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Posts Categorized / Sidewalk Counseling Ministry

  • Oct 23 / 2013
  • 4
Abortion, Adoption, Pro-life, Sidewalk Counseling Ministry

I regret my abortion

It’s Saturday, October 19. It’s almost time to pack up ministry for the morning. All the girls are inside awaiting their procedures. One has walked out and left, saving her baby, to God be the glory! It’s raining pretty heavily as I walk up to Jason on the sidewalk. There are two escorts standing and chatting at the corner. I jokingly ask him if he is trying to avoid a shower later, standing directly in the rain like that. He tells me that the escorts have discussed a piece of my testimony, which I had shared with a couple of young ladies as they were walking toward the clinic. My hope was that these girls, both looking to be in their early twenties, would hear the pain they were setting themselves up for and change their minds about ending the lives of their unborn babies. I shared with them as many small bits and details of my story that I could fit in as we walked down the sidewalk. Mostly, I wanted them to know how I regretted my choice to abort my child and that God loves them and their babies so much that he would make a way for them to either keep and raise them or place them in a home with a loving family through adoption. “Women don’t regret abortion. No one regrets an abortion after they have had one,” is the conclusion these two escorts, both women, have come to. I look over at them, I look back at Jason, and I say, “Someone regrets their abortion. I regret my abortion.”

When I arrive home from the clinic I plant myself in front of my laptop and type “do women regret abortion?” into the search engine. I have researched this before, so I already know what I will find. All of the top results come from pro-choice sites and they say that women do not regret abortion. It breaks my heart to see how Satan has used these sites to lie women and make them believe their unborn children are only clumps of tissue, masses of cells. They tell them it’s a simple medical procedure and they will be able to continue their lives as if nothing ever happened, as soon as its over. They do not tell them that their babies had heartbeats just 18 days after conception and brain waves after the 6th week of pregnancy. They fail to tell them about the sadness they may feel after their children are ripped from their wombs. They don’t tell them that the date of their children’s death may be forever burned into their memories or that, even years later, they might wonder “what if I had chosen life?”.

I decide to change it up a little and I type “I regret my abortion” into the engine. Two seconds later my screen is filled with account after account and testimony after testimony of women who regret their abortions. A twenty year old lady said, “I cried and cried until I had nothing left in me but it wasn’t enough to bring my baby back to me.” Another said “ Its been 4 months now, and it still hurts like it was yesterday.” If that cannot be called regret, I’m not sure what can be. The stories of these young ladies and others like them can be found at http://www.gargaro.com/regrets.html, but there are thousands more that will pop up if you search “I regret my abortion”, showing that women do indeed regret abortion.

As for me, I was 18 years old, a few weeks from turning 19. I worked at Taco Bell. I had a 16 month old son and we lived with my parents, but they were preparing to move out of state and I would be moving in with my boyfriend. I was a party girl. I drank often and used various drugs like marijuana, cocaine, and LSD. I learned I was pregnant when I went to the health department to get on birth control. I was scared to tell anyone that I had done this again, after already having a baby at the age of 17. I waited a couple of weeks, delusional that it would just go away or that I could will it away, before I told my family and my boyfriend. The immediate response from everyone was abortion. “What in the world are you going to do with another baby? You can’t do this alone. You’ve been partying, the baby will be born sick or with disabilities. I will leave you if you have and keep this baby.” Those were the kinds of things I was hearing from my parents and boyfriend. At this point, I saw no other option and chose to go through with the abortion. My heart was heavy. Despite what doctors and nurses were saying, I knew this was a baby growing in my womb, a human life, but I continued on with the abortion. I thought I would get used to the idea, get over it. There was no way around this. The regret came immediately after I awoke from a surgical abortion. I remember thinking “I was pregnant when they put me to sleep an now I’m not…but I don’t have a baby.” I was unable to forgive myself until I met and fell in love with Jesus about 14 years later. Through his grace and mercy alone, I am forgiven and by having faith in his forgiveness, I was able to let go of the self hate I had harboured from this for so many years. I know that he is not dwelling on my sins, so I shouldn’t either. God’s forgiveness and forgiving myself have not taken the regret away. Through Jesus, I have found healing for the wounds, but that does not extinguish memories and regrets. My baby was due to be born on September 26, 1998. He would be 15 years old today, a sophomore in high school. I wonder what he would have been like. Would he look like me? I wish I could have held him. I find comfort in knowing I will meet my baby in heaven when the time comes, and we will live together eternally.

Maybe there are some women who have buried their regret after abortion. Maybe some have been lied to so fiercely by the enemy that they never had regrets. In my own personal experience, I can say that there are definitely women who regret their abortions.

