Reviewing March for Life Trip
Dear VSM LifeSharers, February 2011
This month’s LifeSharer letter comes in two parts, each written at a different place and with a couple of weeks in between. The first section was written in my Mom’s room at the nursing home. She had been having several rough days in a row and I was spending quite a bit of time with her. We talk a bit; I tell stories; I read Scripture and poetry to her; I help her with meals sometimes; and, when she naps, I get some work done. My Mom is in what we have accepted as an ongoing decline. Both her dementia and physical weakness are getting worse all the time.
Yet we were still not prepared for last weekend when Mom suffered a full-blown panic attack. It was accompanied by severe paranoia and the staff had no choice but to have her sent to the hospital E.R. Because of that and a couple of other physical issues, she stayed in the hospital for four days. It was from her hospital room that I wrote the second part of this letter. Mom is better right now but extremely fragile in both mind and body. We never know when the next challenge will come. But God is faithful. God is merciful. And God insures a glorious and forever inheritance for His children. Mom clings to that sure hope – and so do we. Okay, on to the letter.
The primary purpose for this letter is to review our quick but valuable visit to Washington, D.C. last month for the March for Life. We left Omaha early on Sunday evening, got into our hotel near Reagan International Airport around 9 and tried to get some sleep before what promised to be a very busy Monday down in the city. On our schedule was the ProLifeCon at the Family Research Council from 8:30 to 11:30 and then the various activities surrounding the March in the afternoon. Following the March itself, we had no time to spare in getting back to the airport to catch our ride home.
But the first item on the agenda proved to be the toughest. Both of us were dealing with upper respiratory congestion but Claire’s was severe and getting worse. It turned out she had an infection. Even though we propped her up in bed with pillows and even the suitcase, she got very little sleep. I didn’t fare much better.
But thanks be to God, we received the energy to carry on in what turned out to be an exciting and eventful day. We checked our bags, talked to staff members and then walked the four blocks to the subway. We made it to the FRC building in plenty of time for the pro-life bloggers conference. It was very interesting and helpful as several speakers addressed the small group there as well as thousands of others across the U.S. via webcam.
The emcee for the conference was Jill Stanek, a nurse out of Chicago who is one of the pioneers of pro-life blogging. She is the woman responsible for exposing the botched abortions and subsequent killing of newborn babies in Cook County Hospital. She is also the person who most publicized Barak Obama’s inhumane opposition to Illinois legislation that would have protected those newborns.
Other speakers at ProLifeCon included Abby Johnson, the young woman who recently walked away from her job directing a Texas Planned Parenthood and into the pro-life movement. Her new book shows the wicked organization for what it really is (and from an insider’s point of view, no less). It’s called Unplanned and we’re heartily encouraging our friends to read it.
Lila Rose was also on the program. Lila is one of the heroines from Live Action, the daring and visionary group which has compiled several undercover sting videos revealing Planned Parenthood’s racism, their misleading counseling techniques, and their cover up of statutory rape. Up next were Dean Nelson and Ryan Bomberger giving timely information about the effect of abortion in the African-American and other minority communities. Professor Michael New spoke about the demographic significance of the recent increase in surgical abortions but he put it in the context of more encouraging news such as the fact that there are 1/3 fewer abortionists in the U.S. than in the mid 1980’s. Professor New left us with this important charge: “Defeating ObamaCare must be the pro-life movement’s priority job right now.”
James Langford, a devout evangelical from Oklahoma and one of the freshman class in Congress, was a bit of a sensation on the internet for the pro-life speech he had given on the House floor a week earlier. His remarks at the FRC building were inspiring too. I asked the question from the floor, “The mainstream media keeps telling us that the only conservative issue moving the Tea Party-influenced Congress is government spending. Is that the case or do the moral issues that are so important to us resonate with the new Congressmen and women as well?” His answer? “Don’t be misled by those guys. Almost 90% of the Congressional freshmen are pro-life. And though we are very serious about fiscal conservatism, issues of life, morality and religious freedom are also of tremendous importance.”
Closing out the morning’s program were Kristan Hawkins of Students for Life of America, Tony Perkins and Jean Monahan who gave us the latest revelations about the horrendous crimes of Kermit Gosnell, the Philadelphia abortionist who had been arrested for illegal drug sales, botched abortions that killed women, unsanitary conditions, unlicensed personnel, and killing babies born alive. She passed out excerpts from the grand jury report that made us all heartsick.
