Stefanie Lewallen

‘My name is Julia’: young sidewalk counselor reaching out to mothers, saving lives

Stefanie Lewallen
By Stefanie Lewallen
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June 6, 2012 (LifeSiteNews.com) - “My name is Julia.” That is what the sticky notes say that are carefully placed in each piece of literature a girl walking into an abortion clinic receives from young twenty-one year old seasoned sidewalk counselor Julia Pritchett, who is also the co-founder of Students for Life of America on the University of Arkansas campus. “I ask the girls to please take my literature even if they already have some from other sidewalk counselors because there is something special inside for them.”

Inside the girls each find their own handwritten sticky note with a short message. Julia includes her name, number and a personal message stating that she is out on the sidewalk because she cares for them and is there to help.  She tells the girls they can call or text her anytime they are inside the clinic.

“You never know where your number is going to end up,” said Julia. “One time I got a random call from a girl somewhere whose sister was going to have an abortion.” The girl told Julia she had saved her number from the sticky note inside the brochure and wanted her help in talking her sister, who was several states away, out of going through with the abortion. She also gets calls after she leaves the sidewalk from girls that have changed their minds about having their abortion, and from girls who need a ride somewhere else to get a pregnancy test.

Julia said some people see her as being brave, befriending girls and picking them up in their neighborhoods to give them rides and by giving out her personal information, but she does not worry about it. “Often times that is what means the most to the girl that you would put yourself in their neighborhood.” Her genuine approach to the girls on the sidewalk has given her a new best friend.

“I asked one girl what she did for a living, and when she said she was a hairdresser I mentioned I needed a haircut.  The next thing I knew she was playing with my ponytail and saying how much she could do with my hair. I made a deal with her. I told her I would come and get a haircut from her if she would let me talk to her the entire appointment.  She had to wait until after my appointment to make any decisions.”  Julia said the girl took her up on her offer, and the next day she headed to an all black barber shop in a rough part of town. Everyone got really quiet and turned around to stare at her because in walked a white girl with blonde hair. “I sat down and she put this grease in my hair, and I thought ‘oh no’ what is my hair going to look like,” Julia laughed. “Turns out I got the best haircut I have ever received.”

Not only does this new friend cut Julia’s hair to this day, but she had a change of heart about abortion. Her pregnancy test was negative, but she will not consider abortion in the future: one of the many perks of asking a girl to reconsider getting other services performed at an abortion clinic performed somewhere else. Julia is not your typical sidewalk counselor, as she likes to stand outside on days when abortions are not offered and offer to talk the girls who are going in for other services such as pregnancy tests to a local crisis pregnancy center.

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When Julia is home on break in Marion, Arkansas, she drives a short distance across the Mississippi river bridge to Memphis, Tennessee to counsel whenever she can at the three local abortion clinics known to Memphians and surrounding states as the abortion triangle because of their locations close together.  When she is back in Fayetteville, she is busy running the Students for Life chapter on her college campus.  She helped co-found the group her freshman year and will be entering her senior year this fall. “We have around 75 members and at least 30 attend each event,” said Julia. “We have a really diverse group including blacks, Asians, sorority girls, student government officers, atheists and student parents.  We have phenomenal members, not just people who are prolife, but people who are doing big things and using those platforms for pro-life.”

Julia said that most campus events are friendly, but occasionally there will be hostility when they least expect it. One time while just passing out drinks at a table and asking people to look them up on Facebook they had a girl throw a knitted uterus at a male Student for Life member. “The girl told him to stay out of her uterus because he did not have one.” Julia said, “but I do.”  The girl told Julia that she did not understand why a girl would be on that side of the issue, and that when a baby is aborted ‘why does it matter because they won’t know it will happen to them?’. They also had five or six pro-choice people show up with cameras to tape the conversations. “We always remain calm and loving,” said Julia.

Julia is a psychology major and holds seminars and training sessions for beginners and well as seasoned sidewalk counselors as she likes to weave some professional counseling techniques into her sidewalk experiences.  “I like to talk to people about understanding. It is hard to put yourself in the place of a woman in a crisis pregnancy. We must understand how she feels before we talk to her.”

One exercise she uses during her training is to have participants write down their deepest darkest secret on a piece of paper and pass it folded up to the person next to them.  She then asks, “What could this person do to make you feel safe enough to share with them?”  Everyone is usually very relieved when their secrets are passed back to them, and they find out no one will read their secret. 

“I had a friend give me some really good advice. She said there is so much good information out there that we can’t invent the wheel, but we can add to it.”  That is precisely what Julia is doing as she adds a lot of her master level class counseling skills to her approach on the sidewalk. She wants to teach others what she is learning.

