JACKSON, MISSISSIPPI, April 5, 2012, (LifeSiteNews.com) – A group of peaceful protesters who were reading the Bible in front of Mississippi’s only abortion clinic got a jolt when they were approached by a man bearing two large hunting knives.

They say he used the two knives to slash a banner held by two senior citizens in front of the Jackson Women’s Health Organization that read “Reading the Bible at the Gates of Hell.” Young children were present at the time.

“He came up there flashing his huge hunting knives, then put two huge slashes in the sign, scaring the daylights out of the pro-life Christians there,” Rev. Rusty Lee Thomas, assistant director of Operation Save America, told LifeSiteNews.com. “Thank God no one was hurt, but a crime was committed.”

The group’s States of Refuge campaign is holding protests in five states that have only one abortion clinic. They include Mississippi, Arkansas, Wyoming, and North and South Dakota. The first stage involves reading “the entire scripture, from Genesis to Revelation, out loud” in front of the abortion facility. “What we’re doing in essence is unsheathing the sword of the Spirit and declaring, ‘There’s another king, one called Jesus, and you’re coming down in His Name,’” Thomas said.

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That appears to be more than some can bear. “We should all be free to express our views…without fear of being slashed,” Ester Mann, one of the protestors, told the local Fox affiliate.

Thomas, who was in South Dakota when the attack happened, said he had spoken with the Mississippi group, and learned they had a difficult time filing a police report despite suffering “what our government under any other circumstances would consider a hate crime.”

“The mentality of a lot of law enforcement people is since we re out there shining a light, we deserve whatever happens to us,” he said.

Most of the hostility or violence they encounter around the nation, he said, comes from those who have been involved in an abortion themselves. Instead of asking God to“forgive them and heal them, they act in anger, and they lash out – or in this case, slashed out.”

Despite the close shave, the Christian volunteers were undeterred. “Not only did it not diminish the outreach, more and more people came out,” Thomas said.

The campaign is focusing on states with only one abortion mill “in the hope that by the end of the year we can offer up to God the first abortion-free states in America.”

“It’s going to have a ripple effect,” Thomas said. “It’s going to have an effect like the first state set free from slavery.”

“For the church it represents the greatest opportunity for victory against the culture of death.”

States of Refuge is partnering with volunteers from more than a dozen local and national ministries. More information is available at the group’s website.