After dropping off my daughter at a program in downtown Hagerstown, I went to my "field office" at Starbucks to do some work. But when I arrived, I discovered that I had brought none of it with me. After scolding myself for this mistake in planning, I realized that it wasn't a mistake.
I have learned that these unscheduled twists to my routine are often a message from heaven; that there was something else for me to do-- and somewhere else I needed to be. And it occurred to me that the place was downtown; so I went back.
Upon parking my car, I walked a few blocks up Washington Street toward the abortion clinic. Some of the members from my church have been conducting a quiet prayer ministry out front, determining to be a positive presence and a loving support team for the women who come there. They pray for the clinic staff as well as the orange-vested escorts who guard the entrance so they can quickly usher in any young woman who is abortion-minded.
I have never been part of a sidewalk prayer team. But that day I felt compelled to walk to that clinic. I think it takes courage to be there, whether you are an advocate or an opponent of what goes on inside. Why? Because there is a spiritual presence there. A place that makes its profit from the killing of perfectly healthy babies is a dark business. It's been my experience that most pro choice people I've known are not pro abortion; nor would they likely choose this for themselves. But they believe the choice to have one's baby killed is a woman's right. And so the argument goes. I am being blunt, but let's be honest; that's what it is. It's not like getting your appendix out, which is not as traumatic; and you can get over that.
However, this is not the point I want to ponder here today.
As I approached the area, the Holy Spirit impressed a message upon my heart: "You are going to have some interesting encounters today." I saw four escorts in their orange vests, prepared to protect abortion-minded women from being spoken to or prayed for by the pro life team. I felt sorry for the frightened, stressed out pregnant woman who encounters this scene. None of our people were protesting or holding up graphic pictures. That's not our purpose.
Within moments of my arrival, a young woman carrying a bag of clothes was heading to the recently closed Hope Resource Center to trade her items for a package of diapers, as she had done in the past. Finding the place closed, she broke down and cried. Financially strapped, behind on her rent, three preschool age and one preteen at home, and difficulty finding work, she was broken. The older women consoled her, gave her some money and prayed with her. Being a pastor I had knowledge of other agencies that can help and I could get some funds as well.
We located where she lived, got her some help, and have a relationship with her as she gets her life together. In the New Testament book of Titus, chapter 2, older mature women of faith are told to mentor and teach the younger ones. Some women have taken this young mom under their wing, visited her home, and encouraged her. Simply put, it's all about relationships. You can curse the darkness or be the light that helps dispel it.
It is a sad welcome to our city, to encounter on the main thoroughfare an abortion mill. But ponder this: businesses close when they have no customers. That day I saw a group of God's people love a single mom of four through her crisis. This is doable, for it is what God has called and equipped us to do.
Meanwhile there are other moms in crisis coming to Washington Street in fear, feeling they have no other "choice" but that clinic.
Imagine if we who claim to love God would overwhelm this dark space in town with love. If, for Christ's sake, these women encountered LOVE there, what could happen?. By loving kindness, and prayerful presence, what if we simply dried up the demand for the services being offered? Adds a whole new meaning to pro choice.