Baby-saving ministry ready to extend its reach
EDITOR'S NOTE: Sunday, Jan. 20, is the Southern Baptist Convention's Sanctity of Human Life Sunday.
FLINT, Mich. (BP) -- Justin Phillips said it's the best and worst thing he's ever done with his life. Every day, he stands across the strip mall parking lot from a door marked simply G-3422. It's sandwiched between two dollar stores.
"We're out there pleading with moms and dads to have mercy on their child, and we'll help," said Phillips, a full-time missionary with ONElife for Life, a ministry of ONElife Church in Flint, Mich.
Since ONElife for Life began in May 2016, dozens of babies that they know of have been saved out of G-3422. And the ministry has grown, said Eric Stewart, pastor of ONElife Church and president of ONElife for Life. They've acquired a building next to the strip mall that will be a pregnancy resource center and they've been given a bus that will be used as a mobile ultrasound.
They've also expanded their reach to conversations outside a second abortion clinic in town.
It's been slow growth. Stewart's big-picture goal is for Christians to have a presence outside each of the nation's 720 abortion clinics. Right now, ONElife for Life is covering two.
Stewart and Phillips have been speaking in churches in recent months trying to awaken a desire to pick up the mantle.
When he speaks, Stewart said the first thing he does is ask the church he's visiting to repent with him.
"For years, I did nothing, but if it's really murder, then we have to face that reality," Stewart said. "If someone drove into our town and wiped out an entire kindergarten class every week, we wouldn't sit idly by and say, 'It's not affecting me.'"
The story of the Good Samaritan demands the liability of the bystander, he said.
Stewart said he thinks about it all the time, ever since he heard a story about how one particular church in Nazi Germany would sing louder on Sundays so they wouldn't have to hear the trains chugging by on the way to the concentration camps.
"We hear that story, and do we not wish that there would have been Christians who went to the point of injustice and said, 'No, we can't let this happen,'" Stewart said. "We have our opportunity now. We are living in the American holocaust and we have the opportunity to [speak] in Christ's name."
For churches interested in being involved, Stewart and Phillips can provide training in how to start a ministry like ONElife for Life and have conversations with people outside abortion clinics. They aren't there to protest, Stewart said. They're simply there to show love and offer mothers the help they need to bring a baby full term.
"We want to equip the church. We've learned how to train people to do this kind of ministry -- we've learned from our own mistakes and would love to pass that along so that people don't have to reinvent the wheel," Stewart said. "We've thrown our lives into this, and we would love to duplicate it all over the place. We need Gospel-saturated missionaries to confront the darkness and abolish the evil of abortion. It really is a life-or-death situation."
There's an emotional toll to the ministry of standing at a "modern-day concentration camp," Stewart said. There at their tent across the parking lot, Phillips and volunteers from the church have conversations with anyone who will talk to them. They offer to adopt the baby or cover any financial needs the parents might have for the baby's first three years of life. They remind each mother that God knows the baby in her womb.
Sometimes those babies are still aborted.
"But we're compelled to go because we're told to go to orphans in their distress, and these children have been disowned by their parents," Phillips said.
And at least 85 have been saved. It could be more. They only know about it if a tearful mother meets them there on the edge of the parking lot and tells them she's decided not to go through with it, or if the parents later choose to swing back by and let them meet the baby.
"Every month we have people who come back and say, 'Hey, I never said anything, but here's my baby,'" Stewart said. "So we know there's probably more."
God is at work there, shining light into the darkest of places, Phillips said. "We just stand there and watch Him move. It's all Him. He brings people to us and saves babies all the time."
One woman told Phillips that she didn't want to talk to him, but her legs just walked her over there. After talking with him, she chose not to go through with it.
"It's a battlefield all the time, and it's an honor to stand there proclaiming a message of hope," Phillips said. "We do that, and God does the rest. We can't change hearts, but He can."
It hasn't been without pushback. Sometimes the clinic will have people posted in the parking lot to "shepherd" women into the building so they won't have conversations with Phillips. Other times people have approached him with threats.
But in Christ, Phillips said he knows he goes out victorious already.
"It's a horrible ministry, horrible to watch it every day," he said. "But at the same time, to be able to lay down our lives in that way on behalf of Christ and His love for these babies is incredible."
For more information about ONElife for Life, visit www.onelifeforlife.org.