I think we are trying to advance the pro-life movement the wrong way.
Here in the United States, abortion is a political issue.
We vote pro-life,
we proudly post about it on social media,
we put bumper stickers on our cars, and
we complain about Roe v Wade anytime that Planned Parenthood is in the news or during the Women’s March.
Is all that really making a difference? Have you ever converted someone who is pro-choice because of your Facebook posts? (I have not.) Do you even have any Facebook friends who disagree with you? (I do!)
Who Are We Trying to Convince to be Pro-Life?
Let’s stop for a moment and think about who we are trying to convince that abortion is wrong. Perhaps if we really want to reduce the number of abortions, we need to reconsider our audience.
Instead of trying to convince our pro-choice-voting friends, we should convince women that God loves them so much that He doesn’t want the pain of abortion for them. I’m not talking about physical pain: I’m talking about emotional and spiritual pain.
Abortion is not just a political issue. It’s a spiritual issue.
As Christians, we are called to love God (see the Greatest Commandment in Matthew 22:37-38) and to love people (see the second “that’s like it” in Matthew 22:39-40). How well are we loving women who have unwanted pregnancies?
Since women are the ones having the abortion, women are our audience. Men are our secondary audience. Yes, men can pressure women into having an abortion, but ultimately women have the control. And in our American society, women are empowered. Isn’t that what the pro-choice movement says?
Women who consider themselves pro-choice either do not have the saving grace of Christ or do not understand what the Bible says about choosing life. It’s our job to teach them.
The Great Commission
How often do you think about the Great Commission? Perhaps you think about it when your pastor preaches on it or when your church supports a missionary or a short-term mission trip.
Do you remember what the Great Commission says? Some of you just said it in your head from memory. Most of us don’t have it memorized. Here is what Jesus said as recorded in Matthew:
“Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit… (Matthew 28:19)
Most people stop right there. But that’s not all. The Great Commission goes on in verse 20:
…teaching them to observe everything that I have commanded you. (Matthew 28:20a)
When I hear the Great Commission, I hear “baptize them” and absolve myself of responsibility because it’s the pastor’s job to baptize, not mine.
But the Great Commission says to make disciples, and that is my responsibility.
Jesus did not say those words to missionaries. He said those words to His disciples. If we are Christ’s disciples, then we are commissioned to make disciples.
Further, we often quote Matthew 28:19 without including verse 20—teach them. For those of you who have it memorized, did you also memorize verse 20?
Our job is not just to go to all nations, not just to make disciples, not just to baptize, but to teach them to observe—follow, do—all that Jesus commanded.
Do we need to “go” to another nation to do the Great Commission? No. We go outside of the U.S. if that’s what the Lord has told us to do, but we stay home if that is what the Lord told us to do. Or as Jill Briscoe said it:
“You go where you’re sent and you stay where you’re put and you give what you’ve got.”
The “nations” that Jesus was talking about in The Great Commission were the ethnic groups other than Israel, that is, the Gentiles—us!
Jesus was telling Jewish believers in Christ (the first Jews for Jesus!) to make disciples out of everyone, baptize them, and teach them all they learned from Him. Not sure you believe me? Check out the definition of “nations”—ethnos—in the original Greek from the Blue Letter Bible.
We here in the United States are full of the nations or ethnic groups that Jesus was talking about. We are the “melting pot” of ethnic groups.
Jesus was saying that salvation through Him is for everyone, not just Israel. We are part of “all nations,” so those of us who are called to stay here are just as much responsible for the Great Commission as those who are called to be missionaries elsewhere (whether short-term or long-term).
So when we get angry about abortion, are we remembering the Great Commission? Or are we just getting hot-under-the-collar about dead babies? Does anger help us win women for Christ?
Perhaps instead of just getting angry, we should think about those women (and the men who got them pregnant) as potential disciples.
