Middle fingers, glares from construction workers across the street, shouts of “you should be ashamed” as shoppers walked by – just another day at the D.C. Planned Parenthood. Add to that, it was one of the first truly bitter cold days this season as winter approaches. Great gusts of wind blew almost every time we tried to pray together or reach out to women. Everything seemed to work against us, so our team just prayed more.
When our team of Regional Coordinators arrived, local sidewalk counselors were already engaged in conversation with a woman in a parked car along an alleyway. She had just dropped a friend off for her abortion, but was open to talking. The counselors offered her resources, encouragement that it wasn’t too late and maybe most importantly, they offered a listening ear. These women were without proper housing, meals, or resources to care for a child. She shared that her friend was of Christian faith and did not want the abortion, but did not know what else to do.
Our team remained steadfast in prayer, when suddenly there was an action to take: get pizza.
Local sidewalk counselor and professor, Dr. Michael New, quickly explained to our team that the woman was in need of a meal, and if we could just go grab a slice of pizza and some chips from a local 7/11, that’s all she really wanted. As the woman in the car continued to plead with her friend to come out and join us, myself and another team member ran as fast as we could two blocks down to get everything.
As we ran back, I thought about how handing off pizza may be the last interaction we get, and I wanted to make the biggest impact we could. I popped into another store on the way back, grabbed a bottle of water assuming she needed a drink, and upon receiving the receipt, I begged the cashier for a pen.
“It’s an emergency, I really need a pen, just quickly for a message!”
He obliged, looked around everywhere, and finally handed off what may have been his only pen. I ran outside, knelt on the sidewalk and using my leg to write on, I pressed as gently as I could on the back of the receipt:
You are strong.
You are loved.
We are here for you.
The friend was overjoyed. After handing off the pizza, chips, water, and note – our role was over, and we went back to praying amid the shouts and sirens.
About 30 minutes later, the sidewalk counselors reported that the woman came out of the facility without getting the abortion! They worked to get these women a stay in a hotel for a night and connected them with a local Pregnancy Help Center for the next day. While we are unsure what any final decisions may be for these two, our team is continuing to pray.
Join us in prayer for this woman and her child, and so many others like them.
Join us in building more support systems for women and families in need.
Join us out on the sidewalks, even in the cold months, and even when it feels impossible.
In addition to that young woman, our team reached out to at least four others that day, handing them literature and an opportunity for healing. Honestly, sidewalk counseling can be one of the most difficult outreach activities we do. We’re crushed every time we go to reach out, and she hangs her head down and enters the building anyway. We’re helpless every time we pause in the reality that on the other side of the brick wall behind us, lives are ending.
We don’t want to have to be there, but we’re so glad we were.
If you would like to be that final voice of hope for women, we encourage you to reach out to your SFLA Regional Coordinator who can help your group schedule a sidewalk counseling event near you, and check out Sidewalk Advocates for Life to make sure you receive proper training.