[This appeared first at LifeChurchNC.com]
July 22, 2016
This is not political.
Earlier this week, I had the opportunity to encourage and pray with the staff of the Pregnancy Resource Center of Charlotte, where my friend, Erin Forsythe, has served as Executive Director for nearly six years. While there, I was given a tour of one of the two mobile units that are stationed weekly just outside of one of the five registered abortion clinics in Charlotte. Most Charlotte residents, along with those who commute to work, are completely unaware of these locations or that such places even exist. I watched as volunteers and staff peacefully and gently attempted to wave down drivers headed toward the clinic, offering a free ultrasound and consultation, gift cards to Starbucks and anything else they could provide as an alternative to aborting an unwanted pregnancy. Some stopped. Some sped by. Some swerved erratically who either didn’t want them there or who didn’t want anyone trying to change their mind. It was an eye-opening and heart-breaking experience.
Let me say it again, this is not political.
Five years ago, I remember attending an annual banquet for the Pregnancy Resource Center of Charlotte. The keynote speaker that year was Dr. Bruce Wilkinson. To be completely honest, I wasn’t a fan of Dr. Wilkinson and was a skeptic of his ministry, especially after reading one of his more well-known books, The Prayer of Jabez. However, my opinion and admiration completely shifted that night as he presented the most compelling plea for rescuing the lives of the unborn I had ever heard. He used the story of Oskar Schindler, a shrewd German businessman in Nazi-Germany, to rescue 1,100 Jews from persecution and eminent death at the hands of the Nazis at the infamous Auschwitz concentration camp. His story is depicted in the unsettling movie, Schindler’s List, where by the end, Oskar Schindler is overcome with grief at the thought that he could have used his wealth to save more instead of celebrating the 1,100 he did save. However, his now Jewish friends, gratefully stood before him as a reminder, not of what he failed to do but what he used his resources to do.
Dr. Wilkinson calculated from nationwide research at the time that it took approximately $1,100 in financial resources to rescue one unborn child, and then challenged each person attending to pledge at least that amount of money to the Pregnancy Resource Center of Charlotte that year. He also put forth an audacious challenge for the center and its supporters to be active in pushing back the darkness, and instead of waiting for women in crisis to come to us, to take steps to do to them. The response from that one event has sent waves through Charlotte, resulting in 2 mobile units and the addition of necessary staff to combat one of the greatest atrocities of our time known as abortion. Since Roe vs. Wade, 58 million pregnancies have ended in abortion – a number that is 9.6 times greater than the Jewish lives that were claimed during the holocaust.
Once more, this is not political.
The Pregnancy Resource Center of Charlotte has taken on a philosophy that should be shared by every church and Christian-based organization in the world; a philosophy that drives our mission as a local church:
We exist NOT to bring others to the Gospel
but to bring the Gospel to others.
Over the last year, our church has played a key role in pouring life into our local Pregnancy Support Center. Since the beginning of this year, we have contributed the financial resources that have allowed the completion of the much-needed and critical renovations of a facility that MUST reflect professionalism, and even exceed that of any abortion clinic. No longer does the Pregnancy Support Center of Rowan County reflect an afterthought or a ministry that receives the scraps from local church and individual partners. It now reflects hope to the community and a life-giving alternative to crisis pregnancies to the people of Rowan County – all with a Gospel-Centered focus.
This is not a political issue.
This is a Gospel-Centered, grace-saturated, rescue mission.
However, the most important needs have yet to be met. It not only takes financial resources – it takes people. I’m am so proud to be part of a church that is willing to be on the front lines when it comes to bringing the Gospel to others. But the front lines need our presence and our hearts, not just our financial resources. This is where each of us come in.
Here’s why this is so important. Going back to my experience in Charlotte this week, I was disturbed to see another mobile unit parked directly in front of the abortion clinic, just beyond where the Pregnancy Resource Center’s mobile unit was positioned. The unit parked in front of the clinic had several disturbing images of mutilated fetuses lining its perimeter, with people holding signs and a person with a microphone, speakers pointed directly toward the clinic and the people walking in and walking out, screaming words of condemnation and judgement. This was a very similar scene to what several from our church experienced a few weeks ago when serving as peacekeepers for the Salisbury Pride festival – a people standing on the outside pointing fingers; a people claiming to represent the heart of Jesus, but going about it in completely the wrong way. When I asked about the difference between the group in front of the clinic and the group representing the Pregnancy Resource Center of Charlotte, the explanation was pretty clear – we love them, even if they go into the clinic, and we will also demonstrate love when they come out. In other words…
We will be here to stand in between those who would condemn
and the people Jesus came to redeem.
It’s not us VERSES them. It’s us FOR them.
That’s the message at the center of the Gospel.
This weekend at the beginning of our services, you will have an opportunity to hear from Shari Evans, Executive Director of the Pregnancy Support Center of Rowan County, and learn more about the impact we’ve made along with opportunity each of us have to deepen our impact.