Since many sidewalk missionaries minister at Planned Parenthood where services other than abortion are offered, not every person they interact with is abortion-minded. It becomes a critical part of our work then to know the different groups we might see and how we should respond in a Gospel-focused manner.
One option is to ask, “Are you here for an abortion?” and if they answer “no,” to ignore them; however, would that be loving our neighbor if they were clearly in need of Jesus? God has brought them into our sphere of influence, even if just for a moment.
For example, at a Planned Parenthood facility in Charlotte, we see distinct groups other than those coming for abortions:
*people coming for birth control or problems with birth control
*women coming for low cost pregnancy tests or ultrasounds.
*women coming for Pap smear, STD testing, other health issues
*men coming for hormone therapy for transgender transition
We need to know how to best interact with each group. The following story happened recently at Planned parenthood and shows a true interaction with someone in the first group. She had problems with birth control.
I was ministering at Planned Parenthood today. Notice the bottom of the sign. What does it say?
“Planned Parenthood. Care. No matter what.” My fellow counselor, Edith, and I read the sign. I chuckled, and said, “Planned parenthood cares … no matter what?! No matter WHAT what?!”
Just then, I saw a girl go into the abortion center. I called out offering help. A little later, she walked back on and was on the phone. It was FREEZING outside. I am cold in a heated sweatshirt under a down coat. All she had on was a short sleeved T-shirt, thin leggings and flip-flops. She was visibly shivering.
I called out to her for about 20 minutes. I don’t know what she was there for, but I figured no matter what her situation was, she needed help – and I was certain that Planned Parenthood is the last place she should be.
After all that time calling out to the girl trembling in the cold, she began walking toward me like she was on a rope being pulled to me. Slowly. It was so strange. She stopped in front of me. I said, “Tell me what’s going on.”
She started crying. So I hugged her, despite COVID. Sometimes, you just need a human touch.
She said, “I came to have my IUD removed. I had an appointment. I am in pain and something is wrong. But I was late for my appointment, so they won’t see me. My belly hurts so bad. I don’t know what to do.”
Planned Parenthood cares … no matter what ... UNLESS you are late for your appointment … even if you are in pain and something is wrong and you don’t have a winter coat.
So I told her, “We can help you. My friend here, Dr. Edith, is a doctor.” Edith immediately stepped up and told her she needed to go to the ER. They will likely see her and remove it … and it is only 5 minutes away. Edith pointed up the street where the hospital is in view. Edith asked her if she was on the phone calling an Uber since we noticed it was an Uber that had dropped her off.
She said, “I was trying to, but my phone won’t work.” She swiped tears from her eyes. I briefly spoke with her about how once she had the birth control removed, she should consider the truth that she is made in the image of God, she is of great worth, and sex outside of marriage devalues her and rebels against God. I urged her to consider this terrible circumstance as a wake up call to the need to follow God and trust His protective commands.
Edith says, “I’ll take you to the ER.” She glanced at me, knowing she would be leaving me alone. I nodded.
So she got in Edith’s car, and I wracked my brain wondering if I had something to give her that will keep her warm. I remembered a warm, fuzzy sweatshirt I keep in the car under the seat for emergencies. I hurried to get it out of my car and gave it to her.
“Keep it. And call me so we can talk more about God and maybe how you can get on a better path.” She nodded as she hugged the sweatshirt.
Edith told me later that she put on the sweatshirt immediately, hunkering down in its fleecy warmth. She was so grateful, and thanked us over and over. Edith also had some time to share the Gospel further and the message of purity. The time we took with her planted so many seeds and may prevent a future abortion!
Planned Parenthood, who is a tool of Satan, says they care NO MATTER WHAT: But that is a lie. They obviously don’t mean it. They didn’t care at all about that poor shivering woman. The people of God DID … and DO. If we love God, we will follow Him NO MATTER WHAT. And we will mean it. We don’t say: “NO MATTER WHAT… unless you are an inconvenience and disrupt our schedule.”
God put us there that day. We obeyed Him and we helped. What if we had disobeyed His call because it was a bitter cold day?
