“Help, Lord, help!”


Today’s visit to the Orlando Women’s Center can be described as a struggle between Light and Darkness, life and death. John Barros greeted us happily from the spot which he has faithfully occupied for the last 16 years, and briefed the first-timers on the rules: where we could or could not stand, what to say and how to reach out to the women, and then he led us in prayer.

Not long after, people started arriving. We looked to John to tell us whether this was a clinic worker, or a client, and then tried to offer help and hope to the women. Most hurried past us, into the brick building where they would pay to have the life of their child extinguished.

One couple that really struck me and still sticks with me was Asian. It wasn’t the woman that I noticed so much as the man. He just kept smirking. I had the opportunity to talk to him briefly, to warn him about the reputation of this place, to urge him to stand up and protect his woman and child, and in response, he just smirked. I can still see it now, and it makes me angry! He didn’t care, there was no part of him that cared, not about the woman, nor about the child. He was there in the coldness of his heart. It was so unlike a man last week, covered in tattoos. The tattooed man was angry, hostile, but at least in his anger I knew there was some feeling. Perhaps it was desperation born from trying to cover up an act of infidelity, or from feeling unable to be a father and provider. Perhaps it was guilt because he knew what they were doing was wrong, and he hated us reminding them of that. But anger meant emotion, and emotion meant there was still feeling. The tattooed man and his woman left without an abortion last week Wednesday, but as they didn’t talk to us, we don’t know if they decided to let their baby live, or if they just decided to go elsewhere.

The battle between life and death, Light and Darkness also became evident when a proudly pro-choice woman drove by, saw us, and decided she was going to spend her day battling against our efforts. She screamed at us for a bit, and then disappeared behind the clinic door to “support” the women there. Shortly afterwards, an elderly gentleman pulled along the curb and asked for our Einstein Bros orders, said he would get us anything we asked for as a token of his support and encouragement. He came back with a box of bagels and some coffees, and said he didn’t want any recognition and wouldn’t even give us his name. He was gone again as quickly as he came.

We reached out to everyone we could in the not-even-10 seconds we had as they hurried to the door, offering them whatever they needed to make choosing life for their child a feasible option. And none accepted. Then John spent some time preaching about death in Adam and life in Christ, about the punishment for sin, and how the Lord has never forsaken any that trust in Him. He shared about the women who changed their minds, walked back out of the clinic, and how not even one has ever regretted that decision. He spoke about how we are there because we love them and want to help them, and he begged that they would come talk to us. He instructed the men to be men and stand up for the ones they have a duty to protect: their women and children. He explained how we are not judging them by being there; that in fact it is them who are judging, judging their children not worthy of life and sentencing them to death. And then John put his bullhorn away and said to us that we can see how it is not our work to soften hearts and change minds, that it is God’s power alone which can turn anyone away from abortion, and that it is God alone Who can save.

So again, you try to pray. With each person we had a few moments to try to reach, with each desperate and loving offer of help, you tried to pray. But it felt as though there was no prayer today. I don’t remember feeling that at the clinic before. Today, all I could pray was “Help, Lord! Help!” It felt as though Satan had all the power there today.

So we turned to hymn singing. With each hymn, we hoped the power of God would prevail, that the words would reach the stony hearts within the building. “I need Thee every hour….Temptations lose their pow’r when Thou art nigh…. Or life is vain…. Teach me Thy will.” Not knowing the situations these women were in, not knowing what made them feel that abortion was the best option, we sang songs that spoke to a hope during times of fear and need. “In Christ alone my hope is found, He is my light, my strength, my song; This Cornerstone, this solid Ground, firm through the fiercest drought and storm.” Abide with Me, Rock of Ages, Amazing Grace. During this time, we saw women peeking out from behind the curtains at us, but no matter how we beckoned, none was moved from their evil plot.

Watching that, singing there, I began to feel sick. Was I just providing some pleasant music, a source of entertainment for the women as they waited? Did any of the words or meaning resonate at all? Based on the license plate, I knew one woman for sure identified as Christian, and given the stats, I wouldn’t be surprised if more did. The thought of this precious truth just being used as entertainment for women hellbent on killing their children disgusted me, or even for women to deceive themselves with a comfort not offered to those who intentionally and knowingly choose to disobey God’s commands, and I wanted to leave, to stop.

The abortionist arrived during this time, and then I remembered the babies. And thought about how close to death they were. And all I could do for them anymore was sing and pray. So I sang on, providing a soundtrack for their death, and thus I sang the final verse of Rock of Ages: “While I draw this fleeting breath, When mine eyes shall close in death, When I soar to worlds unknown, See Thee on Thy judgment throne, Rock of Ages, cleft for me, Let me hide myself in Thee.”