“Go and make disciples” of everyone—
even those who are pregnant out of wedlock,
even those who are considering abortion,
even those who have had abortions,
even the men who got the women pregnant,
even men who pressured women into having abortions,
even the babies who are born because the mom chose life—everyone, all nations, all ethnic groups.
Go (don’t sit around doing nothing) and make disciples, baptize them, teach them all Jesus commanded.
Encountering unwed mothers and fathers is an opportunity to show God’s love and to show them how to feel God’s mercy. That’s putting the Great Commission into practical terms.
For My thoughts are not your thoughts,
nor are your ways My ways,”
declares the LORD.
I thought I had the perfect plan.
God had a different plan—a plan that brought Him more glory.
And even though God’s plan was harder, I continued to rejoice through the difficulties.
A Mother’s Cry Ministry
After returning from my first mission trip in January (to Uganda), I knew the Lord was asking me to speak boldly about abortion and purity—but I didn’t want to.
I met Julie Mad-Bondo, founder of A Mother’s Cry ministry, which is all about stopping abortion one woman at a time, and at God’s prompting, I agreed to speak whenever she wanted me to.
Yay for Julie and her ministry! but a real challenge for me.
I wrestled with the Lord over this. When I figured out why I didn’t want to do what God was calling me to do and talked it over with several people, I got over my issues. I knew I was going to say “yes” to God, probably by the weekend of our church’s women’s conference the first weekend in March.
In the meantime, I felt Satan’s attacks—because, of course, he wants abortion, premarital sex, and adultery.
Whenever I feel Satan’s attacks, I know I’m on the path that the Lord chose for me. Although his attacks are exhausting, they actually motivate me to do what God asks because there’s nothing more peaceful than being in God’s will.
Resist the devil and he will flee from you.
At the McLean Bible Church women’s conference March 3-4 with keynote speaker Jennie Allen, founder of the IF:Gathering, I did fully submit to God’s will. At Jennie’s prompting and while at the conference, I took the first small step to doing God’s will.
And then the second.
And then the third.
And then the doors of opportunity just started flying open.
Suddenly, I had a speaking engagement scheduled for the spring and two more tentative dates for the summer.
Then Julie asked me to speak to teens and women at the end of June—in Uganda!
Of course I said, “Yes!” I love the people of Uganda and longed to see my new-found friends. What an incredible opportunity to encourage women and teens in Uganda and then return home to do the same in the United States.
A couple weeks later, my employer offered buyouts, which would be followed by layoffs if necessary, because they were reorganizing.
Oddly, I had an incredible peace about taking the buyout. I felt like the Lord wanted me to be home with my family while simultaneously speaking boldly about abortion and purity. So, I took the buyout.
Hip Replacement Surgery
Before my last day, we found out that my husband, Russ, needed to have his hip replaced. I thought the timing was perfect because I would be free from work to help him with recovery before going to Uganda.
But it was unclear as to how much of Russ’ pain was from his back and how much was from his hip, so he first tried injections to relieve pain. He seemed to be doing okay until the middle of May.
In May, the pain got progressively worse. He was miserable.
In early June, Russ called to get surgery scheduled and got a doctor appointment to discuss surgery for the day I was to return from Uganda. The doctor’s office was concerned about scheduling surgery so soon after injections. Evidently, there’s increased risk of bone infection when surgery is soon after an injection.
Russ is no wimp. The pain was bad. So, the doctor called him in for a new x-ray. We found out that the reason that he was suddenly in so much more pain is because he had avascular necrosis or AVN, a condition in which poor blood supply to an area of bone leads to bone death. Yes, the bone was dead.
That’s why he was in so much pain. They scheduled surgery for July 11.
I had been doing more and more nursing for Russ so that he would be more comfortable. I was conflicted. I wanted to be home for all of June to take care of him, but I also knew that God was sending me to Uganda. It wasn’t just that I wanted to go. I was convicted that the Lord was sending me.
But at the very least, I could shorten my trip by a day. I changed my flights so that I could leave Uganda as soon as my speaking obligations were complete. I’d be home Monday, June 26.
