Provided by Jeff Henson
Since the U.S. Supreme Court ruled on Roe v. Wade in the ’70s, Christians have been at the forefront of the battle for life. Deemed the “Pro-Life movement,” those who oppose abortion fight on the state and federal level for legislation that will protect the unborn.
Despite efforts by pro-life groups, abortion remains legal, and legislation reducing abortion restrictions continue to pass.
New York’s state legislature recently passed their Reproductive Health Act, which ensures that New York will provide access to abortion even if Roe v. Wade were to be overturned.
“It’s terrible, but I think it is just waking people up to the reality of what the law currently is everywhere,” said Kimber Bridges, a Senior Biblical Studies major who is passionate about pro-life issues. “If you look throughout the states, almost every state has this same legislation.”
According to Guttmacher Institute, a research institution working to advance reproductive rights, eight states allow abortions to be performed by health care providers other than licensed physicians, 16 states allow the use of public funding for abortions, and the majority of states do not have any legislation banning partial birth abortion.
Here in California, abortion is legal until the point of fetal viability (when a fetus is able to survive outside the womb), is publicly funded, and can be performed by health care providers other than a physician. In fact, California is one of the states with the fewest restrictions on abortion. However, those who believe in protecting life within the womb are still working for change.
“I think there’s two big ways to fight it and one is a last-minute urgency of Christians standing outside of abortion clinics,” Bridges said. “Not preaching fire and brimstone, saying, ‘You’re all going to hell,’ but pleading with these people saying, ‘Please, please change your mind.’”
Grace Community Church, pastored by TMU president, John MacArthur, and home church to many TMU students, has started an outreach to their local abortion clinic. Bekah Miller, a sophomore living in C Dub, along with some other students from TMU went to an informational meeting on Sunday and plan to start helping with the ministry.
“We would really like to help by just being a friend to these girls, just taking them out to lunch,” said Miller, a communication and Bible double-major. “Taking them out to get to know them, to just see what their story is and share the gospel with them.”
Grace Community Church’s Abortion Clinic Outreach focuses on having gospel conversations with both the girls heading into the abortion clinic and the nurses and doctors who work in the clinic.
While fighting for life in the womb is extremely important, the work of the church doesn’t just end with stopping women from going through with abortions.
“I’ve held babies through the night, who have been abandoned at the hospital, who nobody cares for,” said Shannon Henson, a high-risk labor and delivery nurse. “Those are the ones that really hurt my heart—–to know that there’s so many believers who feel so strongly about women not aborting, but who then are absent once the child is born.”
These children are often abandoned because they have disabilities, or the mother doesn’t feel like she can care for her child. Shannon explained that they can be left alone at the hospital for up to a week, and then the Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) steps in and places them in the foster care system.
“I know that this is a big argument pro-choice people have. They’ll say, ‘That’s great that you’re saying you’re pro-life, but where are you once the baby is born?’” Shannon said. “It’s really interesting to witness it first-hand that that is a legit argument. Where is the church once these babies are born?”
Shannon Henson and her husband Jeff Henson, an adjunct professor of film at TMU, run a foster care and adoption ministry at Crossroads Church in Santa Clarita. They have five children, four of whom were adopted from the foster system.
“Our thought was we would foster a child or two and then go on to have our own family. And what ended up happening is once we were introduced into the foster care system, we started seeing the faces with the names and started hearing the stories and meeting the families of the kids. We were having children placed into our arms,” Shannon said. “It turns out that it was hard to see us doing anything else with our lives other than caring for kids in the foster care system.”
According to childrensrights.org there are 438,000 children in the foster care system on a given day. Shannon added that nearly all children in the foster care system are considered special needs. This is a result of either health problems or abuse that these children face.
“The church is incredibly capable and is called to be involved in people’s lives,” Jeff Henson said. “They’re called to be in relationships with people. They’re called to be present in really, really dark places”
According to Adoption Network only 2% of Americans adopt, and yet the Pew Research Center found that 25.4% of Americans claim to be Evangelical Christians.
“There are so many resources that are underutilized within the Evangelical American church that these problems shouldn’t be so big,” Jeff said.
College students, who are living in dorms and preparing for their futures aren’t able to be foster parents, but that doesn’t mean they can’t help.
“Literally some of our absolute best support has been from college students as a foster family,” Shannon said.
The Hensons have had students come and hang out with their kids, help Shannon with housework, or even pick up groceries for them every now and then.
“It doesn’t feel like you’re fighting for life in that moment,” Shannon said. “But you’re supporting people who are more equipped to care for children in the foster system than a college student.”
“I think that there’s a lot of family members, a lot of families in Santa Clarita, that would love to have a college student just join in their family and be of support to them,” she added.
The important thing, which the Hensons both emphasized, is that students expose themselves to what is happening in the world around them and the Spirit will work in their hearts.
“God continually softens your heart,” Jeff said. “You should see my Bible. It’s just marked up with compassion and care for the vulnerable.”
Jeff specifically mentioned James 1:27, which says “pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world.”
“It’s not like you have to go out and be on the front lines dealing with hurting kids because that’s really hard. And I think that there’s only a certain number of people that could do that,” Shannon said. “But, you have to do something.”