Christine Dhanagom

Former jailed pro-life activist founds Tijauna orphanage

Christine Dhanagom
Christine Dhanagom
Image
Image

TIJUANA, Mexico, October 5, 2012, (LifeSiteNews.com) - It’s an accusation that most pro-life activists have heard at one time or another: “You’re only concerned about children before they’re born!”

Connie Youngkin is a living refutation of the charge. A dedicated pro-lifer who has seen jail time for her witness to the dignity of human life, Connie’s activism has led her in an unusual direction. She and her husband, Tyler, now live in Tijuana, Mexico, where they house, feed, clothe, and educate 80 children they rescued from the city’s streets.

Their young charges, who range in age from five to their early twenties, are the children of drug addicts and prostitutes. They were living in the city’s notorious red light district before they took refuge at Niños de la Promesa, Children of Promise, the children’s home founded by the Youngkins.

Whether from the streets of Tijuana or the forceps of an abortion doctor, Connie and Tyler have been rescuing children for three decades. It started in 1982, when Connie made a comment to a pro-life neighbor about Margaret Sanger being a “nice person.”

“Connie, you better sit down!” the neighbor exclaimed.

The conversation that ensued was an eye-opener for Connie, who knew almost nothing about the millions of children whose lives had been claimed by abortion only nine years since the passage of Roe v. Wade.

(Click “like” if you want to end abortion! )

Although busy raising three children of their own, the Youngkins dedicated themselves to the pro-life cause: they prayed and demonstrated at abortion clinics near their hometown of Toway, California, and helped found a Crisis Pregnancy Center that is still running today.

Then Connie heard about Operation Rescue, an organization that was mobilizing pro-lifers to peacefully block clinic doors in an attempt to physically prevent women seeking abortions from entering the clinic.

“I knew without a doubt that I was to be part of it. God put this desire very strongly on my heart right away,” she says. “It was never to me a sacrifice. I knew the Lord would take care of my family.”

Her husband, a doctor, held back from this form of activism so that he could continue supporting the family with his work and take care of their now teenage children.

Connie was arrested for the first time at her third rescue, an event that she says saved the lives of several babies. These “turn arounds” were confirmed by sidewalk counselors who spoke to the women attempting to enter the clinic, and gave them information about abortion alternatives.

Connie saw the trial itself as an important aspect of her mission, and decided to represent herself. This way, she would not have the interference of a lawyer in her choice to ignore the judge’s gag order that prohibited the defendants from sharing their views about abortion.

The judge pounded on the gavel as she ploughed through her defense, demanding that she stop using the word “baby.” When she refused, the jury was sent out of the room. They found her guilty of trespassing and she received a 40 day jail sentence in a maximum security prison.

“If it is criminal to rescue babies sentenced to death, then I am a criminal,” she told the press.

The experience, she says, was a formative one for her. She had been separated from other pro-lifers, and found herself surrounded by murderers, thieves, and drug addicts.

Determined to treat this as her new mission field, Connie set about forming friendships with her fellow inmates with the goal of evangelizing them.

On one occasion, she brought a pocket Bible into a holding cell of 40 women, and by the time she left her fellow inmates were singing Sunday school songs with her, marching around the cell to the tune of “When the Saints go Marching In.”

“The policemen were just looking at us like we were nuts!” she remembers with a laugh. “They were all really sweet girls.”

It’s an experience she now draws from as she walks the streets of Tijuana’s red light district, where she is seemingly as out of place as a mild-mannered Christian housewife in a maximum security prison.

The children she and Tyler rescue have come, like her fellow inmates, from a life of crime, violence, abuse and neglect. They are often the children of prostitutes, left to run wild in the streets while their mothers are out plying their trade. These are children who, out of sheer boredom, have seized alcohol from drunks on the street, dumped it over them, and lit them on fire.

Some have come only temporarily, residing there while their parents go through rehab programs, but others spend their entire childhood in the home.

The Youngkins have accepted unflinchingly all the challenges that come with welcoming such children into their home. “Once you’ve been in jail, you’re not afraid of much,” says Connie. 

Twelve years after coming to the country, their success is now evident in the lives of the children they have raised. Seven of the kids are now studying at the university, a destination they might never have dreamed possible from their previous life on the streets. One of them, a student of photography, has some of her work on exhibit at the Tijuana Cecut Museum.

