Sidewalk Counseling with Ashley Riddle of Metro Pro-Life Advocates

I was joined in studio last week by Ashley Riddle, president of Metro Pro-Life Advocates, to talk about sidewalk counseling and her recent interaction with a strange fellow outside an abortion facility.

A Tale of Two Marches with Reagan Barklage

I’m joined by Reagan Barklage, coordinator of the midwest chapter of Students for Life, to talk about her experiences in Washington DC over the last two weekends with the Women’s March and the March for Life. Reagan also shares some of the great things that Students for Life is doing on college campuses around the country.

Why is He Eating with her? She had an Abortion.

I’ve said before that one of the most powerful weapons in the fight against abortion is prayer.  We pray for the unborn.  We pray for expecting mothers and fathers.  We pray for abortionists and people who support abortion.  However, one large group of people that I don’t think we remember in our prayers (at least I haven’t) is our fellow pro-life Christians.  I’m not talking about just the leaders.  I’m talking about the everyday pro-lifer.  My heart has been heavy lately as I’ve heard recent stories of people shouting hateful things at women leaving abortion clinics, calling them murderers, and I’ve read comments on social media, from some Christians, condemning post-abortive women to Hell and saying they deserve any misfortunes that have befallen on them.

These pro-life Christians are mad about abortion, as they should be.  Anger in itself is not always a bad thing.  There is such a thing as righteous anger.  I’m angry about abortion. I’m angry about the lives lost and lives ruined in the aftermath.  I’m mad that there are so many people out there who don’t see the truth of what it is and what it does.  I’m mad that I made that choice as a teenager.

My anger will never control me though.  My anger will never take up more space in my heart than the love and mercy that I received and learned from Christ.  When anger takes over our heart space, the door to the truth closes and lies are free to roam — lies that say another person isn’t loved by our Lord because of their sin.  That’s not what Jesus taught us.

Jesus loves every single one of us sinners.  He wants us all to be with Him in Heaven.  He did not become man to dine with the righteous.  He came to offer His forgiveness and mercy.  Oh, but there were some that didn’t appreciate that.  They were called the Pharisees.

When the woman who was a sinner wiped Jesus’ feet with her tears, the Pharisee said, “If this man were a prophet, he would have known who and what sort of woman this is who is touching him, for she is a sinner” (Luke 7:39).

Jesus forgave her. He said, “Therefore I tell you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven—for she loved much. But he who is forgiven little, loves little.” And he said to her, “Your sins are forgiven” (Luke 7:47-48).

When Jesus ate with sinners, the Pharisees said, “Why is your Teacher eating with the tax collectors and sinners?” (Matthew 9:11).

Jesus said, “It is not those who are healthy who need a physician, but those who are sick.…” (Matthew 9:12).

Aren’t we all sick?  Aren’t we all sinners?  Who are we to judge who is deserving of dining with Jesus in His Kingdom?

Saying hateful things to people puts up a barrier that prevents them from turning to Christ.  If a Christian shouts at a post-abortive woman, calling her a murder, is she going to turn to a Christian when she is in despair?  Will she turn to Christian organizations when she needs healing?  Will she turn to the Church when she realizes something is missing from her life?  Think about that.

The truth is, she may, but that is because our Lord’s love is greater than hateful words.  He will open the doors that others have shut.  Jesus said, “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites. You lock the kingdom of heaven before human beings. You do not enter yourselves, nor do you allow entrance to those trying to enter”  (Matthew 12:13-14).

Jesus will remember who played a part in shutting the doors to others, but He will forgive them too, when they repent.

We should never shut doors by our anger.  It’s also not our job to push people through doors by telling them what they need to do.  What we must do is open the doors for others by being kind, by understanding that there is a story behind every sin that is oftentimes very painful, and by praying for those who have not met Christ.  Sometimes it takes time for them to walk through the door, but it will be so much easier if it’s been opened for them.  This doesn’t mean we need to condone sin. It just means we need to love people where they are at.  For example, instead of calling a woman a murder because she had an abortion, one can say, “I’m so sorry you went through that. If you ever want to talk about it, let me know.”  If you don’t feel equipped to listen when she/he is ready to talk, refer her to one of the many wonderful post-abortion ministries (Project Rachel, Rachel’s Vineyard etc.).

