Mothers headed to abortion get baby-saving compassion
Harvey says his infant twins likely would have been discarded there by the abortion clinic, if not for James Carr standing out in the parking lot in the strip mall that also houses a Family Dollar.
Except for one day a week when other volunteers relieve Carr, he's pitched his red tent across from the abortion clinic in Flint, Mich., pleading all day with the clinic's clients to have a conversation about saving their baby.
Carr says he's not a protester. His signs simply say, "God knows the child inside your womb" and "We will adopt," and he has local church members ready to back that up.
That's what he told Harvey that day when his wife Shante went into the clinic to put down a deposit on an abortion.
"We will do whatever it takes to bring that baby to full term," said Carr, a full-time missionary with ONElife for Life, a ministry of ONElife Church in Flint.
He gave Harvey a bag with a onesie, a diaper, a Bible and some other resources. Harvey said thank you and walked away.
"We just assumed that they had gotten the abortion," Carr said.
But two months later, Harvey pulled into the parking lot and said he just had to say thanks.
When Shante came back for her abortion appointment, as she laid on the table, all she could think about was the onesie Carr had given Harvey. She got dressed, rushed out to the waiting room and told Harvey she couldn't go through with it. They later found out she was expecting twins.
"When I saw James standing here today, I had to do a U-turn," Harvey said. "James, you're not standing here for no reason."
"I've had three boys of my own, and one of them is about to have a son that I can't wait to hold," Carr said. "But I'm going to tell you, there's nothing like holding one of these babies that's been rescued out of this place."
A whole-church ministry
Those twins and 33 other babies are alive today, thanks to the ministry of ONElife for Life, which started in May 2016.
Carr has been the face of the ministry, but the one who got it started was Eric Stewart, lead pastor of ONElife Church.
"I've been burdened as a pastor for several years that the Gospel has implications for injustices in our cultures," Stewart said. "I've always supported pregnancy centers and done everything I thought I could, but I felt like more needed to be done."
They soon cobbled together a network of crisis pregnancy centers, potential adoptive families, gift bag packers and parking lot volunteers. Phillips, for instance, works a full-time job but still volunteers at the site 20 to 25 hours a week.
"A good percentage of our church is involved," said Stewart, who also serves at the tent on a regular basis. "For example, the women in our church are ready and available when we need someone to make friends with some of these moms."
And someone is onsite at the tent every hour the clinic is open.
"We consider it crisis intervention," Stewart said. "If they will cross the parking lot and talk to us, we are able to engage them with the Gospel there. What we have found is that 98 percent of them know it is murder and the reason they are afraid is finances [for raising a child]."
Carr agreed. "Many of them are just looking for someone to tell them it's OK not to get an abortion," he said.
For those women, ONElife for Life offers any resources they might need to choose life for their baby. The ministry also is working to acquire property next to the abortion clinic to give their efforts even more legitimacy, Stewart said.
"We have a big vision," he said, "and we hope what we are developing is a prototype that can be replicated all over" -- a ministry that shows the redemptive love of Christ to expectant mothers near every abortion clinic.
"We believe that we can't wait for [Roe v. Wade] to be overturned," Stewart said of the 1973 Supreme Court decision legalizing abortion. "We've been waiting 45 years for that.
"At a grassroots level, we believe that's the way to end it -- take the Gospel to abortion clinics and witness that Gospel onsite for those babies," Stewart said.
Tony Lynn, director of missions for Baptist State Convention of Michigan, said he's been amazed to see the way the ministry of ONElife Church has transformed the community.
"Mothers approached in just the right manner and at just the right time have turned away from the doors of an abortion clinic into the arms of the grace of Jesus Christ because Eric Stewart and his young church plant saw the need in Flint," Lynn said.
When Stewart shared his burden with the church, they responded with readiness -- and to top it off, God called Carr alongside them to help, Lynn said.
Carr said, for him, it's been an amazing blessing to serve alongside Stewart and others in this way, and he only prays for God to call out more.
He said the need haunts him.
"We had one lady come up to our tent just after we began the ministry [in May 2016] and she was angry," Carr recounted. "She said, 'I was here in February and I had an abortion, and I've regretted it every day since then.' I said, 'Ma'am, we need to ask for forgiveness. The church should've been here for you.'"
For more information about ONElife for Life, visit www.onelifeforlife.org.