Finding Local Resources

As sidewalk counselors we understand that what we are dealing with is a life and death issue because abortion destroys the innocent life of a baby. Because of that we know that we would perfectly justified and even Biblically justified in reaching out in front of the abortion center even if we had nothing to offer in place of abortion. However, thankfully the Lord has raised up countless ministries and organizations all over this nation so that we can offer practical help and alternatives to those going into the local abortion centers. Our prayer is that this article will help equip and encourage you to find practical resources in your area that you can offer to those going into your local abortion centers.

Over the time we have been ministering on the sidewalk of abortion centers, five top obstacles are apparent as the rationale for abortions. Those include: financial concerns regarding how to provide for child, childcare costs, housing concerns especially in cases where boyfriend is coercing abortion and threatening to kick the woman out if she doesn’t comply, feeling all alone and abandoned by boyfriend and/or family members, and concerns over job/school and how to manage with a new baby.

There are of course a variety of reasons why women come to abortion centers, but these issues emerge most frequently. Thus, we have tried to tailor our search for resources to these top needs. Our strong preference is to find Christian resources as we believe a heart inclined to abortion will only truly change with the life-changing submission to Jesus as Lord. However, we do use secular resources as well when there are no specific Christian alternatives.

Upon beginning a sidewalk ministry, the first and easiest way to begin to develop a resource list is to do a google search on resources already available in the community. Sometimes the abortion-minded women are familiar with those resources, but oftentimes are not.

Search criteria: maternity housing, emergency housing, local shelters, local food pantries, local reduced cost  childcare facilities, local Pregnancy Resource Centers, local low cost medical facilities, local low cost/free counseling services, local drug addiction rehab centers, Domestic abuse hotline and local shelters. A substantial resource list can be generated from these searches alone.

From this starting point, the sidewalk counselor can confidently assure the woman that there is tangible help for the obstacles she faces. While it may not yet be a comprehensive list, it will be enough to begin ministering on the sidewalk. Of course, the truth of the sanctity of life and the hope of the Gospel is enough to begin ministering, but having resources at your fingertips can make your pleas more compelling to a desperate woman.

Next, begin to canvas area churches for people interested in helping meet needs. Because childcare is such an enormous issue, we assigned one of our volunteers with the task of calling churches who already had childcare programs. We asked if they would provide one free scholarship to moms who chose life. We quickly found two churches willing to do so.

We assigned another volunteer with the task of helping moms who chose life to write their resume, and then to help them find jobs. This has helped many moms move to financial independence. Another volunteer compiled a list of work from home jobs. By contacting churches, we were able to find Christian counselors willing to meet with the moms and families for free or on a sliding scale based on income.

We partner with a local ministry, Love Life Charlotte, which is a coalition of churches dedicated to providing mentors to the moms who choose life. Those mentors have the backing of churches pledged to try to meet the most dire needs of the moms. One thing the churches have been successful in offering is baby showers, with the whole church becoming involved, and providing the first full two years of things the baby will need. This was modeled after Sheryl Chandler’s incredible Truth and Mercy Ministries.

You may not have some of these resources in your area, but you can approach a church and ask if they would be willing to provide mentors to disciple and befriend these women. You can ask if they would provide baby showers.

Whenever I counsel a mom who chooses life, I ask her to list the obstacles that brought her to the abortion center. If we don’t already have a resource that can help her, we assign volunteers to research and see if they can find any existing resource or find someone to develop that resource. In this way, we can confidently tell women that whatever situation they face, we are able to help them.

Note, we cannot solve all their problems, nor should we. We will not take on their personal responsibility or provide for their future. However, we are confident we can help them through a crisis and set them on a better path with a mighty God who enables us in all He calls us to do.

KEY to this confidence we have is sharing the Gospel with the abortion minded families. Christ transforms entire world views and lives. We always share a sexual purity message in conjunction with the Gospel. The vast majority of abortions occur in single women.

We can do ALL things through Christ who strengthen us. All things. This includes being equipped to deal with all the issues that we face in providing tangible help to abortion-minded women.