When you follow God you never know the ripple effect of your obedience.
How to deal with women getting/removing birth control
The principles in counseling this young woman were multiple, but first to show compassion and help her. Whenever we can meet immediate needs, a level of trust is established. However, we also used the situation to point out that rebellion against God, or sin, always leads to undesirable consequences. She of course saw immediately this was true. We shared the Gospel in the short time we had, and encouraged her to consider that abstinence outside of marriage was what God desires. We gave her our name and number and encouraged her to call us so we could further help her, mentor, and share the Gospel. We also told her that is she ever found herself or a friend in an unplanned pregnancy, to call us. The pamphlet we gave her included truths about abortion, fetal development, and Bible verses demonstrating the sanctity of life. Important seeds were planted that might prevent her from showing up one day to abort a child.
We also gave her a list of low-cost community alternatives to Planned Parenthood. On the list were health centers that provided all PP services except abortion. We explained why going to those centers was critical in taking a moral, Godly stand against the killing of innocent unborn children.
- Many birth control options are abortifacients. This article. Includes a comprehensive list. https://partnersofyom.org/which-birth-controls-are-abortifacients/
- Point out that Planned Parenthood is the largest abortion provider in the nation. Low cost community health centers provide all the things PP does without abortion. Have a list of such places to hand out
- Discuss God’s word regarding sex outside of marriage.
How to Deal with Abortion Workers
Abby Johnson, former manager of Planned Parenthood, founded a ministry dedicated to helping abortion workers leave the industry. This ministry is well equipped legally, financially and experientially (all workers are former abortion workers) to help abortion workers leave their jobs.
We typically call out, “Hi! My name is Vicky. Go to abortionworker.com! They will help you leave this work so that you can work at a job you can be proud of where innocent babies are not killed to pay your salary.”
- Abortionworker.com helps with finding new work, salary compensation while looking, free healing retreats, free legal advice.
- Abby’s website also provides materials to hand out to abortion workers, and other information
Women Coming for Low Cost Pregnancy Tests or Ultrasounds
These women are sometimes NOT abortion minded and can be easily persuaded to go to community Pregnancy Resource Centers where the services are free. If they are abortion minded, the option for free resources and help may sway their decision towards life.
- List of Pregnancy Resource Centers in your community with contact info
- Remind them that if they pay for the services at PP they are contributing to the funding of abortion provider.
- Offer help/mentorship/discipleship program if you have one in your area. Oftentimes, low income is the reason for people going to PP and are at risk for being abortion vulnerable.
- Share the gospel. If the woman is unmarried, she is clearly not following God.
Women Coming for Pap Smear, STD testing, Other Health Issues
Remind these women that PP is the nation’s largest abortion provider. Tell them there are other low cost health care services that provide the same services without funding abortion. If the woman is concerned about health issues, like STD, this opens the door for a Gospel discussion of following God’s protective commandments especially in the area of sexuality.
- Provide low cost community health services list
- Share the Gospel and the protective nature of God’s commandments
- Give information about abortion risks and aftermath, fetal development, and ministries that help women in unplanned pregnancies. Many PP clients are low income and sexually active thus at risk for future abortions.
How To Deal with Transgender People at Planned Parenthood
That same day, a young man approached me when I called out to him.
“Whatever you face, we can help!” I said.
At first, I thought he was woman, but as he moved closer, I could tell he was a man. I quickly discerned that he was likely transgender and the only reason he could be at Planned Parenthood was for hormone therapy to suppress his male characteristics and accentuate female ones.
That was proven to be accurate by his next words: “You can’t provide what I need.”
Then he explained he was there for hormone therapy. I admit, I was at a loss for words. I had to address his issue in the only way I believed God would have me address his issue…with the Gospel. So I told him that he, like all humans, was made in the image of God. I told him that all of us sin and rebel against God and deserve the penalty of death but that Jesus loved us so much that he paid the penalty we deserved by dying on the cross in our stead. He rose again proving He was God and had the power to overcome death. I urged him to trust Jesus.