I love that Pope Francis has been outspoken about the need to forgive post abortive women.  He was not the first pope to do that, though.  Saint John Paul the Great, in Evangelium Vitae wrote these beautiful words:

I would now like to say a special word to women who have had an abortion. The Church is aware of the many factors which may have influenced your decision, and she does not doubt that in many cases it was a painful and even shattering decision. The wound in your heart may not yet have healed. Certainly what happened was and remains terribly wrong. But do not give in to discouragement and do not lose hope. Try rather to understand what happened and face it honestly. If you have not already done so, give yourselves over with humility and trust to repentance. The Father of mercies is ready to give you his forgiveness and his peace in the Sacrament of Reconciliation. To the same Father and to his mercy you can with sure hope entrust your child. With the friendly and expert help and advice of other people, and as a result of your own painful experience, you can be among the most eloquent defenders of everyone’s right to life. Through your commitment to life, whether by accepting the birth of other children or by welcoming and caring for those most in need of someone to be close to them, you will become promoters of a new way of looking at human life.

Beautiful.

“With the friendly and expert help and advice of other people, and as a result of your own painful experience, you can be among the most eloquent defenders of everyone’s right to life.”

“With the friendly and expert help and advice of other people, and as a result of your own painful experience, you can be among the most eloquent defenders of everyone’s right to life.”

Pro-lifers do or should know that abortion hurts women if not immediately, eventually.  Pro-abortion people don’t believe that, though.  Condemning post-abortive women is a very effective way of silencing them, thus hurting the pro-life cause.

More importantly, it prevents them from reaching out for healing, as they are fearful of people like the ones that screamed at them and judged them.

Most importantly, it’s keeping them from Christ.  Don’t try to prevent someone from entering the Kingdom of Heaven.  Don’t try to prevent me from entering the Kingdom of Heaven.  It’s a lost battle anyway as our Lord will be reaching out His arms to these people.  I’ve felt this embrace and it crushes all anger and hate.

Join me in praying for our fellow pro-life Christians, that they will not allow anger to rule their words, that they each will be an example of Christ by extending mercy and love to all people, regardless of their sin, and that they will open doors.

Making History with Our Children.

I went to the Planned Parenthood peaceful protest in August with my 14-year-old son.  I actually had other plans that day so I almost didn’t go.  However, after praying about it, I knew that nothing I had going on was more important than standing up for those that cannot stand up for themselves.  I thought, when I look back on this day 20 years from now, am I going to remember that I went on a girls trip to Omaha early enough to get a swag bag at the bath bomb store? Probably not.

But I will remember the day that I made history with my son.

I remember sharing a first-time experience with him–a peaceful protest.

I remember praying the Rachel Rosary with my son.  I also remember feeling anxiety because I thought he would not want to pray with me.  He is a teenager!  I remember being relieved and overwhelmed with happiness and thankfulness to God when he not only stood by me, but also said it with me.

I remember seeing faces not anything like the way pro-lifers are often portrayed. I remember seeing faces filled with love, but also eyes filled with sadness for the injustice that takes place behind the brick walls of the abortion clinic.

I remember seeing so many people huddled together in prayer.

I remember seeing a girl with her head on the ground, praying with every cell in her body.

I remember hearing people drive past screaming out of their car windows and I remember praying for those people. I bet most of the people standing on that sidewalk prayed for them too.

I remember seeing familiar faces of those I’ve seen at other pro-life events who, after several years, are not giving up this fight.

I encourage all pro-lifers to not only make time for one of these events, but take your children with you.  It is a wonderful learning experience and it will make more sense to them than you might think.  Children are pro-life. If you ask a child who sees a pregnant woman what is in her belly, they will say a baby.  If you show a child a picture of an ultrasound, they will recognize a baby. Their uncorrupt hearts know that it’s a baby.

I know the conversation is kind of uncomfortable to approach, but talking to them about moral issues is so important in this culture that inundates them with adult information at too young of an age. This month, during 40 Days for Life I took my 14-year-old and 6-year-old to pray in front of the abortion clinic.  We were the only ones in front of the clinic at that time so it was awkward for us, but again, my 14-year-old prayed the Rachel Rosary with me, and the time we were there was amazing because it taught all of us that sometimes doing the right thing is uncomfortable.  It was good “practice” for their futures and mine.

