Dear Friend of Life:
Tonight in Dallas, my husband and I will have a chance to preview the new blockbuster pro-life film that will hit theaters on March 29: Unplanned, the story of Former Planned Parenthood Director Abby Johnson and her journey to our side.
When I accepted the invitation, after a couple hours, it hit me: I’ll be seeing it on the 46th anniversary of Roe v. Wade!
Coincidence? I’m not one to over-dramatize a connection, but I couldn’t help but feel this was no coincidence. Just before the clock struck midnight and we entered 2019, I felt so strongly that this year was going to be a huge turning point in the pro-life battle and that THIS movie was going to be one of the biggest reasons why.
I almost wonder if the Lord is telling me that this movie is going to impact hearts and minds so much that it will help lead us to the end of Roe.
Here’s a confession: I just got back with part of our National Team from the annual Washington D.C. March for Life — gosh, what an amazing trip for our ministry, full of divine appointments — and while there, I had an opportunity to preview the movie. When my movie time popped up, our video guy and I were right in the middle of interviews, so it was hard to peel myself away.
No problem, I thought, there’s another showing later.
When the evening time rolled around, I didn’t tell anyone, but I hesitated. Abby’s story was so much a part of my formation and is one of the biggest reasons why we do what we do in Sidewalk Advocates for Life, I was afraid I’d be too distracting in the small conference room: You know, the sobbing goon in the corner, ha! A lot of people don’t know that I was a college student at Texas A&M University when Abby was rising through the ranks of Planned Parenthood, and I used to regularly pray and sidewalk counsel under the Brazos Valley Coalition for Life at her abortion facility. In short, her story is so much a part of my own.
I told myself I’d wait until I was in a bigger theater and I could hide my box of Kleenex … and here’s the opportunity!
I remember what life was like before the first 40 Days for Life campaign showed up outside that Planned Parenthood abortion facility in Aggieland: The pro-life community had a lot of passion, but it was misfiring, so to speak. There were weird costumes, angry signage, and a barrage of words across the fence …and it all felt so futile. (When I tell people I know what it’s like to be ignored and feel like you are ineffective on the sidewalk, I mean it!) In 2004, my friend David Bereit, (then) Director of the Brazos Valley Coalition for Life, gathered up his staff — which included my classmates, Shawn and Marilisa Carney — and led them through an hour of prayer at the Coalition office.
What came out of that time of prayer was 40 Days for Life: a 40-day campaign of prayer and fasting, peaceful vigil outside the abortion center, and community outreach. David and Shawn encouraged all the odd strategies to stand down for just 40 days — and we were just going to try a peaceful prayer vigil. The atmosphere changed. Things got more peaceful, prayerful, and purposeful … and miraculously, more women were coming to the fence to talk.
And the abortion rate dropped in our college community by a whopping 28%!
I witnessed this transformation. It was a profound part of my formation and why I believe in our peaceful approach in Sidewalk Advocates for Life so much. After praying for so long for the key to winning more life-saving conversations, I was over the moon.
As you know, 40 Days for Life began to spread and has become an international movement, celebrating amazing victories for LIFE.
And after lots of prayer and loving persistence, Abby left Planned Parenthood and became one of the greatest pro-life leaders our movement has ever seen.
Years later, the main lesson hit me: The fence between us and Planned Parenthood was really made of pain … and prayer, peace, and love was the key to winning people across the lifeline.
On this anniversary of Roe, while it’s understandable to mark this day as one of great sadness, I’d like to redirect us a bit: After strategy discussions with other leaders around the March for Life, meeting more former workers and women healed from an abortion experience, and adding up our progress in just the past few years, I believe we’re at a real, profound turning point that will lead us to the end of Roe. The momentum is on our side — we just need to capitalize on it!
Here’s 3 things YOU can do to continue the life-saving momentum…
1. Follow the movie, Unplanned, online and via social media and share, share, share their posts! When the movie release approaches, go see it and get as many of your friends and loved ones to go see it! We’ll also be in touch with opportunities to partner with us to help get the word out about this powerful film! Website: unplannedfilm.com
2. Stay connected with us at Sidewalk Advocates for Life! We have some big things coming out in the next year that we believe will help save more lives than ever before — we cannot wait to share more! Follow us on social media (see all buttons at the top left of sidewalkadvocates.org).
Also, you can find your closest location and get trained as a Sidewalk Advocate here: sidewalkadvocates.org/locations
Or if there isn’t a location near you and you have an abortion or abortion-referral facility in your backyard, consider building your own team — we’ll be there every step of the way!: sidewalkadvocates.org/apply
3. Join us as a monthly LIFE PARTNER where you can help advance our life-saving mission to ensure that no abortion facility in the country goes without peaceful, loving advocates every hour of business! See sidewalkadvocates.org/donate and be sure to click “Make this a monthly gift”!
The pro-life, pro-love message is more infectious than ever, and rest assured, God is moving. In that spirit, I leave you with this moving picture of our friend, Dr. Pat Castle, Founder & CEO of LIFE Runners, who passed our official March for Life sign, “Make Unborn Babies Great Again” (which went viral during the March!) to the Governor of South Dakota, Kristi Noem, and then, joyfully snapped this picture as if to say that LIFE is winning again in America. (The devotional, below, was also composed by her!)
Friends, I cannot wait to see all that 2019 has in store for all of us who love the Lord and the gift of LIFE! Stay tuned, right?
In Christ, for LIFE,
Sidewalk Advocates for Life