proverbs 19:17).

“Whoso stoppeth his ears at the cry of the poor, he shall also cry himself, but shall not be heard” (Proverbs 21:13).

“The rich and poor meet together: the Lord is the Maker of them all” (Proverbs 22:2).

“Better is the poor that walketh in his uprightness, than he that is perverse in his ways, though he be rich” (Proverbs 28:6).

“The righteous consider the cause of the poor…” (Proverbs 29:7).

“The king that faithfully judgeth the poor, his throne shall be established forever” (Proverbs 29:14).

“Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy” (Proverbs 31:8-9).

“Woe unto them that decree unrighteous decrees, and that write grievousness which they have prescribed; to turn aside the needy from judgment, and to take away the right from the poor of my people, that widows may be their prey, and that they may rob the fatherless!” (Isaiah 10:1-2).

“For Thou [God] hast been a strength to the poor, a strength to the needy in his distress, a refuge from the storm, a shadow from the heat, when the blast of the terrible ones is as a storm against the wall” (Isaiah 25:4).

“Strengthen ye the weak hands, and confirm the feeble knees” (Isaiah 35:3).

“For there is no respect of persons with God” (Romans 2:11).

I love the expressive and beautiful picture Isaiah 35 paints of what Christ’s Kingdom is like:

“The wilderness and the solitary place shall be glad for them; and the desert shall rejoice, and blossom as the rose. It shall blossom abundantly, and rejoice even with joy and singing: the glory of Lebanon shall be given unto it, the excellency of Carmel and Sharon, they shall see the glory of the Lord, and the excellency of our God. Strengthen ye the weak hands, and confirm the feeble knees. Say to them that are of a fearful heart, Be strong, fear not: behold, your God will come with vengeance, even God with a recompence; he will come and save you. Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf shall be unstopped. Then shall the lame man leap as an hart, and the tongue of the dumb sing: for in the wilderness shall waters break out, and streams in the desert. And the parched ground shall become a pool, and the thirsty land springs of water: in the habitation of dragons, where each lay, shall be grass with reeds and rushes. And an highway shall be there, and a way, and it shall be called The way of holiness; the unclean shall not pass over it; but it shall be for those: the wayfaring men, though fools, shall not err therein. No lion shall be there, nor any ravenous beast shall go up thereon, it shall not be found there; but the redeemed shall walk there: And the ransomed of the Lord shall return, and come to Zion with songs and everlasting joy upon their heads: they shall obtain joy and gladness, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away” (emph. added).

We see in the passages above that our God champions the cause of all who are at-risk. Notice: the poor, weak, feeble, fearful, widowed, destitute, needy, and those who cannot speak for themselves are all people who our God calls us to care for.

As we stand in the gap, there is a semi-hidden pitfall in the way. The enemy seems delighted if we have taken up one cause and feel “that’s good enough.” If you are in Christ, your God who dwells in you has called you to champion the cause of the vulnerable. These at-risk ones come from many different backgrounds, have unique stories, and are varying ages and sizes. 

If God has led you to spend a large portion of your time advocating for sexually trafficked women, do not forget the cause of the unborn. If God has led you to defend the unborn in a certain capacity of ministry, do not forget the homeless. If God has led you to speak up for the widow, remember also the cause of the poor.

As women who desire for Jesus Christ to be loved and known as we speak up for those who have no voice, please do not believe the lie that it is ok to look down on others who are vulnerable if we volunteer our time to some other group of needy ones.

Our God is so Amazing. He rescues the poor who cry for His help, makes the widow's heart sing for abundant joy, He is eyes to the blind, feet to the lame, and Father to the needy. He breaks the powers of sin and darkness and rescues hurting souls unto the Kingdom of Light (He. 2:14, 1 Cor. 15:54-57, 2 Tim. 1:10, Is. 42:13).

El Roi sees us! Our Jesus did not overlook us, even though we deserved it in our sin; we were not saved to merely sit by comfortably and only do what seems acceptable to us. No, my friend. As an outflow of knowing Jesus, we are called to go--by His grace--into the dark of night and rescue those headed down to death. 

Do not now turn a deaf ear and a blind eye to those who cry out.

“Justice was my robe and my turban” (Job 29:14b).