The step of faith for me was made after examining the evidence of the truth of the Bible and of Jesus being who He claimed to be. I felt it was more compelling and rational to believe than not. It was more a step of faith than a leap of faith. It was based on evidence.
This is similar to how I deal with the issue of counting saved babies. Some of us need absolute proof before we will believe a baby is saved. Some of us will compile enough evidence that is rational and logical, but we don’t need that ultimate proof of stated confirmation of a choice for life.
I think we should be very careful not to assume that our brethren are sorely mistaken, and we are in the right if we differ on this issue. I think we can safely allow for discretion and wisdom of those in charge each day, and know that if they are in the Lord, and giving Him the glory no matter what, we can trust them.
A car stopped for me. A young black woman was the driver. An older black woman with two children was in the back seat. It turns out she was the mother of the driver. They appeared to be uncertain of where they were going. I instantly handed the driver our pamphlet and asked if she was going to the women’s center. She said she was not and insisted she was not pregnant. Then she asked where the women’s center was … and asked again several times over the course of our half-hour discussion. The first few minutes of our discussion, she giggled nervously, glancing back at her mother in the back seat.
I told her I could not in good conscience direct anyone to the center where innocent unborn children were killed, but I was happy to tell her about our ministry and how we help. I told her we help women all over the nation, and asked if she was from Charlotte. She told me that she was from Salisbury, an hour away. I was by then fairly certain she was not just out for a drive, but was there for an abortion.
Nonetheless, I presented many biblical verses to support the sanctity of unborn life and why God would have no one abort. She asked several questions trying to rationalize why it might be OK. I answered each one, directing her back to the humanity of the child and what God says about human life. I asked if she believed in Jesus. She said she did. I asked if she knew the 6th commandment. She did. I asked if there were any exceptions to that commandment that would allow murder. She agreed there were not.
By now, she had stopped giggling. She was leafing through the pamphlet. I told her my name and number was on the back. She asked if she could call or a friend could call if they ever needed help. I assured her she could. She asked what resources we provided, and I explained the mentor program and listed some resources we could link her with.
Then she told me she had had an abortion. In fact, she said she had come to this very abortion center. She had considered aborting her other children. I asked if they were precious to her now and if she could imagine life without them. She admitted they were her world, and she could not imagine life without them. Then I told her there was forgiveness and healing possible from abortion, and it would be important for her to go to God, confess this sin in her life, and ask His forgiveness. I asked her when she had submitted her life to Him: before or after the abortion. She said after. I recited Hebrews 10:26 to her and told her now she HAD received the knowledge of truth about abortion in the eyes of God, and that verse warns that repentance may no longer be possible if we willfully continue in sin when we know the truth. Then I asked if she would be living truly submitted to Jesus as Lord if she had an abortion now. She shook her head no.
At this point, she thanked me and told me she would call me if she ever needed help. She then drove very slowly past the driveway into the abortion center. To my delight, she drove past and we did not see her again. Our afternoon team was there till four and she had not returned.
I made the conclusion based on all the evidence that this was a woman who had come for an abortion and had changed her mind.
Counting Saved Babies
Our teams count babies saved each day. We write daily reports. We keep records in three categories: confirmed, probable and possible. When we tally the number of saved babies for our City Director, we include confirmed and probable.
I understand that not all cities tabulate this way. I know one sidewalk advocate who will only count a baby saved when it is born. She argues that so many women waffle in a choice for life that even a verbal confirmation they save their baby is insufficient.
Potential Controversies That Arise
I have been challenged in our approach many times. Some people feel it is not honest, unless the baby is born. Others feel as long as the mom confirms verbally, it should be counted. Others believe that if enough evidence points to a likely choice for life, it should be counted. Others believe if there is ANY mom who leaves an abortion center before the abortionist arrives, it should be counted as a saved baby.
I am willing to extend grace to differing thoughts on this topic. What I would hate to see is division and antagonism arise or mistrust of each others’ motives over this issue. Sadly, Satan can use even something like this to divide and destroy unity and effectiveness of sidewalk outreach endeavors.
Rationale for Counting Saves Based on Evidence
We know that many women leave the abortion center without telling us they have chosen life. We know this because we often hear from them weeks or even months later. Sometimes they show up with an 8-year old in the back seat and tell us, because we were there eight years ago, their son is alive! If we do count someone who ultimately was not a saved baby, these stories assure me that is balanced by the fact that there are those we never counted that WERE saved babies!