When Julie had asked me to go to Uganda, the challenge was figuring out how to pay for the flight, which would’ve been about $1200 if I had purchased the tickets in March.
Then it occurred to me that I could fly standby.
Russ is retired from an airline. As a retiree, he and his immediate family (that’s me!) fly standby for little or no cost. Because I’d be flying with a different airline, there was a cost, but the cost was less than $500, much better than $1200!
Although the money part of standby sounds wonderful, the unpredictability can be very unnerving. Choosing standby when I have to be in-country at a specific time ready to speak was a risky choice. But I had complete peace about it.
Peace that passes all understanding. (Philippians 4:7)
Standby passengers get whatever empty seats have not been sold. Our names are on a standby list. We go to the airport and wait at the gate to find out whether we get on the plane.
Yes, that means we can pay for parking, check our bags, go through security, etc. and not get on the plane.
What if we don’t get on the plane? Then we check other flights to see if we can get on another plane. Sometimes we spend a whole day in the airport. Sometimes we get a hotel room and stay overnight because we’re stuck someplace that is not home. Sometimes you give up and drive the 10+ hours to Chicago instead.
I’ve done all those things for over 15 years with two boys in tow. It can be nerve wracking, but you have to remember that you don’t have control so there’s no point in worrying.
I have learned to create contingency plans, keep myself and the boys calm, and be ready to make last-minute decisions.
It can be fun, but it can also be nerve wracking. Many people don’t like to fly standby because it’s not predictable—including my husband! He remembers how much better it was to fly standby before 9/11, rising fuel prices, and airline consolidation. Planes used to go out with more empty seats than they do today.
But every empty seat is lost revenue. Airlines have changed so that they send out full flights. It saves them money and keeps them in business, which we appreciate because we have retirement benefits tied to their business!
So, I listed as a standby passenger on four flights:
home to Amsterdam
Amsterdam to Uganda
Uganda to Amsterdam
Standby made Julie nervous—and understandably so. What if one of her speakers didn’t make it to Uganda? Not only would she have to punt, but it would affect her reputation.
But I had absolute peace—no worries at all.
I felt absolutely confident that I would get there on time.
Change in Plans
It was one week before I was to leave for Uganda. Russ was in so much pain that he wanted to change his surgery to an earlier date. Although I hated seeing him in pain, I did not like the risk of bone infection. Bone infection sounded like worse pain and worse consequences than AVN. So, we prayed.
After prayer, we both had peace about asking the doctor if he would reschedule the surgery for an earlier date.
Later that day, Russ texted me with a new surgery date: Tuesday, June 27.
I was scheduled to land on Monday, June 26—twenty-four hours earlier, as a standby passenger.
I had a moment of panic. What if I didn’t get on that plane?
Then I realized that God had planned everything.
After just a moment of doubt,
I had peace that passes all understanding (Philippians 4:7).
Getting on the Plane
Getting on the first plane was the hardest thing to do. Not because there were no seats but because I was leaving my husband behind.
But I couldn’t prevent him from falling.
I couldn’t prevent him from getting into a car accident.
He was in God’s hands. I had to trust HIM.
Faith. The Lord was testing my faith.
At the gate, Julie wanted to know what the next option was if I were not to get on this flight. I didn’t know. I hadn’t looked up the next flight option.
I had unbelievable peace and said,
“I’m getting on the plane.”
And I did.
In Amsterdam, I had absolute peace, and I got on the second plane!
We had a great time! We spoke to teens on Friday, women on Saturday, and churchgoers on Sunday. We encouraged one another, we learned more about Ugandan culture, and we laughed at ourselves!
I especially enjoyed hearing from people who were encouraged.
