Sunday, October 23, 2011

A Wealth of Inspiration

Yesterday I participated in a 40 Days for Life prayer vigil at a Planned Parenthood abortion clinic not too far from where I live. When I arrived at the clinic at 7 AM, no other vigil participants were present. I prayed by myself outside the clinic for about an hour. During this time a few people arrived at the clinic. I couldn't tell for sure why they were there, but I suspect that they might have been clinic employees. One lady was dropped off by a man who flipped me off as he drove by on the way out of the clinic parking lot. Nice.  

About an hour after I arrived at the clinic, a woman appeared across the clinic parking lot carrying some sort of abortion protest sign. She spotted me, and gave me a friendly wave. I waved back in a show of pro-life solidarity. After praying a while longer, I decided to join her and some other vigil participants who had gathered with her. As I approached, I could see that she had several signs with pro-life messages, and a knapsack slung over her shoulder, bulging with various pamphlets of information. Everyone in the group took a few minutes to introduce themselves. The woman with the knapsack said that her name was Joy. In addition to Joy, there were several Catholic college students from the Newman center at a nearby university, and a couple of non-Catholic Christian women who said that they were involved in a crisis pregnancy center in the area. I believe one of the women said she was a director of the center. The photograph above shows Joy on the left, and a vigil participant named Lisa. Lisa works in the library at a nearby university. Everyone in the group was at the clinic as part of the 40 Days for life vigil, but Joy mentioned that she prays and ministers at this clinic all year. She is also the director of pro-life ministries at her Catholic parish.

After chatting briefly, we continued praying. The women from the crisis pregnancy center took up station across the parking lot, at the exit where I originally was, and Joy, the college students, and I remained where we were. The technique we used to connect with the people entering and exiting the clinic was similar to a military operation, as strange as that may sound. In a military operation, ground troops enter enemy territory, while friendly aircraft fly overhead to provide air support. At the clinic, Joy was the "ground troops", engaging not the "enemy", but rather those who have been deceived by the enemy, who is the devil. Rather than "air support", the rest of us provided "prayer support". When Joy saw someone entering or exiting the facility, she would ask us to start praying for them, and for her, as she engaged them in conversation. She would then call out a friendly "Hello!" to the person to get their attention. Once they looked her way, she would call them over. What surprised me was that most people actually responded and came over to her, instead of ignoring her. I believe it was God's hand guiding them to her. As they approached her, she would say something to them that would break the ice, like "You have a nice outfit", or something similar, to show them that she was friendly, and not some loony protester. She was very sincere in what she said, and I could tell that it put them at ease.

Once the person reached her, she would begin a conversation with them. She asked them about their situation, and why they came to the clinic. As she talked to them, she shared information with them about the harmful effects of abortion, and provided information about the facility they were about to enter or had just left. She often shared a story about a friend of hers who aborted her first child, and became sterile as a result of the procedure, never able to have children. She told them about the grief and heartache that her friend experiences every day because of the abortion. Even if the person was coming to the facility for a service other than abortion, she would direct them to other facilities in the area that provided those services without doing abortions. She did everything she could to save lives by taking business away from the abortion mill. The clinic was undergoing renovation, and she even tried to convince the contractors working on the clinic to stop working there and take their business elsewhere.

What was really inspiring about the way Joy ministered to people at the clinic was her sincere caring and compassion for them. She simply loved them where they were, and didn't make any assumptions about their situation. She shared information with them that enabled them to make an informed decision. Abortion proponents who think pro-life activists are nothing but crazed fanatics need to watch Joy in action. She is a shining example of what it truly means to be "pro-life". May God bless her and all those like her who work tirelessly to educate people on the hurt that abortion causes women and men.     

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