Recently, I found myself feeling convicted to speak up for the cause of the preborn child at an abortion clinic. One problem: I was on vacation out of state. I did not have any pro-life connections in the area, I had not brought any fetal development or crisis pregnancy literature, and I also plain did not know anything about how abortion was affecting the local area or pro-life resources in that state. So what’s a girl to do?

A few ideas for effective sidewalk advocacy in an out of state environment:

(1) Research the area - we live in an age of mass information. Think of how often you may use the internet to research an idea or location. You can also apply that to raising your voice for life in a place with which you’re not familiar.

Discover key information: (a) abortion clinics in the state - is there an abortion clinic near where you are vacationing? If you have the Maps app, simply type “Abortion services near me” into the search bar. (b) Where are local pregnancy centers located in relation to the abortion clinic, and what services do they offer? (c) What kind of social service agencies surround the area? Is there a local adoption agency, maternal housing, and women’s shelter?

To increase your grasp of recent pro-life happenings in the area, try searching the state’s name on Live Action News and Life Site News. This can give you an overview of current events in the area as they pertain to the preborn. A quick stop to do some research can help you advocate for life more effectively.

(2) Acquire helpful resources to provide for abortion-bound women you may meet in the area - can you visit the local pregnancy center and ask them for their information card? Can you acquire embryonic and fetal development literature to distribute? Do you have abortion pill reversal pamphlets?

If you do not have these resources, don’t let it hold you back from going to the abortion clinic. When I went to the out of state abortion clinic near where I was vacationing, I had absolutely nothing, as far as life-defending literature goes. I knew this might be an issue, so I researched local pregnancy centers and made a hand-written note with the closest pregnancy center’s phone number and address. You can take a DIY approach if all else fails.

If you encounter a woman who has taken the abortion pill and wants abortion pill reversal, there is a national hotline to call. Add this number to the contacts in your phone:

Abortion Pill Reversal 24-Hour Helpline: 877-558-0333

(3) Make new connections and ask questions - if you have the opportunity while sidewalk counseling at the new location, try to meet any fellow pro-lifers who may be there to pray, hold signs, or reach out to the women. Ask identifying questions of those who regularly advocate in the area:

- What do you know of this abortion clinic? How long has it been open? What kinds of abortions to they preform? Has anyone chosen life recently? How regularly is there a pro-life presence outside this abortion clinic? What do you know about the abortionist and other staff here?

- Which pregnancy center do you prefer to take abortion-bound women to? Do any local centers have availability to give an ultrasound to an abortion-bound woman immediately, should the need arise? What kinds of services do they have?

- Do you have crisis pregnancy literature for this specific area? Sometimes local pro-life advocates may be willing to share extra pamphlets that would be especially helpful to the women at that particular abortion clinic.

(4) Pray - abortion is the intentional destruction of a preborn life. This is a spiritual war; we need Jesus Christ to go before us in this battle for the rescue of preborn children. Lift up specific requests to the Lord about your upcoming trip.

Making the decision to raise your voice for the unborn in a location you are not used to can feel nerve wracking, but anywhere there is abortion, we should feel compelled to do something to advocate for the children's cause. If you have seven days on vacation, why not dedicate one of those to locating the nearest abortion clinic and prayerfully examining how you can make a mark for life in that place?

Hopping into an Uber and going to an abortion clinic in Arizona I was completely unfamiliar with--prior to the trip--seemed somewhat disorganized and risky, but I knew, for some reason, God was calling me to fight for the preborn in that place. When I stepped out on a limb and went, God faithfully provided in more ways than I expected. I interacted with four local pro-life activists, learned about how abortion affects the Phoenix area, and got to talk with a girl who turned away from her abortion appointment that day. Who knows, maybe it was for that particular girl and her baby that God led me to walk into the unknown that morning. When God burdens your heart to go out and defend the local unborn children who are signed up for death, you never know what particular ways you will discover that God has gone before you.

Oh to think that our will to obey or rejection of His call could be the difference between death and life for particular preborn children.

Am I willing to exit my comfort zone so that more babies might be saved from the horror of abortion, even in places that seem unfamiliar to me?

Have you ever had a morning you woke up--knowing it was time to go to the sidewalk--and you questioned if you should even go at all?

