Often, Help Turns to Helplessness
A woman pulled over to talk with one of our newer counselors, Leah, stating that she was set on abortion. Leah brought her to me. As our discussion progressed for nearly an hour while Leah listened, Marcy* (not real name) confided that she was schizophrenic and had no health insurance for the necessary medication. She had not resided in the area long enough for Medicaid, and therefore was unmedicated with a mental disability, pregnant, homeless, and had just started a new job.
I outlined resources available to help Marcy. With the help of partner ministries, we were able to link Marcy with significant assistance. I shared the Gospel. Marcy understood and agreed with the conclusion that God would never have her kill her baby. The boyfriend was supportive and wanted to help, but had not known how to intercede effectively. Counseling for the couple was offered, as well as a mentorship/discipleship program. A baby shower with two years of the baby’s needs was also promised. Everyone was smiling as the couple agreed to go immediately to see their baby at an ultrasound appointment set up by Leah. They had chosen life despite those massive obstacles! We were elated.
The only piece of the puzzle left was to call the woman later that day and sign her up for the LoveLife mentorship program. I was so convinced of the woman’s conviction to save her baby that I arranged for Leah to do that final step. Leah had not gone through this process before, but since everything else was done, I was sure it would be a pleasant and easy first chance at learning the procedure.
Leah called her after several unsuccessful attempts to reach her. That is when everything unraveled. Marcy had morphed into a mess of paranoid anger and despair. While Leah did manage to sign Marcy up for the mentor program, everything went south quickly after that. Marcy said she wanted to kill herself … and then the phone went dead. Leah called me, frantic and worried. She asked me to call Marcy right away. No mention was made of the results of the ultrasound.
I called Marcy immediately. I was able to talk Marcy off the cliff … and outlined the series of immediate steps she needed to take, especially about getting medication as soon as possible. I connected her with a pro-life doctor who helped her outline the meds she could take while pregnant and the process of going to the ER to assure that happened quickly.
Often, Hope is Met with Anger
We thought all was well … again. As far as I knew, she had not gotten the ultrasound yet, so I set up another appointment with us on our mobile unit for the following day. Marcy seemed calm and on board. It turns out, I was wrong about that assessment. Very wrong.
That evening, while I slept, Marcy left a venomous voice mail. She shrieked at me for “lying” about the meds, and for our offers of help, and for other things I could not quite understand in between scathing profanity. It is probably good I couldn’t decipher what she was saying.
I tried calling her back several times over the next few days, to no avail. There was no further word from her. We assumed she had aborted her child, and was continuing on her no-medication downward spiral.
Both Leah and I were discouraged and dismayed. We had poured so much into this woman and the response of anger, not following through on our many efforts to arrange help for her, and then blaming us was hard to swallow. This was an extreme case, nonetheless, it was not an unusual ending. Despite our best efforts, women will sometimes still abort, blame us and lash out at us, or halt all communication with us.
Not all stories turn out well.
Interestingly, a few weeks later, Marcy called me out of the blue. She sounded happy and sweet, and made no mention of the nasty call. She requested an ultrasound. She expressed a desire to follow through now on all the steps we had previously outlined to help her. We arranged another ultrasound, and found out later that she had attended the first ultrasound many weeks ago. It had resulted in a negative pregnancy test! That first angry call had been made while KNOWING she was not pregnant! The second ultrasound revealed the same result.
Strangely, only a few days after the above story there was another one that completely took us by surprise. A woman came through the bushes edging the abortion center parking lot. She wanted to talk to us. The woman had come for an abortion but now was reconsidering. The whole group of us put our arms around her and prayed for her. Then I talked with her for a long time about our resources, about God, and how we would love to help her. She expressed deep gratitude regarding what a huge help it was. She said it was very important that we be out there speaking for the unborn and helping mothers like herself. We gave her gifts, prayed again, and she and her boyfriend joyously drove out of the parking lot. As her car disappeared around the bend, we all waved with huge smiles on our faces.
Later that afternoon, one of our counselors saw that same woman leaving the abortion center. She must have returned and had the abortion. We were all shocked and dismayed. We all felt she had been convicted and sincere in her choice for life. How could she have changed back to desiring an abortion so suddenly?
