Sunday, July 20, 2014

Join the Justice Ride

            There we stood in the room, not a dry eye to see. Out in the garden, the same. Some took it all in. Some read the plaques on the wall. Some prayed. Some wept too much to do anything else.
            The National Memorial for the Unborn was a somber reminder to the task we undertook.
            There’s just one problem: unlike other memorials to the dead, this one has a running tally.
            I read over the hundreds of small bronze plaques left by mothers, fathers, siblings and grandparents to memorialize their children lost to abortion. The regret felt was evident, placed in a spot where the crimes took place. The Memorial is a former abortion mill, shut down through the efforts of local pro-life activists, then bought by them.
            I came to one plaque that continues to come back to me. Like the others, it was simple, but the message was powerful:

January 1975
If We Had Only Known…Our Love, Mom & Dad

            “If We Had Only Known.” I immediately thought, “That’s why we’re here.” I walked over to a bench, began to pray, and broke down.
            This was my second Justice Ride with Created Equal, an event that brings a bus full of young people to campuses and cities in America to educate people about abortion. Last time I wrote of the experiences we had. This time I plan to weave them in to an appeal to you to consider it.
            The pro-life movement needs this generation. My generation. That is the target of Created Equal and, specifically, the Justice Ride. The training over a week is the beginning of a lifelong fight against the injustice of abortion.
            Being slightly experienced in the movement now, I had the privilege to help some of the less-experienced first-time riders. I’ll say right now, I couldn’t be more proud of everyone involved. I admired the courage involved to do this type of work, and the resolve and enthusiasm shown by both returning riders and the new ones. It especially excites me to see high school students getting involved early on. I wish I had known about these opportunities sooner, and I’m glad they’re on their way.
            The Justice Ride is set up in a fairly simple manner (though through much work on the part of Created Equal’s staff). We receive training at the beginning of the trip on how to defend the pro-life position. But the real training comes by being on the streets, talking to people of all different backgrounds and beliefs.
            Expect to get to know everyone closely. There have never been times that I have built relationships faster than on these Justice Rides. I believe it is due to us having the same passion, the same thirst for God, and being thrown into the fire together.
            Expect trials along the way. It is not easy work; I’m not the type to sugar-coat anything. You will be tired. You may not get to shower every day. You will be staying in churches, homes and camps, often sleeping on the floor. You will travel many miles every day.
            Ridicule is a part of everyday life. Some things I was told and heard about others this week include, “You all need to go kill yourselves”, “Go the f*** back to Columbus”, “This is child porn”, “You are domestic terrorists”, “A man should never have an opinion on abortion”, “Go f*** yourself”, “Get this s*** of the street”, “You’re torturing children”, “This is the most offensive thing I’ve ever seen”, and a host of other things. Every city we went, there were store and restaurant owners complaining to us and about us, sometimes in quite belligerent manners. Several of them I spoke to personally, and they did not represent their businesses well. You will find those who make sport of the display, such as the Jimmy John’s employees who posed in front of a sign in their biker shorts. In Jackson, Mississippi, we were met by police who harassed us, then stood by while a businessman stole signs of the sidewalk. There’s even a chance of physical assault, as has happened before.
            It will be intense. Standing face-to-face with chanting abortion mill volunteers while we worshipped and prayed was a highlight for many. Attempting to pacify a rude person who really doesn’t want to hear what you have to say is part of the position. The movement is rightly described as war. Satan and his demons are at work in the lives of many we come into contact with. It is a fight against the greatest human rights violation of our time- 2,900 die every day, not naturally, but by targeted killing. As I walked out of the bus in Jackson, I thanked our bus driver Charles, who replied, “Alright, off to battle.”
            As our director Mark Harrington said, the contrast between good and evil was so evident. While pro-abortionists claim we are waging the war on women, it is they who harassed a woman who changed her mind about abortion. We show nothing but love, even and especially to those who are post-abortive. A gothic, homosexual male harshly criticized a girl over being “against women’s rights”. Back in the civil rights movements, they were known as “nigger-lovers”. White racists hated black people, but hated whites who were for racial equality even more. In the same way, many pro-abortionists hate men (particularly feminists), but hate pro-life women even more. While we kept our cool, pro-choice people exploded. While we were out to share the truth, others attempted to cover it up. (If there is nothing wrong with abortion, why is there something wrong with the photos?)
