Above, Love Life founder Justin Reeder celebrating life with a prayer walk participant.
July 2018 – “There’s a church on every corner” – a common expression in U.S. southern cities. Often within the shadow of those abounding steeples, abortion clinics operate freely with minimal awareness.
Charlotte, North Carolina, was no exception. But then, in 2012, Justin Reeder, a successful, Christian businessman, was taken by a friend to the sidewalk of A Preferred Women’s Health Center, one of the largest abortion clinics in the Southeast.
“That’s when I first became educated on what’s happening right here in our backyards,” Reeder told AFA Journal. “This one abortion center in Charlotte was doing around 150 abortions every week. My heart just broke over what I encountered. I stood there that day and I couldn’t help but think:
“Man, if this was an elementary school or if this was any different type of setting, it would look totally different out here. If we knew where the next school shooting was going to take place and we knew the police, or FBI, or SWAT weren’t going to do anything about it, we would be running to the scene to offer protection for those kids. And yet, we do know, and we’re not running to the scene.”
That reality hit Reeder with enormous force. As he began to research and immerse himself in more truth, he became increasingly disturbed and convicted. He couldn’t stop thinking about it.
“Abortion is the leading cause of death right here in our city,” Reeder explained. “More death is happening due to abortion than cancer, heart disease, or anything else that you can think of. That was a shocker for me – a major shocker. And that’s really what Satan wants. He wants to keep it out of sight, out of mind, where no one’s talking about it.”
“Fast-forward to the end of 2015. My wife and I were seeking the Lord for the next phase of our life,” Reeder explained. “In my time of prayer, I felt the Lord speak to me and say, ‘I’ve called you to the least of these. I’ve called you to be a voice for the voiceless.’ And over the course of about a week, God was literally waking me up in the middle of the night with a heavy burden on my heart and started downloading vision and strategy to me. I started to write it down. That’s what birthed Love Life.”
In its third year of ministry, Love Life is comprised of about 100 partnering churches, and about 24,000 people have participated in its prayer walks. Since its formation, over 800 families have chosen life. And more than 25 workers have left the abortion center’s employment.
To see Love Life in action, drive into Charlotte this Saturday morning, exit the freeway, and within a few blocks, hidden away on the far end of a tree-lined street, is a neatly landscaped, brick office building nestled among the evergreens – unmarked and unnoticeable. But you will also see a seemingly endless line of men, women, and children in matching “Love Life” t-shirts, praying and worshipping while walking in a line near the carefully camouflaged abortion clinic. After the volunteers have completed the prayer walk, the large group of about 200 gathers directly across the street from the building where babies are being put to death. They worship in song, share testimonies of life, post-abortion healing, foster care, and adoption.
In the meantime, two other ministries – Cities for Life and Hope Pregnancy Center – complement the work of Love Life as they continue their long-held work of lovingly interacting directly with moms and dads approaching the clinic. Compassionate calls linger in the air: “Mom, Dad, God loves you. He loves your child. Come get your free ultrasound on Hope Pregnancy Center’s mobile unit right here, and let us tell you about all the resources that exist for you. You have churches ready to stand with you. Mentors are ready to walk with you.”
“We’ve seen a 70% drop in abortion on Saturdays when the church has been showing up,” said Reeder. “When light shows up, darkness has to leave.”
“The whole mission of Love Life is to unite and mobilize the church in our city and create a culture of love and life that will result with ending abortion and the orphan crisis,” explained Reeder. “We have to call the church to shape the culture. Politicians, legislation will follow the culture. When families stop running to the local abortion center for the answer, they begin running to the local church – that’s the shift we’re after.”
Reeder believes Jeremiah 5:28 houses a rebuke for the church today: “They do not promote the case of the fatherless; they do not defend the just cause of the poor.”
“We have to really educate people,” stressed Reeder. “Unfortunately, we’ve grown numb to abortion. There is no other building we can point to where innocent lives will be taken today. We’re not here to slow it down. We’re here to win.
“Jesus did His part, and now He’s passed the baton to us to advance the kingdom of heaven here. We are calling the church to break the chains of comfort and take action, to lay our lives down so that others live.”
For more about Love Life, visit lovelifecharlotte.org.
To champion Love Life in your area, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Love Life initiative: how it works
Each partner church adopts one week out of 40 – the length of time from a child’s conception to birth – and then walks through four simple steps. Reeder shared on each component:
Hear – The “hear” piece happens on Sunday morning when we educate the church on the tragic truth. [Nationwide], one out of three women is having an abortion. And, truthfully, this is more of a man’s issue than a woman’s issue. If men were standing in our proper place of responsibility, then women would not be going to the abortion centers. We are calling for men to rise up, to take responsibility in our cities – to protect women and children.
Pray – We have a call to action at the end of that service. We call the church to pray and fast with us on Wednesday. When we pray and fast, I believe it turns down the noise of the world and turns up the volume of heaven. We align our hearts with the Father’s heart.
Go – On Saturday, we go. We’re not out there to yell and scream, and we’re not out there to protest. We’re not out there to engage anybody at the abortion center. We’re going to show up. And we’re going to pray. We’re just going to believe for the presence of God to call on that place.
Connect – Week after week, we have people arm in arm from different churches – Baptist, Presbyterian, Pentecostal, and non-denominational. John 17 is being played out at the darkest place in our city.
And it’s not for a headline band or a big-name speaker. So many of us desire unity, and we sit around in our churches and talk about it. Unity is a ripple effect of engaging together in spiritual battle.