By Lettie McNeece,* guest writer
January 1994 – This summer my husband, Mike, and I did something we had wanted to do for a long time –stand for life with Operation Rescue (OR). Our opportunity came when Jackson, Mississippi, was chosen to be a part of the Cities of Refuge campaign last summer.
We were excited. We wanted to be a part of the demonstration and were willing to be arrested if the OR leaders thought it would help the pro-life cause. Mike asked me not to risk arrest because I needed to care for our children who came with us.
Before picketing we signed a document clearly defining the actions OR allowed in the demonstration. OR was very specific. We were instructed not to touch any pro-abortion activists – not even to raise our arms in defense, because a photo could make it look like we were attacking instead of defending ourselves. We were also told not to resist police officers. As soon as an officer touched us, we were instructed to unlock our arms and lower to the ground. These and other rules gave me security because I understood exactly how to respond in a peaceful, nonviolent manner.
When Mike and four others placed their bodies in front of the abortionist’s car, he became a hero to me. Although I didn’t expect him to be injured – and he was not –the uniformed officers, some of whom had billy clubs, were very intimidating.
While being handcuffed, transported and incarcerated – for about four hours – Mike and the others received respectful treatment. A $20 processing fee was paid and a date set for their arraignment. Then we were released.
During the next week I developed a deep longing to place myself between the abortionist and a baby. I’ve never felt anything like that before. The only thing I could compare it to is the desire a linebacker must feel when he voluntarily puts his body on the line to protect his quarterback. This desire grew all week.
When we returned to the demonstration a week later, Mike agreed to care for the children while I placed myself in a position to be arrested. I became one of 45 arrested for trespassing as we sat on the steps in front of the three entrances to the abortion clinic.
Placing myself in a position that could result in some amount of suffering was one of the greatest joys I have ever experienced. Mike and I experienced just a little of what the early Christians experienced. No, we didn’t fear being eaten by lions. Our fear concerned the amount of fines, time spent in jail and how our family, friends and employers would react.
When we were arraigned, we pled “no contest” and paid fines and court costs of $150 each.
Count it all joy
Our suffering – and we count it all joy – had some surprising results. Not only did our stand for the unborn give us a deeper respect for each other, but our commitment rubbed off on our children who voluntarily picketed in the July heat without complaint. Our family was closer than ever before.
Back home, reaction to our arrest was mixed. Some family members were supportive; others questioned how this would affect our jobs and suggested that unwanted children were better off aborted.
I was sadly surprised that some unchurched friends offered more encouragement than some church going friends. One unbeliever said he admired what we had done because it showed we practice what we believe.
For me, the experience heightened my tenderness toward the things of God. Never have I felt more loved by the Lord. Never have I appreciated testimonies and the word preached than during our time outside the abortuary and while in custody of the police.
I am so grateful that the Lord allowed me to experience a little persecution and share in a small way that which my earlier brothers and sisters knew well.
To my surprise, God gave me a love and compassion for the pro-aborts. The more they chanted about women’s rights and homosexual rights, and the more they sang about the fundamentalist crazies, the more I recognized their deep hurt sealed in bitterness. Sometimes, I see their faces in my mind, and when I do, I pray for them. I especially pray for a woman named Holly and an almost tearful young woman with whom I shared Christ as I lay handcuffed on the ground.
One of my earliest memories is of the glass negatives of the skeleton people of the death camps my dad brought back from Germany during World War II. I also remember the first time I saw a picture of an aborted baby. I got the same sick feeling I had experienced when I had seen the pictures of the death camps.
But there was a difference. I had felt no guilt about the Jewish holocaust – that happened before I was born. But I did feel guilt over the death of the aborted babies. I hadn’t given that holocaust a second thought. I was too busy with my own life.
But that photo of the beautiful, broken baby reminded me of my own two sweet babies. I wept. I knew I had to do something.
I always wondered what I would have done if I had lived in Nazi Germany. Would I have sat idly while millions died? Would my children say, “Mom, why didn’t you do something?”
* Lettie McNeece works as a technical writer and her husband, Mike, is a public school teacher.