Sidewalk Advocates For Life Serve as Christ’s Hands, Feet to Mothers, Unborn

Written by Paul R. Kopenkoskey on . Posted in Local

lisa (left to right): Lisa Snow and Margaret Murphy offer life-affirming alternatives to abortion to women who are about to enter the Heritage Clinic for Women. Lisa Snow doesn't consider herself to be an outgoing person.

Yet on Wednesdays you'll find her standing outside of the building at 320 E. Fulton, clutching pro-life literature and praying that the women and girls who intend to enter the Heritage Clinic for Women (HCFW) to abort their preborn children will give her the time of day.

Margaret Murphy breathes the same prayers and intent as Snow's. She stands in front of the same clinic's sidewalk on Thursdays.

Others will do the same on Friday because that's the other day HCFW performs abortions.

Train, equip and support

Volunteers like Snow and Murphy are part of a national ministry based in Allen, Texas known as Sidewalk Advocates For Life (SAFL).

SAFL's mission is train, equip, and support local communities across the United States and the world in "sidewalk advocacy," that is, to be the hands and feet of Christ, offering loving, life-affirming alternatives to those who are on the verge of aborting their preborn children.

SAFL's goal is to eliminate the demand for abortion.

Help in desperate situations

People like Snow and Murphy play a vital role in reaching that goal.

"We're present at the abortion clinic, reaching out and sharing with women that there are resources available they may not otherwise hear about, helping them with their otherwise desperate situations," said Snow.

"We tell them there are resources available to them throughout their pregnancy, after their pregnancy, and even things not affiliated with pregnancy, connecting them with resources within the community."

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Those free-of-charge services include help through the Pregnancy Resource Center and HELP Pregnancy Crisis Aid, both based in Grand Rapids. (See CONNECT box at the end of this story for their website links.)

Murphy is a long-time pro-life advocate, starting in the early 1990s when she did crisis pregnancy counseling out of her home through Bethany Christian Services, followed by 40 Days For life, and now SAFL.

"All of this is in an interconnected web of people who can draw you in the pro-life web, you might say, and you find where you can best use your gifts and talents," said Murphy.

Murphy finds the direct contact as a sidewalk counselor a good fit and a calling from God.

She said the time SAFL volunteers devote to helping women is vital because of the misinformation and lack of information the abortion clinic spews at pregnant women.

There are options

"We have something tangible that we can give them, information they don't tell you in the clinic," said Murphy. "There are other options, there are other ways. This is your flesh and blood, your life, and your family tree. And if they're not open to that, we ask what makes them feel like this is their option today? Why are they choosing this?"

The reasons women consider abortion varies, say Snow and Murphy. Some feel they already have too many children, while others say their husband or boyfriend is pressuring them to abort. Others are victims of human trafficking and are forced by their pimps to abort their babies.

Equally varied are the responses they get from the women Snow and Murphy approach.

For some, there are the baby showers they've attended, while others react with hostility or indifference.

Either way, the initial goal is to ask the pregnant women to pause and consider the consequences of they're about to do.

"Think about what you're doing," said Murphy. "It might be desperate right now but think about the choice you're making right now, the effect it's going to have on you for the rest of time."

Heart's passion

And despite the anger and negative responses she gets from time to time, Snow said it's worth the effort if it saves the lives of the innocent.

"I've never been good at confrontation, but when you know you're there to right a wrong, we go in with empathy," said Snow. "That's why the training is good: I was upset, then angry and now I just want to help people. I feel it's one of the worst crimes against humanity. It's my heart's passion to and love and accept and protect the most vulnerable and it's getting stronger.

"I'm a pretty shy person," added Snow. "I'm not a public person. But I do it because some day I'll answer to my Lord."



Author Information
Paul R. Kopenkoskey
Author: Paul R. KopenkoskeyWebsite:
Paul R. Kopenkoskey is a full-time freelance writer and editor for an assortment of publications including Grand Rapids Magazine, Grand Rapids Business Journal, and Faith Grand Rapids magazine. He has completed his first novel with the working title, Karl Beguiled. He and his wife, Barb, live in Wyoming, Michigan. They have three children and five grandchildren.

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