Sharing with others comes naturally to Julia. She remembers first learning about abortion issues in a ninth grade government class where the rape exception was being discussed. “I thought about it for a few minutes and I thought ‘no, if it is not right in one circumstance then it is not right in any circumstance’. One day I didn’t know about this, and the next day I did. I knew I could tell people about something I had just learned. I figured everyone would be just as shocked as me, that they just did not know. That was the moment it clicked for me.”

Julia is obviously making a difference. Recently as she stood on the sidewalk outside an abortion clinic, the clinic workers called the police and ten squad cars showed up. Julia and her fellow team members of Precious in His Sight ministry in Memphis were doing nothing wrong, so the police could do nothing and eventually left. “I was shocked and a little stunned to see that many squad cars,” said Julia.

Sidewalk counseling is where her heart lies, and she hopes to work in the pro-life field after graduation with an emphasis on helping post-abortive women. “People are scared to take this chance,” commented Julia on helping women outside the abortion clinics. “But you can have hard conversations with people if they know you care about them.”

If you would like to know more about starting a Student for Life of America please visit the National Website at www.studentsforlife.org. Stefanie Lewallen is a Pro-Life Writer and Speaker, local 40 DAYS FOR LIFE Campaign Director and a member of Precious in His Sight Sidewalk Counseling team in Memphis, Tn.

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TLC pulls ‘19 Kids and Counting’ from schedule following Duggar molestation allegations

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By Ben Johnson

SPRINGDALE, AR, May 22, 2015 (LifeSiteNews.com) – The television network TLC has removed the Duggar family's reality show, “19 Kids and Counting,” from its schedule, at least temporarily.

Multiple news outlets have confirmed that the show, featuring the large and expanding evangelical Christian family, will not be on the air until the network makes a final decision about the program's fate.

The network had previously removed “Here Comes Honey Boo Boo” from its network after “Mama June” Shannon had been seen associating with convicted child molester Mark McDaniel, possibly exposing her children to a sexual predator. Shannon has told the entertainment news outlet TMZ that she would sue the network for unfair and inconsistent treatment.

TLC has not made a final determination as of yet and aired a Duggar marathon Thursday evening as the controversy brewed.

Friday's move comes after media outlets obtained police records showing Josh Duggar, as a young teenager 12 years ago, inappropriately touched as many as five girls, often while they were sleeping. The police records show the incidents began in March 2002, the month the oldest Duggar child turned 14. He admitted the incident to his parents that July, but another incident took place in March 2003. At that time, the family sent him to a program that required counseling and hard physical labor.

Three years later, a letter containing details of the molestation was found, and its recipient notified police, who launched an investigation.

One of his victims told police, after Josh returned in July 2003, he had clearly “turned back to God.” No further incidents have been alleged.

Duggar's wife of six-and-a-half years, Anna, said Josh revealed the painful episode to her two years before they got engaged.

Since the allegations have been made public, Josh Duggar admitted his long ago wrongdoing, calling his teenage actions “inexcusable.” He also resigned his job at FRC Action, a pro-family lobbying organization.

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Some figures have offered the Duggars their reassurance that, whatever sins Josh committed as a teen, he can be – perhaps has been – forgiven by God.

Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, now a presidential hopeful, said that Josh “and his family dealt with it and were honest and open about it with the victims and the authorities. No purpose whatsoever is served by those who are now trying to discredit Josh or his family by sensationalizing the story.”

He said those who leaked the story were motivated by “insensitive bloodlust” to destroy the Duggar family. “There was no consideration of the fact that the victims wanted this to be left in the past, and ultimately a judge had the information on file destroyed—not to protect Josh, but the innocent victims.”

God, Huckabee said, forgives all sins.

“In my life today, I am so very thankful for God’s grace, mercy and redemption,” Josh wrote.

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Rebecca Kiessling of Save the 1 - United States Steve Jalsevac/Vatican City
Rebecca Kiessling

I told her I was conceived in rape. She told me to prove I shouldn’t have been aborted.

Rebecca Kiessling
By Rebecca Kiessling

(Savethe1) - Why should I have to prove my worth and my right to life? When I first learned at the age of 18 that I was conceived in rape, I instantly felt targeted and devalued by our society because I’d heard what people said about pregnancy “in cases of rape.” Right away, I felt I was in a position where I would have to justify my own existence – that I would have to prove to the world that I shouldn’t have been aborted and that I was worthy of living.

