A vote, a license plate, and a bumper sticker. For many years that sentence fully represented my work in the pro-life movement. I didn’t understand that although these things were good, they alone would never move the cultural or societal needle for life.
I saw the life movement as a stance I should adhere to and not an active belief requiring practice and engagement.
I have a history in politics and debate. Winning an argument is what drove me in my political science classes in college, on the campaign trail, and in my work at the Tennessee Legislature.
During this time in my life, I failed to see the pro-life movement as more than just a debate I needed to win or a stance needing my lip-service.
My mindset changed with the Lord’s conviction. I started to reevaluate and reflect. This allowed me to see that my love of the political debate and my desire to win on any particular issue had become a problem of idolatry for me.
I failed to see others as image bearers and had begun to see them as props to assist in or obstacles in the way of my winning.
It was in this moment of conviction that I reached out to Hope Resource Center, a local pregnancy center in Knoxville, TN. Having no clue what a twenty-something year old man could bring to the table…I offered my assistance.
My correspondence was welcomed and so began my journey in the pro-life world. I started my journey by visiting the clinic once a week to pray. During this time I began to see the amazing work being done for men and women in my community. I heard stories of life, death, and brokenness that were hard to fathom, and I saw firsthand the love being poured out by the staff.
In 2015 I received an email asking if I might know anyone interested in HOPE’s Executive Director position. I was following HOPE closely, but at this point in my life, I had a full-time job, I was serving as a bi-vocational kids’ pastor, and we were expecting our third child…so my volunteering had slowed down quite a bit.
This email, however, seemed like a gift. I’d recently taken a promotion in my career in higher education, but my satisfaction level was minimal. Raising money for a university, although meaningful, was not my idea of a calling.
I could spend hours discussing the happenings surrounding that email and the months thereafter, but let’s fast forward. I submitted my resume and was invited in for an interview. One interview was followed by a second and then an offer.
I took this offer home to my wife as we had a decision to make. We weighed the pros and cons of transitioning out of higher education and changing careers. We looked at costs, insurance needs, and our family needs. We sought counsel from pastors, parents, and mentors. Ultimately, though, the decision hinged on the answer to this question:
“What will we tell our kids when they ask us what we did to prevent 3,000 abortions every single day?”
I couldn’t live with an answer that only pointed to votes, license plates, and bumper stickers…so I accepted the position in 2015.
I believe the life issue will be my generation’s defining issue.
With that being said, however, we must not let this defining be in a posture of fear, anger, or bitterness. This is why I love the work of pregnancy centers. We have the opportunity to lead in a posture of love as we serve our communities.
We don’t check the party affiliation or the stance of our patients on life. We don’t ask them who they are voting for or their thoughts on the polarizing issue of the day. Instead, we see them as they are, an image bearer deserving of our love and care.
This mindset allows us to prevent the cloudiness of judgement to creep into our mission of serving and providing for the most vulnerable, and I consider it an honor to stand shoulder to shoulder with so many in this amazing life work!