  • Nov 29 / 2012
  • 0
Grace and mom
Abortion, Resources, Sidewalk Counseling Ministry

First Steps (Back) Into Sidewalk Counseling

Let’s be clear. I don’t like spending my Saturday mornings at an abortion clinic. I don’t like sidewalk counseling. And I’d prefer not to confront another abortion-minded woman or pro-choice advocate for the rest of my life.

But you know what I don’t like more? I absolutely can’t stand that little babies are tortured, dismembered, and tossed away like trash in my own community. I am horrified that there are local businesses that actually charge money to murder children and call it “healthcare.” How can I wake up each morning and enjoy my baby girl while I let hundreds of her would-be classmates and best friends and playground buddies be wiped out without a word of concern?

And so, here I am this morning, moved yet again by Proverbs 24:11-12:  “Rescue those being led away to death; hold back those staggering toward slaughter.  If you say, ‘But we knew nothing about this,’ does not he who weighs the heart perceive it? Does not he who guards your life know it? Will he not repay everyone according to what they have done?”

I’ve been away from sidewalk counseling a year now, but am compelled to once again take to the streets.

When my family moved away from Louisville, Kentucky last year one of the things I knew I wouldn’t miss was sidewalk counseling. To be honest, I was actually excited to know that for the first time in 2 years, I could wake up refreshed and ready to enjoy my Saturday mornings. Before our move, Saturday mornings meant waking at 6:00am with knots in my stomach and sorrow in my heart dreading the next 2-3 hours outside the local abortion clinic. Without a doubt, those hours were well spent; but they were no less difficult to endure.

As much as I looked forward to having a break from that grueling ministry, I quickly found I hadn’t moved away from the need of it. Here in Missoula, Montana a city about a 4th the size of Louisville, we have 2, yes I said 2, abortion clinics. Thankfully we have a great Christian pregnancy resource center, but I’ve been disappointed to learn that there aren’t many Christians who are focused on reaching abortion-minded women outside our clinics.

When we first moved here, I know I had many legitimate reasons to hold off jumping back into sidewalk counseling. My family has had some major life adjustments that have demanded the majority of my attention and I don’t regret that worthwhile priority. But at this point, I think I’m more tempted to remain in my happy Saturday morning routine more out of comfort than necessity.

 So with no small amount of trepidation, I am today committing to take my first steps back into sidewalk counseling. This ministry will look much different here and in many ways I feel that I’m starting from scratch. We have no established sidewalk counseling ministry and I have very few resources to even research the way our abortions clinics operate. But in many ways, I know that the Lord had a good plan placing me in this situation. Specifically, I hope to share my step-by-step experience so that you readers can have ideas for how to start similar ministries of your own.

So, here is your official invitation: Will you join me as I journey out to the sidewalks for the sake of the unborn and the cause of Christ’s gospel?

This is an invite for those who’ve considered sidewalk counseling, but not known where to begin. It’s for those burdened for the unborn, but fearful to step out in this radical ministry. For those of you who always have a “reason” you can’t do sidewalk counseling, but know that now really is the time to get involved.

Be on the lookout for future posts as I share resources and ideas based on my Missoula experience. And please join me in praying for the closure of the abortion clinics in my town and yours. Please pray for the spread of the gospel of hope to the abortion-minded in our neighborhoods and pray for courage to communicate it clearly in each encounter. And please let me know if you decide to join me in this effort!

  • Oct 06 / 2012
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Abortion, Sidewalk Counseling Ministry

A Sidewalk Counselor’s Cry

My weekly habit after an early morning of sidewalk counseling always included heading to my favorite coffee shop to pray and process all that I’d just experienced. I am thankful my schedule allowed for these hours of mourning and contemplation as they afforded me the chance to search God’s Word for comfort and solace when all my instincts tended toward depression. My journals attest to the desperation and defeat sidewalk counselors often experience, but thankfully they also record the reassuring hope that was always available to me in Scripture.

Nowadays my schedule is somewhat more constrained as I spend much of my time caring for the life of my own little baby girl. I celebrate life each new morning when my sweet 1 year-old greets me with her early chatter and sunrise smiles.  Although my time does not accommodate sidewalk counseling as it once did, the burden on my heart has never been lifted for the unborn. This past week I was reminded of my heart’s cry for the many to be-murdered babies that once passed me by on the sidewalks. Ironically, it was my own lively baby girl who brought this to mind as she is now able to pull journals off of bookshelves and show her appreciation for mama’s writing by munching on their contents.