He was walking to his car as I blurted the Cliff’s Notes version of the Gospel. As he opened the door to get in his car, he said, “Planned Parenthood understands and supports LGBT people.”
As he drove away, it occurred to me that I should have asked him, “Are you content?” I suspected he was not. Edith, the doctor counselor with me told me that at John’s Hopkins, they pioneered surgical alterations on transgender people. For twenty years, they researched their work and the effects. Prior to surgery, the suicide rate of trans people was 40%. Their twenty years of research on the suicide rate following surgery revealed a startling fact. The suicide rate remained 40%. So they ceased doing trans surgery.
How can we effectively reach this population with a loving, Gospel centered approach? An article in Christianity today helped show the complexity of dealing well with this. It summarizes findings in two popular books on this subject. A major principle is FIRST try to understand the experiences and struggles of the transgender community. Be careful not to ridicule or trivialize their struggle. The concept of being image bearers of God is important. The final paragraph in that article spoke very strongly to me:
Evangelicals are learning important lessons about the shortcomings of content-only approaches in other conversations. For example, a content-only approach to abortion emphasizes the paramount importance of protecting the inherent dignity and value of embryonic human life, but it often fails to acknowledge the very real difficulties and challenges that many women face when they discover they’re pregnant. Today, most evangelicals recognize that being anti-abortion also means supporting programs that promote the welfare of unmarried pregnant women, poor pregnant women, and other disadvantaged women. How did this consensus develop? By learning how to ask how specific groups of women are affected by the experience of pregnancy.
Likewise, I believe that a similar adjustment must take place in evangelical conversation about transgender experience. As we commit ourselves to listening to actual transgender people and taking their experiences seriously, we’ll be better equipped to apply biblical wisdom to the specific circumstances of their lives.
As in every group we encounter on the sidewalk, compassion and empathy is an essential starting point if we want people to engage with us. Seek first to understand is an important second point. LISTEN and be sure the person feels heard in his struggles. Then, do not be afraid to keep speaking truth about who we were created to be (image bearers of God, male and female), and continue to urge trust and reliance on Jesus.
If someone were anorexic, and yet their feelings tell them they are fat, they will literally starve themselves to death. Would loving friends validate those feelings? Would it be kindness to tell them “Yes, you are fat. Reduce your food intake!” Or would loving friends show them the error of trusting feelings and speak objective truth?
An excellent conference that addresses this issue is HERE.
This video presents a factual understanding of transgender/gender dysphoria. It also presents principles of following a loving biblical approach to this issue. Finally, an encouraging and amazing testimonial from a woman who was healed of her transgender life shows the power of God to transform and redeem.
One of the take-always for me after listening to this video was the fact that even though anger may be their initial response to Biblical truth, God’s word NEVER returns void. It may take years for people to see God’s truth in the midst of their transgender experience, but God can work even in the presence of great pain and denial. Being loving and kind is critical as it is in counseling all people we encounter. However, never neglect the Gospel which alone is the power to save.
- Hormone therapy has some pretty significant risks. Pointing these out to people you encounter at the clinic may help sway them. This site is a secular site, yet has a large list of scary risks of hormone therapy for transgender people.
- If the person is struggling with a Christian background and the gender dysphoria, there are many Christian counselors who deal with this issue. Here is one in the Charlotte area.
- Here is a wonderful testimony from woman who left her transgender life and found identity in Christ.
- Point out truth that the depression and suicide rate after transitioning with hormones/surgery remains very high. Most studies indicate little change. Surgery or hormone alteration doesn’t end up being the answer for what they are seeking.
Ultimately, we must obey God and not man. In a culture that is swiftly moving from “tolerance” of sexual/gender fluidity to “acceptance”, Christians will be increasingly forced to take a stand. Be aware that if we are lovingly and consistently standing for Biblical truth, we may well face intimidation and persecution. We may well be in conflict with family and friends. However, “whoever loses their life for my sake will find it” (Matthew 10:39) when we stand firm for Christ. And our steadfast allegiance to truth may help others who are hurting and struggling on paths that only lead to further destruction. Ultimately, finding their identity in Christ is the answer, as it is the answer for all of us.