The Beauty and Pain of Sidewalk Advocacy

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She stepped onto the mobile unit on a Wednesday afternoon, her face coated with a sheen of sweat—whether from the heat or anxiety, we couldn’t tell. A pregnancy test. A positive result. A long, tense conversation. Reasons why it was the wrong time, the wrong place…the wrong everything. Fear and uncertainty. And yet, something was holding her back. Something didn’t feel quite right about the decision that seemed to make the most sense to her.

“It sounds like you don’t want to have an abortion.”

She fidgeted in her seat, unable or unwilling to make eye contact. As the appointment came to a close, we asked if we could pray with her.

She refused. “No, don’t do that. I’ll just start crying.”

Unsettled. Uncertain. Undecided.

We set a date and time to see her again, hopeful that her current hesitancy to choose abortion would become a permanent resolve to say ‘no’ to abortion and ‘yes’ to life.

Three days later, we saw her again. Only this time, she wasn’t walking toward us. This time she walked right past us and through the doors of the abortion clinic.

Still unsettled. Still uncertain. No longer undecided.

A Harsh Reality

There is no redemption in this particular story—at least not yet. So why do we share it? Why not focus on the victories, on the women who do choose life?

Because this story—this woman who chose abortion even though she was presented with truth and offered help and hope—is real life. Six days of the week, women and men walk through the doors of that abortion clinic, and many times one or both of them have no peace or certainty about their decision.

The role of a Sidewalk Advocate is crucial. We are literally the last line of defense. We stand along the driveway to the clinic and offer truth, support, love, and hope to women and men. We speak kindly and peacefully to the abortion volunteers. We pray for the abortionists who make a living by destroying the living.

And many times-—a lot of the time—we’re avoided. Ignored. Rejected.

Is it Worth it?

Maybe you have considered becoming a Sidewalk Advocate yourself, but you have doubts. Would I know what to say? What if I get rejected? I don’t know if I could handle confrontation. Most of those women have already made up their minds, anyway. Is it really making a difference?

Is it worth it?

The last thing we want to do is discourage potential volunteers from getting involved. But we also want to paint an accurate picture of the warzone that is sidewalk advocacy. This is more than sorting baby clothes or counting baby bottle change. The stakes are much higher. Lives are on the line, and many days, those precious lives are lost.

It can be a discouraging and heartbreaking role.

Quite the sales pitch for new Sidewalk Advocate volunteers, right?

“Come volunteer with the Care Center! You’re guaranteed to be discouraged, heartbroken, and possibly even scorned by those you come in contact with on the sidewalk!”

Hear us out. Because there’s more to this “pitch.”

A High Calling

No matter what role you serve at the Care Center, you will feel some measure of heartbreak over the sadness of abortion. But the role of a Sidewalk Advocate carries with it a heightened sense of suffering.

And here is where our hope lies.

As Christians, we know and believe that Jesus is with us in our suffering. In fact, to experience suffering is to experience fellowship with Christ (Philippians 1:29; Romans 8:17). On the topic of suffering and enduring difficult hardship, John Piper says this:

“So I take it to be a biblical truth that the more earnest we become about being the salt of the earth and the light of the world, and reaching the unreached peoples of the world, and exposing the works of darkness, and loosing the bonds of sin and Satan, the more we will suffer.”1

In other words: if we suffer and hurt as a result of our obedience to Christ, then we are doing something right.

In other words: if we suffer and hurt as a result of our obedience to Christ, then we are doing something right.Click To Tweet

Join Us

If you are interested or even a little bit curious about being a Sidewalk Advocate, we invite you to attend our next training this week on Wednesday, August 15 from 9 am to 1 pm.

We promise that serving in this way will bring difficulty and sadness as you’re faced with the sobering reality of abortion and its devastating impact on all those involved.

But we also promise that there will be victories. There will be tears of joy. There will be lives saved. There will be hope embraced.

And there will be fellowship with Christ.

And that, friend, makes it all—every last bit of it—most definitely worth it.

What to do Next

If you’d like to sign up for this week’s Sidewalk Advocate training, click here. We are looking for both women and men to serve as advocates. We already have a few men who serve, but we would love to have more!

If you are interested in serving but are not available during morning hours, that’s ok! We always need peer advocates to serve at our Fulton Street location and on our mobile unit. Contact us if you’d like to get started as a volunteer. You can also sign up for our next Open House event by clicking here.

Mary Holloman is the Communications Assistant at the Care Center. She loves to write, shoot basketball, beat her husband in ping-pong, and act silly with her two kiddos. You can follow her at maryholloman.com or on Instagram at @marytholloman.

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