Have any of these thoughts ever crossed your mind? Maybe it won't make a difference. Maybe pro-choice people would just yell at you all morning, anyway. Maybe you'd make it worse--not better--for these women in crisis.

Sometimes it feels like a battle even to get into your car and drive to the clinic of death. Perhaps you feel the emotional strain of knowing a hundred stories of unborn children being unmercifully put to death and have only a few memories of babies actually being saved from abortion. At the clinic I counsel at, we seem to have dark times when there hasn't been a save for months, then other seasons when babies are saved every single week. As you walk through those wilderness seasons--full of antagonistic pro-choice activists, interactions with abusive boyfriends of the abortion-bound women, angry abortion clinic staff, or some of the other difficulties--do not loose heart. In our human nature, we see the trials and challenges, but ultimately we fight--in the name of Jesus--for the unborn!

There was a particular day when I was in training that I awoke to these very thoughts. "The other counselors have this under control; they do not need me. I am going back to sleep." Later I heard that a child was saved from abortion that day. Though it was true that the other counselors were well experienced and able to handle the counseling without me, I was convicted and certain that God was leading me to be there that day. Yet I allowed my objections to take precedence over His leading and call to speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves.

It's sad to reflect on that day and see how quickly I listened to the voice of the enemy. God values life and defends those who are vulnerable: "A Father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in His holy dwelling" (Psalm 68:5). The enemy delights in ruin, murder, death, and indifference. Our call to advocate for women in crisis does not mean we can never have times we refrain from going to the sidewalk to rest and refresh, but if you are not specifically taking a break, what is holding you back? Do you believe the lie that this ministry is unimportant or that going will not change anything? Our God is so much stronger than what we can see; His ability is greater than my sense of optimism or pessimism. When I am tempted to feel small and afraid, by His grace, I will yet speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves.

Ultimately, this ministry is not about me and my own ability. As it has been said, "God does not call the equipped; He equips the called." 2 Peter 1:3 says: "His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us to His own glory and excellence." Thus we can stand in assurance that no matter how much we may be lacking, He is enough. God will provide what we need in order to effectively counsel women who pursue abortion.

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.

As we spend time in our upcoming week reaching out to the pro-choice activists and abortion workers, remember Saul; a man who lived with an all-consuming passion to persecute the church. He hated Christ and Christians. “As for Saul, he made havoc of the church, entering every house, and dragging off men and women, committing them to prison” (Acts 8:3).

If anyone looked too far gone, it was Saul. He was committed to chasing down anyone who claimed the name of Christ. He was not merely not a Christian himself; he wanted Christianity to disappear from the face of the earth, and he was doing everything he could to make sure that happened. He wasn’t “tolerant” of Christ or one to say, “Well, I don’t personally feel that way;” he passionately hated Jesus and His church.

When we think of the pro-choice activists in our lives, sometimes we think, “They’re too deceived and stuck in the lies of our culture to change.”

Though Paul wasn’t running around saying, “My body, my choice,” he was deceived and living out of the lies he believed.

Yet Jesus passionately pursued this man’s soul.

“Then Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest and asked letters from him to the synagogues of Damascus, so that if he found any who were of the Way, whether men or women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem” (Acts 9:1-2).

He was amidst his anti-Jesus activism. Looking for Christians to persecute, arrest, and speak threats to, when suddenly:

“As he journeyed he came near Damascus, and suddenly a light shone around him from heaven. Then he fell to the ground, and heard a voice saying to him,

‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?’

‘Who are You, Lord?’

‘I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting.’ (Acts 9: 4-5).

Jesus intervened and saved Saul. This man could not go on living the same way; his life was radically changed forever.

As we push forward, reaching out to those who sometimes hate us, accuse us, and mistreat us in the abortion industry, may our response of soul be one that says, “My God is able to save them to the uttermost.” He can rescue them out of this business of death; He can open blind eyes to see, and bring the darkest soul into the kingdom of light.

May we pray with the passion Jesus has for redemption. May we share Him in word and in deed with the pro-choice.

Saul, who hated Christ and breathed out threats toward anyone who claimed His name, was so radically changed, that he had a new identity. Now newly named, Paul said:

“Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God we’re pleading through us: we implore you on Christ’s behalf, be reconciled to God” (2 Corinthians 5:20).

May our dealings with the pro-choice reflect the love, joy, grace, and boldness of heaven.

"Love of God, love through me" (Amy Carmichael).