There are probably as many reasons why people are drawn to sidewalk ministry as there are people; however, they can be grouped into six main areas. There may be others, but these six are the ones that come immediately to mind:
- Horror and grief of abortion
- Desire to help the moms in hard circumstances
- Political beliefs
- Compassion for the baby
- Anger at murder of the innocents and desire for justice
- Biblical conviction
We have talked about motivation for sidewalk ministry in past articles and what we believe is the only motivation that will sustain someone for the long haul. This article is to help describe and recognize the various motivations. Everyone may be partially motivated by all these things. However, we will in the end draw the conclusion of what we feel should be the primary motivation.
Horror and Grief of Abortion
One in four women have had an abortion. This is a disheartening statistic. Remember when Roe v. Wade was decided by the Supreme Court in 1973, the mantra was it would be “safe, legal and rare”? Of course, it is NEVER safe for the baby and often not for the mother. It was made “legal” by the unconstitutional legislative fiat of the Supreme Court. The statistics prove it is not rare.
As ultrasounds become increasingly sophisticated and revealing, even untrained viewers cannot mistake that from the earliest stages a baby in the womb is human. He or she develops at a remarkable rate, doubling in size every week of the first trimester. The growth is explosive and miraculous. Just 17 days from conception, a beating heart is visible. At just 6 weeks, brain waves are detectable. Ultrasounds in the first trimester show babies stretching, yawning, doing somersaults, sucking their thumbs and waving their hands. There is no doubt that a little person is in the womb: a baby … a vulnerable child.
Evidence from those who have defected from the abortion industry have increasingly uncovered the bloody gore and horror of what happens in an abortion. One can even view actual videos of abortion. There are countless signs and pictures of victims of abortion. Most people cover their eyes when faced with the reality of abortion and its aftermath.
Emergency room nurses who have worked with our ministry tell us about mopping up after the abortionist’s work when women leave the abortion center: perforated uteruses, hemorrhaging, incomplete abortions, life threatening infections, the need for blood transfusions … the witnessed horror never ends.
One would truly have to close his eyes to reality to pretend abortion is anything but horrific. If the desire to end this horror is a primary motivator, the person will likely be in a constant state of despair and grief. Yes, abortion is grievous; but it is very hard to drag oneself day after day, year after year with a focus on such grief. Few tender souls can handle such an onslaught to their psyche.
Desire to help the moms in hard circumstances
The second main motivation is focusing on the plight of the mothers in an unplanned and undesired pregnancy. Many of these mothers come from terrible environments. Many are poor, struggling, unmarried, young, or in abusive domestic situations. Many do not have access to good healthcare, safe housing or affordable childcare.
One cannot work for long on a sidewalk of an abortion center and not notice how devastating some of the stories are. Many women come out of broken homes with no father present. Some are raped. Some have terrifying medical issues. Almost all have made terrible choices that have led them to a place they know they should not be.
Many new sidewalk counselors fall into the trap of believing that all the women are “victims.” The women often ARE in very hard circumstances. In most cases, however, sinful decisions have led to the mess in which they find themselves. The incidence of infidelity, or other sexual immorality, and the resulting pregnancy is not uncommon.
A counselor who is primarily motivated by a desire to help the mom will find herself quickly overwhelmed. The solution to the very serious and long-standing issues of many of the women is not quick or easy. Even more disheartening is that the women don’t usually WANT to change. They want a quick fix, which abortion appears to be for them. They usually want tangible help, but not always the real heart change that is necessary to prevent ending back at the abortion center in the near future. In fact, a third of abortions are repeat abortions!
It is hard to sustain a desire to help women who quite often really do not want our help!
Many people believe that if the law could just be changed to manage abortion, or outright outlaw it, we can revert to a culture of life. The politically-motivated sidewalk advocate tends to be similar to those at a protest movement. They often hand out political tracts, tend to feel the solution is in a particular political party winning elections. They often attend group rallies and political events, petition city councils, write letters to the editors, and even run for office. They vilify and are angry at any political group that appeases the abortion industry.
They may be quickly disillusioned when their party loses elections. They may be even more disheartened when their party wins, and the abortion center parking lots are still full. Their hope is in the political system and they despair when it does not bring the change of heart they desire.
Compassion for the baby
In a pill abortion, a vulnerable baby who cannot defend herself is starved and asphyxiated as her nutrition and oxygen is cut off. In a surgical abortion, a living human being is ripped apart limb by limb. In a suction abortion, the young babies fragile limbs are wrenched from her body by the powerful force of the suction machine. In older babies, the cruel tools and scalpels of the abortionist cut her apart piece by piece. The child has no anesthesia to numb any pain. It is brutal and inhumane. If it were done to puppies, the “pro-choice” crowd would be up in arms.
The baby has no voice, no advocate, no defender. She cannot run. She cannot hide. She has done nothing wrong, yet she will bear the full force of the unjust punishment for existing. Her plight is terrible. Who would not be burdened to help her? The sad reality is most of those who show up to kill their babies do indeed do so. If our motivation is saving the babies, we will be plunged into despair. The overwhelming majority will not be saved.
Anger at murder of the innocents and desire for justice
Anger is a powerful motivator, and easily aroused when one considers the injustice of abortion. A human being who has no one to protect her is being led to death by those with power and influence. She is powerless. Sometimes, in fact frequently, a woman is coerced to abort. She may be in a sex-trafficking situation, abused, threatened, or so dependent on the man coercing her that she feels trapped in a situation from which she sees no escape.
Those who are motivated with a desire for justice will likely find themselves seething with anger. The injustice of what is happening to the woman is compounded by the injustice of what is happening to the baby. The callous ignorance of the pro-abortion crowd ushering women into the abortion center and blocking the choice for life is maddening. Anger consumes those who find their motivation in fighting for justice. Justice is so rarely served …at least not on this earth. It is hard to be fueled by anger without it eating away at our own souls and turning to bitterness: toward the moms, the dads and, ultimately, toward God for allowing this injustice to continue.
The group motivated by Biblical conviction has a deep sense of duty before God. They feel called. They take Proverbs 24:11-12 and Proverbs 31:8-10 seriously. They WILL rescue those being led away to death. They WILL speak for those who cannot speak for themselves. They see those unborn babies and moms as their neighbors, and they will love their neighbors and help them. They hear God’s commands and they stand in obedience to Him.
I bet you think that is the best motivation, right? It is a good one … but it is not the best.
Love of God
The best motivator for those who last as sidewalk counselors is an abiding love for God. They love their Lord and all He sacrificed on their behalf. That is their model. They desire to lay down THEIR lives now for the people HE loves. They see every precious child and every mother and every father as an image bearer of God. They look at them with the eyes of Jesus and long for them to be saved.
Love sacrifices everything with no expectation of reward. Love is its own reward. We love because we are loved. True love speaks truth. We will not compromise the truth of God if we love others.
Love endures; therefore, a person motivated by the love of God will endure.