“I’m pro-life, but I’m not called to pro-life ministry.”
Have you heard this before? Maybe you have said it yourself. I understand how you feel. I never envisioned myself as a political activist or a street evangelist and I have only engaged in the abortion battle in recent years myself, and yes, it is a battle. I won’t subject you to descriptions of pro-life ministry that are all marshmallows and sunshine. Pro-life ministry doesn’t always carry with it the fresh scent of rosy baby skin, it often reeks of death and decay and makes your heart ache for the state of hearts and the depravity of minds. This ministry is a battle both physical and spiritual, and should you involve yourself in it, you will feel the weariness of the fight at times.
In spite of the difficulty of this ministry, the truth is we need you in it. There are 1793 abortion providers in the US. That is one clinic to every 125,567 people in this country that claim to follow Christ (US Census Bureau & Pew Research). Now, we could spend time arguing over how many of those people could honestly be considered Christians based on their statement of faith, but that is beside my point. The point is we live in a country wherein seventy percent of the population wants to affiliate themselves with Christ, yet virtually nobody is moved to action to help the little ones being taken to slaughter every day of the week. You would think with this ratio of Christ followers to abortion clinics there would always be Christians filling the sidewalks around these killing places offering help to abortion-bound women and their babies. You would think, but you would be wrong.
Are you getting visions of the Levite and the Pharisee crossing to the other side of the road as they bypass the bloody traveler? I am. There were precious few good Samaritans in Jesus’ day. There are precious few in ours. The battered bodies of our littlest neighbors are crying out to us to cross the street and speak for them, care for them, plead with their parents for the preservation of their lives. The recent videos from The Center for Medical Progress call Americans to look on the broken bodies of travelers whose journeys were cut violently short. “War-torn” is how one of the Planned Parenthood employees described the body of a recently aborted boy. Even those who deal in murder every day can’t entirely escape the true nature of what they do. We can ignore these unfortunate children if we choose, but our words about loving Jesus and loving our neighbors take on an empty ring when we do.
Whose Duty is it to Help?
What am I saying? Is it our moral duty to physically go to these clinics to minister to the unborn and those who bring them there to die; is it a sin if we don’t go? Not necessarily. There may be good reasons for not going. However, before you heave a deep sigh of relief that you don’t need to make sidewalk counseling (or clinic ministry, or street evangelism, or whatever you prefer to call it) your personal ministry, let me urge you to consider a few things.
1. Loving our neighbors is not optional.
Jesus went so far as to say that the whole word of God, everything written in the law and the prophets, depends on two things: loving God and loving neighbor (Matthew 22:37–40). He was quoting the Old Testament when He said that, so this was not a brand new idea. He didn’t suddenly decide, “I think I’ll be all about love now. It’s time to give up all that judgment stuff and just love people.” No, this command has been part of the God-fearing life all along.
If we find ourselves asking, as the lawyer did in Luke 10, “Who is my neighbor?,” we can look to the story of the Good Samaritan for our answer: the broken ones, the bloody ones, those who are cast off and left for dead, the despised ones whom no one else will help and whom it will cost us dearly to care for.
2. Avoiding the practice of evil is not enough; it must be exposed.
Paul tells us, “Do not participate in the unfruitful deeds of darkness, but instead even expose them.” (Ephesians 5:11). We are called to godly activity in the world. Our faith is not merely for kindling a cozy glow to our own hearts, it is a powerful and active force for changing our culture. Keeping the light of the gospel inside the walls of our churches and recesses of our minds leaves a shroud of darkness lying heavy on the earth.
Christians, when living rightly, change the flavor and luminosity of our environment. Jesus called it being salt and light (Matthew 5:13–16). Salty living doesn’t only avoid the practice of evil personally, but takes action to expose evil wherever it lurks.
3. Seeking justice is what Christians do.
God is deeply concerned about justice. The ubiquitous use of this word throughout the Bible shows us that God has always been concerned about justice, and always will be. We must be too. We are commanded repeatedly to do justice to our fellow man.
Learn to do good; seek justice, reprove the ruthless, defend the orphan, plead for the widow (Isaiah 1:17).
To do righteousness and justice is more acceptable to the Lord than sacrifice (Proverbs 21:3).
You tithe mint and dill and cumin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness (Matthew 23:23).
For time would fail me to tell of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, of David and Samuel and the prophets— who through faith conquered kingdoms, enforced justice… (Hebrews 11:32–33).
Justice is not merely an idea to have in our heads, it is something to do in defense of our neighbors. We are not to be respecters of persons, treating some people with honor and others with disdain based on their outward appearance or position. When we see the defenseless oppressed, when orphans, widows, or the poor are subjected to injustice, we are called to action to restore justice.
4. Speaking up is a command.
Open your mouth for the mute, for the rights of all who are destitute. Open your mouth, judge righteously, defend the rights of the poor and needy (Proverbs 31:8–9).
The Christian life is not marked by the survival-of-the-fittest mentality that is common to worldly minds. Instead we find we are being called to lay down our lives for each other, to esteem others as better than ourselves, and to care for those who are weak and downtrodden. We should be always ready to use our voices to defend the defenseless. It is not enough to simply refrain from oppressing the poor and needy, we must be their vocal defenders.
5. These are not spiritual gifts distributed to select people, they are commands for all people.
Loving your neighbor, exposing evil, and speaking up for those who have no voice, are woven into the fabric of Christian living. They may manifest themselves in varied action depending on our gifts and opportunities, but they are things that we all must obey.
6. Your gifts and talents are desperately needed.
This battle has many fronts: political, social, and street-level. I can’t tell you exactly how your specific gifts and talents can be used to help in the work of speaking for the voiceless and bringing justice to the needy. I can tell you they are desperately needed. There are gaping holes on the frontlines of this campaign to illuminate these dark places, and many of us out there feel inadequate for the size of the job.
There are many parts to play. Maybe your part is to watch your friend’s three-year-old so she can spend an hour or two doing sidewalk counseling. Maybe it is volunteering for the hotline to reach vulnerable women before they reach the abortion clinic. Maybe you are politically active or web savvy and can spearhead political or social media campaigns to advance the cause. Maybe you can be a foster or adoptive parent. Maybe you have had an abortion and experienced the forgiveness of Christ and can share your story with hurting women. Maybe you can stand by my side on the sidewalk and remind me not to lose heart because some days it’s really hard out there.
You may be a gifted encourager, a creative, a bold-speaker, a techie, or a soft heart. You are all needed, and when you work together to care for your neighbors you do it better than anyone else. There is no government-sponsored social program in the world that cares for the unfortunate better than Christ’s church when she is loving God and loving her neighbor.
Whatever our talents, location, personality, or how busy we are; we will never be able to say that we didn’t know what injustice was being visited on the weakest members of our society. The truth is there for all to see. We are on the road, having seen the broken traveler, the question remains: What are we going to do about it?
What Can We Do to Help?
The steps you take to cross the road and help the broken and the helpless will be ones of faith. Please take the time to watch this excellent film and see how and why some Christians are doing clinic ministry.