November 14, 2013 (LifeSiteNews.com) – On the morning of September 11, 2001, John Blandford thought he was going to die. Earlier that morning he had caught a flight out of Los Angeles to Denver for a sales trip. He would later learn that his was the very last flight that made it out of LAX that day.
About half an hour into the flight the intercom crackled to life. The captain announced that two airplanes had flown into the World Trade Center in New York, and that their flight was being diverted to Las Vegas.
John also remembers the pilot saying something about the “FAA,” but that part of the message was garbled and he didn't catch the pilot's exact words.
In the midst of the confusion and terror of the moment, the 37-year-old businessman – who admits he is a “bad flyer” at the best of times – came away with the impression that the FAA system that keeps track of all the planes in the air was down, and “that planes would be flying into buildings all over the country.”
And all he could think was, “I don’t know Jesus well enough.” John began praying, pleading that if his time had come, God would bring him into Heaven.
Ten years before 9/11, in the early 90s, John was working as a sales executive in San Diego. He was in a new relationship with a woman six years his junior. One day, soon after they got together, his girlfriend came to him and told him she was pregnant, and wanted to get an abortion.
John had no objections. It was California, abortion was readily available, and as far as he knew, abortion was just the same as any other form of birth control. He drove his girlfriend to the clinic “to take care of it.”
And then he didn’t give the abortion any further thought: not, that is, until almost 10 years later, in 2001. That was the year John experienced what he describes as his “Damascus moment.”
While John had long considered himself a devout Christian, after having been inspired to call the 800-number and “accept Christ” while watching the Billy Graham Crusade at the age of 14, in retrospect he says that his Christianity was at best surface deep.
“On Sundays when I was kneeling in the pew I was definitely praying to God, but I didn’t know Christ at all,” he told LifeSiteNews.com in a recent interview. “I lived completely of the world in ignorance.”
That all changed in August of 2001, when John picked up the famous Left Behind book series. Four chapters into the first book, John was on his knees, weeping.
“I had come to this realization, this thought that if Christ came back tomorrow there was a darn good chance that He wouldn’t take me with Him,” he says, “and I always thought I was in.”
After this experience John realized that he needed to start studying the Bible earnestly. He walked out of the liberal Episcopalian church he had been attending, and on the advice of a Christian friend, signed up for a Bible study.
The date of the first class in that Bible study? September 11, 2001.
There was a moment of sheer terror when the plane banked sharply to the left, and all John could see was a mountain: the mountain he thought was about to become his and his fellow passengers’ fiery grave. But then the plane leveled off. A few minutes later, to his relief, they landed safely in Las Vegas.
As John disembarked that plane, he vowed to rent a car and drive back to L.A. that same day to attend the Bible study that he had decided to skip because of his business trip.
While fulfilling that vow proved impossible because the car rental shops were closed, John was a changed man. On that day, he says, “God grabbed my heart and opened my eyes and I became a passionate follower of Christ and knew what it meant.”
When, several months later, John again felt the chill figure of the Grim Reaper brush past his shoulder, it only served to confirm how much a changed man he really was. One day, about six months after 9/11, John was standing in line in a bank when he looked out the window. Two men were standing with their backs to the building. One of them was carrying a gun.
Moments later they stormed into the bank and ordered everyone to get onto the ground and take out their cash and wallets. And as John lay on the cold floor, he again began to pray. But this prayer was completely different than the one he had uttered on the plane so many months before.
“Father, if this is my time, take me,” he remembers praying. “This guy might put a piece of lead in the back of my head, and I don’t care, because I’m going to heaven.
“And I had complete, complete peace.”
It was shortly after this experience that John saw an ultrasound for the first time. His eyes were immediately opened. “I had killed a baby,” he says he realized.
But whereas this realization might have crushed another man, John says he was fully equipped to handle the truth, because he had come to believe in the all-embracing mercy of Christ.
“I believed the Bible when it said he had died for all of my sins,” he says. “He didn't die for all my sins, except abortion. Fortunately I had already gotten to that part, so I felt completely forgiven. So I went from ignorant to forgiven.”
And in an instant, he says, “I went from I could care less about pro-life to passionately pro-life.”
Several years after his conversion, John began working with a Christian ministry called Global Media Outreach (GMO), which uses targeted Internet ad campaigns to spread the Gospel. But about two years ago, an idea struck him: if GMO was successfully using targeted advertizing to direct people who search for the word “God” on Google to their Christ-centered websites, couldn’t the same methods be used to direct abortion-minded women to resources that might help them avoid the same mistake he had made so many years ago?
“Had I seen an ultrasound when I was 29, even not being pro-life, I probably would have made a different decision,” he says. “So I thought, what happens when someone Google’s abortion? Can we get an ultrasound to them?”
This thought process led him recently to join the team at Online for Life, a cutting-edge online ministry that is already using ad campaigns to connect women in crisis pregnancy to pregnancy care centers. So far they have saved over 1300 unborn babies from abortion.
But in addition to sparing mothers and their babies the grief of abortion, John’s other great passion is to reach post-abortive Christians in the pews with the same message of grace and salvation that has enabled him to move beyond his own past abortion and become an ardent advocate for life.
“If you talk about abortion from the pulpit and you don’t precede it with grace, the condemnation the Enemy can just bring in on the people in the pews is just huge,” he says.
John himself didn’t tell anyone about his abortion, not even his wife, until years after his conversion. In part, he says, that was because he knew he was forgiven, and he didn’t feel the need to rehash that part of his past.
But about a year ago, during a prayer meeting, he confessed the abortion experience to his prayer partner, after which he told his wife. This opening up, he says, has given him a tremendous freedom to talk with others about abortion, and to have them listen without the risk that they will interpret his opinions as condemning or judgmental.
In fact, the next person he told his abortion experience to after his wife was a mutual friend at dinner. Immediately the friend confessed that he, too, had been involved in an abortion, and decided then and there to tell his wife. This only confirmed for John the great need for Christians to speak up about their abortion experiences.
The reaction that he has received from fellow Christians, he says, is “the complete opposite of what you would expect. No one in the Church condemns. You get sin out of the darkness into the light and it doesn’t have a hold on you any more. It’s such a healthy thing for the body of Christ to do, such a healing thing.
“If you want to topple abortion, that’s one of the first things we gotta do. We gotta get this out into the light,” he says.