It was a year ago this day that God first used me to save the life of an unborn child and that I felt first-hand that sidewalk counseling and reaching out to abortion-minded women is both a responsibility and a privilege. It was my last day to sidewalk counsel at the abortion facility near my home before I headed back to school for the year. There were dozens of people praying that morning—many more than usual.
Around ten, two young women drove into the parking lot. When they got out of the car, I offered the information on local pregnancy resource centers to them, asking if I could help them in any way. The girl with the appointment (you can tell by the way they’re dressed), whom I’ll call Courtney, hurried towards the facility. Courtney’s friend, whom I’ll call Lanie, came over and talked to me.
Lanie eagerly took the information and told me she would show this to her friend inside. Before she walked away, she said “thank you for being out here.” It shocked me—I had never been thanked by a client or an escorting friend or family member before!
About 45 minutes later, Lanie walked out of the facility and sat down on the bench in front of it. Projecting my voice but being careful as to not yell, I asked her if Courtney was OK. Lanie turned around and nodded with a weak smile. Again I called to her, asking if there was anything I could for them. She sat a few minutes longer, then came down the steps from the abortion facility with the information I had given her in her hand.
She showed me a leaflet for a Rachel’s Vineyard retreat and asked where they were located. At this point, a fellow sidewalk counselor, Elizabeth, had approached us, and she explained to Lanie the different opportunities to attend the retreats around our state, and the Bible studies that are held to help women heal from past abortions. Lanie opened her mouth to respond, then put her hand to her eyes and choked up, apologizing.
She admitted to us that she had had an abortion ten years before because her mother told her she had no other option, and said that she hasn’t been back to church since her abortion because she didn’t feel that God wanted her there anymore.
Lanie cried, “Why couldn’t you guys have been there when I was going to get my abortion…” and said she never would have done it if she knew she could have had help. Lanie told us that she didn’t want Courtney to have an abortion, but she would feel like a hypocrite saying so. I told her that she wouldn’t be a hypocrite—she would be saving a baby’s life and Courtney’s soul. With a small heave she apologized again for crying and wiped off her eyes. Elizabeth gave her a hug and asked Lanie if she’d like to pray, so the three of us held hands and Elizabeth led a beautiful prayer for Lanie. Then, she went back inside to wait for Courtney.
Here is the responsibility aspect of sidewalk counseling: we MUST be there for the women in their most desperate time of need. They feel trapped, pressured, and often forced into a decision they don’t want to make. If no one is there to help them, a child’s life will be taken and a woman will be scarred for the rest of her life. As Christians, we are called to abide by the most fundamental teachings of Jesus, one of which is putting others before yourself. That is what sidewalk counselors do every time they reach out to abortion-minded women.
About 15 minutes after she had first come down, Lanie and Courtney came out of the facility. I held my breath anxiously—they had not been in the facility long enough for Courtney to have had an abortion. Courtney was walking normally, she had no post-abortion medicine bag in her hand, and she was coherent and capable of driving— she did not go through with her scheduled abortion! Lanie gave a small smile as she got in the car, and waved to us as they drove away, with information about free pregnancy resources in her hand.
This is the privilege aspect of sidewalk counseling: getting to witness first-hand an absolute miracle of God. The fact that a woman can walk into the most hopeless place on earth, one that thrives off of taking the lives of innocent children, and come back out with that precious little life still inside her is nothing short of a miracle.