            Be ready to deal with all sorts of crazy ideas. People will claim life is based on mental capacity, thereby leaving out the mentally handicapped, infants, and those in a coma from being actual “people”. Those who are blindly pro-choice will claim it is but a clump of cells, despite what they are looking at. Some Evolutionary Kool-Aid drinkers will claim it doesn’t matter, because we’re all going to die anyway; besides, life isn’t worth anything. Many won’t want to even discuss the issue, instead lashing out due to the photos or simply because you are pro-life.
            You will face rejection. A lot of it. People will look the other way. They’ll politely say no thanks. They’ll rudely, is some colorful way, tell you no thanks. They’ll take a flyer and keep walking. They’ll throw out a quick comment and continue on. They’ll take a brochure and immediately throw it away, or knock the stack out of your hand. Most people don’t want to be bothered with the issue.
            But it’s the support and success that will keep you going. People need to know the whole truth about abortion, and that includes seeing it for themselves. I can’t count the number of people I ran into this past week (as well as before then) that say they have never seen abortion images before. Most of them are horrified and immediately are against it. A nursing student in Atlanta tried to tell me most people there would be too stupid to know what it was, but it doesn’t take an embryologist to see bloody hands and feet, much smaller than a penny, with a simple caption explaining what one is looking at. You will learn how to defend your views, and you may well see people change their minds due to what you say. There will be support along the way. Pro-life people that honk, give a quick word of encouragement, or even have a conversation will get you through long outreaches. You will have an entire team to uplift you after being berated, and collectively celebrate each triumph. If you are stumped, you can be sure that your questions will be answered by the staff or a more experienced person. There are no weak links; there is no room for them in this work.
            You will meet people on the street that you will remember for a lifetime. I had my best conversation on the last day in Nashville, where I spoke to a man just a year older than I who was, as I found, a believer in Christ. He was against abortion and even gay marriage but had never seen the images. He was also struggling greatly in his faith, as he told me. “I haven’t even told my parents this; if I did, they’d disown me.” After getting his information and talking for a while, I was able to pray with him. It is conversations like these that makes it all worth it.
            You will have the opportunity to share your faith. You will make an impact. Thousands in cars and on the sidewalks saw these images. As British abolitionist William Wilberforce put it, “You may choose to look the other way but you can never say again that you did not know.” You will see minds and hearts changed. You will see healing from the broken. You may even see a life saved, as we did when our bus driver- yes, our bus driver- spoke to a woman debating going in for her abortion appointment.
            You will have a lot of fun, visiting landmarks and mixing with others who share your views. Look through our pictures, my pictures- it won’t take long to realize. Maybe you can even join the Southern Athletic Cup and begin tossing Styrofoam cups.
            You will have amazing experiences like walking through the National Memorial for the Unborn, or singing and praying in front of an abortion mill.
            You will be motivated and prepared for future pro-life activism. Maybe even decide to do it full-time.
            You will see God’s hand on you and your peers.
            The pro-life movement needs you. Holding a pro-life view while standing on the sidelines enables abortion to continue. I do not mince words. Don’t say it’s not your job. It’s everyone’s job, especially Christians. Don’t expect others to do it. If not you, who?
            Don’t dare say you think graphic images work. Those who have actually used them know better, far better, that they are effective. Don’t let ignorance cloud your judgment.
            Don’t say it’s not important. If the church won’t stand for the most helpless of our society, it’s as illegitimate as any other organization.
            Lifelong friends, lifelong memories, lifelong service to God and for the unborn.
            Stop making excuses.
            Rise up. Get involved.
            Join the Justice Ride.

The next Justice Ride is scheduled for spring breaks, tentatively March 7-15.

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