Signs of Life

flowers-sidewalk-crackI have a friend who feels called to sidewalk ministry at a local abortion clinic. She’d tell you she wishes someone had been there to stop her all those years ago. Hearing her stories about how God faithfully shows up to bless her and others through her never gets old. And she has many such stories.

She goes armed with “love, which comes from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith” (1 Timothy 1:5).

She doesn’t shout, because she understands that He is gentle (Matthew 11:29).

She doesn’t condemn, because she understands that He came not to condemn but to save (John 3:17).

She doesn’t carry a sign depicting death, because she understands that He bears no resemblance to death (John 14:6). She is there to represent Him — to represent Life.

Her faith is not in a big voice or a big sign but in a big God.

She knows that He brought His Kingdom close to live among sinners. Rich in compassion, He met them at their point of need — physical, social, or spiritual. He touched their open sores. He washed their dirty feet. He fed their hunger. He comforted their troubled hearts. He communed with them.

This is our model for ministry.

“The Lord’s bond-servant must not be quarrelsome, but be kind to all, able to teach, patient when wronged, with gentleness correcting those who are in opposition, if perhaps God may grant them repentance leading to the knowledge of the truth, and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, having been held captive by him to do his will”  (2 Timothy 2: 24-26).

She knows her enemy is not the one ensnared, but the one who set the trap.

She knows that people who perceive themselves as trapped will resort to otherwise unthinkable measures to get free. In times of crisis, in desperation and panic, like a trapped animal that chews off it’s own leg, they will take what they perceive as the only path to freedom.

Later in life, when a post-abortive woman experiences a planned pregnancy and first sees her baby in utero, she may find herself facing conflicting feelings.

What was once perceived as a trap she took great lengths to escape is now seen as a precious loved one whose value is incalculable. In the case of her unplanned pregnancy, she sought to preserve her life at the expense of another. In the case of her planned pregnancy, she would sacrifice her life to preserve the life of her baby.

My friend understands that an unplanned pregnancy is not a trap but the consequence of an action — just as a planned pregnancy is the consequence of an action. The same action leads to the same reality — pregnancy. The difference is how the pregnancy is perceived.

She knows that it’s not within her power to turn back time and choose differently, just as it’s not within her power to make that choice for others. But that’s not why she’s there.

She’s there to do what she can — to meet each individual at their point of need with an understanding that poverty takes on forms not seen with the natural eye (Ephesians 2:12, Revelation 3:17).

There, on the sidewalk, she draws close. She listens to and consoles fears. She provides information about available support and alternative options. She shares her story. She prays for and with them. She cries for and with them. And she hugs them.

She’s there to do unto others what she wished someone had done unto her.

She’s there so that He can love others through her — without signs, without condition, and without stones.

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