I knew how far along she was and knew it was likely the abortion was a two day procedure. I called her.
Truth Always Reveals the Heart’s Wickedness
She admitted that she was being blackmailed by the father of the baby. (The father was not her current boyfriend, a situation which is often the reason for abortion.) She was terrified by what the baby’s father had threatened and thus returned to abort.She had indeed completed day one of the two-day procedure. On day one, the abortionist inserts laminaria rods that soften the cervix. This does not kill the baby or harm the baby but will allow the doctor to more easily dilate the cervix the next day to remove the baby piece by piece.
I again spoke about God and urged her to stand up to the bully who was trying to blackmail her. I told her God had not changed since her choice for life. The same reasons for choosing life remained. She must do what was right and not act out of fear. She agreed.
I explained the laminaria rods could be removed, and with her permission, connected her with our wonderful pro-life doctor. He assured us the baby would be fine and that she should go to the emergency room and have the rods taken out. She was so relieved. She even kept me updated with an ongoing map of her route as they drove to the ER. The last text I got from her was as they arrived at the ER. She sounded hopeful and determined to follow God…(again.)
Much later that evening, I got a text from her boyfriend saying the baby was fine but they were going to return the next day for the abortion. They had decided that was best. I was sleeping when the text came. I responded the following early morning with a multitude of Bible verses, reminders of the baby’s development, and descriptions of what her baby would be doing at that age. I sent photos of 16-week-old babies in the womb. I reminded her of all the help available and begged her not to abort.
Shortly after that, I got an incredibly vulgar and nasty text from the boyfriend. He called me all kinds of terrible things and told me to leave them alone. I was stunned, as the boyfriend had been so supportive of her keeping the baby just a few hours before!
For the next three or four weeks I continued to text her. I told her no matter what had transpired, I wanted to help her. She never again responded.
Not all stories turn out well.
I hope and pray (and believe it is possible) that she did have the laminaria removed and kept her baby. I wondered if perhaps the boyfriend, or maybe the blackmailing father of the baby, got a hold of her phone and was angry at her choice. However, I know that perhaps that’s just wishful thinking. It is never easy when things don’t go well despite our best efforts.
We often report the many successes out on the sidewalk. We want to let people know that sidewalk ministry is definitely not in vain. But we also feel it is important for people to know that many stories do not turn out as we hope. This ministry can be enormously difficult emotionally and spiritually.
Victories and Valleys
We often remind our counselors that we cannot take credit for the babies saved. We also cannot take the burden of the babies aborted. The choice to do either is up to God and the mother. Our job is to be obedient to the call of God. God clearly has directed us to be a voice for those voiceless pre-born children. If we are there in obedience, God has the victory and we have glorified Him.
While we all understand that truth, it would be disingenuous for me to pretend that it doesn’t sting when a mother chooses abortion despite our best efforts. It is very deflating. Most of us question ourselves. Did we do the best we could, say the right things, offer every bit of truth we should have? Were we too harsh? Were we too soft? Ultimately, we can never be sufficient in our own power. Sidewalk missionary work is humbling and requires an abiding reliance on God and the work of the Holy Spirit.
“And He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong.” 2 Corinthians 12:9-10
Despite the many disappointments and the large number of women who abort, there are significant rewards and even joy in being used by God in this way. How many people can say that their intercession results in lives literally saved nearly every day? There are few things more rewarding then holding a baby that would not be there if we had not been there. It is for those precious saved lives that we sometimes endure great sorrow and deep discouragement.
Light Shines Through Darkness
Just this week, a mom stopped by to visit our team on the sidewalk. She wanted to show us her two-year-old daughter, saved from abortion at that very place 2-1/2 years ago. The little girl hugged me and then kissed me. Our team gathered around her, looking at this little miracle of life, this infinite reward, this image bearer of God snatched from Satan’s grip.
Not all stories turn out well. But the ones that do sustain us in continuing to trust God on the sidewalks day after day after day. To Him be all glory and honor and praise.