Q. I know you do a lot of ministering to women considering an abortion and this is something I have always felt I needed to be more a part of. I know for a fact our ProLife is nothing like that here, and I was hoping you might be able to guide me in the right direction to start something here in my area, such as that which you have in yours. ~ Jennifer
A. First of all, have you tried going out to the mill on a Saturday to see what other pro-lifers are already out there? If not, I would definitely start that way. Getting connections and "inside information" on the clinic is definitely a plus! If there's no one out there, then your approach would be much different.
This is what I'd do if I found Pro-life CONTACTS at the mill:
- Ask them when people come out to minister. Ask if there are any women or families who come to minister.
- Ask everything about the mill and record what you find out...the doctor's name; his (or the clinic's) malpractice suits, if any; the hours for abortions; the busiest times/days; to what gestational age do they do abortions; if there are many Spanish speaking clients (if so, is there an interpreter that can be reached by phone that would counsel a woman...if you don't speak Spanish); if there is a larger percentage (or just equal) of one race over another (this is so you can choose race-appropriate counseling material); find out what kind of confrontation has been seen between the employees and the "pro-life missionaries"; find out if ambulances have been seen leaving the clinic and how often; find out the "horror stories" of botched abortions, etc., as this can be a great deterrent for women going in (they need to know the REAL risks of abortion); ask for ANY additional info they think is valuable information about the mill and the doctor/staff, etc.!!
- Ask what the laws are on boundaries/trespassing; what's legal for approaching patients and cars; if you can obtain a sound permit for a handheld speaker system and how to go about doing that (we got ours for $60 on EBay...it is PRICELESS...doesn't sound like you're yelling at them, but talking calmly); what is allowed for signage (can you hold poster boards, do they require or prohibit "sticks" on the backs of the posters...different states have different rules).
- Ask them what resources are available for women (free medical care, baby showers, people who want to help provide them women with things they need). You NEED to have resources like this, or your words are viewed as empty.
- Pray while there and scope it all out to plan your focus and your ministry. Ask God to show you how could you most effectively (and legally) reach these women with the truth before they enter.
- The first week I would scope things out and pray about how to approach the women. If you're serious about starting this ministry, consider going with material and literature, just in case God spurs you to speak out to women.
- After going to the mill, go home and buy literature from Heritage House and Human Life Alliance . Below I'll list our favorite items!
- I'd research the laws on trespassing and possible call others who might know the laws surrounding "protests" at abortion clinics.
- After researching and finding the laws, I'd consider purchasing a sound permit (if required) and a handheld speaker system (otherwise, if you can't be right next to the woman, you're forced to "yell" the facts and it doesn't sound as nice and gentle as a speaker).
- Research pregnancy center options, make a printout of local doctors who would deliver for free, list pregnancy centers, free and practical resources, etc. Consider putting your cell number and FIRST name and maybe a generic e-mail address on the literature so that they can contact you.
- Go online and research "methods" for sidewalk counseling. Google "sidewalk counseling" and there are MANY ideas! You'll soon figure out what works best in your situation.
- Consider starting your own "side" ministry (as if this isn't enough...lol) of finding used baby items for moms in need at yard sales. Use Facbook and a blog as fundraising...or have them send the needed items right to you! This ministry is a POPULAR one to offer moms in need!!! They love to see the long term dedication behind the promises and offers you make clear to them.
- I'd definitely go with my husband until I could get a hang of things there and spread the word of this much-needed ministry. If you can talk others into going out with you, that is BEST! It is also WONDERFUL to have men, women and CHILDREN out there. Children remind them of the life they are killing...the employees hate it and the women's hearts are softened by their presence.
Our Favorite Ministry Items:
Heritage House - Banners for our "big rig" (a 15 passenger van), "Just for Men" brochure, "Conceived in Rape" (good for those who claim they've been raped...honestly, you'll hear that "line" a lot...some are true, but most just want you to leave them alone after they claim that), Touch of Life fetal models (these are pricey, but so neat...we get the set for $79...only one is needed, as you would never hand these out....just used for counseling), 10-12 week "The Precious One" fetal models (we buy these to hand out, although many women won't take them...only hand out when counseling), and our kids love the t-shirts!
Human Life Alliance - Our MAIN resource for literature is their newspapers (Heritage House has them, but they're MUCH cheaper here). The ones we get are: I Care (for white women), the Spanish one (for Spanish-speaking women), and "Did You Know" (for black women). I think it's also nice to have some graphic photos on hand (there's some here) It's up to you if you hand these out. I would DEFINITELY use them in counseling, ESPECIALLY if the woman has a hardened heart and "doesn't care", as this can be a successful deterrent. But overall, if all I can do is hand out the literature and not really carry on a conversation with them, I hand out the "newspaper-like" brochures from H.L.A.
Overall, there is SO MUCH literature that looks good, but it's probably good to make your literature supply manageable. It's also nice to make an apron to hold your resources (along with a pen and paper...to get the phone number of moms you counsel for follow up). My friend made mine, but they are SO NEAT!
Well, that's all I can think of off the top of my head. Anything else??? I'm so happy to hear of others taking on this difficult ministry (it can be disheartening, but when there are saves....SO WORTH IT!). If you decide to start up your own ministry, please let me know how it goes!