My latest last minute save was a journal entry was from an April  morning in 2010. Here I recorded my coffee shop prayer after one of my earlier experiences sidewalk counseling:

17 April 2010

Another morning at the abortion clinic. More babies unmet. More mothers turned murderers. More fathers not found. More escorts reviling their God and savoring being used of Satan. Oh the sorrow, the dark gloom. The clamps still snap. The bones still break. The vacuum yet whirs  We beg. We plead. We run the streets in desperation. Who will stay the madness? Who will shed light on this dark horror? As morning dawns, lives are dimmed. The spark is gone. The heartbeat unheard. Father! For Your justice, for Your goodness, for Your glory, please save the young ones. Please save the mothers. Please save the revilers and the hypocrites. Your Word was heard today and rejected by all. You are truly merciful to save any. I humbly ask You to mercifully intercede for sinners like me. I also ask for Your glory to be our aim. I trust You and especially now when I can do no other. You are mighty to save and holy to judge.

Looking back on this entry has reminded me of the intensity of those mornings and their impact on my life as a Christian. I have never hated sin as I did observing its ghastly consequences. And I have never savored Christ as I did seeing what He saves us from. Although sidewalk counseling is the hardest ministry I’ve been a part of, I praise God for how it opened my eyes to the spiritual realities I was only half aware of before. The intensity of God’s goodness is all the more magnified next to His murderous opposition. Oh that my prayers would consistently and vigorously oppose sin and seek God’s glory!

Tomorrow morning, my beloved brothers and sisters in Louisville, Kentucky will continue sidewalk counseling to speak for the unborn and declare the glorious life of the gospel to those who are hell-bent on death. May we Christians pray with desperation for our God to bless their efforts, to thwart the plans of their opposition, and to show His glory by even making 2nd and Market the site where many lost souls are redeemed into eternal life rather than enticed into the agony of death.

1 Corinthians 15:58

Therefore, my dear brothers, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.

Isaiah 55:6-7

Seek the Lord while he may be found; call on him while he is near. Let the wicked forsake their ways and the unrighteous their thoughts. Let them turn to the Lord, and he will have mercy on them, and to our God, for he will freely pardon.

  • Dec 13 / 2011
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Sidewalk Counseling Ministry

Three Lies About Pro-Lifers

Writing at LiveAction.org, Kristen Walker pens a piece that I believe is worth mentioning here. In this post, she lists three myths about pro-lifers:

3. We don’t care about children once they’re born.

2. We don’t care about women.

1. We’re fighting for a lost cause.

From my own personal experience on the sidewalk, these are most certainly the arguments I hear from the abortion clinic escorts. They are, of course, baseless claims and completely untrue. Please take time to read the entire post here.

The fight we are fighting most oftentimes does feel like an uphill battle but it’s one we must not give up on. Ms Walker ends her article with this statement:

We win an essential and priceless battle every time a woman chooses life, and no matter how long it takes to win the legal war, we will not stop fighting.

“God shall arise, his enemies shall be scattered; and those who hate him shall flee before him! 2 As smoke is driven away, so you shall drive them away; as wax melts before fire, so the wicked shall perish before God! 3 But the righteous shall be glad; they shall exult before God; they shall be jubilant with joy! 4 Sing to God, sing praises to his name; lift up a song to him who rides through the deserts; his name is the Lord; exult before him! 5 Father of the fatherless and protector of widows is God in his holy habitation.” -Psalm 68:1-5

  • Jul 11 / 2011
  • 0
Biblical Application, Politics, Sidewalk Counseling Ministry

Step into the Abortion Forest: Seeing the Human in Humanity

It has been said that at times you can get so far from the forest that you can no longer see the trees. You can become so acquainted with the ‘big picture’ that you forget such a grand painting actually has a definite subject. You can come to miss the human in humanity.

That temptation is a clear and present danger among evangelicals in the pro-life movement. Having fought “abortion” (in the abstract) on the political field for 25+ years, many of us have been lulled into acting like abortion is a mere philosophical construct. We see and speak out against the abortion forest, while being content to remain far away from the trees, anything remotely near or human about it.

But as Paul Ramsey so powerfully reminds us, “A child is not a piece of childhood.” We are not called to stand against abortion on behalf of childhood. Rather we are called to see the child being taken away to death. We must learn to see the abortion fight as patently personal, emotionally intimate, and ethically imminent. We can rage against the machine and shout against the system for a political lifetime (as we should), but if we fail to step into the real flesh and blood of the matter, we become  noisy gongs and clanging cymbals (1 Cor 13). We say to our neighbors “be warmed and filled,” but refuse to give them the actual help they need (James 2). Let there be no doubt: the unborn children in your community need you to hate abortion in the abstract. That much is morally required of you. But make no mistake, a mere hatred of evil is not all they need. They need you to step into the forest, and rescue them -with words, with prayers, and ultimately with the initiating and effecting power of the Holy Spirit – from the sure destruction that awaits them within the walls of your local abortion clinic. There are not just children dying in your community. This morning, there is death coming to a child. It is his voice and his silent scream that cries out to the Father for deliverance. It is his death that makes abortion inhumane.