I’ve since found my own value, identity and purpose in Christ, being created by God, in His image, and for a purpose, so I no longer feel I need to prove my worth to others in order to feel worthy. Instead, I share my worth out of gratitude for my own life being spared and in order that others may see the value of those who are still at risk – those who are in harm’s way as yet unborn and being targeted for abortion in the clinics, in legislation, and in people’s hearts and minds.

Whenever I speak, I share this aspect of my journey, but people are shocked to hear that I actually do get challenged to prove my value, to demonstrate my positive contribution to society and to justify my right not to have been aborted. This recent e-mail is a case in point. It was a tough inquiry to receive, but you’ll see my hopefully patient (and prayerful) responses below, and the ultimate outcome of the exchange:

I’m feeling sad and skeptical about rape babies.  I’d love to consider myself pro-life due to biblical reasons, but I just don’t really see what good can ever come out of a rape baby. I still think that it sometimes furthers the victimization of a rape victim. And it’s also because I’m very sad and disturbed by your blog.

I just think sometimes that it would be better if these babies never existed -- that every single one would naturally be miscarried by God’s will, so no one could bully them for their skeleton in their closet. Like I said, the subject manner disturbs me to the point where I vomit. I wish that every child was conceived in love and not violence because that's the way it should be. And I'm sad to say that the only way I could fully believe all of you rape mothers and children is if you were to pray for the peace of God that transcends all my futile understanding and my volatile, overly-sensitive emotions. 

There is no story in the whole world that can fully change my mind. The only way I could ever is if I were to befriend a victim or become the Bride of a man whom was the product of abuse. I'm so sorry to be brutally honest; it's just that my heart grieves to the point where I feel the struggle to overcome the sin of prejudice. I'm so angry at God that he allows this to occur.

Dear __, I appreciate you going to our blog and taking the time to reach out to us.  Your concerns are the most common, but research shows that rape victims are four times more likely to die within the next year after the abortion vs. giving birth. Dr. David Reardon's book Victims and Victors: Speaking Out About Their Pregnancies, Abortions and Children Resulting From Sexual Assault explains this.  So it's a myth which gets perpetuated -- that a rape victim would be better off after an abortion, that her child would be a reminder of the rape, and that she would even see her child as a "rape baby," as you put it.

I understand a lot of what you're saying.  You would definitely feel differently if you knew someone personally.  I wished I wasn’t conceived in rape, but I do believe now that God definitely brings good out of evil, and uses tragic situations to bring healing.  He doesn't intend the evil of course, but his trademark is redeeming really awful situations.

-- Rebecca

Her reply (again, challenging for me to read, but I think she candidly articulates a lot of what most people really wonder or think):

What has God done in your life personally besides this blog that has made your tragic family life worth the pain? Tell me what you have been doing: like marriage, dating, children, jobs, friendship, volunteer work; any of that. I am curious to see how God has given your life joy and purpose. I'm sorry if I have ever been difficult to handle. I'm emotionally impulsive when I hear something sad.

First of all, my birthmother and her husband legally adopted me 3-1/2 years ago because my adoptive family was really screwed up (long story of abuse and abandonment.) My own adoption by my birthmother was our fairy-tale ending.  She says I'm a blessing to her, I honor her and I bring her healing! I love adoption -- my two oldest are adopted (very open adoption,) and we adopted a baby with special needs -- Cassie -- who died in our arms at 33 days old. It was an honor to take care of her and was definitely one of the most important things I'd ever done in my life. She died because of medical malpractice.

Married for nearly 17 years, we have 5 children now – two adopted sons and our three biological daughters.  Here's my son's story. He wrote it last September at 12 years old.

Besides being the president and founder of Save The 1, I also co-founded Hope After Rape Conception. I'm a family law attorney, though I closed my law practice to have my children and to home school until 2-1/2 years ago.

I make baby quilts which I donate to pregnancy resource centers and I give to moms in unplanned pregnancies. My birthmother taught me to sew! I also taught my children to quilt, as well as many of my friends and their children. I've volunteered with orphan care, Sunday school, feeding the disadvantaged, free legal work, volunteer work for a maternity home, and helping in various ways with pregnancy resource centers. I changed the hearts of Gov. Rick Perry and Newt Gingrich on this issue during their presidential campaigns!