The Youngkins make sure that all of the children receive basic instruction in academic subjects, as well as in the Christian faith. They have also imparted to them their own spirit of Christian service. Three times a week, all the children take to the streets with 500 burritos to distribute to the hungry.

The boys have built houses for the homeless, and three young women who once lived in the home as children are now working there as staff.

Some of the older children have also, by their own initiative, joined Connie and Tyler in local pro-life activism. Abortion is still illegal in Tijuana, but some pregnant women travel to other parts of the country where it is permitted. The Youngkins regularly lead some of their charges out to the streets with pro-life signs and literature to educate others about the sanctity of human life.

All of the children, it seems, have imbibed a lesson borrowed from Connie’s pro-life activism and her time in prison. “If we just give people a chance and just love them with God’s love, it’s amazing the change that can happen,” she says.

 

FREE pro-life and pro-family news.

Stay up-to-date on the issues you care about the most. Subscribe today. 

Select Your Edition:


Share this article

Advertisement
Featured Image
Lisa Bourne

‘You can’t have’ marriage equality ‘without polygamy’

Lisa Bourne
By Lisa Bourne

July 3, 2015 (LifeSiteNews) – Motivated by the U.S. Supreme Court ruling legalizing homosexual “marriage,” a Montana polygamist has filed for a second marriage license, so he can be legally wed to two women at once.

"It's about marriage equality," said Nathan Collier, using homosexual advocates’ term to support marriage redefinition. "You can't have this without polygamy."

Collier, who has has appeared on the TLC reality show Sister Wives with his legal wife Victoria, and his second wife Christine, said he was inspired by the dissent in the Supreme Court decision.

The minority Supreme Court justices said in Friday’s ruling it would open the door to both polygamy and religious persecution.

“It is striking how much of the majority’s reasoning would apply with equal force to the claim of a fundamental right to plural marriage,” wrote Chief Justice John Roberts.

Collier and his wives applied for a second marriage license earlier this week at the Yellowstone County Courthouse in Billings, a report from the Salt Lake Tribune said.

Collier, who was excommunicated from the Mormon Church for polygamy, married Victoria in 2000 and had a religious wedding ceremony with Christine in 2007. The three have seven children between them and from previous relationships.

"My second wife Christine, who I'm not legally married to, she's put up with my crap for a lot of years. She deserves legitimacy," Collier said.

Yellowstone County officials initially denied the application before saying they would consult with the County Attorney and get him a final answer.

Click "like" if you want to defend true marriage.

Bigamy, the holding of multiple marriage licenses, is illegal all 50 states, but Collier plans to sue if his application is denied. Officials expect to have an answer for him next week.

While homosexual “marriage” supporters have long insisted legalization of same-sex unions would not lead to polygamy, pro-life and family advocates have warned all along it would be inevitable with the redefinition of marriage.

“The next court cases coming will push for polygamy, as Chief Justice John Roberts acknowledged in his dissent,” said Penny Nance, president of Concerned Women for America, after the Supreme Court ruling. “The chief justice said “the argument for polygamy is actually stronger than that for ‘gay marriage.’ It’s only a matter of time.”

In a piece from the Washington Times, LifeSiteNews Editor-in-Chief and the co-founder of Voice of the Family John-Henry Westen stated the move toward legal polygamy is “just the next step in unraveling how Americans view marriage.”

Advertisement
Featured Image
Christopher Halloran / Shutterstock.com
Ben Johnson Ben Johnson Follow Ben

, , ,

Chris Christie: Clerks must perform same-sex ‘marriages’ regardless of their religious beliefs

Ben Johnson Ben Johnson Follow Ben
By Ben Johnson

TRENTON, NJ, July 3, 2015 (LifeSiteNews) – Chris Christie is not known for nuance. This time, he has turned his fiery personality loose on county clerks and other officials who have religious objections to performing same-sex “marriages.”

In a tone usually reserved for busting teachers' unions, Christie told clerks who hold traditional values, “You took the job, and you took the oath.” He would offer no exemption for an individual whose conscience would not allow him to participate in a union the vast majority of the world's religions deem sinful.

“When you go back and re-read the oath it doesn’t give you an out. You have to do it,” he said.

He told a reporter that there “might” be “individual circumstances” that “merit some examination, but none that come immediately to mind for me.”

“I think for folks who are in the government world, they kind of have to do their job, whether you agree with the law or you don’t,” the pugnacious governor said.

