Considering sidewalk counseling, but wonder what it’s really like on the sidewalk? These reflections by long-time sidewalk counselors and staff members of Pro-Life Action Ministries will give you an idea of what a sidewalk counselor experiences. To really get a feel for what it’s like, we welcome you to just come out and observe!

Love it or Hate it, We Continue to Sidewalk Counsel

Brian Gibson
Executive Director

I hate going out to sidewalk counsel. Every time I go, in the back of my mind, come excuses, other things I could be doing. I have doubts and fears that hit me. Yet, where else should I be? I often struggle to place these doubts, fears and excuses behind me by forcing myself to remember the babies.

Once I open my mouth to speak to the first probable abortion client, courage and strength from God begin to take over. And I once again realize that every time at the abortion mill is an adventure in spirituality, mental stimulation and life itself. And the great elation of being used by God to save a life! Nothing is better.

Jim Tuttle
Duluth Branch Manager

There are few things I feel more apprehension about doing than sidewalk counseling; maybe trying to sell cemetery lots which I actually did for a while. Sidewalk counseling was particularly difficult for me when I first started. I remember getting sick to my stomach when I would arrive at the abortion center. I am not shy but the thought of approaching a stranger, especially a woman and her boyfriend, and calling out to them when I knew they did not want to hear what I had to say, was hard for me to do. Things have gotten better over the years—but not much.

There are times, however, when I feel like it is the greatest privilege in the world. That is in the moment when a mom changes her mind. But this fades too quickly. By the time I am at the abortion center the next time it is open, I have to start over and battle it out again.

There is a reason I have continued on the sidewalk for the past 18 years—why I keep fighting against my natural inclinations. It isn’t any one baby, as precious as he or she is—it is the thought of how disappointed my Lord and Savior would be in me if I didn’t make the effort after He called me to serve Him in this way. What would I say to Jesus someday if I turned my back on these babies? I know it would not cause me to lose salvation or His unfailing love if I stopped sidewalk counseling. But it is because I want to please Him and honor Him that I pray for the strength and courage to stay at it. I stand with the Apostle Paul when he said, “For which cause I suffer also these things: yet I am not ashamed; for I know Him whom I have believed, and I am persuaded that He is able to guard that which I have committed unto Him against that day.”
(2 Tim. 1:12)

Michele Herzog
CFL Branch Manager

Sidewalk counseling is the essence of Proverbs 31:8, which is to ‘speak up for those who have no voice,’ and the little unborn human being in the womb certainly has no voice. Each time we as counselors stand on the sidewalk, we are speaking out on behalf of the innocent child being led to the slaughter, and that compels me after all these years to continue coming out to these very places of death, pleading for their lives, and trying to rescue these children being led to their deaths.

And being a post-abortive woman, I want to be there for the women driving into abortion mill parking lots, letting them know there is another way, that abortion is not the answer, and that if they go through with their plans they will become broken women with very broken children who cannot be replaced, and they cannot get their little baby girl or boy back. After going through post-abortion counseling, I thought back on when I went, and there was no one there offering help, and how much I wanted someone to be there to tell me that I didn’t have to do it. And although I take full responsibility for the abortions I committed, and blame no one else but myself, I knew at that moment, I wanted to be there on the sidewalk to tell women to not do what I did, and that there was help.

Sarah Winandy
Assistant to the Director
Duluth

I am aware it’s a spiritual battle as I scan for abortion-minded couples walking on a sidewalk or nearby; the sense of evil is present. As we sidewalk counselors pray together, there is comfort in knowing we are there to do our best and let God do the rest. We see the first couple of the morning. My heart sinks as I pray inwardly, “Oh, Lord Jesus, let them hear, let them change their minds.”

I approach with a smile, offering literature, thinking all the while, “Please take it, please read it.” With words I’m describing their unborn baby to them, the arms, hands, legs, feet, heartbeat, the baby is a gift from God, we can help you… (Is there more I should say?) I pray inwardly, “God help me to say what they need to hear!” I ask them to look at their ultrasound. They have walked past very quickly; I’ve had to speak out for them to hear. Did they hear? Did I say the right things? Was I loving enough?