A large part of what I do is helping others to understand their value, identity and worth because lots of people struggle with these issues -- not just those conceived in rape. I hope this helps!  -- Rebecca

Her final response – from someone who said “there is no story in the world that can fully change my mind”: 

Dear Rebecca, thank you so much for your time to straighten out my emotional acting out -- I'm really glad you told me about your life. I really think I'll be okay now. I still wish that men wouldn't rape, but at least the world knows a lot more than they used to and I can say that I'm pro-life to my college professors without paranoia or anxiety. I even talked about helping people like you with my mom and dad. They told me I'm too sensitive in personality to be involved directly in domestic politics; yet, I'm praying about being a free English tutor for troubled families as well as being an anti-pornography informant or activist. After all, the porn industry has been statistically linked to the sexual violence pandemic. I'm so glad that you are living life well and to the best of your ability; keep telling people that just because your birth father was an evil scumbag doesn't mean that you are. Thanks Rebecca, you have really touched and strengthened my heart. With much sincerity.

 

BIO: Rebecca Kiessling was conceived in rape and nearly aborted, but legally protected by law in Michigan pre-Roe v Wade.  She's an attorney, pro-life speaker and blogger, and President of Save The 1. Her own website is www.rebeccakiessling.com

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Boy Scouts president: We need to allow open homosexual leaders

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By Dustin Siggins

May 22, 2015 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Boy Scouts of America president Robert Gates says the youth organization must change with the times and allow open homosexual men to serve as Scout leaders.

Gates, the former U.S. Secretary of Defense and CIA Director, said in a speech at the 2015 Boy Scouts of America (BSA) National Annual Meeting Thursday that the Boy Scouts would have to adjust to "the social, political, and juridicial changes taking place in our country -- changes taking place a pace this past year no one anticipated."

According to Gates, the way to balance the religious affiliations of "some 70% of our scout units" and avoid "a broad [court] ruling that could forbid any kind of membership standard" is to offer individual troops a flexible membership policy. 

"For me, I support a policy that accepts and respects our different perspectives and beliefs, allows religious organizations -- based on First Amendment protections of religious freedom -- to establish their own standards for adult leaders, and preserves the Boy Scouts of America now and forever."

"I truly fear that any other alternative will be the end of us as a national movement," said Gates, who said that BSA should "seize control of our own future, set our own course, and change our policy in order to allow charter partners -- unit sponsoring organizations -- to determine the standards for their Scout leaders."

This is not the first time that Gates, who led the military to end its two decades-long Don't Ask, Don't Tell policy, has supported gay Scout leaders. Last year, he said that he "would have supported having gay Scoutmasters, but at the same time, I fully accept the decision that was democratically arrived at by 1,500 volunteers from across the entire country."

In 2013, BSA allowed openly homosexual scouts for the first time. That policy reads: "No youth may be denied membership in the Boy Scouts of America on the basis of sexual orientation or preference alone,” and took effect on January 1, 2014.

A year ago, Gates said he "was prepared to go further than the decision that was made" to allow gay Scout members, but decided that "to try to take last year's decision to the next step would irreparably fracture and perhaps even provoke a formal, permanent split in this movement - with the high likelihood neither side would subsequently survive on its own."

This week, though, Gates said that "events during the past year have confronted us with urgent challenges I did not foresee and which we cannot ignore."

"We cannot ignore growing internal challenges to our current membership policy, from some councils... in open defiance of the policy," said Gates. 

However, Gates' remarks may have come too late to prevent internal challenges from splitting BSA. Due to the 2013 vote, a number of Scouting alternatives launched, including the organization Trail Life USA. The latter group says it aims "to be the premier national character development organization for young men which produces Godly and responsible husbands, fathers, and citizens." 

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In January, Trail Life USA said it has "over 540 Troops in 48 states and the registration of nearly 20,000 adults and boys..."

Furthermore, the decision by BSA to allow gay scouts has led to criticism from people on both sides of the debate. Homosexual activists say the group did not go far enough, whereas many Christian parents and organizations say BSA is bowing to public pressure from homosexual advocates to affect its membership, despite its Christian roots.

Corporate pressure has also been aggressive. Last year, Walt Disney World threatened to not allow employees to volunteer for BSA as part of its VoluntEARS program in 2015 if the organization does not allow gay Scout leaders. Diversity Inc. reports that Merck & Co., Ernst & Young, Major League Baseball, and AT&T are just some of the other companies that have pressured BSA to further change its policies.

LifeSiteNews asked BSA whether Gates' comments indicated support for a totally flexible scout leadership policy, or just related to gay scout leaders, as well as whether BSA would take a stand against state and local laws that deny First Amendment rights to people who oppose same-sex "marriage."

BSA declined to comment, telling LifeSiteNews in a statement: "Dr. Gates’s remarks speak for themselves. ... It is important to note that no decisions were made during the National Annual Meeting. A decision is expected no later than the Boy Scouts of America’s National Executive Board meeting in October."

A video of Gates' remarks is below. The comments about membership standards begin at 8:40.

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