The women are told from the moment they call to make an appointment not to talk with us. They are told we are mean and we lie. They are told we make promises we do not keep. They have also fought an enormous spiritual battle in the abortion center, and want to leave as quickly as possible forgetting they ever considered abortion.
Therefore, we believe that there are criteria we can examine to rationally conclude a baby is saved even without verbal confirmation. It is true the only assurance is to see for ourselves the born baby. Even a photo could be a lie!
We also know that even confirmed saved babies are sometimes, ultimately, aborted. We are making our best guess in an imperfect and often volatile, fluctuating situation.
We believe that honest appraisal of saved babies can be an enormous encouragement to the teams that labor often without tangible results. We love God and will not lie, but we should not be stingy with the joy of believing babies have been saved as a result of our presence based on credible evidence.
Criteria for Counting Saves
As in the case study, we cannot always depend on what the women say. Oftentimes, there are other clues that can point us to an accurate assessment. Whenever a team member tells me they believe a baby is saved, I ask them to tell me why they believe that. I ask for the clues that made them decide there was enough evidence to feel convinced. This begins my list of criteria. Two witnesses is a biblical concept in making wise judgments:
- Two witnesses concur. In other words, if two team members examine the evidence and believe it points to a saved baby, we are more inclined to believe it is.
- Evident conflict in the mom (tears, anger, in and out of the center a lot, stopping to listen to what we say on the mic or calling out, screaming at boyfriend, being pulled into the abortion center by someone, covering face, covering ears, hiding in the car …)
- When we ask if they believe in God, they say they do. They admit God would not have them do it. They sometimes say they prayed for a sign.
- They take our literature and look through it.
- They sit in the car a long time before going in, often on phone or looking though the literature.
- They are from far away (out of state) or have confirmed they are pregnant when they stop for us.
- They sit in the car rather than the abortion center.
- They leave before the abortionist arrives and do not return.
- They acknowledge us with a wave, a thumbs up, smile, even sometimes I get kisses blown at me.
Why Distractions Harm Strategy of Gathering Clues
To gather all the information we need to make a rational guess based on evidence, we must be paying attention. There are countless clues to what is going on which we can gather only if we are focused and vigilant. This is yet another reason why we should not chit-chat, or clump with team mates, or be distracted by our phone or by the proabortion crowd. I can be much more confident my assessment is correct if many criteria we look for are met. I will not know if they are met if I have not paid attention!
How to Avoid Conflict Among Different Teams
We appoint team leads for each day our teams minister in Charlotte. We trust them to lead, and how they assess if a baby is saved or not is sometimes up to their discretion and wisdom. Some of our team leads only feel comfortable even mentioning the possibility of a saved baby if it is confirmed. Others rely on the evidence based on the criteria listed above. I honor all their reasons and trust them to make good decisions.
We all must be very careful not to be untruthful or over zealous in how we count. The criteria list and two witnesses will help us not to overcount in a reckless way. We should never say a baby is saved because we “have a feeling.” I have heard that before … and that is not something I believe we should do. There must be credible evidence to assume a baby is saved.
The Absolute Necessity of Giving God the Glory
Every sidewalk team member is there in obedience to God. Each of us loves God and seeks to glorify Him by what we think and do and say. We are not responsible for the results of our service on the sidewalk. That is up to God.
That said, it is still always an encouragement to know a baby is safe because we were there. So I think this is an important issue to consider. I think we should all consider if it takes more of a leap of faith to assume the baby was aborted than it does to assume the baby was saved.
In the true case study, I believed strongly that the woman was pregnant. She was driving on Latrobe, where she admitted is where she had her last abortion, yet she kept asking where the center was. She KNEW where the center was. So she had been caught in a lie. I did not expose that, but proceeded to speak to her as I would any active abortion-determined woman with the three talking points.
It was clear from her changed attitude and demeanor that she was being convicted as we spoke. She heard Scripture; she heard answers to her questions trying to rationalize abortion; she heard about tangible resources and the humanity of the unborn baby. Her mother, in the back seat, was silent till the very end. At that point, she smiled at me, and with the daughter, thanked me.
They had come from a town an hour away, yet claimed to just be on a drive. The mother was in the back seat with the two young children. She would be the babysitter if the daughter went in for the abortion. My sense was she did not want the daughter to abort, judging from how attentive and quiet she was while I spoke. The daughter asked many questions about how to contact me and what resources were available. She admitted she could not abort knowing the scriptural truths I had shared. When they said goodbye to me, they drove very slowly past the abortion center as though still weighing the options, but then drove on. They did not come back.
I believe the evidence points to a saved life. And our team is rejoicing, and giving all the glory to God.