During our drive to the clinic, I explained to my 6-year-old why it was important for us to be there. I explained that when a woman is pregnant that there’s a baby growing inside of her, that some people understand that baby should be protected and not hurt while others believe that the baby doesn’t have rights until it’s born so it’s okay to hurt the baby. I told him that we were going to pray for those babies but I also told him that we needed to pray for the mommies that were scared, that they would be comforted.  We needed to pray for the fathers, that they would support the mothers and their babies.  I told him that we needed to pray for the doctors who are hurting the babies, that they will see that what they’re doing is not right and that they will stop and instead, fight for the babies’ lives.  I told him we needed to pray that everyone who believes that these babies do not have rights while in their temporary home, sees the truth.

My 6-year-old understood this.  It probably seemed like common sense to him.  Of course a baby is a human that deserves to be protected.  It’s only we adults that, through trials and tribulations of our lives lose our way and insert untruths into our morality and justifications for our misdeeds.  If only we could look at some of these big issues like children do, before their minds are filled with all of the stuff this world throws at them.

Christ calls us to become like children.  It’s obvious why.  Not only do they see things with an uncorrupt mind but they know that they are dependent upon their caregivers for support.  We are dependent as well.  We are weak.  We need to admit we cannot end abortion on our own and instead, lean on Christ through our prayers.

Again, I cannot express how wonderful the Rachel Rosary is.  Before each Hail Mary you pray for another person affected by abortion–the teenager who is pregnant and afraid to tell her parents; “the mother of a poor family who unexpectedly becomes pregnant and is advised that abortion is the ‘logical’ choice for her family’s sake”; for “the counselor who allows the pressure of ‘political correctness’ to influence her counsel”.  If you want to teach your children to pray for others versus judge or have feelings of hate for them, pray the Rachel Rosary with them.

So, 40 days is not quite over.  Please consider praying in front of your local abortion clinic. Please consider taking your children.  Teach them that abortion is wrong.  Teach them to stand tall and do the right thing even when they feel like they’re all alone.  Most importantly, teach them about God’s healing, mercy and forgiveness that is available for all of us by praying for post-abortive women and men, abortionists and people who support abortion.

Someday, when our children are older they will, with sadness, read about a time when abortion was legal.  They will read about the lives lost and lives scarred.  They will read about the protests.  They will read about the people praying in front of the clinics.  They will read about the people joined in life chains.  Amidst the sadness, they will smile and say, I was there.  I was part of that history.  I made a difference.

NATIONAL DAY OF PROTEST AGAINST PLANNED PARENTHOOD

This Saturday, Aug. 22nd, is National Day of Protest Against PP’s harvesting and selling of aborted baby parts.

There will be two Locations in Nebraska, both from 9:00 a.m to 11:00 a.m.

PP Heartland Clinic at 48th & Old Cheney in Lincoln.

Memorial Park, 6005 Underwood Ave. in Omaha.

Please prayerfully consider joining us on Saturday and being a witness against the harvesting of aborted baby parts.

For more information go to protestpp.com.

 

We Must Pray for Abortionists

There was once a man who beat another man to death, hid his body, and then ran away for fear of being discovered.

There was once a man who slept with another man’s wife … and then put her husband in circumstances that would most likely lead to his death … and it did.

There once was a man who stood by and did nothing while innocent people were murdered.  In fact, he encouraged it.  He hated people because their beliefs were different from his.  He encouraged hate and murder of Christians.

How do we react to people who partake in actions as heinous as these?  We might judge, hate, ignore or pray.  Surely good people wouldn’t do these things right?  We might consider them hopeless … but God might have a different plan.  You may already have guessed who these men are. They are Moses, King David and St. Paul.

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40,685,037

According to the Abortion Counter, as of July 30, 2015 at 1:19 p.m., 633,462 abortions have taken place in the United States so far this year.  By the end of 2015 it appears that there will have been roughly 1,095,800 abortions in the US, which is a believable number considering it’s close to the past three years.

