One morning a mother of four approached the Fort Lauderdale Women’s Center with her husband seeking to abort her fifth child. Tom Walker, local director of Sidewalk Advocates, intercepted her and started a conversation with her as to why she wanted an abortion. She told him she was able to afford a child, but wasn’t comfortable with the pregnancy. After talking with him more, she told him she was a Christian, and had prayed that God would give her a sign if she wasn’t supposed to abort her child. She said that Walker sitting with her and talking to her was God’s sign, and ultimately she decided to keep her child. This type of result due to Walker’s presence at the abortion center is not uncommon, he said.
Fort Lauderdale Women’s Center is just one of the many abortion centers in Broward County. Approximately five babies are aborted at this specific center everyday, according to Walker, who diligently waits outside the center in hopes of talking to the men and women seeking the abortion center’s services.
Walker knows first hand the effects of abortion. Ten years before he had a Salvation experience, he and his girlfriend aborted their child. After accepting Christ and going through the healing process at Hope Women’s Centers, he felt God calling him to minister to others in his situation, so he started volunteering in First Care Women’s Center and counseling the men who would come through the doors. He later began leading post-abortion recovery programs for men. Currently he serves as a Sidewalk Advocate. He encourages mothers to choose life, brings awareness to the risks of abortion and counsels those who have already aborted. He said, “What I learned as a facilitator led me to sidewalk counseling where I can help both men and women avoid the pain I saw in so many lives.”
Lifeguard on duty
His morning starts early as he engages those entering and leaving the abortion center. When the abortionist approaches the clinic at approximately 10 a.m., Walker begins to give a talk through a speaker pointed at the center. He discusses three main points, the physical risks of abortion, including the clinic owner’s history of having his license revoked in the past, the psychological risks and the spiritual risks. His message is one of empowerment and education. He tells women they are not alone, and they shouldn’t let anyone pressure them into aborting their child.
Through the loudspeaker, he tries to reach the people in the waiting room, to communicate that he cares about them and discuss other services available to them. Describing his own story, he warns them about what life may be like after aborting their child. He concludes his speech by praying over the people in the waiting room, then continues to counsel for the rest of the day. For the past nine months Walker has been keeping a log of what goes on in the center. On average there is one turnaround a day. A turnaround is when somebody who comes to the center leaves without fulfilling what they came for, and oftentimes it’s a mother who decided to choose life.
What you can do
Sidewalk Advocates, a ministry of Broward Right to Life, is broadening their reach and in need of volunteers. Individuals are welcome to volunteer as well as church groups. According to Walker both men and women are needed. He stated some expecting mothers and fathers respond better to men and others to women, so there’s a need for both genders at every abortion center. Donations are always welcome as well as prayer.
Walker said, “This is spiritual warfare, what we’re doing out here. This can’t be done without prayer, so we need that. I would much rather people come here and pray. When people can look, see a woman walking in for an abortion… maybe knowing something about her because they overheard a conversation or had a conversation – if they can see me interacting with someone and pray that God will bless my words and that I will speak only God’s words – that kind of prayer is effective. That kind of prayer is what we really crave out here.” For this reason, Walker said it’s ideal to have at least three people at each location, so two can be actively counseling as one person prays.
Sidewalk Advocates also hosts events that they could use volunteers. If you’re interested in contributing to this ministry in anyway, visit browardrighttolife. Other helpful websites are sidewalkadvocatesforlife.org, babieslivesmatter.org and 40daysforlife.org.
For those interested in being trained as a sidewalk counselor, the next training session will most likely be in August in South Broward. The best way to learn about training dates is to join the Sidewalk Advocates Facebook group, www.facebook.com/groups/SidewalkAdvocatesBroward or call Walker at 954-304-3278.
Gabriella Morris is a student at Florida State University and writer at Good News. She can be reached [email protected]