Thursday, October 9, 2014

A Ministry of Life

EDITOR'S NOTE: The following article was written for GPTSOnline by one of our faithful supporters Randall Kirkland and his son Dr. Geoff Kirkland. Dr. Kirkland is pastor of Christ Fellowship Bible Church in St. Louis, Mo. and Randall is an elder there.

Why do men and women from our church regularly minister at the two abortion mills in our community? Why do we pray and preach the Gospel at these dark and evil places...so misleadingly named Planned Parenthood and the Hope Clinic for Women. These places don't plan parenthood. They don't foster hope. What they do is encourage desperate women and their partners to pursue death and to violate the very right to life of innocents who have no "choice" in the matter. Do we go to "protest"? Are we angry dissenters? No, we are simply being faithful to take the Gospel to a dark and perverse generation and offer the only real hope that matters...the hope of eternal life and freedom from the shackles of sin. We pray because we know that the battle is not really waged in the theater of flesh and blood. And we know that any good outcome in the midst of this true spiritual warfare will come only because we have pleaded with our Triune God to do a miracle...to sovereignly intervene and give life to dead hearts of men and women who are pursuing the ways of the god of this world — a world which lies in the power of the evil one. We pray because it is the God-ordained means to pursue true ministry. We know it is not by might or power but by His Spirit. 

Randall and Geoff Kirkland
We open-air preach because men and women who are outside of Christ need the Gospel. And we take the Gospel to them when and where they most need to hear it. As we often say, we are no better than they are. The only real difference is our sins are forgiven and theirs are not. How do we make such bold statements? Because the one who callously disregards the Gospel and pursues the idolatry of convenience and self gratification at the expense of human lives betrays a heart that has yet to be regenerated. We preach because we have several mission fields at these tragic places — the staff workers, the men and women who come seeking to end their pregnancies, and the ever-present Roman Catholic community and its self-deceived idolatry and works righteousness. We preach to each and all of these constituencies. 

Does it "work"? It always does. As a church, we resolve to faithfully represent Christ, to powerfully preach the gospel, and to urgently plead with sinners to repent, turn to Christ, count the cost and follow Him. We are those who understand the power of the Gospel. The power is not in the messenger, but in the message. The power is not in the cleverness of preaching but in the fidelity to the Scriptures. 

The badly named Hope Clinic for Women,
the Midwest's largest late-term 
abortion provider
Every person standing outside the abortion mill takes immeasurable comfort in recognizing the unrivaled sovereignty of God over all things — including His power over the rebellious, human heart. No Christian can gauge his results based upon visible responses. That mindset reflects the man-centered form of evangelism that bases its methodology on human programs seeking to achieve a certain numerical response of sorts. Instead, our open-air preachers proclaim the true Gospel, seeking God to bring true conversions. To be sure, each person who calls out to the mothers begs them to not murder their babies. But the faithful believer knows that no amount of wooing and faithful pleading on his part will convert a soul until the sovereign Spirit of God opens the heart of the sinner, raises that dead soul to life, and allows the sinner to see His sin, the beauty of Christ, the sufficiency of Christ's wrath-bearing atonement, and his desperate need to trust in Christ alone and follow Him. Thus, the preaching and calling at these places is as effective as the Word of God itself is. 

An unspeakable hardness manifests itself in the words and actions of those going to murder their children. Many call these women “victims,” and they call this act of murder “a choice.” But the Bible calls this act murder, and those who commit this act of sin are thus guilty before a holy and just God. That's why we go. It's not just an abortion ministry issue. It's not just about saving a baby's life. It's about pleading with and proclaiming Christ to people who stand condemned before God, blinded by their sins, dead in their trespasses, and hostile to God and to His Gospel. We regularly minister at these abortion mills out of our love for these souls, and we plead with them to repent of their sin, turn to Christ, and save the life of their baby.

How do people respond? What have we experienced? The responses range from cold indifference to the occasional personal conversation with a mother who wants to know more about why we are there and possible alternatives to abortion. Usually there is a vehicle nearby with an ultrasound machine and a trained practitioner, and we have literature describing adoption as a course of action. Occasionally we see people simply turn their cars around and drive off. We pray for them even though we don’t know their name. We pray God will bring them into the path of Christians who will care for them and guide them biblically. And yes, we sometimes are subjected to opposition by the staff at these places, whose job is to “escort” the mothers quickly inside so they will not have the occasion to reconsider their course of action. Sometimes the police are called, and that simply provides us an occasion to explain to the authorities why we are there. Typically, they will only enforce statutes dealing with noise levels (we use amplification so the message can be heard even within the waiting rooms of the abortion mills). If we are not able to use amplification, we continue to open-air preach and have yet to experience any serious opposition from the authorities. We know the staff and mothers hear the Gospel. We know that God works through His word to achieve His perfect ends.