I recently participated in my second Genocide Awareness Project (GAP) this past month, this time at the University of North Carolina Charlotte. Here is an excerpt of what I experience through the project.
My first impression of UNC Charlotte was much more peaceful and orderly than Appalachian State University. But that is by no means to say that UNC Charlotte did not need our message. Many pamphlets were taken to be read and looked at and students were much more receptive. The faculty, however, appeared to tell a different story. One or two faculty members came to encourage us but most of them looked put-out by our presence. You can usually see on the faces of the older generation that most of them have no interest at all in reopening the topic abortion. Whatever thinking they may or may not have done on the topic in the past appeared to be a closed case in the present. Whether they are for or against abortion, they were not interested in thinking about it anymore. One older white man, a faculty member I think, did bother to come up and vote "yes" in our pole concerning whether or not abortion should remain legal. He then pointed a bony finger at one of our volunteers and said, "I know you are pro-life because you are a Christian and you believe that a child has a soul." He then said something about not everyone being Christians and stormed off without waiting for a reply. Another young black man passed by and said, "Yay! Abortion! Get rid of 'em!" And walked off smiling, pleased with his little taunt. Hopefully the pictures will haunt him enough to reconsider the seriousness of the matter. Another young white male student complained that "kids" were being exposed to pictures of abortions as well as pictures of Holocaust victims and African-American lynchings. I told him that I didn't think he was a "kid" but we raised his eye brows as if to say "I think I am only a kid." I started to believe him. Kids certainly shouldn't be making babies... I was encouraged by a young black man who rode up on a skateboard and wanted to know more information. He had recently become pro-life simply by listening to the politically conservative perspective on the subject. He said that he was not raised in a conservative home, but when he heard a conservative argue that they were not against a woman's right to her body but rather concerned for the life of someone else's body, namely the pre-born child, he was convinced that pro-life was the only appropriate stance. He also pointed at the pictures and said "I can see that that is a baby. I'm not stupid." One young, white woman with a nose piercing came up to angrily put her name down on the "yes" side of the pole concerning whether or not we should keep abortion legal. Among other things, this girl wanted to know if I supported the providing of birth control for young people to prevent abortion. I countered that it is not our job to provide self-control on other people's behalf. A young white man who was with this woman stood sheepishly to the side. I asked him what he thought of abortion and he looked at the ground and shook his head and said, "I don't know, I don't know." I gave him a brochure to read later which he received. I saw him walk by later in the afternoon and he shared a laugh with his friends at our expense. I don't think this young man lacked information but courage. Nevertheless, when he is faced with a question concerning abortion in the future, there is little chance that these pictures won't be right there with him. My favorite conversation of the day was with a 21 year old white male student who was very concerned with being "open minded". As we talked for a while, it became clear to me that this young man was trying to distance himself from his fundamentalist Christian background in which he felt manipulated through fear tactics concerning the doctrine of Hell. The GAP presentation, he told me in all honesty, reminded him of the extreme language that he heard growing up in the church which he felt was used to control him. We talked for a long time about family, relationships, God and the Bible. Finally, we talked about abortion once again. I assured this young man that God's passion was for the life of the baby AND the mother. I said that we recognize two victims in abortion and we want them to end in order to protect the baby AND the mother from irreversible violence. He said that "this is the most compelling part of our argument". He was moved by the fact that we were defending the dignity of the life of the child and the mother. I assured him that Jesus' passion is for life and justice. I have hope that this young man will reconsider both abortion and Jesus. May the Lord move his heart and draw him to Himself, without manipulation, but only with the truth. I believe in this ministry of the Center for Bio Ethical Reform (the sponsors of the GAP events) because they function with grace,all the while allowing the very real pictures to speak a thousand words and to keep all conversation grounded in reality, even when that reality is gruesome,bloody, and difficult. The crucifixion is every bit as bloody, gruesome and difficult. We wouldn't be bringing up such a difficult subject for people unless we also believed that Jesus was right down there with us in the blood and the grief, raising people from the dead. Babies, mothers and fathers. He is forgiving sins, restoring lives and rescuing the helpless. Won't you join in His work too?