OTTAWA, May 15, 2013 (LifeSiteNews.com) – As a partitioned ballroom strained to hold the overflowing group of young people in their teens and early 20s who crowded around, David Bereit of 40 Days for Life explained how to successfully convert someone who works in the abortion industry to the pro-life cause.
His talk came during two presentations at the Canadian March for Life Youth Conference last Friday.
Bereit encouraged people who would like to see abortion abolished to put their beliefs into action by spending one – or 40 – days in front of a facility where abortions are performed and pray for the end of abortion, the hurting women considering entering the premises, and the workers inside. Give them space to heal, and stand by them after they leave the industry, he said.
“We have to have belief that miraculous conversions can happen,” he said. “Abby Johnson is all the proof we need.”
Abby Johnson's conversion in 2009 by a 40 Days for Life worker catapulted the former Planned Parenthood “employee of the year” into the pro-life fray. Her own ministry, And Then There Were None, has since brought scores more workers out of the abortion industry.
Bereit added that he has had to apologize to Abby Johnson for the way some in the pro-life movement have treated her – a barrier to those who still labor in an abortionist's office.
“The way abortion workers view you and me creates a wall,” he said. “They view us as self-righteous, judgmental, hateful, angry, trying to take away rights from women. That's how they see us. That's why they get so angry. That's why they harass us. That's why they taunt us.”
First, instead of confrontation, “Everything we do in the pro-life movement” must “begin and end in prayer.”
“Your peaceful loving presence out there flies in the face of all the stereotypes they want to throw onto us,” he added. “When you show them love instead of condemnation, when you show them peace and joy instead of anger and judgment, that will begin to break down the walls.”
Effective activists must love despite the way the workers' actions may affect the unborn.
“The reality is they are not the enemy. They are victims of the enemy,” Bereit told the attentive audience. “Many of these people came into the abortion industry truly thinking they could help someone.”
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Second, zealous sidewalk counselors should not give facility workers massive stacks of information but strive to create an authentic relationship with people, who are often hurting themselves.
“Don't smother these people,” he said. “In fact, in most cases I would say don't make the first contact.” They need space to heal.
Finally, he said, the support must continue after they have left the abortion industry. Bereit quoted I John 3:13-16, on the need to practice Christian charity “with actions and in truth.”
In one case, Bereit bought Christmas presents for the family of a former abortion business employee.
“If we say, 'We want you out,' we have to stand alongside” them after they quit, he said. “We have to be available. We have to help on the journey. We have to love them, and there are times when…all these workers are not easy to love.”
The number of former “pro-choice” activists, post-abortive women, or abortion industry workers continues to grow despite once seemingly insurmountable odds.
Norma McCorvey, who was “Jane Roe” in the Roe v. Wade case, has publicly announced her change of heart. Both she and Sandra Cano, “Mary Doe” in the accomapnying Doe v. Bolton ruling, now want to see the High Court's decisions on abortion reversed.
“David, don't ever give up hope about one person in the abortion industry,” a friend told him.
Bereit passed along the sense of optimism and desire for action to the young audience.
Christina Alamo of Campaign Life Coalition, who emceed the talk, concluded by challenging the young crowd: “Get off Facebook, and go and change the world. We can end abortion in our lifetime.”