“An estimated 984,000 abortions took place in 2013.”  http://www.abort73.com/abortion_facts/us_abortion_statistics/

“… the Guttmacher Institute reported:  … 1.05 million abortions in the US in 2012; http://www.guttmacher.org/pubs/fb_induced_abortion.html

“In 2011, 1.1 million American women obtained abortions, producing a rate of 16.9 abortions per 1,000 women of reproductive age.” http://www.guttmacher.org/pubs/sfaa/nebraska.html

So, if we are going to reach around 1,095,800 abortions in 2015 (note that this is an estimate and I am no statistician), that means around 3003 abortions have taken place every day in the United States, 126 every hour and at least two every minute.

Since you started reading this at least 1 abortion took place in the United States.

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To the Random Lady at my Doctor’s Office -Thank you for not Shaming me!

IMG_20150428_131028When I was pregnant at eighteen years old, walking up to the counter at my doctor’s office, an elderly lady came up to me, touched my stomach and said “God bless you” with the sweetest smile and walked away.  At that time I didn’t think anything of it, although I’ve always remembered her.  Not being involved in a church at that time, I just thought of her as some religious lady who liked babies.  But now I realize it was much more!  She was a role model. A model of how people should react when they see a young pregnant woman.

What do pro-lifers want to do?  Save babies.  How can we save babies?  By not shaming young and/or unwed mothers that have gotten pregnant. We need to treat them with love, and not judgment, because that is pro-life.

We cannot whisper and ostracize pregnant women whose situations do not fit our perception of an ideal situation.  We can not look at them with pity or disbelief on our face that screams, “she’s too young” or “she’s not ready”.   Whether they be teenagers, unmarried, poor, having several children already … or just not ready (according to our opinion, of course), we need to treat them as who they are – mothers.

Change needs to start on our own faces, with our own smiles, our own words of encouragement and in our own churches.   Yes, in our own churches.  I am a Catholic convert.  My grandmother was Catholic and I went to church with her as a small child.  I received my First Communion at age nine.  Why then, do you ask, do I call myself a convert? Because the priest in my small town of 300 people refused to baptize me because my mother was unwed.  So, I was baptized as a Methodist.

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A Woman Caught

by Heather Bernt

I’ve read a lot of comments on articles about abortion that sound something like this:

She’s a murderer!

God doesn’t forgive murders.

There’s a special place in Hell for women who would kill their own child.

They deserve to die.

Abortion pierces the hearts of every person involved in one as well as every pro-life person.  I understand both sides.  After having my own abortion I held myself out to be “pro-choice” for ten years after.  I was blessed to have received healing and the truth of what abortion is.  I’m now pro-life and can’t fathom how people can be pro-abortion.  I know that abortion is murder.  I know what I did.  I also know that God is merciful and forgiving and that He uses our disasters for good.  He is using the tears and the grief, the pain and the testimony of women who regret their abortions to change hearts and win this fight.  We can scream all we want at people who are pro-abortion.  We can show them graphic pictures.  We can argue all day with medical terminology and interpretation of the Bible and they will rebut everything we say … but they can’t deny the truth of a testimony.  They can just say it isn’t the norm to regret and grieve and mourn…and if we continue to call post-abortive women names and tell them they’re damned to Hell, well, those pro-abortion people just might win that argument because women (and men) will be too scared to speak out.

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Young Pro-Lifers: This Is How You Can Save A Life

by Heather Bernt

I was recently interviewed by a journalism student from the University of Nebraska.  During the course of the interview, she asked me several questions about my pro-life work and about the abortion I had as a teenager. Though I had heard all the questions before, one in particular seemed to stick with me this time.  It went something like this:  If you could go back, what would you do differently?

The obvious answer is that I would not have had an abortion.  However, after thinking about it, the answer is not that simple.  I was stubborn, rebellious and selfish in high school.  It saddens me to admit it but, acting the way I did and given the way it all happened, it was pretty likely that my pregnancy was going to end the way it did.

At the age of seventeen, I had several arguments as to why I had to make that choice.  If everything happened exactly the way it did the first time, I don’t know that, on my own, I could have made a different decision.  So what could I have done differently? What would have made me change my mind?  After reflecting on this, I knew the answer.  There was one specific girl I would have told.  We’ll call her Sarah.

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