Sometimes there are no words. There weren’t for Amanda that day. She sat in the mobile ultrasound unit, head in her hands, as tears slipped between her fingers. She knew she was pregnant. Had known for a few weeks now. She was devastated. And so she wept.
Lauren, the nurse, let Amanda cry into the silence. In the moments that followed, Amanda managed to find the words to share her story. And the truth of her story was staggering.
The power of presence
Days earlier, Amanda had pulled into the parking lot of A Woman’s Choice. She stared at the somewhat dilapidated building—the one promising to make her life normal again. Her pregnancy wasn’t planned or wanted. The timing was all wrong, and Amanda wanted to rewind her life to a time when things weren’t so complicated. Abortion was the best option, she thought. Her best chance. Her only choice.
But if that was true, then why was she still sitting in the car?
That’s when she saw them. A sea of blue shirts, gathered a short distance away and facing the parking lot. The brightness of the colors seemed out of place here compared to the faded brick, gravel, and angry weeds that forced their way through every crack and crevice.
But the myriad of blue shirts wasn’t what most captured her attention. It was the faces. The postures. Some people were kneeling on the ground, heads bowed, faces in sorrow. Others stood with their hands raised toward the abortion clinic—toward her—as their mouths moved in silence. Praying. All of them, praying.
Amanda pressed herself further into her seat, as if creating more distance between herself and the crowd of people would erase their presence.
Me, she thought. They’re praying for me. And my baby.
It was a Saturday morning. Why were these people there? The blue-shirt people didn’t know her, and yet she felt as if they actually cared about her. And about the person inside of her.
Amanda realized her hand was now resting on her stomach, as if to shield the tiny life within from the danger that waited nearby. And in that moment, Amanda knew that this posture—shielding, protecting, guarding—was exactly what she was meant to do as a woman. As a mother.
Somehow, knowing that these blue-shirted people cared about her decision made her think that maybe—just maybe—she could make a different choice.
Next to the crowd of people, Amanda saw a bright pink bus. She’d missed it before, but now the words along the side—Caring, Compassionate, Confidential—might as well have been blinking in neon lights.
Amanda typed the number on the bus into her phone. Key in the ignition. Car in reverse. The clinic behind her. Decision made.
The power of prayer
That’s how Amanda found herself on the mobile ultrasound unit a few days later. She told Lauren her story and shared that, even though she was still scared and uncertain, she knew she wanted to keep her baby. Lauren was able to offer her a free ultrasound and met with her for several subsequent visits to talk about practical ways to provide support during and after her pregnancy.
If you ask Amanda now, months later, how she feels about being a mom, she’ll tell you that she’s over-the-moon excited to meet her baby. With the support of her family and Greensboro Pregnancy Care Center, she’s prepared to face her future without fear.
She’ll also tell you that it was the sight of people praying for her that made her walk away from her abortion appointment that day.
A city that prays
I’ve been on staff at Greensboro Pregnancy Care Center in North Carolina for the past five years. In that time, we’ve experienced some pretty astronomical growth. We’ve launched a mobile ultrasound unit, moved to a more strategic location, created a mentorship program that connects women to local churches, and nearly doubled our budget.
Then, in the summer of 2018—just when I thought we’d found a comfortable sweet spot—a new opportunity came knocking on our door: sidewalk advocacy.
After a whirlwind of research and training, we began parking our mobile ultrasound unit (the “bright pink bus”) beside the entrance to our city’s abortion center two days a week. Our staff nurses and volunteers would stand along the side of the driveway to speak with clients as they pulled into the parking lot, offering free ultrasounds and bags with information about free resources and abortion alternatives.
Around the same time, we began a partnership with Love Life, an organization with arms in Charlotte, the Triad, and the Triangle. Their mission is to unite and mobile the Church to create a culture of love and life that will bring an end to abortion and the orphan crisis.
Through Love Life, churches in Greensboro commit to adopt at least one out of forty weeks for the purpose of praying outside the abortion center. After praying, Love Life encourages church members to get involved as volunteers and mentors in various programs and organizations, including Greensboro Pregnancy Care Center. Everyone who participates in the Love Life prayer walks is given a bright blue shirt. So when a large group is gathered together, wearing their shirts, it looks kind of like a sea of blue.
Which is exactly what Amanda saw that day.
The prayer of urgency
In his book, Knowing God, J. I. Packer writes, “People who know their God are before anything else people who pray, and the first point where their zeal and energy for God’s glory come to expression is in their prayers….If, however, there is in us little energy for such prayer, and little consequent practice of it, this is a sure sign that as yet we scarcely know our God.”(1)
Stories like Amanda’s don’t happen every day, but they are a beautiful reminder of the power, necessity, and urgency of prayer. And for we who are Christians, Amanda’s story is a powerful demonstration of what it means to know God. Because if we claim to care about the unborn and women in crisis but refuse to spend time interceding on their behalf, how can we say we truly love God or know him?
Sidewalk advocacy has been a game changer for our city. It’s allowed us to serve as the last line of defense, to call out to those “stumbling to the slaughter” (Proverbs 24:11-12) and offer the truth and hope of the gospel.
But the commitment of the local church to regular, fervent prayer outside the abortion center—that has been life-changing. Because we recognize that, to be a city that has great energy for God, this energy must begin in our prayer life. And it’s only by remaining on our knees that we will have the strength to stand on behalf of those who can’t stand for themselves.
The war we wage
Make no mistake—Greensboro, and every city impacted by abortion, is in a war. And in this war, we as Christians fight, not against women, or protestors, or even an abortionist. Rather, we fight against “the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places” (Eph. 6:12).
So let’s wage war. Let’s put on our whole armor and pray “at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication” (Eph. 6:18). Let’s pray for the Amandas and the boyfriends and the abortion volunteers and the abortionists who are also caught up in this war. Let’s pray without ceasing for the pregnancy centers and the pastors and the community organizations that seek to offer women a better way.