“He has a different approach.” This casual comment made by a fellow Christian provided a dissimilar viewpoint of ministering to women contemplating abortion. The goal of pro-life ministry is to save the unborn. Can there be two ways to accomplish the same results?
I was comfortable joining a young woman from our church to pray in front of an abortion clinic for a few hours one Saturday morning as part of a ministry called 40 Days for Life. Participants, who hold signs that read “Pray to end abortion,” present a “peaceful and educational presence.” A nonconfrontational approach with which I agree. It is the approach I was sure Jesus would use. Yes, in my mind it demonstrated agape love… that intelligent, intense love that seeks the best for others.
As we drove to our destination, I learned that on Wednesdays when abortions were performed at the women’s clinic, a different kind of pro-life advocate had begun to show up. The “in your face” kind. Yes, those who would stop women on their way into the clinic to beg them to reconsider. “Don’t do it!” “Turn back!” “You’ll regret this decision!” It was the kind I didn’t want to associate with, wouldn’t Christianity get a bad name?
But the Holy Spirit grabbed my attention with the words “different approach.” My thoughts, my heart, went out to the women surprised by pregnancy. Perhaps in a desperate situation which would become even more complicated with the birth of a child. Poverty stricken, barely able to put food on the table for themselves and not enough money for childcare while at work. Unmarried, pressured by a boyfriend who wants no part in the responsibility of raising a child. That Saturday morning, I paced up and down in front of that clinic, praying for those type of women. My heart was filled with compassion for them. “Show me how to help them,” I prayed.
Could a more confrontational approach be just as compassionate? Yes, for those who were trying to snatch the unborn from certain death. Wednesday was a different day. They came each Wednesday because God had given them boldness. Although this approach had not been given me, it was indeed agape love. An intense love, willing the best for the unborn and ultimately the women too.
That day I realized it is okay to approach ministry differently. Someone who does not teach like I do can get a point across in a different way reaching those I could not reach and vice versa. We often critique teachers from our bias labeling them “good” or “poor,” yet they are instruments of God with one task and that is to remain faithful to their calling. We can also be critical of the way people deliver the gospel message as well. I was surprised to read a testimony where someone came to know Jesus by reading the book “The Purpose Driven Life” by Rick Warren. I guess I had read too many bad reviews, yet the Holy Spirit used this book to open someone’s heart to Christ.
Matthew 7:1-2 reads: “Judge not, that you be not judged. For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you.” ESV
This judging we are warned against in the Bible can masquerade in many forms that makes it difficult to detect. Yet, it can stifle the work of the Spirit.
Before I learned the clinic was closed on Saturdays, I suggested we separate from the more aggressive brothers and sisters in Christ. Make sure we did not associate with them. But action was not to be taken that day, only action within my heart. That Saturday our impact was through prayer and the message on the signs we carried visible to the public as they drove past in their cars. But on Wednesdays, many who come to the clinic to save the unborn use a “different approach.”
Contemplate Your Ways:
1-Have you ever judged another group because their way of doing ministry was not like yours? If so, what was it about their methods you didn’t like?
2-How can two people with different methods of ministry work together toward the same goal?
If you would like to learn more about 40 Days For Life visit their website at: 40daysforlife.com.