May we all learn how to shudder at that fact.

In the name of Jesus Christ, the Victor over death,

‘BH

  • Mar 22 / 2011
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Sidewalk Counseling Ministry

An Invitation to Eavesdrop

Just a quick fyi to anyone interested… There have been some great conversations on this blog in the last few weeks and I encourage you all to go back and peruse some of the passionate discussions in the comments sections. And we welcome your contributions to these talks as well! Honestly, I think I’ve spent more time writing responses on this blog than I have on blogposts, so I just hate the idea of them getting buried in the comments and never shared.

Unfortunately, my responses are a little too longwinded to actually re-post, but here are some links to the articles that generated the more animated talks:

http://speakfortheunborn.com/?p=339 – “What Sidewalk Counselors Do”

http://speakfortheunborn.com/?p=381 – “Rape, Abortion and Adoption”

http://speakfortheunborn.com/?p=408 – “What a 2-inch Baby Looks Like”

Let us know what you think!

  • Feb 16 / 2011
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Sidewalk Counseling Ministry

A Testimony

A few weeks ago there was a very moving guest post by a woman over at the True Woman blog. She is a woman who had been scarred by abortion by her own testimony. Her story is all too familiar to families struggling with unplanned pregnancies across the country. She begins by writing about growing up in a home that held up “good morals and good values,” yet:

Abortion was wrong in my parents’ eyes, until it became their daughter that was pregnant. The reputation of our family and the dreams of my parents were shattered. I was going to be connected to a guy that they knew had no value for me. We sat and discussed the pros and cons of abortion (none of which I could list today because of the relationship I have with God, the giver of life and not the giver of death). Although they did not actually force me get an abortion, I knew that this is what they wanted.

She remembers her feelings of isolation and sadness at the abortion clinic and then her futile attempts at trying to mask the pain with anything including drugs and relationships. She continues:

As I lived life my way and made my own decisions, I found many consequences that would play themselves out for years.  You see, if I had not had the first abortion, I would never have had the next four. Abortion became birth control to me. My heart became harder and harder, and the silent cry that was once there faded into a faint thought.  Because of the hardness of my heart, I eventually believed that abortion was right.

But there is good news…

Then one day I met the Lord Jesus Christ. He drew me to Himself, and I began to see my sin as He sees it. I repented as a sinner and realized that I only did what I did because that is what I was…. a sinner, a murderer, an enemy to God.  At that moment in my life I saw that I needed a Savior from my sin that could give me His righteousness in place of my sinfulness. God shone His glorious light in my heart and I trusted Him as my Savior. “For He [God] hath made Him [Christ] to be sin for us, that knew no sin: that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him (2 Cor. 5:21).”

…I am looking forward to the day I enter into the presence of God in heaven and get to meet those five children that I did not love or value. It is through the forgiveness of God and His healing power of the soul that I am able to be grateful and joyful for that day to come.

Please read the article in its entirety here.

As a sidewalk counselor, yes I am there out in front of the abortion clinic to try and save a child from the death that awaits her. But more importantly I’m out there to point others to Christ because he is the only one who can save them and give them hope in all circumstances. The testimony above is a reminder that it is Christ, and Christ alone, who redeems.

  • Feb 10 / 2011
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Sidewalk Counseling Ministry

What a 2-Inch Baby Looks Like

One of our sidewalk counselors is pregnant and recently shared this amazing ultrasound of her unborn baby with us. Call it what you will, but this “fetus” is sucking its thumb! The counselor told us that they watched her baby on the 4-D ultrasound for 5 minutes or so and kept seeing the little baby reach up to suck its thumb, and then it’d fidget around for a minute but always come back to this serene position.

 

The amazing thing to me is that this child is only 12 weeks old and only 2-inches long! It is at this stage, between 8 and 13 weeks, that a quarter of all abortions happen to babies. How can this be?

As a side note, this is the exact type of ultrasound that we offer to families outside the Louisville abortion clinic. We want people to see and cherish their unborn babies as much as we rejoice in our own. No matter what the circumstances are that bring people to the point of abortion, this is what’s at stake.

