Ending the killing--With Dependence

By Colin Byl

This past February, while doing the Human Rights Project in Florida, I had an interaction with a protestor that ended in a perspective shift. However, it wasn’t the pro-choicer that changed her mind, it was me—in a way that I never will forget.

At the University of Central Florida, I and my fellow activists stood around the abortion victim photography display, each of us reaching out our hands and hearts to students around us. Previously I had some encouraging conversations, and I said to myself: “Wow! I didn’t think I could change people’s minds, but I guess I’m better at this than I thought!” 

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I handed a pamphlet to a woman walking by and, smiling, asked her what she thought about abortion. This simple question began a one-way conversation; she unloaded her anger on me so fast that I don’t remember much of what she said. Even so, I recalled some particulars that would shift my self-centred perspective on activism. She divulged to me that she was a paediatric nurse, which, as I acknowledged, is a noble career in which to serve a community. However, she said that she worked with terminally-ill children who should have been aborted

That statement shocked me, and I could not let it go. There’s a great dissonance between being a nurse and thinking that your patients should have been killed, and yet here was a person who combined these opposites and saw no problem with it. 

She walked away in a huff to join the protestors, leaving me with a great mix of emotions. Shocked, I walked away toward an adjacent building to get myself together. I sat in a corner of the lobby area; feelings of regret and incapability for not presenting the truth effectively and the sympathy I felt towards the woman filled my mind. I looked to God through eyes flowing with tears, pleading that my encounter with this woman would have an impression on her, that she could see the value of all human life, that Christ would transform her and her passions to be God-glorifying.

I walked back to the display area, still emotionally raw. I saw the woman talking to Alex and Irene, and Irene—visibly and understandably frustrated—came over and ranted about this woman’s views on abortion and infanticide, about things I don’t remember anymore because I was losing control of my emotions, about things that caused me to sob uncontrollably in grief and sympathy for this confused woman. I was a total mess.

Irene led me from the bustling traffic of university students and sat me on a bench. She waited for me to gain control of myself, and gave me exactly what I needed: a perspective shift.

She said: “I couldn’t agree with you more. I feel sympathetic for these people around me, including this woman, who don’t know the truth, or who do know it but choose to remain hardened to it. But I feel much more sympathy for the babies who are being torn apart, and as long as this injustice stands, I will be out there exposing it. Many times, I feel incapable, and many times, I think of things I should have said in previous conversations. But it is precisely this that teaches us we are wholly dependent on God. We are incapable in ourselves, and we need to realize it. But we are more than capable through Him behind, beside, and in front of us. What do they have supporting them? A bunch of conclusions with no foundations. But we have the living God, who can use the pictures and what you said to these people, including that woman, to change hearts and minds and save lives. And we, as a pro-life team doing this hard work, cannot forget this.”

I will never forget what she said. It helped me to see that when doing hard things, we don’t have to do it alone. Yes, I am also referring to the people who I did activism with, but the Lord deserves all the credit for the changing of hearts and the saving of lives. Without Him, we can do nothing. Without Him, the world would triumph in their rampage of death. But with Him, the victory already has been won, and through the encouragement of each other and this reassurance of God, we will prevail.

The rest of my day was emotionally heavy, but God led this woman to me for a purpose. I don’t know the impact the pictures or our conversation had on her, and I don’t think I ever will. However, I am so thankful that God purposefully set her on my path to teach me the greatest lesson in pro-life activism: dependence.