I never know what is going to happen in a day of sidewalk counseling. Today I was standing out in the cold with three pro-choice clinic escorts for company. They were having a very lively conversation as the morning progressed.
At one point the leader of the escorts, Scott, said something about spending the hours there every Saturday and what a drag that was on his productivity. I asked him, "What motivates you to be out here?"
He ignored me, told the two female escorts to ignore me, and continued the conversation.
Standing there awkwardly hearing their whole conversation, but not being able to contribute, I learned a lot about them.
They are all married. Two have children. One likes how cute kids are, but doesn't want to see one more than an hour at a time.
Scott has one son - a boy with spina bifida he adopted from China. "Yeah, they didn't want him there so they threw him in the woods. He was found, though, and received a crappy surgery. He's got a nasty scar."
Scott talked about adopting Phil* with great warmth in his voice.
"He's seriously the cutest kid." One female escort said and the other readily agreed.
I was dumbstruck by the juxtaposition between their warmth toward this boy - a boy who was unwanted and almost killed because he was deformed - and the practice of abortion they were there defending. Scott stands in support of killing little children just like his own son.
I don't know how he reconciles the two positions in his own mind. I couldn't fathom it.
Later on they were talking about movies they enjoy, and their taste is similar to mine. They began discussing Ethan Hawke and one said, "What was that movie he was in with Jude Law? It was really good."
They can't possibly be talking about Gattaca, I thought.
"It was something like Got... Gat..." the other began, "Gattaca." the first finished.
The've seen Gattaca?! I thought incredulously. How can they enjoy a movie about societal prejudice against the genetically inferior, and still support abortion which is so frequently used as a way to accomplish genetic superiority?
Through their conversations I found so many things that I have in common with them. Children who overcome congenital health conditions and can dance beautifully inspire them the same way it inspires me. They enjoy Gattaca and want to be with their loved ones during the holidays. They enjoy these dreary kind of days and the color of the leaves.
It's horrible that the question of killing unborn human beings has separated us from each other. If they would allow me to join their conversation, I would think we could be friends. Then again, I don't think I could be their friend while they support killing innocent human beings in the womb.
There were several women who went in to have abortions while I was there. I was able to give out three booklets that have all the information I could share in person. I pray that they read those booklets, but I don't have any evidence that any of them did.
One man was inside before I arrived, and I saw that he was with a woman. He came out a few times to smoke. The first time
I offered him the booklet and he refused politely (from a distance) before going back in. The second time I offered it again and this time he walked all the way over to me, smiling. He then said, "No thank you." "I said no thank you the first time, and I am saying it again now." He said, smiling broadly, but there was deep pain in his voice.
He walked back to the door and turned to say, "If you say it when I come out next time, I may not be polite."
I was grieved by the pain in his eyes and in his voice.
Then the unexpected happened. Shortly after it started to rain, a man came walking by with a heavy backpack on his back. He was looking for a store to get some cigarettes. Scott pointed him the right direction (I don't know where the nearest store is), and the man started walking that way. He stopped only a short distance away and struggled to close up his backpack and get everything secure.
By that time another pro-life prayer partner had arrived, and I asked him to take my spot. I went over and asked the man if I could give him a ride to the store. He accepted and I took him to get breakfast, talk, and then drop him off a store.
His name is Ashton Pochatko, and he is walking to Texas to collect his mother's remains. It is a long and difficult story.
He looked old and tired (I would have guessed that he was 29), but he was only 20. He told me a lot about himself, and I shared what we were doing at the abortion facility. He said that abortion is "sick," but that it's the woman's choice.
At breakfast at McDonalds we talked a lot about his ideas about the universe. He wanted to tell me all about Natal Charts and Astrology. "It's science." He proclaimed.
I asked him about the one who made the stars and the moon. He caught on right away, "You're talking about G O D, aren't you?"
I said, yes. That's how we refer to him and how he has revealed himself to us.
"I believe in God, but I also believe in science." Ashton said after I made a quick Cosmological argument.
I laughed out loud, thinking about the Nacho Libre character who says, "I don't believe in God, I only believe in science."
We talked a bit longer, and it was clear that he has very confused ideas about Father God, Jesus, Abraham, and the Bible. It was also clear that he has read the Bible and has researched the topics more than once. He was very bright, and we had a good conversation about the most important topic. I shared the Gospel in a truncated way, and encouraged him to continue to research the topic and to think more about the way the Creator of the stars impacts his life than how the stars might.
I prayed for him to be protected, and left him at the store at his request. God keep him safe and bring him quickly to Texas. It's cold here, and I worry about him traveling in these winter months.
I stopped by the abortion center after dropping Ashton off, but everyone was gone. It was all quiet there, and I went home. I called the other pro-lifer to let him know that I wasn't killed and my car (that I'm borrowing) wasn't stolen. Ashton said that the other pro-lifer was probably suspicious because, "Other back-packing wanderers have made a bad name for us," and "he's not good at reading people's energy."
Well. I don't know if I'm good at reading people's energy or not, but I do know that Ashton, Scott, and the other pro-choice escorts, as well as every woman and man at the abortion center today are loved by God.
I pray that my presence made some difference today. I pray that God uses me for his glory as I pursue life and Godliness.