by Pastor Michael Salemink
The Word of the Lord works. Sometimes the outcomes get intense.
Late last month two sanctity-of-life advocates ended up injured. Gentlemen aged 80 and 73 were sidewalk counseling outside a Baltimore facility. An unidentified suspect escalated an energetic conversation by tackling the older fellow. When the other demonstrator came to his aid, the suspect also pushed him to the ground. He then struck the second victim lying on his back with a closed fist to the face and kicked his head so hard he fractured his skull. Witnesses and video confirmed the incident, and police are still searching for the perpetrator. Local Right to Life identified the wounded as longtime beloved volunteers who regularly prayed there “to let the scared young abortion-minded women know that they are loved, that their baby is loved.” Even the facility itself issued a statement condemning the violence.
Such pro-abortion crimes multiplied dramatically in 2022. Since the January leak of a draft opinion in the Supreme Court’s Dobbs case, hundreds of attacks have taken place. Pregnancy centers and churches have suffered vandalism and firebombing. Memorial spaces for unborn babies have been defaced. Student groups have endured thefts, harassment, attacks, and even death threats on campuses. Life-affirming activists have been shoved, punched, spit on, bitten, and shot. It has happened across the country and around the world. Authorities have investigated only a handful and apprehended even fewer. (Meanwhile, armed federal agents stormed the front door of one Gospel-motivated voice and aggressively arrested him in front of his children, only for a court hearing to later clear him of all charges.)
Pro-life individuals have committed similar hostilities in the past. Occasionally, isolated instances of hatefulness happen on this side as well. We have vehemently and repeatedly denounced those offenses for decades and continue to do so. Animosity, provocation, physical force, and bodily injury go against what the sanctity of life represents. These measures come much more naturally to abortion ideology and rhetoric, which views and uses pressure and death as solutions to difficulty. It has anger in its very nature and fear for its native language.
Our movement is not just a hobby. Our message is no mere joke. Our ministry is more than a game.
“Is not my word like fire, declares the Lord, and like a hammer that breaks the rock in pieces?” (Jeremiah 23:29).
God’s truth puts to death in condemnation and repentance and brings to life with forgiveness, hope, and joy. Both of these it does even out of our mouths. We expect opposition and persecution. Jesus Himself has promised us:
“If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you” (John 15:19). And of course, “ … we do not wrestle against flesh and blood” (Ephesians 6:12), because “the devil has come down to you in great wrath, because he knows that his time is short!” (Revelation 12:12).
But we remember our counterparts as people. And we receive even antagonists as neighbors. We do not regard their sinfulness as any worse than our own. We rejoice that our Heavenly Father creates, redeems, and calls them precious the same as He does each of us. He forgives and loves and labors to save them. We don’t have to prove ourselves right or shut others up. We don’t make it our mission to control their behavior but rather to welcome everyone as sister or brother with whom we may celebrate all the blessings God promises to those who trust in His Son.
So remain mindful of how even supporters of abortion have hurts and worries. Assume they operate from wounds, not cruelty. Believe that they do not know rather than that they do not care. Balance relentless with gentle, season persistence with patience, and couple courage with compassion. Build bridges and open ongoing relationships with a person and not only an opinion. Ask genuine questions about their experiences. Listen to their concerns and needs. Identify and affirm common ground. Share sympathy for surprise pregnancy’s adversities. Lament poverty, disability, inequality, isolation, abuse. Oppose and apologize for the ways in which both church and culture have ignored or exploited crises. Confront all iniquities and idols and confess your own along with the others.
We need not feel insecure. Almighty God has enlisted and positioned us as His instruments for such a time as this. He retains responsibility for all the results, accepting what is His own and absolving what is ours. His Word indeed will not fail either to diagnose or remedy, reveal or relieve. And should we have sorrow or loss in the process, we charge that also to our Savior’s account. Let us give thanks for the honor of undergoing affliction alongside Jesus Christ, recognized by both God and men as bearing His sacred name with all the inheritances pertaining to it. His resurrected abundance will more than make up for anything we are deprived of, and the everlasting outcomes will far exceed the temporary costs.