Since the Supreme Court voted 5-4 to legalize homosexual “marriage” last Friday, elected officials have grappled with how to safeguard the rights of those who have deeply held religious beliefs that would not allow them to participate in such a ceremony.

Christie's response differs markedly from other GOP hopefuls' responses to the Supreme Court ruling. Mike Huckabee, for instance, has specifically said that clerks should have conscience rights. Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal signed an executive order granting such rights and ordered clerks to wait until a pending court case was fully adjudicated before any clerk issues a marriage license to a homosexual couple.

Christie gave up a legal appeal after a superior court judge struck down his state's voter-approved constitutional marriage protection amendment. New Jersey is the only state where such a low court overturned the will of the voters.

The decision to ignore conscience rights adds to the growing number of Christie's positions that give conservatives pause.

The natural locus of support for a Christie 2016 presidential run is the Republican's socially liberal donor class, for personal as well as political reasons. His wife works on Wall Street, and some of the GOP's high-dollar donors – including Paul Singer – have courted Christie for years.

However, this year Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio, and to a lesser degree Scott Walker have eclipsed Christie as the preferred candidates of the boardroom donors – who sometimes prefer Democrats to Republicans.

Christie also used language during a speech before the Republican Jewish Coalition last year, which concerned some major GOP donors.

Christie is reportedly spending this weekend with Mitt Romney and his family at Romney's New Hampshire home. Romney declined to enter the 2016 race himself and may be able to open his donor list to Christie's struggling campaign.

Advertisement
Featured Image
Shutterstock.com
Ben Johnson Ben Johnson Follow Ben

After having a girl with Down syndrome, this couple adopted two more

Ben Johnson Ben Johnson Follow Ben
By Ben Johnson

LINO LAKE, MN, July 3, 2015 (LifeSiteNews) – For most people, having five biological children would have been enough. In fact, for many Americans, large families are treated as a scandal or a burden.

But one family made the decision, not just to have a large family, but to give a home to some of the most vulnerable children in the world: Girls born overseas with Down syndrome.

Lee and Karen Shervheim love all seven of their children, biological or otherwise. Undeterred by having twin boys – Daniel and Andrew, 18 – they had Sam four years later.

They now have three daughters who are all 11 years old. All three have Down syndrome.

And two of them are adopted.

About the time their eight-year-old son, David, was born, Lee and Karen decided to adopt a child with Down syndrome to be a companion to their daughter, Annie.

They made the further unexpected choice to adopt a child from Eastern Europe with the help of Reece's Rainbow, which helps parents adopt children with Down syndrome.

“Between my wife and I, we couldn’t get it out of our heads,” Lee told the Quad City Press. “So many children need families and we knew we could potentially do something about it.”

After originally deciding to adopt Katie, they spent six weeks in Kiev, visiting an orphanage in nearby Kharkov. While there, they decided they may have room in their heart, and their home, for another child.

When they saw a picture of Emie striking the same pose as their biological daughter in one of their photographs, they knew they would come home with two children.

Both girls were the same age as their Annie. She would not lack for companionship, as they worried.

Lee said after the Ukrainian government – finally – completed the paperwork, they returned to the United States, when the real challenges began.

“The unvarnished truth,” Lee told the Press, is that adopting the Russian-speaking special needs children “was really disruptive to our family. They came with so many issues that we had not anticipated.”

After teaching them sign language and appropriate behavior, they moved to Lino Lake, Minnesota and found a new support group in Eagle Brook Church. There they found personal assistance and spiritual solace.

Every year in the past seven years has been better and better, they say.

“I think my girls can do almost anything they want to do,” he said, “and that’s what I want to help them become.”

The family's devotion is fueled by their faith, and it informs the sense of humor Lee showed in a tweet during the 2014 midterm elections:

It takes a special person to believe in the potential of the “mentally retarded,” as they were once labeled. Today, 90 percent of all babies diagnosed with Down syndrome in the womb will be aborted. The percentage is higher in some countries. Some have even spoken of "a world without people with Down syndrome."

Their God, and their experience, tell them that every child has infinite worth and potential, Lee told local media, and he would encourage anyone to follow his footsteps and adopt a Down syndrome child – or two.

“The message is that it really doesn’t matter where you started or where you came from,” Lee said. “There are endless opportunities for everyone, whether they have disabilities or not. They deserve a shot.”

Advertisement

Customize your experience.

Login with Facebook