By Debra Braun, Education Director P.L.A.M.
The most important qualification for a sidewalk counselor or prayer supporter is to BE THERE! Lives have been saved just by the presence of pro-lifers outside an abortion center praying or holding signs.
The two pillars of sidewalk counseling are truth and love. These correspond to two basic facts that you already know as a pro-lifer: 1) abortion is always wrong (truth), and 2) there is help for a woman who chooses life (love). This knowledge alone has helped pro-lifers on the sidewalk save lives!
Before you go out to sidewalk counsel, examine your own convictions on abortion. All people are created in the image and likeness of God and therefore, all preborn children are to be protected from abortion, including those who were conceived as the result of rape or incest or who have a cognitive or physical disability. (If the pregnancy is a threat to the woman’s life or health, we can refer her to a pro-life doctor who will work to protect her and the baby.) You will encounter people who are in very difficult situations, but you must believe that abortion is never the solution to their problems.
It is extremely important while sidewalk counseling to remain in a spirit of prayer. Remember that human beings are being killed just a short distance from where you are standing. When you are sidewalk counseling, you are in the midst of an intense spiritual battle between life and death, good and evil, truth and falsehood. Pray before you arrive and continue to pray while you are sidewalk counseling.
Remaining in prayer will also help you to stay calm, peaceful, in control and non-violent in thought, word, and action, no matter what happens during your time outside the abortion center. Trust in God, don’t be afraid, and keep in mind the words of Jesus: “Blest are you when they insult you and persecute you and utter every kind of slander against you because of Me. Be glad and rejoice, for your reward is great in heaven.” (Matthew 5:11-12)
You should be committed to the times you sign up for and be willing to make sacrifices. If you persevere, you will most likely see lives saved. However, try not to get discouraged if you don’t always see tangible results. Even if the mother rejects your help and the preborn child is killed, your presence and prayers are a powerful witness to the child’s humanity. No one should die alone and unloved. And being obedient to God is a virtue in itself. “Rescue those who are being dragged to death, and from those tottering to execution withdraw not. If you say, “I know not this man!” does not He who tests hearts perceive it? He who guards your life knows it, and He will repay each one according to his deeds.” (Proverbs 24:11-12)
When talking with the woman and her companions, focus on 1) the help available, 2) the harm abortion causes, and 3) the humanity and value of the baby. The primary task of a sidewalk counselor is to rescue a human life and stop a woman (and her companions) from committing a grave sin. A key teaching of Christianity is that we are created in the image and likeness of God, so attempting to save the lives of unborn children is, in itself, a very important part of sharing the Good News of Jesus. When a woman decides to give her baby life, she is making a choice for the truth. This could be the first step in her decision for Christ. If she has the abortion and you are there when she comes out, you can encourage her to repent and to seek Christ’s forgiveness and healing as you offer her the post-abortion brochures. When you are not busy with the abortion clients, we encourage you to evangelize passersby and the abortion escorts and employees if you desire.
Although it is a real blessing that the other sidewalk counselors and prayer supporters can help and encourage you in this sometimes difficult work, you are not there to chat with each other. Do not allow anyone to distract you from the work God has called you to do outside the abortion centers. You are there primarily to save lives, help the mothers and fathers, and pray.
You are welcome to bring your children with you if they are not a distraction. However, realize that they will be exposed to very worldly, even vulgar, language and situations.
Pro-Life Action Ministries is an interdenominational Christian organization. Respect the prayer styles and sidewalk counseling techniques of your fellow pro-lifers unless what they are doing is interfering with saving lives. Then you must be willing to charitably correct them. You should also be open to receiving helpful advice from other pro-lifers.
The security guards and abortion escorts and employees have NO authority over you regarding your constitutional right to pray, speak and distribute literature on the public sidewalk! If they harass you or interfere with your life-saving efforts, call our office. If the police are called out, do what the officers tell you to do. If you know that what you are doing is constitutionally protected and you can calmly and respectfully defend your rights, you may discuss the situation with the police. In either case, call our office right away so that we can resolve the situation with the proper authorities.
When a baby is saved, please contact us so that we can document this good news and share it with other sidewalk counselors and supporters!
May God bless you. Thank you for your willingness to be used by Him in this vital ministry on the sidewalks!