Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this guest post are solely those of the author and are not necessarily reflective of Live Action or Live Action News.
There is a revolution of love happening on the sidewalks in front of abortion facilites across America — a little shift in how the pro-life movement reaches out to abortion-vulnerable women and men. Truly, through compassionate service, these dark crossroads of life and death are gradually being transformed into bridges of real resources, help, and hope.
I have been sidewalk counseling for more than two decades. Seven years ago, I founded Sidewalk Advocates for Life with the mission to train volunteers to reach out in front of abortion facilties to help save lives and end abortion in their communities. As we learned and grew, it became clear that modern sidewalk outreach techniques were yielding unprecedented results.
Through God’s grace, we have seen the fruit of this approach in our own organization. Our volunteers have now helped nearly 13,000 women leave abortion facilities to receive life-affirming resources instead.
And these encounters aren’t just saving lives and restoring families, they are transforming entire communities. Some of our 200 locations are now witnessing hundreds of women turn away from the abortion facility every year. And ultimately, that kind of response impacts an abortion business’s bottom line — and some have been so impacted that they’ve closed their doors forever!
So what does this new sidewalk outreach approach look like? Here are a few notable characteristics:
Peaceful and Prayerful
This approach to sidewalk outreach is, first and foremost, rooted in peaceful prayer. The inspiration for Sidewalk Advocates for Life came from my own experience participating in the very first 40 Days for Life campaign. Prayer and peaceful outreach is a powerful combination, and this new surge of the faithful being present at abortion facilities to serve those in need has truly produced miracles. This prayerful witness is also a meaningful reminder of the “why” of sidewalk outreach — because every life is a worthy gift from God.
The whole pro-life movement shares a common goal — to end abortion. Strategic sidewalk outreach works toward that goal by eliminating demand for abortion. Certainly, the sidewalk can be an emotional place with the potential for many distractions. But the most effective sidewalk outreach programs are laser focused on their goals — to alleviate the distressful circumstances that bring women to the abortion facility, and to direct all business away from the facility itself.
Pregnancy resource centers are at the heart of any truly effective sidewalk outreach program as we see ourselves as the gateway to their life-affirming services. Ultimately, sidewalk counselors and Sidewalk Advocates offer crisis intervention and pregnancy resources centers handle crisis management. Effective sidewalk outreach programs establish good relationships with their local pregnancy resource center. They are also well versed in other resources like Option Line and the Abortion Pill Rescue Network.
If you are inspired to help abortion-vulnerable women connect with life-affirming resources, we at Sidewalk Advocates have developed a simple, 5-point method for reaching out effectively, peacefully, and with love.
1. Smile and greet in love. Be mindful to present yourself in an approachable way; let them know you are referring to the local women’s center in town.
2. Give literature and explain the help. While it is good to be prepared with information to help in a variety of circumstances, this step can be simple: Just provide one to two pieces of modern, attractive literature, and highlight the services of the life-affirming alternative. You might say something like, “We have free pregnancy tests, free sonograms, and free options counseling. Are you in need of those services today?” At this point, some women may be interested in going right away to the local pregnancy resource center. Then you should switch to focusing on a comfortable, professional handoff to the center.
3. Ask and listen. If the woman is still unsure after you have explained the help, it may be because you haven’t mentioned something that she thinks would solve her perceived problem. Get to the crux of why she’s there so you can help. You can ask a simple question like, “Do you mind if I ask, what brings you here today?”
4. Solve the problem. She is focused on solving her problem, and therefore, we need to be too. We know that abortion isn’t the solution, but we must give her hope that there are real, life-affirming solutions available to her — and that’s why we need to be aware of the pregnancy center’s services, among others in the community. After we show concern for her situation and offer possible solutions, her heart is often more open to talking about her baby and facts in fetal development, as well a faith message.
5. Empower her to leave. We never want to end a conversation without an invitation to the local pregnancy resource center. And don’t be discouraged if she still goes into the abortion facility; remain calm, prayerful, and hopeful. Many women need to experience the darkness of the facility before they will make the decision to leave. If you have been peaceful, helpful, and loving on the sidewalk, she will feel comfortable coming back to accept your help.
This simple guide has helped thousands of volunteers connect women to life-affirming service and save lives. If you want to hear the inspirational stories of mothers who chose life and the Sidewalk Advocates who walked with them, you can find them at sidewalkadvocates.org. And if you’re looking for more training, tools, and support to elevate your sidewalk outreach — or if you’re feeling called to go out to the sidewalk for the first time — please connect with us at Sidewalk Advocates for Life at [email protected], and it will be our honor to serve you!
Bio: Lauren Muzyka serves as President & CEO of Sidewalk Advocates for Life (SAFL) where she oversees the organization’s vision, mission, and program. She is a licensed attorney and a trained Sidewalk Advocate of more than 20 years
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