Defusing Anger at the Abortion Clinic

As Gospel-centered sidewalk counselors, our goal should be to honor the Lord and be a peaceful and truthful presence on the abortion center sidewalks. We should be committed to proclaiming life, while glorifying God by our words and actions. Nonetheless, the Bible warns that the message of the cross and Jesus is offensive to those who are enemies of God. Despite how carefully the message is presented, the messenger is often maligned.

No matter how humble and kind you are, there will inevitably be times that abortion-minded moms and dads scream at you, swear at you, make crude gestures, and maybe even threaten you. Don’t let this scare you from going out to your local abortion clinic, because there are certain practical and Biblical principles that you can apply to help defuse the situation and avoid a nasty confrontation.

Learning to defuse angry encounters is critical for every pro-life sidewalk counselor. While the message is offensive to enemies of God, the messenger should strive not to be. Here are some important DON’T DO items to avoid escalation of tempers.

  1. Don’t resort to name calling. It’s not biblical and it rarely brings anything but anger.
  2. Don’t take anger personally. Quite often, anger is the expression of a person under the heavy conviction of guilt and sin.
  3. Don’t respond to anger with anger. “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.” Proverbs 15:1
  4. If requested to leave someone alone or stop talking to them, do so.
  5. Don’t respond to threats with threats. Back off. “It is honorable for a man to stop striving (or fighting), since any fool can start a quarrel.” Proverbs 20:3
  6. Never minister alone on the sidewalk.

On the positive side, there are things you can do to help calm a situation that has become volatile. Remember, Jesus Himself evoked enormous anger and confrontation. He nearly always responded with calm, and matter of fact questions.

  1. Immediately respond to anger with calm, confident statements such as, “Sir (or Ma’am), we are just trying to offer hope and help.”
  2. Ask questions, and listen carefully to the angry person’s response. “Ma’am, why are you so angry with me, I’m just here to offer help?” 
  3. Respond to the concerns voiced with gentleness, citing relevant scripture, and reiterating that we are there because of a true concern for the baby and the mother’s situation that would bring her to consider such a desperate act as aborting her own child.
  4. Let her answers convict her of her sin, rather than you whenever possible. “What would God have you do?”, “When it is okay for a mother to kill her own child?”, “Why do you think Jesus says ‘why do you call me Lord and not do what I say?’”, “When does the child in the womb become human and worthy of protection?”, “When did God begin to love that child in the womb?”, “What does the Bible say about the taking of innocent life?”, “Does the commandment ‘thou shall not kill’ come with exceptions?”, “Have you prayed about this?”, “Did you know that if you missed a period, your baby’s heart is beating?”
  5. ALWAYS videotape situations that are escalating. The mere act of videotaping will sometimes turn the angry person away, but it will be important evidence, if anyone is harmed in a volatile situation.
  6. Call police if there are threats of violence.
  7. Be sympathetic and echo back the deep frustration and pain expressed by the angry person. “I am sorry you find yourself in such a difficult situation.” “I understand you feel attacked but our intention is to help. Can we tell you our resources that we think might help you?” “It sounds like you feel cornered and alone. We want to offer you friendship and tangible help.”
  8. Remind them of the blessings of choosing God in difficult situations. “Ma’am, we know you feel you are in an impossible situation. Jesus promises us “come to me, all ye who are weary and heavy laden, and I will give rest to your soul.””
  9. Tone of voice is critical. Confident, calm, and kind should be conveyed in our voice. We should be ‘pleading’, not demanding.
  10. If the worst happens, and someone is assaulted or harmed in any way, call police and file a report. Press charges. Our experience has been that if lesser aggression is not reported, it tends to empower the aggressor and puts all sidewalk counselors in danger.

Sometimes, despite our best efforts, situations can become very confrontational. It is important to remember that the sidewalk of an abortion center is a battle zone. The battle is not between flesh and blood but a spiritual battle between the heavenly forces of good and evil. Prayer is critical. In the heat of a confrontation, bowing down in prayer may be the strongest antidote available. Prayer prior to and following ministry time is essential.

Personally, I would rather see anger than apathy. Anger shows me that there is conflict in the person’s soul. Many times, I have seen the angry person, if properly handled, slide from anger to grief,  then remorse, and finally repentance and submission. Anger is often an expression of fear or pain. God is at work. His word is powerful. Trust Him that seeds you have planted could be sprouting before your eyes!