BIRMINGHAM, Alabama – This past Saturday, January 17, many hundreds of Alabamans gathered in Bryan Park to pray for the lives of the pre-born and march for the sanctity of life. It was the weekend before the somber 42nd anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the U.S. Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion nationwide.
Local ABC News affiliate WBMA interviewed several pro-life advocates, including Adrienne Stravitsch. “Having four kids, I value the human dignity of every living person. I think in modern society that is definitely an aspect that is forgotten,” she said.
Stravitsch spoke with compassion and truth of women placed in a difficult situation, adding, “They are so scared they forget there is a human being involved that does not have a lot of choice in the matter.”
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In the cold January air, full of newness and pregnant with possibility, we ask: what could God do in this new era? Could something shift in this generation, fueled by decades of Januaries before this one? The answer is Yes. And this is why we march.
Bryan Park is named after a Birmingham pastor born in 1863. Brother Bryan was known for his untiring efforts to help the poor, weak and vulnerable. He was an outspoken supporter of civil rights and racial reconciliation in Birmingham. I thought of this man’s legacy as we gathered this past Saturday for the civil rights of the pre-born. I thought of how encouraged he might be to see his city gather in an area of his namesake for the lives of millions of innocent babies.
His prayers were not in vain. His prayer meetings for racial reconciliation and revival were deposited in this city. There is a long part of history we could have doubted that, but God had plans for her; plans to give Birmingham a hope and a future.
And then I thought of another courageous man. Just 100 years after Brother Bryan’s birth, another great man of mission leading the way in civil rights and racial reconciliation entered Birmingham’s gates. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. would write and deliver a letter from inside a humble Birmingham jail cell.
In a city that honored Brother Bryan for his civil rights advocacy, yet mocked and imprisoned another man for that same mission, it’s a miracle of mercy that such a God-moment was graced inside our city. That letter would steer the course of our nation’s conscience and shift the hearts of her people to see the possibility of resurrection from the “dark depths of prejudice and racism to the majestic heights of understanding and brotherhood.”
As we gathered in that triangular park to pray and worship the creative God of Life, I thought of these men who paved the way before me. They believed Birmingham could be something better for civil rights, something greater in the body of Christ: a stronghold of justice and truth in this nation.
And as worship and prayer resolved in beautiful song, when we began to march for the pre-born, my mind replayed and recalled this passage from the jail cell memoirs of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.:
You may well ask: “Why direct action? Why sit ins, marches and so forth? Isn’t negotiation a better path?” You are quite right in calling for negotiation. Indeed, this is the very purpose of direct action.
Nonviolent direct action seeks to create such a crisis and foster such a tension that a community which has constantly refused to negotiate is forced to confront the issue. It seeks so to dramatize the issue that it can no longer be ignored.
My citing the creation of tension as part of the work of the nonviolent resister may sound rather shocking. But I must confess that I am not afraid of the word “tension.” I have earnestly opposed violent tension, but there is a type of constructive, nonviolent tension which is necessary for growth.
The purpose of our direct action program is to create a situation so crisis-packed that it will inevitably open the door to negotiation. I therefore concur with you in your call for negotiation. Too long has our beloved Southland been bogged down in a tragic effort to live in monologue rather than dialogue.
This is why we march, Birmingham. This is why we march, America. Standing up for the rights of people born and pre-born fosters a real tension in this world. But it is only unto creating a holy tension in order to peacefully and justly confront an immoral issue.
We cannot ignore a 42 year-old untried civil rights injustice in our midst — the shedding of innocent life. This civil rights offense involves all races, all cities, and all countries. Our nation, alone, is crying out with the blood of nearly 57 million babies. Roe v. Wade robbed America and murdered generations of our inheritance and reward.
We bought a lie with promises of convenience, livelihood, wealth, and “choice” wrapped in words of shallow inspiration concerning our “freedom.” What about the freedom of the pre-born? What about their vote? What about those baby girls’ choices? What about the lost purposes of these boys and girls whose lives were ended?
We bought a lie and taught it to the survivors of abortion, so that the lie could keep paving a dark path for more blood on our hands. Abortion is the real debt our nation cannot pay. Yet, there is a better blood that will atone every murder, every life we lost to this lie: the blood of Jesus.
If we repent, pray, and cry out for justice in our nation, Jesus will restore that which was stolen by that lie. Jesus will rebuild the moms, dads, and families long devastated from abortion. He will hear our cry and heal our land — from all of our life injustices.
“Somebody told a lie one day,” Dr. King said in a powerful speech I have listened to over and again. “They couched it in language. I wanna get that language right tonight. I wanna get the language so right tonight that everybody will cry out…” He was speaking passionately about the word “black” and the real beauty therein.
Today, I know if he were still with us in America, he would be heralding in our streets not only the right language for “black,” but another word that has been couched in incorrect language: The word that is “fetus.”
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So I wanna get the language right in my day. I wanna get the language so right in this day that everybody will cry out in their houses, in their streets, to their senators and representatives, to their judges, to their courthouses, to their President, and most importantly to our God. I want to hear America cry out that a fetus is sacred, that a fetus is a human, that a fetus is a life, and that a fetus is a baby.
This is the truth I will carry for my entire life purpose. And in the brave influence of men like Brother Bryan and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. this is why we march in Birmingham.
For every lie that has been believed about life in the womb — for the language our nation has used to manipulate our moral vision and solution — we march to show we are standing up to challenge Roe v. Wade. We are praying for this change that will be established on the truth. We are repenting for acting too slowly. And we are expecting the move of God to heal our land.
Natalie Brumfield, chapter leader of Bound4LIFE Birmingham, serves at local crisis pregnancy center Sav-A-Life. This Bound4LIFE article has been reprinted with permission.