They are in now. My whole being is grieving for even the thought of what they plan to do. We pray again asking God to speak to them by His Holy Spirit and we take comfort in the knowledge that we are merely His servants doing His will and He will move in His wisdom to work His miracles of saving lives. We would like to know the outcome but realize we may never know; this is God’s work and I have to remind myself to simply trust Him.

We sing praises to the Lord Jesus for His mighty work of love and mercy, for He is good and His mercy endures forever. Then here comes another couple. We take turns if there is more than one counselor—and pray as the other speaks. It’s difficult and heartbreaking to see the hardness of some couples as they curse, swear and laugh or just ignore us.

When it’s time for us to leave we know we have done God’s work. We feel His favor and blessing. We will be praying all day for those couples to change their minds and will bear a sadness in our hearts over the evil of abortion.

Ann Redding
Sidewalk Counseling Coordinator

Photo credit: Nicole Lunger

Hopeful is my strongest emotion.

This may sound ridiculous but before I found out about sidewalk counseling, it never occurred to me that standing outside an abortion clinic could save a baby’s life. I’ve always been an impulsive person by nature, so when this was pointed out to me, I was ready to jump in.

It can be depressing, because I know people must be profoundly unhappy in order to be convinced that taking the life of their child is a “good” idea. Parents of a baby scheduled to be aborted have said, “It’s what’s best for our child.” If abortion is what’s best, what could be “the worst”?

I almost always feel hopeful when out at the clinics. You can win abortion clients over to clear thinking—that abortion is an irrational act that hurts everyone involved, and that’s a huge set of people — parents, grandparents, siblings (present and future), the abortion employees, and society as a whole.

I feel like someone might feel at a rodeo, “You can stay on that bucking horse. Sure, you can stay on for the ride. You’re going to hang on.” That’s how I feel at the abortion clinic. Just convince them, “You can do it; it might be a rough ride for awhile, but you can do it.”

Rev. Brian Walker
Program Director

Why do I continue to sidewalk counsel? Today especially, I wonder; it’s probably -15 with the wind-chill. But when I reflect on God’s mercy toward me, His forgiveness and healing, I have to be out there! You see, over 30 years ago, I conspired with my wife to have our first child killed at the hands of an abortionist. That decision wreaked havoc over our lives.

I know if a sidewalk counselor had been on the sidewalk that day we would have another living child today. I want to spare women and men the trauma of their abortion decision and be there to cry out for the unborn being led to death. One day a young couple was headed into the Robbinsdale abortuary. I called out to them that they were not alone and there is help to keep their child. “You have not walked a mile in my shoes,” the young man retorted angrily. I replied, “Yes I have, and I do not want you to take another step.”

Debra Braun
Education Director

Photo credit: Kit Larson, Smokey Photo

When I learned the horrible truth about abortion (as a teenager more than 40 years ago), my desire was to go out to the abortion centers to try to save lives. It seemed the most logical thing to do. But living in rural South Dakota, I wasn’t able to do that until I was a college senior in Moorhead, Minn. and an abortion center opened across the river in Fargo, N.D. I’ve been picketing, participating in sit-ins, praying and/or sidewalk counseling outside abortion centers ever since.

I am an introvert by nature, so I still find it difficult to approach strangers, but I do it for the sake of the babies. Just being outside the abortion centers is difficult with the knowledge that children are being killed just yards away, the bad weather, the long hours and the negative reactions, but after a couple days away from the sidewalk, I’m sometimes anxious to get back. I don’t “love it,” but the rewards make it worthwhile—the babies saved and the gratitude of their parents, the conversion of abortion workers I’ve known, the opportunity to educate passersby, the camaraderie with some of the most committed Christians around, and simply the peace and joy of obeying God in attempting to rescue “those being unjustly led to death.” (Proverbs 24:11)

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