Blast from the Past: Sexting in the Church Community

When I was a teenager, I thought this guy was interested in me and since we lived in different provinces, we started emailing back and forth. When I got a cell phone, emailing became texting. We weren’t in a relationship, but we were getting to know each other and I was hopeful.

Gradually, so I didn’t even see it coming, the tone of our conversations changed. He started talking about my body and eventually started requesting that I send pictures.  This was before sexting became a well-known phenomenon and I didn’t know how to respond.

I had never had discussions about this with my parents or educators, but I had been taught that there were parts of my body that were private, that you didn’t share. But he knew what to say, how to convince a naive innocent girl that maybe our parents’ ideas were outdated, and that this was normal. It was the progression of things. How can he get to know me if I don’t share myself with him? He even sent me a picture of himself to show me how easy and how normal it was, and how this was a two way street, he wasn’t just taking advantage of me. I started to doubt what I thought I knew. But I was not comfortable with the idea of sending him a picture. I felt like if I did that I would lose control over who would see it, a picture sent over text or via email was too permanent, and I wasn’t going to do that.

Then he started talking about coming to visit me. That was exciting. This young man wanted to see me. It felt like our friendship was progressing and I was hopeful. Then he started to ask if I knew of a place we could go for some privacy when he was visiting. The young romantic in me was thinking of things I had envisioned doing on an official date. I suggested horse riding. We could pack a picnic lunch and ride through the country around my parent’s place, stop and sit in the grass and talk and I was so excited at the prospect. It was one of my dream dates, revolving around my love for horses, and my romantic notions that dates were laid-back activities where you could just sit and talk and get to know each other. But it became clear that that was not what he had in mind. He wanted a private place where we could get to know each other without chance of interruption. Except he wasn’t talking about my mind or my personality. He was talking about my body. I had never been in a serious relationship, and I didn’t know what dating looked like. I loved reading historical fiction novels, and they spoke of courting. That was what I envisioned, but he convinced me that my dreams were unrealistic. It just didn’t happen that way. He wanted to be friends with benefits. Didn’t that sound great? I really wanted him to like me and so I compromised. I felt like maybe I could give him some of what he wanted without crossing that final line and having sex. So I agreed to work something out. He didn’t have immediate plans to come, so I wasn’t under immediate time pressure.

His texts started gearing towards preparing me for this encounter. He spoke of masturbation and encouraged me to try it out, detailing for me how it should work. I felt increasingly uncomfortable with how he was talking and the more time passed, the more certain I became that I didn’t want to go where he wanted to go, at least not until we were in an official relationship and I told him so. He replied that he didn’t know if a relationship was what he wanted, and he wouldn’t know that unless I gave him what he wanted. I started to question him on whether he did or had done this with other girls. He said no, he was a virgin, and I would be his first, and it would be special. I doubted him because if he was willing to have sex with me without even the context of a relationship, how did I know for sure that there hadn’t been others.

I regret how naive and stupid I was, and how close I came to trusting him, all for the desire to be wanted, to be loved by a man. But I thank God for protecting me from him. I am so thankful that he and I were in different provinces, because if there hadn’t been distance between us, I likely would have caved under the pressure, and I wouldn’t have had the time to rethink my decision before it was too late.

A few years later, I was hanging out with a friend, and discovered that he was a mutual friend of ours. I told her how he had pressured me and what he wanted from me, and she replied, “that’s just how he is. You just have to stand your ground and not give him anything you don’t want to.” I wasn’t comfortable with that because I knew how hard it could be to stand firm against increasing pressure. I had already stopped talking to him, so this conversation was purely retrospective. I was again thankful for the distance between us.

I didn’t think of him again for years. Then last year, I was home visiting my family, and my aunt had stopped by and was chatting with my Mom. They were discussing a “new” thing called sexting. Surely it wasn’t that big of an issue in our communities, but it was good not to let kids have cell phones in their rooms, or open internet on their cell phones. A little bit of parental control would go a long way in preventing this from happening. My memories came flooding back and I snapped at them. This does happen in our communities. This happened to me. And that was years ago already. Don’t fool yourselves into thinking that this isn’t still happening and probably at a much larger scale than you think. This was the first time I had ever mentioned anything about it to either of my parents, and my Mom didn’t know how to respond or react. She just stood there in silence as I pleaded for them to support any education for the children in our community about this issue. If only we had talked about it before I was almost trapped into it. I broke down and left the conversation, and we never talked about it further.

