For the first day of our pro-life adventure in Washington, D.C, I expected a lot of things. I expected to meet a large group of people fired-up and passionate about life, I expected to hear from and be inspired by some of the leaders of the pro-life movement, and I expected to end the day full of hope for the future. Although all of these expectations were realized, the way in which they occurred were far from my original thoughts. Some unexpected events left me with a new appreciation for the true battle we are fighting and renewed resolve to continue in the fight and, more importantly, to fight in the right way.
The first event on our itinerary for the weekend was the first ever March for Life Youth Rally. The event started out great. We had already heard several passionate speeches and presentations from some prominent pro-life leaders and the crowd of around one thousand people was really starting to get fired-up. But something would happen that would quickly change the course of the evening. In the middle of one of the presentations, a group of pro-choice protesters, who had been hiding throughout the audience, stood up and began yelling and chanting things such as “it’s my body, my right,” and “pro-life, what a lie, you don’t care if women die.”
At first, I thought the demonstration was a joke, or some kind of skit to teach us a lesson or make a point. It quickly became apparent, however, that this was no joke and with that realization came a whole slew of emotions: angry, fear, and sadness. Just seconds after the demonstration began, someone in the audience yelled out “Start praying!” Almost instantaneously, the crowd began praying, led by Lila Rose (founder of Live Action), who could barely be heard above the protesters’ cries. As soon as the praying began, I was struck by an awesome feeling that something deeper was going on within the room and that we were witnessing an event of spiritual warfare. The most powerful thing, however, came as the crowd erupted in cheers and the protesters left the room (some escorted out, others by their own choice). In that moment, there was a sense of victory in the room, that a battle had been fought and the power of prayer had prevailed.
When the group debriefed later in the evening, there seemed to be a new appreciation for just how intense the fight for life can be at times and for how high the stakes are. Many of the students were upset and disturbed by the anger and hatred displayed by the protesters. Some even recalled fearing that a violent confrontation may occur. I remember feeling sorry for the protesters, who had so much misguided anger. However, the response of the pro-life crowd showed a key difference between the two groups. When faced with hatred and anger, we responded with prayer. When placed in direct confrontation with the very cause that had brought us together, we did not respond with hate, but rather with love. The result was an invigorated crowd, ready to take up our cause by changing hearts and minds. As one student put it, who found the experience particularly powerful in a positive way, “we talk about what we’re fighting against … but we’re fighting against spiritual powers … And we’re winning!”
Sometimes in the fight for Life we are faced with circumstances and confrontations that draw strong emotional responses. We are human and oftentimes are first reaction is to lash out in anger and frustration. It is so important to remember, however, to respond with love, to not rise to anger, and to pray for those who persecute us. One student expressed it this way: “The more time I spend around pro-choice people, the sorrier I feel for them. If you don’t have God, you only have whatever strength you can get from yourself… it’s really sad.” Praise God that our strength comes from our Heavenly Father and that through His strength we have the power to win this battle and see an end to this evil!