Encouraged to think 20 years ahead and to think about how pre-marital pregnancy would take them off the straight path that God has planned for them
Encouraged because they, too, are special needs parents (John 9) as we are
Encouraged with specifics on how to avoid the temptation of premarital sex
Encouraged to think that they are critical to the prosperous Uganda that God wants for them
Julie was just as concerned about my getting home as she was my getting to Uganda. I was going to the airport alone—late at night in a foreign country, a white woman traveling alone in Africa. What a dear friend!
But, again, I had peace that passes understanding. (Philippians 4:7)
Emmanuel, our driver and protector, very kindly saw me all the way to the door and watched me go through security. (More on my dear friend Emmanuel later, but isn’t it appropriate that his name is Emmanuel?)
When I went to check my bag, I got my seat assignment—I was getting on the plane to Amsterdam!
Once in Amsterdam, I had a 7-hour layover, which provided opportunity to pray and reflect on the weekend.
When I went to the gate, the gate agent told me that the flight was full and asked if I would take a jump seat. I had never been asked that before. It sounded exciting!
Again, I wasn’t nervous at all. There’s nothing I can do about the situation, remember? This was all in God’s hands.
On Facebook, I requested prayer. Then I went to get cleaned up.
When I returned to the gate, I watched person after person get on the plane. The gate agents were all very efficient.
I amended my request for prayer on Facebook, saying that if they hadn’t heard from me by 7:45 am, then assume I was on the plane.
It seemed like everyone was on the plane. The gate agent made a phone call. She was talking in Dutch, but I understood “Krichbaum”! I tried connecting to the WiFi so that I could quickly post on Facebook that I was getting on the plane, but I couldn’t connect to the Internet.
The flight attendant got off the phone and reached for my passport.
I was getting on the plane!
But Russ and my family and friends had to trust that “no news is good news.”
After I got settled in a seat meant for flight attendants, I started crying while singing “Praise God from Whom all blessings flow” in my head. A flight attendant noticed and asked me what was wrong.
“Nothing! I’m just so grateful that you let me on the plane!”
I explained to her that my husband was having surgery 24 hours after I landed, and I was so appreciative that they let me on the plane.
I really wish I had gotten a picture of the gate agent who asked the flight crew for permission for me to be in a jump seat and a picture of the flight crew who were so kind to me. Even though I don’t have pictures of them, I have prayed for them over and over!
Russ picked me up at the airport. When I got in the car, we lost it! I don’t think we’ve ever been so happy to see each other.
Russ was the last surgery of the day. It was delayed by a couple hours. Russ asked if I was still okay with the surgery. “After this past weekend, of course!”
Everything went perfectly.
After surgery, the nurses stopped Russ’ gurney a couple steps away from the bed and had him take the two steps to the bed.
Russ said, “That’s all? I want to walk to the door!”
The nurses looked surprised but led him across the room to the door and back.
It was late at night, so they kept him overnight. The next day, Russ did great with the physical therapy exercises and practice going up and down stairs and in and out of a pretend car, so they let him go home.
They say that hip replacement patients will have a walker for two weeks. Russ stopped using his the first day.
They expect Russ to be on a cane for two weeks after the walker, but he often walks without it.
Russ does use the cane when walking on our block, and it works really well for closing the back door after the dog comes back inside!
To God be the glory!
God’s Plan Brought HIM More Glory
Do you remember all the way back to the beginning of this story? I had a perfect plan. Russ could’ve had surgery in May and be fully recovered before my trip to Uganda.
But sometimes God likes to show off.
Do you remember the story of Joshua and the Israelite army conquering the city of Jericho (recorded in Joshua 6)? It made no sense that marching around the city for 7 days and yelling would make the walls of resistance to God’s plan fall down. But that’s what happened.
And God got the glory!
Do you remember the story of Gideon and the Israelite army (recorded in Judges 7)? God reduced the army to 300 so that Israel would not “become boastful, saying ‘My own power has delivered me'” (Judges 7:2b).
And God got the glory!
Let me not sound boastful. This trip was not about me. It was about obedience and faith.
To God be the glory!
Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your path straight.