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Tears and Prayers for Another Brother
“Please pray for the local abortion doctor’s conversion,” was my grandmother’s simple request nearly two decades ago as she pressed a bookmark into my hands. It had the doctor’s name and a simple prayer for him printed on it. The bookmark had been created by the local pregnancy center where my grandmother volunteered. It was the first time I had ever heard his name.
At this time the abortion doctor practiced out of a former church building he rented. The local pro-life leaders felt called through a dream to purchase and restore the building located on 72 Ransom as a testimony of life on behalf of Christ. They were successful in this. (72 Ransom Story)
The building was ransomed, but not the abortion doctor. He simply moved his practice a few blocks away continuing to perform abortions.
I was able to walk through 72 Ransom shortly after it had been reclaimed, before it had been restored.
During my visit there, I studied the pictures the new owners had been allowed to take while the abortion business was up and running. Two outdated couches crowded the pre-op room women had waited together in before being called to surgery. The recovery room had consisted of a semi-circle of lazy boys, each one set up with a soaker pad for blood and a bowl to catch vomit. It was here the women had sat together again after their abortion procedures in front of a video about birth control. I imagined the women recovering there vomiting, bleeding, shell-shocked, some already grieving the loss of their children, some shaming and blaming themselves for winding up here as the video droned on about how to do better next time. It seemed humiliating.
There were two things that pierced my heart.
The first: In the surgical rooms, the blood stains from the base of the now removed exam tables were still present forming rusty looking rectangles on the floor. At the end of those rusty rectangles, the old blue tile shone white. It was the one place on the floor that the color was entirely gone. I caught my breathe as I considered the one man who had literally worn off the floor by standing there so many times, terminating tiny hearts. I thought of the violence inflicted on thousands of wombs, pried opened there. These were the marks left by the same doctor whose name was written on my bookmark, the one I prayed for by name! His entire career and most of his life had already been spent, dedicated to this work. Directly above the surgical table was a skylight window. It seemed as if the heavens were open and God could look straight in on all that took place.
The second: I traveled down a narrow hallway past a large washing sink, around another corner to see a shower, then further past that into a dark hole, a hot tub. I didn’t know what to make of this. I imagined the doctor heading here after a long day of working hard dealing with crying mothers, in the basement where the children used to go to Sunday school. I imagined him washing off all the blood, then heading to the cavernous hot tub room to relax it all away. I tried to understand. It all sunk like a pile of rocks deep into my chest, moving me to pray more fervently for the doctor’s conversion. I’ll never forget that experience.
Another experience propelled me to fight for life. At the age of 20, in the late stages of my first pregnancy, my grandma paid for me attend pregnancy counselor training. A post abortive woman led the training which was held at the Pregnancy Resource Center where I volunteered as a receptionist. During one part of the training she shared her journey after abortion. I was invited into her story. It wasn’t politics. It was simply and complexly a woman who grieved the death of her child. It was how God met her and was at work bringing healing to her heart. In a way, it was her asking us to be present for women just like her. She lit the fire.
In an overwhelming way my heart was united to one other girl’s pain. She was 13 years old and told by all that abortion was her only choice. Through the picture, God showed me his intimate knowledge of her. He knew her by name (He knew each one of “His Girls” by name.) and she belonged to him but was running away in fear. The Lord directed me to, “Go get my girl and tell her that I love her. I love her so much I died so I could forgive her and heal her.” He orchestrated the events in such a way that I could not deny or disbelieve the reality. The flame that was lit now blazed brightly and could not be snuffed out. I had answered, “Yes, I will “Go get your girls,” it was a promise my heart couldn’t forget.
As I shared this message in a variety of mediums through the years, I often wondered what I would say to the doctor I prayed for if I had a chance. I wondered if I should ever write him a letter, but what would I even write? The more time that passed, the more burdened I felt for this stranger.
In 2007, the first 40 Days for Life campaign was held in my city at his abortion clinic. It wasn’t until 2010 that I became aware of it and I went to the sidewalk to pray for the first time. I wasn’t on the official schedule. I had come independently. I hadn’t signed the agreement not to speak. I had a brief interaction with the doctor.
As the Doctor approached his car to leave work for the day, baby Isaac (who I held in my arms) simultaneously began to cry. I had a simple kind word I wanted to share with him. Needless to say, he made it quite clear he would not accept a word out of my mouth. The wall between us was palpable.
With each 40 Days campaign I felt some conviction that I should show up to pray more than I did (which was only once a campaign), but was disappointed with my follow through on that desire.
In 2012, during my fourth pregnancy (carrying my daughter Lily), I wrote a letter to the doctor over the course of three nights,
The first night as I lay in bed,
Dear Abortion Doctor,
I know you’re not a doctor who concerns yourself with heart problems; I just want you to know about mine.
My heart aches, it aches all the time, and it aches for you.
For so long now you have spent your days, day after day, doing your work…
Sentence after sentence. I rolled around in bed, losing quite a bit of sleep thinking and praying, but I wasn’t going to get up out of bed for this. Finally, I fell sleep.
Usually I lose words if I don’t record them immediately, but not this time, because the next night, the same thing, over and over my mind raced with direct thoughts, images and words. Again, I could hardly sleep.
The third night as my head hit the pillow so did this letter! I lay there thinking a little while, and around midnight I got out of bed to write.
I sobbed my heart out as I wrote. Praying and begging God to grant this doctor a new heart for LIFE. I prayed for God to give me a brother.
After the letter was written I knew it was hardly a letter to send the stranger who refused to hear a word out of my mouth. But I had ideas for turning it into a film. Maybe the film would be something the Doctor would be able/willing to see. Surprisingly, a film guy from my church agreed to film it. I was able to recruit some actors, and LIFE International allowed me to use the memorial room in the doctor’s former clinic, as a set. Nothing went quickly; the Lord was teaching me lessons in patience, timing, and perseverance. I won’t bore you with all the details that left me wondering how and when this film and its message to the doctor and those in the abortion industry would be completed.
“Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are sinful, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him! So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.” Matthew 7:9-12 (Jesus)
Part 3 Pregnancy: Click Here
Please watch this important message from Abby Johnson (Former Planned Parenthood Manager and founder of And Then There Were None) to the pro-life movement. Click Here