Sidewalk counseling is a life-saving ministry of the pro-life movement, but not all pro-life advocates feel ready or called to sidewalk counsel. Many instead serve as peaceful witnesses through prayer outside of abortion facilities. This non-talking role is massively important but often underestimated because pro-life advocates do not fully understand how much they are able to participate through their presence. In this article, I will share with you some ways that pro-life volunteers have assisted my sidewalk counseling ministry.
Sidewalk counselors have two goals when they go to an abortion facility. First, they want to save babies and help families. Second, they want to shut down the abortion facility. Advocates who choose to be “Non-talkers,” also sometimes referred to as “Prayer Warriors,” can help advance both goals through their peaceful witness. Non-talkers help with the primary goal by supporting talkers through prayer, by holding signs, or as a witness to what is going on, especially if the police need to be called. Non-talkers help with the secondary goal by being a witness to the community. We go into detail about how this works and how much optics matter in the Sidewalk Counseling Masterclass but I will be focusing on the primary goal in this article.
Non-talkers can hold welcoming signs that offer help to the families coming to the facility. I recommend signs like, “Free Ultrasound and Pregnancy Verification,” “Here to Help, Not to Judge,” or “Today is a Hard Day, We are Here to Help.” Signs like these are conducive to helping the sidewalk counselors start conversations with the abortion-minded woman. They offer sympathy and resources. We talk more about signs in the course as well, including how some can seem helpful from the pro-life perspective but may be off-putting to the families coming to the abortion facility, making it more difficult to start conversations.
Signs add to your presence because they can communicate to those driving by or driving in that you are there for a purpose. This can raise awareness in the community, especially if you are there on a consistent basis.
I have been sidewalk counseling since 2012 and unfortunately, there have been times when it was necessary for me to call the police. We shouldn’t do this frivolously, but we also shouldn’t hesitate when there is a serious risk. There have been multiple times when cars have purposefully and recklessly driven right up to and past us, coming very close to hitting me and my fellow sidewalk counselors. I have also had a clinic escort become threatening and physically shove me while I was at the clinic. (For that full story, see my blog post, Why I Called the Police at the Abortion Facility Last Month)
In times like these, for the safety of everyone, it can sometimes be necessary to call the police and make a report. Unfortunately, when you are making a report it can turn into a he said/she said situation unless there is some sort of video evidence. This can be one of the key roles for peaceful witnesses that can go overlooked. Non-talkers should be ready to record with their phones if something happens because third party videos from a small distance can usually show more of the story than a video being recorded by the people involved.