Then it was on to the March for Life. We’ve lost count of how many times we have participated in this momentous event. All we know is that it is always wonderful and profoundly moving to be with so many thousands of fellow pro-lifers. It’s a marvelous sanity check and a great motivational experience. And this year, with great weather and the keen desire of the pro-life movement to follow up strong on the November elections, the crowd was one of the largest ever – 400,000 or more. That makes it (once again) the largest demonstration of the year. Still, the mainstream media in an outrageous act of obfuscation, failed to report even one line about the March. Check that. Claire did notice that the Washington TV stations talked a bit about the March that morning. But it was only to alert downtown commuters to the upcoming traffic disruption!
Claire and I have now participated in March for Life activities in the tenure of 5 different U.S. presidents. Some of the Marches have been in blizzards, some in frigid cold and maybe one or two in weather this fine. Some were shared with Vital Signs teammates. Some of them I missed because I had been arrested at abortion mill sit-ins earlier. But all of the March for Life experiences have shared at least 3 characteristics: 1) They are full of hope and enthusiasm. 2) They involve people who see the event as part of a “whole-life” pro-life lifestyle. And 3) The percentage of evangelicals involved is woefully, shamefully small.
That poor performance of evangelical Christians in the national March for Life is also seen in those state marches that occur throughout the nation. Lincoln’s Walk for Life is an example. Catholic schools, Catholic organizations, Catholic churches and clergymen, Catholic laymen – all are represented but it takes a very, very close look to discover evangelical counterparts. This must grieve God deeply. Evangelical Christians find time to go to concerts, movies, church picnics, endless youth events, men’s conferences, women’s conferences, sporting events and a whole bunch of other things. But we can’t be bothered to join in the most important public testimonies against the despicable evil of abortion?
Pastors, really. Why can’t you urge your parishioners to join you for a Saturday morning stroll through Lincoln? It’s only one Saturday a year. And pro-life state legislators say over and over again how important this public testimony is for their work to be most effective. So why aren’t you there? Christian school principals, how about you? Why are all the school banners one sees in these events from Catholic schools? Youth pastors? Here is a short term mission project that is inexpensive, quick and easy – yet one that can be a life-saving as well as a life-changing ministry. Why is it that year after year you overlook this wonderful opportunity?
Oh, what a difference we could have made in the culture wars of the last 40 years had we raised our voice in the public square - peacefully, winsomely and in concert with others who share our convictions about life and justice and decency. What a difference we could still make!
Okay, I’m writing these concluding lines some two weeks later, but I’m still alongside my Mom. However, this time she’s in the hospital. It’s been a rough couple of months for her and we’re still a long way from being out of the woods. Any and all prayers are appreciated.
But I wanted to drop in a couple of Vital Signs updates before I finished this LifeSharer letter. After all, we do want to keep you informed of how things are going with the ministry here. For instance, we have experienced another spike in traffic to Vital Signs Blog recently, one that has moved the average of our page loads above 600 daily. An important theme in recent weeks has been the latest revelations of Planned Parenthood as not only brutal, lying, blasphemous and racist but also guilty of covering up the sordid crimes of prostitution and statutory rape. I’m also posting a lot of material related to the de-funding of this wicked business.
The performances of “When Swing Was King” have continued to draw rave reviews in the nursing homes. This ministry combines the audio, the visual and the relational in a way that is really heart-warming and entertaining. We’re in the midst of presenting Volume #8 to facilities this month. Our sidewalk counseling team has been on a mini-vacation for a few weeks because Leroy Carhart (in deference to Nebraska’s Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act) has cut back the days he aborts babies. He’s been closed on Mondays (our day) so it looks like our team will be switching soon to the northwest Planned Parenthood.
Another update – my friend in Eastern Europe has done several more translations of sermons and pro-life articles into Russian which Steve Young then loads onto our web site. This teamwork has also resulted in a Russian language version of our internet video presentation, “Abortion and Church History.” And one more item – we had a terrific time at the annual Fremont Right to Life prayer breakfast two weeks ago. It was the third time I’d spoken at the event and my remarks dealt with what has happened in the pro-life movement since the first time I’d addressed them – way back in 1984! I guess we’ve been around for awhile!
And, by God’s grace (which, of course, includes your help), we’ll stay the course! May God bless you all.