Is There a Difference Between the Kinds of People Who Need Jesus?
When we reach out to people who are entirely different, our churches grow and we fulfill the meaning of the verses in Acts chapter 17 | by Dr. Alveda C. King
Churches today struggle with divisiveness. Many parishioners have left their home church rather than embrace members with differing views. In more than one church, these people attended together for years but separated over differing views on issues such as abortion.
While deeply disconcerting, divisiveness is not peculiar to our generation. As the early church converted Romans, Greeks, immigrants and pagans, their churches filled with people from vastly different backgrounds, values, and ethnicities. At one point, a controversy became so divisive, the Apostle Paul intervened. Paul addressed the issue, then called church members to a higher law, the law of love. “While knowledge makes us feel important, it is love that strengthens the church” (1 Corinthians 8:1 NLT).
I have been pro-abortion, have had abortions, recovered from abortions, and have become anti-abortion. Could you love me, could your church embrace and accept me at every phase of my journey? I’m just one more person on a life journey, and people on their journeys are who you and your church have been called to reach.
No matter where any Christian stands on the rights of the unborn, the Bible is always true. Even when people seem to be enemies of our beliefs, Jesus said, “Love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you” (Matthew 5:44 NKJV).
When we are tempted to launch into a diatribe about why we’re right and the other person is wrong, remember what Paul wrote, “Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone” (Romans 12:17–18 NIV).
So, how do we connect with people who are diametrically opposed to our views on important life issues? Look at people’s beliefs about abortion:
Pro-abortion people have strong beliefs that are bolstered by powerful voices such as Planned Parenthood, the ACLU, the Center for Reproductive Justice, and Hollywood. The reasons people believe in abortion are many and varied. If you’d asked me back in the day, I could have filled up all the fingers on both hands with “reasons.” The point is always the same: if you are pro-life, will you accept and love this person who might rub you wrong every time she opens her mouth? And, if you are pro-abortion, will you accept and love the person who bleeds for the unborn?
Men and women facing abortions are people in crisis. Yes, it’s not just a woman’s problem. We do women a disservice when we allow men to escape responsibility for their actions. We do men a disservice when we fail to recognize that they are also part of creating that baby in the womb. Churches and ministries have a responsibility to meet the needs of people in crisis. Numerous resources are available within driving distance of almost every community in the nation. What people in crisis need is love and prayerful intercession, not condemnation and judgment. Make a point to find these services before someone in your congregation needs them.
Women who have had abortions often have deep regrets and pain. For years, I didn’t. I believed I had no choice and that it was simply a medical procedure. Others close themselves off from such feelings on purpose.
On a personal level, when dealing with those who experience pain, if you are pro-abortion, realize that nothing can be said rationally to meet that person’s emotional and spiritual need. When dealing with those who have no regrets, if you are pro-life, accept the person who doesn’t acknowledge any feelings, although you might take her up in prayer.
As a church, be prepared to minister to the needs of people struggling with the pain left by abortion. Many resources are available. It would be good to have someone in the congregation become the trained, go-to person for such needs. You can see many resources on my ministry website: https://www.priestsforlife.org/post-abortion/need-healing.aspx
People who have recovered from abortion have strong convictions about abortion. I know I do. I mourn the children whose lives I ended. For people who are pro-abortion, or those who have had abortions but never experienced the pain of them, these feelings will be hard to understand. Just as the blind man’s testimony to the Pharisees was “once I was blind, but now I see,” there is no way, and no need, to talk people out of what they believe they have experienced.
People who believe abortion is wrong. This is the camp I belong to. I actively pursue strategies to end what I believe are crimes against humanity such as abortion, human trafficking, racism and even Black on Black violence. I’m a fulltime pastoral associate for Priests for Life. At the same time, I recognize that almost half of all the women of child-bearing age today have experienced abortion. I stand up for the rights of their unborn children, but I will not stand in the place of judgment against anyone.
For decades, my mind has been stayed on freedom. To me, the right to life is simply an extension of my Uncle ML’s work. I believe life is a civil right and abortion is a civil wrong. My Uncle ML claimed that we are one blood, one human race, and I do believe that includes babies in the womb who bleed the same as the rest of us.
The way I want to be treated by people who don’t share my beliefs is the same way I choose to treat others—with respect, prayer, and Christian love.
One caution. It has become common for pastors and Christian leaders to be courted by operatives who ask them to use their platform to speak out for certain political perspectives. This practice reminds me of wolves in sheep’s clothing. To me, I am sickened to see any pastor accept pay from a lobbyist or political campaign for promoting abortion-on-demand “in the name of the Lord” or any other cause that I believe is unbiblical. This “Rent A Leader” tactic has been used to fund political campaigns, grants, scholarships and awards. Do not be deceived.
Yes, I mourn the loss of my aborted children and I pray for solutions for a better tomorrow. I fight against those who want religious freedom for taxpayers if they disagree with funding the U.S. military but not if they disagree with funding the killing of an unborn baby in the womb. But I will not condemn them.
When you reach out to connect with people who speak out on issues in a way that rubs you wrong, be respectful. “Pray diligently, stay alert, with your eyes wide open in gratitude” (Colossians 4:2 MSG).
My prayer today is, Oh Freedom, lift every voice and sing about this little light of mine, the light of the babies in the womb must live. These freedom songs are as old as slavery yet are as fresh today in the battle to protect human life. Today we sing “let freedom ring” for the babies. God help us. Lord, forgive us.
May God bless us, hear from Heaven and heal our land.