For the righteous will never be moved; he will be remembered forever. He is not afraid of bad news; his heart is firm, trusting in the LORD. His heart is steady; he will not be afraid, until he looks in triumph on his adversaries. Psalm 112:6-8
"You've placed our center in great harm! HOW COULD YOU DO THAT?" one director screamed at me during a telephone conversation regarding her center's listing on Ramah International's "Help in Your Area" state center pages. Her anger was driven by an irate caller who accused her of participating in "deceptive and misleading advertising" because their center appeared on Google's local searches for "abortion." The irate caller concluded their center should be prosecuted for deceiving women at their most vulnerable moments! This director was personally blaming me for possibly placing them in harm's way.
Because this director's center did not have a website, she had Googled "abortion" and her city name. Ramah's page for her state came up, so she assumed this caller had found them through our site. When she finally gave me an opportunity to speak, I attempted to educate her on Google search listings dynamics. (NOTE: To understand more about this situation, please read the article in this issue of At the Center entitled, "Did You Find Us on Google?") Sadly, this director was so overwhelmed with emotion that she could not hear my explanation. Realizing the futility of the conversation, I ended the call.
Working with centers over the past 20 years, this was probably one of my most difficult conversations. Sadness filled my heart as I realized that this angry explosion came from a person involved in pregnancy center ministry leadership. She reminded me that when human beings are under attack, they could short circuit and unleash their pain on others.
EXPECT ENEMIES FOR DINNER!
Whenever my heart is attacked and I feel fear, I remember Paul's words from 2 Corinthians 12:7-10:
So to keep me from being too elated by the surpassing greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from being too elated. Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
Obviously, life decisions are made every day in pregnancy center offices. PCC staff and volunteers daily experience "surpassingly great revelations." They can occur when ultrasound machines flip on to reveal the humanity of an infant for the surprised parent's eyes. Holding a child that God used you to save is one of the most astounding miracles anyone can experience.
God has allowed each of us to encounter a variety of "thorns" to keep us from becoming prideful in this amazing ministry. We must never take credit for the work that God does through us as all glory praise and honor belongs to Him!
Another passage on fear that directly relates to pregnancy care ministry is found in Psalms 23:4-5, "Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies."
Pregnancy center clients can still choose abortion, which results in our centers being located in the "valley of the shadow of death." Understand this is a difficult working environment that is often filled with intense spiritual warfare.
This work entails placing a bulls-eye on your chest. Each of us can expect to endure intense spiritual warfare. Yet when the Lord leads, every need is met, as outlined in Psalm 25:14-15: "The friendship of the LORD is for those who fear him; and he makes known to them his covenant. My eyes are ever toward the LORD, for he will pluck my feet out of the net."
Abortion advocates have the stated goal to end our effort completely. If they can't take us out of the game, they will work to weaken us. Fear is often the common tactic they use to cripple godly efforts. I believe the troubled director that yelled at me was enduring the fallout of such an attack.
Recent developments have encouraged abortion advocates to come against our efforts. America's dragging economy has led to spending cuts at state and federal levels, clearly depleting funding to abortion advocates. Pro-abortion forces must find other ways to finance their work. Competition has begun anew for clients who may be in unplanned pregnancy situations. Legal challenges to our efforts are now to be expected from anyone associated with the abortion industry.
FALSE ADVERTISING MYTHS
"Deceptive" is the word used to describe pregnancy centers on Planned Parenthood's website. They recently introduced legislation in several states to require pregnancy centers to post signs and verbally outline the services they do not offer clients. The City Council of Baltimore and New York City passed an ordinance concerning pregnancy center signage just recently. The Baltimore law was immediately appealed and then repealed. In rendering his decision on the Baltimore legislation, U.S. District Judge, Marvin J. Garbis noted:
The Court holds that the Ordinance violates the Freedom of Speech Clause of Article I of the Constitution of the United States and is unenforceable. Whether a provider of pregnancy-related services is "pro-life" or "pro-choice," it is for the provider — not the Government — to decide when and how to discuss abortion and birth-control methods. The Government cannot, consistent with the First Amendment, require a "pro-life" pregnancy-related service center to post a sign as would be required by the Ordinance.
In her rebuttal of this ruling, Stephanie Toti, senior staff attorney at the Center for Reproductive Rights, stated, "We plan to immediately appeal today's court's decision and we are confident we will prevail. Baltimore's ordinance is a common sense measure designed to protect consumers from a long-standing and documented pattern of deceptive practices by crisis pregnancy centers."
