Thursday, July 5, 2012

My First Gospel Encounter at an Abortion Clinic

By Tony Miano

As often as my duties at Living Waters permit, I drive to one of the local abortion clinics to spend time in prayer. I pray the Lord will stop the killing of innocents at the clinic. I pray the Lord will convict the doctors, nurses, and staff of their part in the killing of unborn children; and I pray the Lord will bring them to repentance and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. I pray for the women who come to the clinic to abort their children; and I pray for the men in their lives who either convinced or coerced them to have an abortion. I pray for the family members of the women who may have done the same. I pray they all come to repentance and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.

As I sat in the parking lot of an abandoned restaurant, adjacent to the abortion clinic, praying, I saw a linen services truck pull up to the back door of the clinic. My heart began to race, for I knew immediately what I should and what I wanted to do--talk to the driver; ask him if he knew what was happening inside the clinic; and share the gospel with him.

It took several minutes for the driver to finish his duties--delivering clean linen and collecting soiled linen. My heart was grieved as I watched the man load bags of dirty linen into the back of his truck, for I knew those soiled linens were likely stained with the blood of now-deceased unborn children. It was hard to hold back the tears. There was a lump in my throat. I prayed.

I asked the Lord to allow me to have a conversation with the driver. I prayed the driver would stop his truck to talk to a stranger standing alone on the opposite side of a chain link fence. Since the driver appeared to be of Hispanic descent, I prayed he spoke English.

I watched as the man climbed back into the truck. I got out of my car and walked to the chain link fence that separated the restaurant parking lot from the abortion clinic property. I waved at the driver as he approached. He stopped the truck and opened the large sliding door on the passenger side of the truck.

"How are you, today?" I asked.

"Good. How are you?" Was the driver's reply.

"I'm doing well. My name's Tony. What's yours?"

"Ramon."

"Ramon, do you know what they do here at this clinic?" I didn't want to wrongly assume Ramon was aware of the clinic's activities and begin the conversation with a confrontation.

Ramon nodded his head. He lowered his head and a look of shame appeared on his face.

"You do." I said. "How do you feel about that?"

"I have to do my job."

"Do you have just a minute to talk?"

"About what?"

"About this." I pointed at the clinic.

"I know that they do it. But what can I do? What can I say?"

"The blood on some of the linen you just brought out of there is the blood of babies. How do you think God sees that, Ramon?"

"I know."

"Ramon, I care about you. I'm not angry with you. I'm not here to fight with you or call you names, or anything like that. But they're killing children in there, Ramon."

There was a moment of silence. And then I continued.

"Do you have children? I have three daughters."

"I have three children."

"How old are your kids?"

"24, 22, and 17."

"My daughters are 25, 22, and 17. So, they're about the same age." I shared. Are you a grandfather yet?"

"Yes."

"How old is your grandchild?"

"A year and a half. It's my son's child."

"What if your son came to you, Ramon, and said, 'We're going to kill your first grandchild?"

"My son is in the Air Force. And his wife is in the Air Force, too. When she got pregnant, that's what they told her to do."

"The military told her to get an abortion?"

"Yes."

"But she didn't do it."

"Right."

"Praise God for that. But what if they had come to you Ramon and said, 'Dad, we're going to kill your grandchild.' Wouldn't you try to stop them?"

"Yes."

"I know things are hard right now. I know everyone needs to keep their jobs. It's hard to find work. But, Ramon, when you stand before God He's not going to say, 'Ramon, it was okay for you to help this clinic because you needed a job."

"I understand that; but there's no way I can...I mean..."

"How long have you been coming here?"

"Over a year."

"Have you been working for the company for a long time?"

"Thirteen years."

"Have you ever thought about talking to your supervisors about this part of the route?"

"I already talked to him. Because, before I used to have a route in Pomona and it had another one [abortion clinic]. So, they switched me to this route, over here. And then I get another one [abortion clinic]. So, I talked to them again, and I said, 'Hey, I don't want to have this one, just in case something happens while I'm there.' They said, 'It's a job. If you don't want to do the route, we'll get another driver to do it.' They don't care. They just care about the money."