I never thought about him, and I certainly never expected to see him again. And then I came face to face with him. I recognized him instantly, even years later, and I felt physically ill. He greeted me and asked about my life. I was polite. I didn’t know how to respond. We got on the bus and he sat down beside me. I couldn’t breathe and I felt nauseous. I knew I had to talk to somebody, so I switched seats with my friend so he couldn’t see what I was texting, I added a texting travel pack to my phone so that I could text without incurring huge roaming charges on my phone bill, and I started talking to my Mom about it and actually sharing some details with her for the first time ever.

I had been caught off guard not only by seeing him again, but by my own response to seeing him again. I am not a hateful or angry person, and suddenly I was being overpowered by my feelings of hatred and anger towards him. Feelings that I didn’t have years ago when this was happening to me, so when did these feelings develop? I felt unsafe around him, and saw my weekend being ruined.

I think when he saw me again he imagined we could pick up where we left off, and he would sit by me and try engage me in conversation. Although I was nothing but polite, with perhaps a slightly cold shoulder, he must have realized very swiftly that I was no longer the naive impressionable girl that I had been, and I wasn’t going to fall prey to him again. I made sure I was never alone over the course of the weekend, but worried about the other girls there too.

After the initial shock wore off, I refused to allow his presence to ruin my weekend, and had a good time regardless. But occasionally I would watch him interact with the other young people, and he seemed so normal, so friendly, so much like everyone else there, that I started to doubt my memories. How is it possible that he can mingle with the rest of us without there being some obvious indication of his perversion? And if he can, how many of the others have secrets like his too? Or how many of the girls have secrets like mine?

Girls, I share my story to try prevent similar things from happening to you. Make sure he respects you the way you deserve to be respected. As my friend Jonathon Van Maren said in his article “Personalized Pornography,” which also cites examples from inside our communities: “You are a person with a body, not a body with a person. If the boy you’re talking to doesn’t recognize that, then drop him hard, and wait for someone who does. There will be guys who want to spend time with you, not just your body.”

My Little Sister Was A Person, Too

Having worked with the Canadian Centre for Bio-Ethical Reform for a year now and being confronted with the issue of abortion on a daily basis, I was fully aware of the gravity of the situation here in Canada.  However, it was not until a few weeks ago that I realized that the current status quo has serious personal implications for my family.

In my growing up years, abortion was an issue we never spoke about, and certainly never worried about.  After all, we weren’t having abortions so the status quo didn’t affect us at all.  Quite the contrary, my parents have been blessed with 16 children, two of whom we were grieved to lose at very young ages.

Pauline was full term or 40 weeks gestational age when she was stillborn on February 3, 1999 and on September 8, 2003, Rebecca passed away in her sleep at the age of 11 months and 21 days.  Both were dearly loved, mourned, and they are missed even today.

A few weeks ago was the ninth anniversary of Rebecca’s death.  As is our custom, we commemorated the occasion with a family trip to the cemetery where we visited both Rebecca and Pauline’s final resting spots.  Their graves lie just a row apart from each other in the Baby Land section of the cemetery and they have matching gravestones.  By all appearances, there is not much difference between the two except for the names and the dates inscribed onto the stones.

However, there is a distinct difference between the two.  You see, according to the laws in Canada, my sister Pauline is not classified as a person.  Section 223 of the Criminal Code of Canada states that a child becomes a human being within the meaning of this Act when it has completely proceeded, in a living state from the body of its mother whether or not it has breathed, it has an independent circulation, or the navel string is severed.”  My sister never had the opportunity to “become a human being” because she died prior to her birth.

The morning of her birth, when Mom and Dad returned home from the hospital, rather than the excitement of a new baby, they had empty arms and the duty of selecting a coffin and arranging a funeral.  This is never something that a parent expects, but even worse for my parents was the realization that their precious daughter is completely disregarded as a member of the human family by her own country.

While it infuriates me that this is the case, it also confuses me.  What made the difference between Rebecca and Pauline?  Was it size?  Rebecca was only a little bit bigger than Pauline upon each of their deaths and that’s only because she had an additional year to gain that extra weight and size.

That extra year also contributed to the fact that Rebecca was more developed than Pauline.  Rebecca was learning to pull herself to a standing position, as is appropriate for a little girl that age and Pauline was also doing age appropriate things such as sucking her thumb, kicking, and moving.

They were in very different environments upon their deaths, as Pauline was still within the [safety] of my mother’s womb, and Rebecca was in her crib.   This difference again, only a difference based on age.

They both relied on my mother for their basic needs such as nourishment and shelter, Pauline from within my mother’s womb, and Rebecca from without.  Because of her age, Rebecca’s degree of dependency on my mother for survival was decreasing.

It is completely ridiculous that such a distinction is made because of such minor differences.  In fact, in our society, these differences can often mean life or death for the youngest members of the human race.  This is age discrimination of the worst kind, and this is why I will continue to fight for personhood rights for all human beings.

For little girls just like Pauline.