I try to get our students serving in solid, Gospel-centered ministries around our community on a regular basis. Last night we partnered with the local crisis pregnancy center for an evening of service and encouragement. Our community has no abortion provider, but we are within an easy drive of the metropolitan centers of Louisville, Nashville, Memphis, and St. Louis, all of whom have facilities for the destruction of life. Lifehouse has stood in Murray as a witness not only for the cause of the unborn but also for the Gospel. They unapologetically defend the personhood of unborn children from conception and, in a non-judgmental and compassionate way, counsel women to make life-affirming decisions and also equip mothers with the resources and skills they need to take care of their child.
I also have no problems at all taking teenagers to crisis centers and encouraging them to serve and be proactive for the cause of life. This issue is the most deeply divisive discussion of our day, and it is impossible to either remain on the sidelines or remain neutral about it. But it is more than politics, it is an issue central to the Gospel. Some of our students shared that people have left school clubs because that club wanted to volunteer at our center. I want to give a few reasons why I continue to involve our student ministry in the cause of life and why I think every student pastor should consider becoming involved as well.
- Abortion is the great deception of our time – As we left last night each of us were given a model of an 11-12 week old developing baby. Its fingers, toes, eyes, ears, and other features were there. The child can suck its thumb, move, respond to stimuli, and has a beating heart. But this is also the point in development where most abortions happen. The cry of “it’s only tissue!” seems moot when you hold a 1 oz. infant in your hand that looks exactly like a newborn, only smaller. The Deceiver seeks to steal, kill, and destroy (John 10:10), and this is what happens across our globe every day. We are lied to by a Liar who only knows how to lie. We buy into the lie when we declare that the unborn are not people, when abortion providers refuse to allow pregnant women to see the ultrasound or hear the heartbeat, when we take up utilitarian arguments for or against abortion, when we say that this is a private matter, or when we are unmoved by the plight of the pregnant teenager who finds herself in a desperate place. Yes, the issue is for us as well in the pro-life camp. We can find ourselves deceived when we do nothing for the desperate mothers and scared families, when we avoid the issue for fear of offense, or when we remain silent.
- Abortion is a Gospel issue, not a political one – Christians have a rightful fear and concern about entering politics, for any number of reasons. Those Christians who do enter politics do so at the risk of their reputation, career, and ultimately their testimony. But this issue is more than a Court decision or government funding, it’s one that strikes at the heart of the Gospel. Psalm 139 details the forming of a person by the handiwork of God. And while God doesn’t have crochet needles putting together babies, the miracle of how one cell can become trillions with functioning systems and a personality is truly a work of God. Abortion is a Gospel issue for this reason: every single person is made in the image of God. It doesn’t matter if they’re the child of rocket scientists or born with Down Syndrome. The Gospel at its heart teaches that every person is an image-bearer of God and is valuable and worthy of dignity and honor from conception, regardless of circumstances. The Gospel also moves us to protect and defend the defenseless (James 1, Psalm 82).
- Jesus loves the little children – The toddler song perhaps carries more weight theologically than my little 2 year old can ever comprehend. Jesus does love the little children, and they are precious in His sight. The Gospels display a particular affection for children, with Jesus calling them to Himself and His description of faith is compared to that of a child. We are rightly horrified when tragedies like Sandy Hook happen, but we turn the other way when confronted with the reality of 4,000 children who die every day. Jesus calls on us to love our neighbor, to serve the poor and needy, and to live a life of radical sacrifice for the Kingdom. What better place to start than with those who are loved by Jesus whether they are red or yellow or black or white, or born into stable two-parent homes or single teenagers or career women or with a defect or extra chromosome.
- These centers need our encouragement – It is incredibly taxing to engage in spiritual warfare. Day in and day out these centers deal with incredibly difficult circumstances. Many counselors I have talked to can still remember the faces of women who refused to listen and were set on having an abortion, they can recall many ‘dark nights of the soul,’ the difficulty in raising funds to continue operations, and the constant need of volunteers, supplies, finances, prayer, and support. We as a student ministry have gotten to encourage crisis pregnancy centers in Louisville and Memphis, which operate very close to abortion providers. Those workers were incredibly appreciative of our coming, our work, our donations, but most of all our support.
- The work is never done, and no work is insignificant – We bagged diapers and wipes last night. I know, world-shattering work. But in the economy of God, no work is insignificant. Sorting clothes, cleaning floors, serving meals, being shut out of a home, assembling care packages, and prayer-walking all have eternal value and impact. Also, in God’s providence and timing, until Jesus returns no work of the Gospel is going to be complete. There will always be women in need of basic supplies for their baby, families struggling with the decision to abort, and crisis pregnancy centers to stand in the gap and lovingly proclaim the truth.
Student pastors, take some time to contact the pregnancy centers in your area and offer to partner with them financially and/or by serving them. And pray. Pray for hearts to be changed by the Gospel, which is the only true liberator. Pray for sidewalk counselors and Christian physicians who volunteer their time and services. Pray for centers to have the funds, staff, and support they need. Pray for those who do not yet have names but are known to God.