I could tell that coming to the abortion clinic truly bothered Ramon.

"I know. I know." I felt myself sympathizing with the tough position in which Ramon found himself.

"But, Ramon, do you think it's more important to please God, or to please men?"

"Right now, it's hard. I have to support a family. If I don't work... It's not like I like to do it."

"Ramon, what do you think is going to happen to you when you die?"

"I don't know. I believe in God."

"Do you?"

"I pray. I go to church."

Ramon told me he attends a Christian church in the area.

"So, what do you think is going to happen after this life?"

Ramon shrugged his shoulders. "Well, right now, I think if I keep going to the church and I do whatever God says, I'm probably going to go to Heaven. It's hard, because I'm doing this" [referring to coming to the clinic].

"Well, sometimes the most important things to do in our lives are the hardest things to do."

"Yeah, but sometimes you don't want to do the hard things because you want peace and quiet."

"But God doesn't accept our excuses."

"I know. I know."

I took Ramon through the law, the Ten Commandments.

"When you die and stand before God, He is going to see you as a liar, and a thief, and a blasphemer. What should God do with you, then? Heaven or Hell?"

"Hell."

"Does that concern you?"

"Yes."

"Do you know what God did so that you might not have to go to Hell?"

"Yes."

"What did He do?"

"God sent His Son, His only Son. And if we believe in His Son, we can go to Heaven. Right?"

I shared the gospel with Ramon, using the courtroom and parachute analogies along the way to help him understand. I explained to him that saving faith is more than mere intellectual assent to the truths of the gospel while, at the same time, there is nothing a person can do to earn or deserve salvation from God. Salvation is not believing in Jesus, plus doing good works. Salvation is by the grace of God alone, through faith alone, in Jesus Christ alone. And then I called Ramon to repent and believe the gospel, and to examine himself to make sure he is truly in the faith.

"Ramon, I know it's hard. But who are you going to trust for your life? Jesus, or your company? Make sure you truly know God as your Lord and Savior. It's not enough to go to church. Lot's of people go to church, but they don't know Jesus."

"I know."

"And I would encourage you to talk to your pastor about this route."

"I already talked to him about it."

"What did he say?"

"We prayed. We prayed that my company would cancel the service. We prayed that they would close the clinic."

"And that's why I sit out here and pray that they close the clinic."

Ramon shared a little more about how he and his pastor had prayed about the situation in which he now finds himself--delivering and picking up linens at an abortion clinic--a task that clearly violates his conscience.

"Well, Ramon, I'm going to be praying for you. I would like to give you something."

Through a hole in the chain link fence, I pushed a gospel tract and a 180 business card. Ramon walked over and accepted both.

"I'd shake your hand if I could reach through the fence; but I'm going to pray for you, Ramon."

"Thank you."

"God bless you, Ramon. Thank you for talking to me."

"God bless you."

"Have a good day."

And with that Ramon waved, returned to his truck, closed the large sliding door, and drove away.

I returned to my car where I sat for several minutes praying for Ramon and thanking God for the opportunity to talk to a nice man who seemed genuinely torn about servicing the clinic.

I believe I learned some important lessons as a result of my conversation with Ramon--lessons that will help be better serve Christ and love my neighbor while ministering outside the local abortion clinic. One thing I learned is that I need to pray for those involved in every aspect of abortion--from doctor, to mother, to father, to linen serviceman--with more love and compassion. I have to pray more like a hurting father than an angry judge. There forever remains only one Lawgiver and Judge, only One who is able to save and destroy; and that will never be me.

I also learned that while I must remain firm and resolute in my communications with people at the abortion clinic (after all, lives are at stake), I am still rightly mandated by God to speak the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15). I must remember: "A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger" (Proverb 15:1).

Admittedly, I am still a rookie when it comes to abortion clinic evangelism. I so appreciate the wise counsel from brothers and sisters in Christ who have been working in these particular gruesome trenches much, much longer than I have. But my best teacher is the Holy Spirit. And I am thankful to Him for what He taught me today, during my first gospel encounter at an abortion clinic.