Friday, March 2, 2007

The Ministry of Presence

"When did we see you in prison?” …. Matthew 25:44

Your child is ill & in the hospital. You & your spouse arrange for one or the other of you to be there around the clock. You sit by the bed & hold your baby’s hand, or read a story out loud, or sing lullabies. There is nothing else you can do.

This is the Ministry of Presence.

You visited your grandmother every day at the nursing home. You sat in her room & talked & watched TV with her. Sometimes you read a book to yourself or took a nap. Later, when she was very ill & seeming to be unconscious, you read the Bible to her & prayed.

This is the Ministry of Presence.

At your grandma’s funeral you wept & hugged your relatives. There was nothing that you could say to them, but you were there. Everyone will remember that you loved her.

This is the Ministry of Presence.

The desire to be near a loved one who is hurting or who is in a desperate need is natural, normal, & human. There is no substitute for being physically near another person. Our Creator Himself came as a man & walked among us. He touched people, he stood by them, & he wept. Presence is so important to us that Jesus left his Holy Spirit to dwell with us & among us after his own body departed this world. He gives us His presence in the wine and bread of the Eucharist.

When Jesus hung on the cross, some of those that followed & loved him, came to watch from a distance. Almost all of them were women. Of the men who became apostles, only John was present. The other men were hiding in fear.

Jesus as a Pre-born Child

When Mary came to visit her cousin Elizabeth, the Lord Jesus was only a week old in his mother’s womb. Elisabeth’s baby in her womb leapt for joy to be in the presence of the Christ. Children bear the image of God, & abortion, as do other forms of murder, not only sheds innocent blood, it is an attack upon the image of God. Jesus summed up the Law & the Prophets in two commands, “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, & with all thy soul, & with all thy mind” & “Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.” [Matt 22:37&39]

Preborn children are our neighbors, & many of these neighbors are killed not very far from where we live & where we worship in our churches. Does not every good parent love his own children as much as he loves himself? We sacrifice & labor for our children. We hug & teach them. To love preborn children as our neighbors, we would love them as we do our own children, & we would want to be near the places of death & suffering, if for nothing else than to silently testify to their humanity. The biblical logic is inescapable, that those who love God will want to sometimes & periodically come to the places of abortion & offer their love to the children about to be killed.

Who would believe that we loved our elderly grandmother or our sick children if we did not try to be near them whenever possible? How will the world believe us when we say abortion is wrong if we will not act on behalf of those about to be killed in the simplest human way that demonstrates the truth of what we say?

Pregnancy support ministries are wonderful, but those that are not purposely planted right next door to the killing sites do not make the last attempt to save the 1.3 million who are killed each year in the United States. There is a need for all pro-life people to come to the abortion places.

Another aspect, of course, is the witness for life we give to the abortionists who kill children for a living & to the parents. We find increasingly that people who come for abortion have Christian symbols on their cars.

Ways to be Present

The beauty of the Ministry of Presence concept is that it is perfectly applicable for nearly everyone who believes that abortion kills a child. Young or old, bright or simple, trained or untrained -most people- can come at least once a year, many can come once a month, & a dedicated handful will make themselves available weekly. You can come as an individual, a family or a church. The three basic ways we have organized & identified here in Asheville are: the annual Vigil; Churches Praying once a month; & regular Sidewalk Counseling at the abortion location.

a. Vigil
Every year we in Life Advocates sponsor an all-night Vigil on the weekend nearest to January 22nd -the anniversary of Roe v. Wade. Churches sign up for an hour to pray, sing, read scriptures & fellowship at the place of abortion in Asheville. We created “Milk Jug Luminaries” (numbered by the years since 1973) that we burn through the night. Please consider organizing an annual vigil outside the abortion site in your community. Come prepared for any & all weather. 2007 marked our eighth consecutive Vigil.

b. Church Praying
A number of churches, led by pastors, elders & others come once a month to the abortion site to pray, watch & support our sidewalk counselors. If your church will not come officially, you may be able to come with several families or as an individual family or person. Typically a church will take, for examples, the second Saturday of each month, or third Wednesdays. In our area there likely are 50,000 pro-life Christians within an hour’s drive of the abortion building. Imagine what it would look like if everyone who was pro-life in the United States came to the abortion places near them a few times a year.

c. Sidewalk Counseling
“Let Your Baby Live! We Will Help” our sign says. Sidewalk Counseling is simply offering loving help, information & encouragement to people coming to abort their children, so that they do not feel that they must do this desperate act. We use a battery powered speaker & a microphone [Not a bullhorn!] & we offer a literature packet, including our own resource brochure. We are there whenever people are arriving for abortion. About once a week, a woman changes her mind to let her baby live, & we offer her a nice ‘baby-bag’ stuffed with things for her & her child. We have an Ob-Gyn backup. Sidewalk counselors make up a close community of people from varied backgrounds. We need new people here in Asheville & all over the country. If you are interested in Sidewalk Counseling, e-mail or call me at 828-298-5757 & I will help you get started here in our area or anywhere—where you live. If there is Sidewalk Counseling already in your community, just go & see what it is like, get to know those who are doing it, & in time you may decide to take a more active role.

“Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in: Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me. Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink? When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee? Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee? And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.” -Matthew 25:34-40 [KJV]

Are not pre-born children who are threatened by abortion to be deprived of food & drink? Are they not strangers needing taking in? Are they not naked? Are not some of them sick, or all of them to be deprived of health—their very lives? Is not the abortion place a prison where they are to be executed?

Please help us save precious pre-born children!

Please help us save precious men and women from harming themselves by abortion!

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