  • Jan 23 / 2011
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sidewalkcounseling
Sidewalk Counseling Ministry

What Sidewalk Counselors Do

They hold bloody signs, chase down women as they are walking into the abortion clinic, and yell in their faces that they are murderers… Well, that’s at least what everybody thinks we do. And to be honest, it’s what I thought too before I got involved with this very difficult and very misunderstood ministry.

A few weeks ago, this stereotype had a short surge of support with the news that a federal lawsuit had been filed against “Louisville Abortion Protestor” David Hamilton. According to the Courier Journal, the suit claimed David “used force against an escort as she was taking a woman inside the center. Hamilton also attempted to injure, intimidate and interfere with others trying to get inside the clinic.” Reports like this seem to confirm that sidewalk counselors are nothing more than pro-life bullies out to harm anyone with an opposing view and an unwanted pregnancy.

Let me assure you, there is nothing farther from the truth.

I was actually inspired to join the sidewalk counseling ministry in Louisville, Kentucky, through none other than the accused radical, David Hamilton who I knew through my church. I heard that David was going out to the nearby abortion clinic every week and since he didn’t strike me as the angry yelling sort, I asked him what he was trying to accomplish out there.

David told me he was partnering with another local church, Immanuel Baptist Church, and their “Speak for the Unborn” (S4U) ministry. According to the S4U website, this ministry was created with the goal to “make abortion impossible in Louisville, KY, through the means of sidewalk counseling and prayer.” David explained that every week “sidewalk counselors” walk with those entering the abortion clinic and share evidence from both Scripture and the fetal development process that the unborn are actually human beings created by God and deserving of life.

They also encourage women to visit the nearby pregnancy center, A Woman’s Choice Resource Center (AWC), as an alternative to aborting their babies. At AWC, women can walk-in and receive counseling regarding their specific situations. AWC is a non-profit special health clinic equipped to provide pregnancy tests, ultrasounds, maternity/infant supplies and referrals for medical assistance, financial aid, adoption resources, etc. – all donated in order to help mothers going through crisis pregnancies. David assured me that sidewalk counselors were not out there as protestors, but as Christians concerned for the well-being of all involved – mothers and babies.

This concern for those affected by abortion is what drew me to the S4U ministry, and the very first week I joined I saw how true David’s explanation had been. The S4U volunteers are people who attend with one goal: to offer hope and help to women intending to have abortions. The wild card in this ministry is of course, that most of the people we encounter disagree with our stance that every life is precious and are offended by our efforts to change their minds about abortion. Add to that the fact that there are volunteers for the abortion clinic who come specifically to shield mothers from our conversations, and you can imagine how tense the environment can get.

Clinic escorts and sidewalk counselors conversely vie for the attention of clients while walking a short distance down a narrow sidewalk leading to the clinic. Understandably, it is not the ideal environment to hold a sensitive conversation, especially in front of an audience of opposition. Nonetheless, we seek to conscientiously engage in this atmosphere because we truly believe we have the opportunity to help save the life of a baby. And beyond that, we know that this ministry is effective, because we have seen it work. Already this year, we have confirmed 3 instances of women coming out of the abortion clinic having decided to keep their babies. We know the sidewalks are a last resort, but surely we should show up if it’s worth the chance to help save a life and spare a mother a lifetime of regret.

The accusations that David tried to “injure or intimidate” anyone is completely unfounded and goes against all he was seeking to accomplish on the sidewalks. His original case was dismissed and the new federal suit is grossly lacking in evidence and substance. We are confident that if he is investigated, his outstanding character and compassionate reputation will be a credit to his innocence. Further, it is stated on S4U’s website that sidewalk counselors, “in no way support illegal activities, unkind words or tone, threats, unwanted physical contact, or anything of the sort.” David and all sidewalk counselors are careful to abide by these principles. It would be completely counter-productive to our ministry to be intimidating those we most long to help, and would discredit the grace and compassion we show up to represent.

I can’t vouch for every sidewalk counselor in our nation, but I can say that in Louisville, the Speak for the Unborn ministry is committed to engaging with women in a non-violent manner that is loving, kind, and respectful. I have consistently observed a motive of love in the sidewalk counselors I serve with and have wholeheartedly joined in with this lot. We may be misunderstood and misrepresented, but our confident convictions will keep us coming back day after day. We are motivated by the hope that women will hear our message and cherish the miracle of life over the devastation of abortion. We share these thoughts through our freedoms of speech and through godly and legal means. That is what sidewalk counselors do.

If you’d like to learn more about what sidewalk counselors do, please feel free to look through our website for more information.

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