Impact Report, May 2017
Spencer Stewart, a high school teacher and long-time JFA volunteer, is passionate about the training opportunities that JFA provides to Christian communities like his school (Veritas Christian School in Lawrence, Kansas). In recent years, Spencer has invested personal time and effort in equipping his students for dialogue during class time. In March, after teaching students using JFA materials, he brought twenty students to our University of Kansas outreach event to watch JFA mentors in conversation and to give the students an opportunity to join in. In this Impact Report, Spencer and several of his students share about their experiences. (Student quotations have been edited for length.) We are always eager to come alongside teachers like Spencer who have a heart for discipleship, providing the tools and experiences they can use to help their students “speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves” (Prov. 31:8, NIV). - Steve Wagner, Executive Director
I have attended about a dozen Abortion: From Debate to Dialogue seminars by Justice For All, often in order to bring new volunteers, as well as multiple outreaches on different college campuses. For two years now, it has been my privilege to teach JFA’s material to juniors and seniors in my Worldview and Apologetics classes over the course of the week leading up to a campus outreach. They have eagerly engaged with the training. I love that the Three Essential Skills (asking clarifying questions, listening to understand, and building common ground without compromise) prepare them to be better humans and better conversation partners on any topic.
All of my students know that they should be pro-life, but I love to see lightbulbs switch on as they learn more precisely why – and how to help others see it for themselves. At the outreach, we pair students with an apologist with Justice For All so they can listen in on and pray through the conversations taking place. Having received the training in class, they are able to track with the JFA apologist and better learn the nuances of these kinds of dialogues. Some of our students even jump in and engage in conversations of their own. All of the students have been enthusiastic about the experience. It opens their eyes to the diversity of thinking on campus, and they all benefit from JFA staff members modeling both kindness and conviction in the midst of a controversial issue. The juniors always want to do it again the following year. The hope is that the second time around will help them internalize the approach and increase their confidence to lead this kind of conversation.
It obviously interrupts the flow and takes a chunk of time away from our regular content, but I believe it is worth it, without a doubt. In terms of scope and severity, I consider abortion to be the greatest injustice on the planet, and God’s people are called to partner with Him in seeking justice, especially for the weakest and most vulnerable among us. With this issue, I believe partnering with Justice For All is the best way to do that, especially because they also work to connect with local pregnancy care centers students who are considering abortion or who need healing from one. We are wired to be heroes, and we can literally save lives at these outreaches, and in our daily walk, once we have been prepared in this way. I pray that more and more churches and schools will open themselves up to be blessed by JFA and equipped for life on mission.
- Spencer Stewart, Veritas Christian School Teacher
[The JFA in-class preparation] taught me how to communicate an important point with someone in a non-threatening way, and it made me really think about my reasons for being pro-life.
- Marianna, Veritas Christian School Student
The JFA outreach was beneficial to me because I have never gotten the chance to talk to a stranger about my beliefs and ask about theirs. It was great to [hear] someone else’s belief, and for them to hear mine. Using the finding common ground technique worked great because they felt differently about the message we were sending after we talked.
- Rondre, Veritas Christian School Student
The JFA [in-class preparation] showed me how to better listen and not just attack a person based on their opinion. It helped my confidence when speaking to non-believers about scriptural things. The JFA outreach was super cool to be a part of because we were doing the work of God. Watching older, wiser people listen and have Godly conversations was helpful spiritually. The JFA outreach showed me just a glimpse of some of the opinions on campus, and the need for God.
- Quinton, Veritas Christian School Student
JFA impacted me by helping me understand the facts about abortion and how to talk to people in a relational way about this topic. It strengthened my reasoning for what I believe and opened my eyes to other people’s views.
- Leandra, Veritas Christian School Student
The JFA training impacted me by making me feel more prepared to share about abortion with others and get into meaningful conversations. The techniques they taught us were very helpful and will be useful going into next year. The JFA outreach was different than what I thought it was going to be, but in a good way. The exhibit [was] very thought provoking and a good way to get people to ask questions.
- Emma, Veritas Christian School Student
The JFA [in-class preparation] made me think of most debates or disagreements in a different way. It gave me a different method to approach them. The JFA outreach was interesting because it showed the actual beliefs of real people, not just hypothetical responses and answers.
- Anonymous, Veritas Christian School Student