While the repeal of this law was a clear victory, abortion advocates in other states paid little attention. A similar bill is still alive in Washington State at the time of this writing. I asked veteran abortion-recovery leader, Sheri Olsen, with Life Services of Spokane, Washington, about the proposed Washington legislation. Her response encouraged me when I specifically asked her about becoming "fearful."
I don't feel fearful, but I am concerned about the legislation and uneasy about the centers around our state that are fearful and ready to run. The fight may be long and protracted. However, the "Mordecai faith," as found in Esther 5:9, always encourages me: "Haman went out that day joyful and glad of heart. But when Haman saw Mordecai in the king's gate, that he neither rose nor trembled before him, he was filled with wrath against Mordecai."
My buddy, Mordecai, undoubtedly was concerned. However, he didn't let Haman, and the threat of his death, and that of his people, control him. He worked at the gate, and I like to imagine him continuing with his daily duties even as the threat of Haman's elimination of the Jews was hanging over him. I imagine that he had the peace that passes all understanding, which comes from truth (now we have it through Christ!) that was sustaining him, perhaps minute by minute. Haman, on the other hand, let his desire for self-exaltation and his hatred for Mordecai and the Jews be his undoing!
As I apply it to the situation we're in here in Washington with this bill, I'm sure that abortion advocates are quite happy the bill has been considered. But they'll see their balance sheets with red ink all over them, and their hatred for pregnancy care centers will grow. It is that hatred that will be their unraveling — just like it was with Haman.
The Mordecai level of faith comes and goes, but my most effective coping mechanism is God's Word and the stories I read and the ways in which He shows me how His Word applies to our current situation. The battle is won — and if the bill passes, then God has another plan.
Sheri's gentle reminder of the plight of Mordecai and his gentle faith in the face of certain death is something we may all need in the days to come. Jeremiah 39:16-18 offers us encouragement, "Thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel: ... I will deliver you on that day, declares the LORD; you shall not be given into the hand of the men of whom you are afraid. For I will surely save you, and you shall not fall by the sword, but you shall have your life as a prize of war, because you have put your trust in me, declares the LORD."
We may not know the result of the work God does through us this side of Heaven. Our faith in the face of potential defeat is critical until that day arrives. The Lord needs His workers to be ready, willing, and able to obey His Word.
HANG IN THERE!
After the initial angry call, other directors began to contact me in similar situations. Each had similar scenarios to report — a difficult conversation with an irate caller with the same basic accusatory message about their being "deceptive" in their Google search listings. Thankfully, these directors knew Ramah's reputation and understood my explanation. We surmised that these irate callers could be part of a campaign from abortion advocates to simply scare centers into removing their client website from the most powerful advertising media channel of our day — the Internet!
As you continue your work with those who may experience an unplanned pregnancy, recognize the "thorns" when they arrive. God wants you to refocus on His plan for your life. The best place to start is in Scripture and prayer. Paul learned the blessings of being persecuted. We need to do the same!
Someone once said, "Don't let fear of striking out keep you from playing the game!" God has a very specific reason for your involvement in this work. Be strong and know that when God places a calling upon a person's life, He will defend them until the end.
PREPARE FOR FUTURE ATTACKS!
Building your confidence for future attacks is always a good idea to build your faith. Confidence building activities can include:
Ensure that your center is in good, legal order. Secure a local or state-based pro-life attorney, with a good understanding of non-profit law, to assist in this endeavor. Anything that could be called into question should be researched in advance of any attack. Understand that national pregnancy center leaders cannot defend you specifically unless they are licensed to practice law in your state. Community-based defenders are necessary team players.
Cultivate relationships with state legislative officials of every party that represent your community. Pray for them and be attentive to new legislative efforts. State officials need to know your center's heart for the women of your community in order to determine how to react should similar legislation come to your city or state.
Take time to praise God in the midst of any attack. Ask Him to minister to your assailant and help you to forgive again. Clearly, these individuals don't know your heart and therefore have no right to make any realistic personal judgment against you. They must be shown love and respect in spite of their actions, as love is the best example of the work of pregnancy centers.
Encourage your team with God's Word should they grow anxious or afraid. Share the story of Mordecai's faith and that of other biblical characters. Build within their hearts the assurance that God can redeem any situation! C.S. Lewis once said, "We are not necessarily doubting that God will do the best for us; we are wondering how painful the best will turn out to be."
NOTE: Check the accuracy of your center's listing on the Ramah International "Help in Your Area" state pages and send update information to: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sydna A. Massé is the Founder and President of Ramah International whose mission is to encourage post-abortion healing throughout the world. For more information, visit www.ramahinternational.org or contact Sydna at 479-445-7070 or write to Sydna@aol.com. Ramah International, 2707 E. Woodcliff Road, Fayetteville, AR 72701.